How do you make someone care about a person they’ve never met? How do you break through hate and fear to show that someone who seems different from you … may actually have more in common with you than you think?
That’s the challenge we started with when we selected the Council on American-Islamic Relations Washington state (CAIR-WA) and Muslim Association of Puget Sound-American Muslim Empowerment Network (MAPS-AMEN) as our 2018 Impact Project partners.

Today that partnership culminates in the launch of #SharingOurStories — a video series that introduces you to three Washingtonians whose personal experiences highlight our common ground as Pacific Northwest residents, and as humans.

In today’s divisive political climate, infusing civility into social conversation is more important than ever. This is why Weber Shandwick continues its Civility in America research and focus on solutions for healthy discourse. It’s also why we felt passionate about creating a campaign that would promote unity among many different people in our own backyard.

Through our annual Impact Project, we award pro-bono support to local nonprofits in the form of communications expertise that can help them break through the noise on important, community-focused issues. With CAIR-WA and MAPS-AMEN, we had an opportunity to address the unsettling and sometimes dangerous rise of Islamophobia among conservative, but potentially persuadable, audiences in Washington state.

So how could we reach our audiences with the message that, despite their limited knowledge or experience with Islam, American Muslims share more in common with them than they think?

We started by understanding how American Muslims are portrayed in news and social media around the country to understand the information — or misinformation — our audiences were getting. Crucially, we learned, American Muslim voices are missing from these conversations. On top of that, a majority of Americans, including Washingtonians, say they have never met a Muslim.

In the absence of knowing or hearing from Muslims directly, it’s easy to be swayed by a media industry that paints a one-dimensional picture at best and actively promotes fear, misunderstanding and a false narrative around Islam at worst.

So we set out to build common ground.

#SharingOurStories introduces viewers to three dynamic Washingtonians who prove that relatable experiences are a stronger force for opening hearts and minds than fear of the unknown can be for closing them.

Watch the videos, post them on social media and consider adding your own story, too. You may be surprised at the power of a shared story.

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