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The Fire Next Time

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Resolving Community Conflicts

The Fire Next Time relates the story of what happens when people in a small town who disagree about the direction their town should take stop listening to each other. They are facing the same conflicts and challenges of many places: economic dislocation, growth, change, anger, fear and devastating loss.

How would you encourage someone to disagree respectfully? What ground rules would you set for a respectful conversation, discussion or dialogue?

  • Create a Not In Our Town proclamation declaring your community's opposition to hate groups. For a sample, see:

  • Create a non-partisan fact-checkers task force to regularly assess claims made in your local media about controversial issues or people. Publicize the reports on a website and/or partner with local media outlets to broadcast or print your findings.

  • Help facilitate community exchanges. Arrange for groups from different perspectives or parts of town to visit one another (e.g., a church might pair with a synagogue or with a church in another part of town). Help pair families to do dinner exchanges in their homes.

  • Choose an environmental or land management issue relevant to your community. Hold education forums on the topic. Bring together a coalition of people to take action on the issue.

Get informed about the issues in the film and lead a discussion in your community.

Discussion Guide

Discussion Guide

The Fire Next Time shows both the stresses that provoke a community to unravel and the efforts to repair severed connections. Its combination of personal portraits with an examination of systemic influences provides an excellent tool for outreach, especially for people interested in improving community members’ problem solving and listening skills.

Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan

The Fire Next Time explores what happens when free speech dissolves into hate speech. The hour-long documentary looks at a two-year period in the life of a dangerously divided town and shows how heated rhetoric can devolve into hate, intimidation, and violence.

Reading List

Delve Deeper

This multi-media resource list, compiled by Susan Conlon of the Princeton Public Library in partnership with the American Library Association, provides a range of perspectives on freedom of expression, the conservative media, extremist and hate groups and other issues raised by the The Fire Next Time, which premiered in 2005 on POV.

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I made this film for the people on the sidelines who may know their town is in trouble but don't know what to do about it...”

— Patrice O'Neill, Filmmaker

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