Project Interfaith, an Omaha nonprofit aimed at fostering understanding between people of all religious backgrounds, has had a strong social media presence since the organization was started in 2005, said founder and executive director Beth Katz.
But the nonprofit’s newest project, RavelUnravel.com, an interactive multimedia website meant to showcase the diversity of faiths in the community and world, takes the organizaton’s online presence to a new level.
“I feel like RavelUnravel is kind of an evolution of efforts that have always been present, but the multimedia dimension of our work is becoming amplified,” Katz said.
RavelUnravel.com, which launched beta in May, features over 720 video interviews with community members answering the same set of questions about their spiritual and religious identities. The videos are categorized by tags, religion, most viewed, recently added and other criteria.
The site is also interactive in that it allows anyone to upload a video answering the same four interview questions about his or her spiritual identity.
“We think this project only grows stronger as more videos are added,” Katz said. “One of the goals of RavelUnravel is to show not just the diversity of religious and spiritual identities that make up our communities, but also to show the complexity and diversity within these identity groups.”
Since its launch, the site has received around 3,000 unique visitors from 73 different countries. Only a handful of people have uploaded their own videos to the site so far. Katz said that’s mainly because the organization hasn’t been heavily promoting that feature yet, but Project Interfaith will be drawing attention to it with a viral campaign this fall.
In 2010, Project Interfaith chose 35 volunteers to serve as interviewers, ranging in age and belonging to several different religions and ethnicities. Armed with low-cost video cameras, the volunteers set out to ask community members the same set of questions, inquiring about their religious or spiritual identity, stereotypes that impact that identity and the openness of the local community.
(Project Interfaith volunteers Alan Flower, from left, and Dustin Moretz conduct an interview with someone at an event on the RavelUnravel tour in Omaha.)
“To ensure we got a diverse cross-section of the community, we reached out to religious and spiritual communities, community groups, businesses, non-profit organizations, and colleges across the Omaha metro area, inviting them to host an interview team for a morning or afternoon,” Katz said. “We also welcomed community members to drop in at the Project Interfaith office to be interviewed.”
Project Interfaith is now making an effort to gather another 450 videos for the site with its RavelUnravel tour around Omaha and Lincoln. During the tour, RavelUnravel volunteers will travel to local events and festivals through October in the RavelUnravel-mobile, a cherry red ’67 Bel Air station wagon.
Katz, who was chosen for the Ariane de Rothschild Fellowship Program for Social Entrepreneurs last year, said the local tour is a precursor to a national road tour, for which Project Interfaith is planning and seeking funding.
According to Katz, RavelUnravel allows people to connect on a broader level rather than through groups or organizations that have specific interests.
“This really opens it up and makes it so much more accessible to people all over the place,” she said. “That’s what we’re interested in – having a more meaningful impact on a global level, but in a sustainable way.”
Credits: Photo by Project Interfaith volunteer Rachel Brodeur, screenshot from RavelUnravel.com.