An Informed Community Can Make A Difference

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Tompkins Weekly     12-26-17

By Jean E. Rightmire

For thousands of years, the human race has moved forward on one strong tenet – fact-based information.

Through figuring out how to make fire, outsmart an enemy, migrate to new land, grow and store food, build shelter, or harness energy, we have survived and thrived as a species simply due to the fact we can learn and we have passed that knowledge down to future generations. Thankfully, our societies across the world have learned from factual information, past mistakes or misinformation to not wipe the human race off the Earth.

At 21st Century Facts, our mission is: “To deliver accurate information about issues important to people, democracy, and the environment.” This new, non-partisan nonprofit, located currently in Ithaca, is committed to working across communities in New York state to bring accurate, fully vetted and critically important information to the public on issues concerning healthcare, education, democracy, the environment and more. We use a broad range of media outlets and formats, as well as other outreach strategies to inform residents about key vital issues — so they can make informed decisions about their community’s future. One long-term goal at 21st Century Facts is to increase community engagement to bring that information to action.

Our Core Values:

-Equity & justice — social, education, environmental
-Positive action for positive community change for all
-Lifelong learning for positive community engagement
-Collaboration & partnerships
-Creating meaningful connections
-Respect for self and others
-Democracy & civics knowledge

Another of our long-term goals is to bring together a broad range of community residents –- locally and in communities across the state –- to discuss and, yes, even argue about issues and conditions. We hope that will enable all of us to come to consensus and work together on community, regional, national goals. Increased community engagement will give a voice to everyone to move forward and build, as well as celebrate, our diverse communities.

The goals of 21st Century Facts is not to “preach to the choir” nor to pit one group against another, but rather to bring together people from across a spectrum in any community, without swords being drawn, so we can communicate with factual information and make decisions that will help currently and in the future.

Community means different things to different people. If you asked six people to define “community,” you’d get seven answers. How we define a community truly has a bearing on how that community survives and hopefully thrives.

Sustainability, community engagement, justice, decreasing economic disparities…these are just a few of the many buzzwords being used today to capture the eyes and ears of community members around the country. Yet, in these current times, it seems as though there is a great and growing divide among members living in the same community. Everyone wants to be right, but in being “right,” are they factual? Some of this divide can be traced to the enormous rise in inaccurate information. We work diligently and thoroughly, and are deeply committed to provide multiply sourced information to disseminate to the public. We are here to inform and educate.

Looking back on history, we have clear factual information on how rallies changed the face of America as we know it today. People from all walks of life who were informed with factual information have rallied – regardless of education, background, race or socio-economic status – to make change happen.

Community engagement works best where it is an ongoing cumulative process enabling relationships and trust to build and strengthen over time. It helps a community develop assets, not just physical ones, but social assets that strengthen the community. Disseminating factual and accurate information is where 21st Century Facts comes in.

The organization may be new, but the roots of its board members, volunteers and staff run deep. We are seeking to have more residents — permanent or seasonal, rural or urban, college student or retired — to get involved to help us with a range of concepts, duties and engagement events in 2018 and beyond. We want to hear your voice, too.

We welcome all. We are a non-judgmental organization. We work and will work in a collaborative manner with organizations across the spectrum. We hope to see how individuals and organizations at opposite ends of a scale can come together and work together for the greater good, and that we are more similar than we are different. Our role is to research and disseminate factual, accurate information through media and events, to facilitate the discussions and action plans, to make a difference in our communities.

For more information or to get involved, contact Jean E. Rightmire, managing director at 21st Century Facts at, or visit our website at

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