Meet the Neighbors (MTN) is a hyperlocal interfaith project that maps out the religious landscape of the Inland Pacific Northwest of the United States. Using cutting edge social media strategies, MTN offers a replicable and scalable approach to religious literacy and community education that is both accurate and respectful to any market across the globe. The project has been used by local law enforcement and governmental agencies to decrease hate crimes in the region and has led to increases in interreligious encounters by 43% community-wide. Highlights of this session will include background and a case study of MTN interreligious engagement, using social media effectively to foster interreligious understanding and engagement on and offline as well as using social media to develop appropriate responses to hate and a more closely knit community.
Interreligious, Neighbors, Interfaith, Social-Media, Internet, Communication, Online, Engagement, Community
Religious Commonalities and Differences
R Skyler Oberst
Director of Development, Leadership, Excelsior Wellness Center, United States
WA, United States
A millennial interfaith expert, Skyler has been working with civic and community leaders in the Pacific Northwest of the United States for more than ten years. Studying anthropology, philosophy and religion while at university, Skyler has contributed to the Millennial Values project at the Berkley Center for Peace, Politics & Religion at Georgetown University and worked as a research associate for the Pluralism Project at Harvard University. Focusing on the intersectionality of young people, technology, and faith, Skyler was named a Germanacos fellow for young innovative interfaith leaders through the Interfaith Youth Core, where he sought to build tools for communities to explore their religious landscape and more wasily collaborate across faith lines. Skyler's work in interfaith engagement was expanded after he developed his groundbreaking and award-winning video series "Meet the Neighbors" which uses a unique mix of interactive social media and community events to foster collaboration and community building. The project's success has led to franchises across the globe and partnerships with the US State Department and has been listed as a "Promising Practice" for interfaith engagement by Harvard University. A sought after public speaker and community influencer, Skyler has been invited to gatherings at the G20 Interfaith Forum and the White House, presenting on topics ranging from the next generation of interfaith leadership as well as teh power of interfaith work for young people and intergenerational community building. Locally, Skyler has served on a number of boards and commissions helping elected officials craft public policy concerning faith communities as well as community leaders on matters of interfaith engagement. He has helped create nonprofit organizations such as Spokane Faith & Values and the Spokane Hindu Society, and is credited with overhauling the Spokane Interfaith Council for a new generation. He was named by Catalyst Magazine as one of 2016's "20 under 40" leaders, and is a Leadership Spokane alumnus and was the recipient of the inaugrural "Emerging Philanthopost of the Year" by the Emerging Leaders Society. He holds leadership posts in Rotary Club #21 and also serves as an ambassador and Next Generation Leader for the Parliament for the World's Religions. Currently he is a Voices of Renewal fellow for the State of Formation, a leadership development program for emerging religious and ethical leaders sponsored by Hebrew College and Boston University's school of theology. He also is doing interfaith consulting work with the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.