Encouraging civic engagement and local leadership in small towns

About the Project

“We were able to share the movie with nearly 500 people. Our own little town has less than 350 residents so the outreach into the surrounding towns was a great experience. We have had a lot of positive comments and would like to think that perhaps people came away from the movie viewing with a new perspective on the kind of man Abraham Lincoln really was.” — Linda K. Somers, Village of Lincoln, Michigan

On February 12, 2013, eight American towns named after Lincoln hosted community screenings of Lincoln, Steven Spielberg’s 12-time Oscar-nominated film, to commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. In collaboration with Participant Media’s “Stand Tall: Live Like Lincoln” social action campaign, Active Voice helped local organizers use the film to reflect on our nation’s complex history and the many manifestations of leadership. The film screenings, followed by panel discussions, aimed to increase civic engagement and community leadership by encouraging involvement in local city councils, engaging youth in the political process, and building a sense of unity among residents. From flag ceremonies and historical displays in Lincoln, Michigan, to a discussion about speeding laws in Lincoln, Montana, the events generated a wealth of conversations and action items in each town.

See photos from the community events here.



Our Work

  • Local partner recruitment and hands-on event planning
  • Eight community screenings and panel discussions in namesake towns
  • Capacity building with local governments and organizers to use media in their work
  • Grassroots promotion and local PR of screening events
  • Event planning materials and promotional templates for local organizers
  • Evaluation


  • An average of 234 attendees per event
  • All communities attracted a range of participants, including young people, senior citizens, teachers, history experts, faith groups, law enforcement, business owners, and even local officials.
  • Press coverage of all eight events
  • New and/or strengthened collaborations
  • City-to-city networking

Key Partners

  • Participant Media
  • Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial (Lincoln City, IN)
  • Lincoln State Monument (Lincoln, NM)

Film Trailer

Filmmaker Steven Spielberg