“We the People: Eyewitness News Year 2000” was one of the new organization’s first public programs. Produced by California Humanities (then known as “California Council for the Humanities in Public Policy”), the four-part series that aired on KPIX public television was designed to coincide with the celebration of the nation’s bicentennial in 1975. The program aimed to inspire Californians to think about important public policy issues and to exercise their imagination by envisioning future scenarios. In the first installation, the fictional major news headlines from October 27, 2000 were projected as: “Nuclear Blackmail in Asia,” “The Real Food Issue in San Francisco,” and “A Report from Sequoia National Park Where Thousands of Angelinos Arrived Searching for a New City.” TV news veteran Stan Bohrman intermittently interrupted the news segments with a direct address to viewers and a call to action. “What we’re showing here is only a possibility,” stated Bohrman. “It’s not a prediction in any way of anything that we cannot change. And remember too that the purpose of the ‘We the People’ project is to give you a chance to create a new future that’s different and hopefully a lot better than the one we are reporting in this newscast.” Phone banks were set up in the California Humanities office and viewers across the state were encouraged to call in to register their reaction to the program. Local communities hosted public meetings led by at least one humanist and one public policy expert who, together, facilitated discussions around the contemporary issues that “We the People” imagined as future crises.
Bruce Sievers, Founding Director of California Humanities (1974-1983), explains the logic of the behind the series as “a way of connecting a major national activity—that is, the celebration of the bicentennial—with important issues that could be illuminated by the humanities and using this television opportunity as a way of reaching a large number of people in the Bay Area.” Sievers continues, “The format of the ‘We the People’ series represented part of the organization’s larger vision of “presenting high level seminar insights into a broader public arena that would fan out into local meetings led by humanists and policy people.”
We the People: Eyewitness News Year 2000 video link here.