CELEBRATE DIVERSITY

BUILD COMMUNITY

RESIST OPPRESSION

 
 

Photo credit:  Meg Ditizio

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Our Mission

Love Not Hate is a gathering to celebrate diversity, build community and resist oppression.

  • Celebrate Diversity - The Love Not Hate Block Parties give a platform to leaders and performers of diverse faiths, ethnicities, cultures, sexual orientations, genders, physical or mental abilities, and political views.  In providing a safe space for diverse perspectives and experiences to be heard, we aim to diminish stigma and otherness -- and nourish a greater appreciation of our common humanity.
  • Build Community - Love Not Hate parties are community-centered events that connect local businesses, leaders, and organizations.  Love Not Hate is free of political or religious affiliations and welcomes all members of the community who come to participate peacefully.  We believe that a fun social gathering can be a powerful tool for bridging divides and fostering unity.
  • Resist Oppression - We resist forms of oppression such as racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, ableism, and homophobia by putting forth a different message of acceptance, empathy, and compassion.  We provide community members with a space to assert their rejection of hate speech and violence and stand in solidarity with people who have been targeted by discrimination.  
 
 

“Our goal is to create a beloved community, and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 
 

Photo credit:  Highline Design

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Our Story

Last fall two friends, Dominica Esperas and Jessica Laferriere, were concerned when several news stories about groups and individuals that promoted racist ideologies in the Flathead Valley started to emerge.  At the time, white supremacist leader and part-time Whitefish resident Richard Spencer was gaining national attention.  Neo-Nazi pamphlets were being left on cars and in local businesses.  There was a surge in incidences of hate speech in schools throughout the valley.

These reports were discouraging to the two women because they knew that the majority of Valley residents welcomed diversity.  They felt the need to bring the community together in a show of love and solidarity for all people, regardless of their race, faith, sexual orientation, or gender.  They called the gathering Love Not Hate, and immediately the idea gained support from locals. 

Soon after, Whitefish came under the attack of a hateful “troll storm” that targeted the Jewish community and local businesses.  Neo-Nazis were threatening to hold an armed march through downtown.  The need for a Love Not Hate Winter Block Party was greater than ever. 

For the first event on January 7, 2017, over five hundred people from all over the state of Montana came together in Depot Park and the O’Shaughnessy Center despite temperatures into the negatives.  They heard local celebrities Jack Gladstone and Halladay Quist perform songs about unity.  Speakers of diverse faiths, ethnicities and sexual orientations offered their perspectives on standing together against racism and other forms of oppression.  Inside the O’Shaughnessy Center, event attendees enjoyed donated snacks, wrote positive messages on the Empathy Wall, and painted peace flags that later were hung up throughout downtown.  The Love Not Hate Winter Block Party succeeded in creating an inspiring and unifying experience for Montanans, especially those that had recently suffered through acts of hatred and division.

The event was featured prominently in all of the local newspapers and even national news articles (Yahoo News and Buzzfeed). 

As long as racism and oppression exist, there will be a need for gatherings like Love Not Hate to create a welcoming and inclusive space for all people.  The next event, the Love Not Hate Summer Block Party, will take place at the Coop in Columbia Falls on Saturday, August 19 from 4-9 p.m.  This event will feature a variety of talks by community leaders, live music, and dance performances.  There will be food trucks and beverage stands, as well as activities for children and adults.  Like the first Love Not Hate event, this party will uplift the community in celebration of our diversity.

 
 
 

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Photo credit:  Meg Ditizio

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