The City Attorney’s Office has invited the general public to the premiere screening of a unique animation video about fair housing on October 18, 2017 from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. in the Martin Luther King Auditorium at the Santa Monica Public Library. The sixty-second video Follow John to Learn About Fair Housing brings to life the characters depicted in the above photograph, from John the wheelchair user, to his friends, family and then finally his landlord.

The video will also be digitally launched that same day, minutes after its premiere, at this link:

This animation project is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office (CAO), IdeaRocket, and Peter Riedle, the young artist who as a seventh grader at St. Anne’s School submitted the poster this past March to the CAO’s annual fair housing poster contest. IdeaRocket is a video production firm specializing in animation.

The premiere at the library will include the following:

  • First-ever screening of the video.
  • Interview with Peter.
  • Presentation by Consumer Specialist Andrea Cavanaugh about the poster contest and the animation process.
  • Presentation by Deputy City Attorney Gary Rhoades about fair housing.
  • Debut of the four 2018 Fair Housing Calendars, one of which features Peter’s original work. (Free calendars will be provide to all who attend.)
  • An opportunity to take a selfie with John himself, the animated hero of the video.
  • Free parking and refreshments.

This event will be the first of three events held by the CAO to commemorate the 50th anniversary of The Civil Rights Act of 1968 (aka The Fair Housing Act) and its difficult journey to passage in 1967-68.

The City’s second event, coming January 18, 2018, will cover the past, present and future of fair housing will feature a blockbuster panel of three speakers:

  • U.S. Senator (ret.) Fred Harris, the last living member of the 1967-68 Kerner Commission who voted for the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
  • Chancela Al-Mansour, Executive Director of the Housing Rights Center.
  • Director Kevin Kish, California Department of Fair Employment & Housing.

The third event will be in April 2018–the Fair Housing Act’s 50th anniversary. It will include the CAO’s annual fair housing workshop that presents the nuts-and-bolts of fair housing law along with a new poster contest for local students.

According to Deputy City Attorney Gary Rhoades, projects with local students such as the Follow John to Learn About Fair Housing video has become an essential part of the City Attorney’s Office’s approach to increasing awareness of fair housing rights and responsibilities. “We’ve seen that when students learn about fair housing rights in class or through the Fair Housing Builds Bridges poster contest, they not only hold on to it but often pass that important knowledge along to their parents,” said Rhoades. “With this cool video, we’re excited about the prospect of a student’s vivid enthusiasm for the topic to catch fire not just with parents but the entire community.”

— Submitted by the City Attorney’s Office