About a decade into its organizational history in 2000, The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University joined forces with the Center for Creative Photography and The University of Arizona—with funding from the Pew Charitable Trust—to create a multidimensional documentary project, a national initiative that aimed to explore stories of the impact of local involvement on communities across America. The resulting collaborative project, Indivisible: Stories of American Community, focused on telling the real-life stories of struggle and change in twelve communities through photography and audio stories by 22 contributing photographers, radio producers, and folklorists.
At the onset of the project, organizers hoped that Indivisible would become a portrayal of “the creativity, energy, and richness of local involvement in America, a largely untold story of the many individual and combined acts that are shaping communities and ultimately the future of the country.” The stories collected ranged from street-patrolling vigilantes to community revivers, from homebuilders to those dedicated to protecting ecosystems—the project still stands as a unique collection of tales of local people finding ways to improve their lives and their surroundings, a snapshot in time of change makers and their work across America.
The stories and content collected for Indivisible went on to become a website, a traveling museum exhibition, a free touring postcard exhibit, and a book entitled Local Heroes Changing America. The project also included educational guides to documenting community change, as well as major research archives.