Meet Edina's Hometown Heroes

Edina is made up of people who pride themselves with making the city a great place for living, learning, raising families and doing business.

Alec Fischer

From the time he was in sixth grade, Alec Fischer was bullied. Instead of recompense, the aspiring film producer and political activist has since dedicated his time to preventing that fate for other students.

His first big leap to raise awareness and prevent bullying began when he was still in high school. Recalling his experiences and those of his friends as inspiration, Fischer, a 2012 graduate of Edina High School, produced the anti-bullying documentary “Minnesota Nice?” for his senior May Term project. He knew the film would shake his classmates and peers; what he didn’t anticipate was its widespread impact.

“I kind of looked around and saw that a lot of my friends were way worse off than I was,” said Fischer. “I realized that I needed to stop throwing myself a pity party for how bad I was getting bullied and I really needed to worry about what my friends were going through, and that was a good self-therapy for me.”

In recognition of his efforts, KARE 11 has selected Fischer as one of its “Eleven Who Care” recipients for 2013; his segment will air in September. The program recognizes the efforts of outstanding volunteers in the community. In December 2012, he was voted “Edina’s 2012 Person of the Year” by Edina residents on the Edina Patch website. He also received the “Outstanding Student Award” in January 2013 from the Twin Cities chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), a national non-profit organization that seeks to reduce gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender bullying.

“Minnesota Nice?,” a 45-minute film in which teens from multiple schools share their hopes, experiences and observations about bullying, has been shown in schools as far as California and Israel. It has also been featured at education conferences across the country, the 2012 Edina Film Festival and the National Public Health Week Film Festival hosted by the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health.

“He really took the bullying issue – researched it, understood it, experienced it – and so he was able to speak with a degree of authority around the topic,” said Edina High School Principal Bruce Locklear.

“I would hear anti-gay slurs in every class, every day throughout the entire year and that builds up,” said Fischer of his experiences in middle and high school. “I went to the homecoming football game and some students blocked me from the student section because they told me that, you know, faggots weren’t allowed to go to sporting games. As a sixth grader, that’s pretty traumatic.”

“Another thing that Alec has really [done is] given kids hope,” said Edina High School Chemical/Mental Health Coordinator Janet Schank.

Since graduation, Fischer has been invited to present the film at schools, organizations and conferences across the country and has been an active participant in non-profit human rights organizations, including OutFront Minnesota, Safe Schools Coalition and the PACER Center. A summer 2013 Video Production Intern at the City of Edina, Fischer has also been gaining experience in filmmaking. He previously held a temporary position as Production Assistant at Charthouse Learning in Burnsville. Much of his time has been spent lobbying for increased anti-bullying legislation, such as the Safe Schools Act – which failed to pass this year.

“These students are dying and suffering and there are some adults who are doing something about it, but there are some who are caught up in the politics and won’t do anything to help,” said Fischer, of the bullying and suicide that occurs in schools. He said February 2014 is the earliest the legislation will reappear before the Minnesota Senate. “Minnesota’s current bullying prevention law is 37 words long,” added Fischer. “If this legislation passes, it will become one of the strongest in the country and will provide training and resources for teachers and school employees so that they are more equipped to handle bullying incidents.”

A new transfer student at the University of Minnesota, Fischer plans to major in political science and minor in communications. In his time off from school, he has also worked on several short videos for various non-profits and has traveled around the country to film his next project, “Transphobia.”

If there’s only one thing that’s certain about Fischer, it’s that he is not afraid to be himself. “If I don’t get a job because I’m doing something I believe in,” he said, in regards to his political affiliations, “then I don’t think that it would be a job I would want to have.”

1 of 64  Heroes

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