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Reel Economy Tennessee

August 25th, 2014 by Andy Myers

 

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Last month, we gathered with a cross section of organizations from across Tennessee to make plans for using documentaries to advance social, economic and environmental justice and sustainability in the state. A day long summit held at the United Steel Workers Union Hall in Nashville, was aimed at better connecting progressive groups in Tennessee to each other, and at increasing their skills and capacity to use media, popular education, and creative actions to reach their goals.

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The summit included a training component on best practices for leveraging documentary film and creative action to advance grassroots organizing. A case study of MORAL MOVIES and discussion of how individual film and interactive projects like Inequality for All, Freedom Summer, and Hollow could be used in the state helped lead us into planning for the fall and next year.

Since the summit we’ve been solidifying parterships with participants, including the Tennessee NAACP, Tennesseans for Fair Taxation, the Tennessee Education Association, Common Cause, and the Coalition for the Organizational Protection of People and Equal Rights. We now have an initial statewide series in the works that will engage communities on economic issues impacting Tennessee, in particular the threat of a permanent ban on income tax in the state’s constitution. 

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We’ll continue to work with leaders over the next 1 – 2 years to position documentaries within their work and throughout the state to raise awareness, strengthen connections, and advance progress towards a Tennessee that serves all! 

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Coal Ash Stories – NC Report Back

August 5th, 2014 by Kristin Henry

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This June, Working Films partnered with Appalachian Voices, Earthjustice, the North Carolina Conservation Network, NC WARN, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and nineteen local organizations to bring four short films, conversation, and action on coal ash across North Carolina. You can see our recap in photos and tweets.

In February 2014, a storm water pipe below a massive Duke Energy coal ash impoundment failed, spilling 39,000 tons of coal ash into North Carolina’s Dan River. With the Dan River coal ash spill fresh on the minds of North Carolinians, and as controversy grew around Duke Energy’s ties to the NC Governor and state regulators, clean water had become a top concern of residents across the state. In quick response, Working Films initiated partnerships with leading state and national organizations to put together a program that could answer questions about coal ash in NC. We worked through spring to co-develop Coal Ash Stories, identifying media, developing shared goals and resources, and coordinating the local efforts.

Four short films were used in eight cities around the state to educate citizens and draw public and political attention to the toxic impact of the disaster. The films include  An Ill Wind, At What Cost?, Coal Ash Chronicles (work-in-progress), Downwind and Downstream.

Events took place in Asheville, Belews Creek, Charlotte, Durham, Greensboro, Raleigh, Wilmington, and Winston-Salem. In each location, one or more local groups co-hosted the event, tailoring the program and goals to the local communities, especially where coal ash ponds are threatening the local drinking water supply.

Local host organizations included 350 Triangle, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, Cape Fear River Watch, Clean Water for NC, Durham People’s Alliance, Frack Free Alliance, Fund for Democratic Communities, NC League of Conservation Voters, Mountain People’s Assembly, Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation, New Hanover County NAACP, Sierra Club Cape Fear Group, Sierra Club Capital Group, Sierra Club Foothills Group, Sierra Club Headwaters Group and Triangle Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Below are some highlights.

Appalachian Voices hosted the event in Belews Creek, a rural community near Duke Energy’s Belews Creek Steam Station. The goal of the event was to help community members realize that they’re a part of a larger fight and are not alone in the struggle. Organizer Sarah Kellogg stated, “There was a woman who is the daughter of one of our most outspoken community members who has never wanted to be involved, but after the movie showing she was ready to speak out.”

CAS Durham Check in

The Durham event was co-hosted by Durham People’s Alliance, NC WARN, and Sierra Club Headwaters Group. County Commissioner Frances Blalock attended as a viewer, and let the organizers know that just the night before, the Person County commissioners voted 5-0 to pass a moratorium on coal ash that includes both the transport and disposal of the material. The organizers welcomed her to give the update to the audience and say a few words before the screening.

CAS Raleigh Amy Adams (Appalachian Voices) John Wagner (Frack Free NC) Pricey Harrison (NC State Representative)

In Raleigh, the Q&A included Amy Adams, Appalachian Voices; John Wagner, Frack Free NC and Haw River Assembly; State Representative Pricey Harrison from Greensboro; and was facilitated by main organizer Karen Bearden, 350 Triangle. Karen met folks that heard about the program on The State of Things radio show the day before and had missed the earlier program in Durham, so they drove to Raleigh to attend. State Representative Pricey Harrison, who appears in Downwind and Downstream, gave context to the legislative situation and how she has been trying to get a coal ash bill passed since 2008. She emphasized how corporations’ money and influence makes it hard for legislators to get strong bills passed and urged the audience to make their voices heard.

CAS Raleigh Q&A Audience

Each event was strong and well attended, with each location meeting, and three locations exceeding, the hosts’ expectations for turn out. In just a week and a half, the events reached 400 people. According to our audience surveys, 98% of attendees are now willing to speak out on coal ash. 90% better understand the issues and have an increased interest in being involved. There are some indications that we were able to reach beyond the choir, with ¾ of audiences not already affiliated with a group or organization, as indicated on sign in sheets. Also, a high number of zip codes outside the immediate vicinity of screening locations on sign in sheets indicated that audience members were willing to travel to learn more and participate.

Our state and local partners loved the event format– with 30 minutes of media, there was ample time for an interactive discussion and a call to action. All of our local hosts reported being very pleased with the help from Working Films and felt very well supported.

The Coal Ash Stories events were co-hosted by several groups whom we’ve partnered with on Moral Movies, including NAACP branches as well as Durham People’s Alliance and the Fund for Democratic Communities. This gives some indication that we are fostering cross-issue support from organizations that have not traditionally worked on coal ash or related environmental issues. This will be an emphasis of our efforts going forward, building on the many state and local partnerships we’ve established through our Moral Movies series.

Coal Ash Stories received broad press coverage, including the radio show WUNC’s The State of Things. The show spent two-thirds of their program on coal ash, talking with Filmmaker Rhiannon Fionn of Coal Ash Chronicles as well as WUNC’s capital reporter Jorge Valencia about the details of the event, controversy around the regulatory response and the latest on the coal ash legislation. The screenings happened to coincide with the short legislative session, further raising the attention of the issues. Other press articles included Asheville’s Mountain Xpress, Durham’s Herald Sun, and Wrightsville Beach’s Lumina News.

We are eager to build on the momentum of the initial tour in NC, as are our partners, who see screening events as a unique opportunity through which they can reach beyond their typical constituencies, raise awareness of the impacts of the spill and spur people to action. Coal ash will continue to be a major threat to public health and clean water in the state. As Amy Adams explained in an op-ed, “If the General Assembly really wanted to eliminate the threat posed by Duke Energy’s coal-ash storage ponds, it would have ordered an assessment of all 33 of the ponds and come up with specific instructions for the cleanup. Instead, lawmakers made cleanup mandatory for only four of them (all curiously close to the homes of powerful legislators) and left the details for the other 29 to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Duke Energy – whose relationship over the years has been altogether too cordial.” In response to the still pending, yet insufficient coal ash bill, the Southern Environmental Law Center is continuing to take action for some of the communities under the Clean Water Act, though more is needed. We are now working with our partner groups to develop plans to continue the work with Coal Ash Stories to support the communities impacted by the spill and engage citizens across the state in addressing this important issue. Through the remainder of the year we will build on and extend the use of the films across North Carolina, as well as in new states, to raise awareness of coal ash threats and impacts and inspire greater engagement around these issues.

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Moral Movies Wraps with Inequality for All

July 9th, 2014 by Andy Myers

The North Carolina Moral Movies Film Series draws to a close this month with screenings of the acclaimed documentary, Inequality for All. The film features Robert Reich – professor, best-selling author, and Clinton cabinet member – as he demonstrates how the widening income gap has a devastating impact on the American economy. As Alexandra Sirota, Director of the NC Budget and Tax Center explains, “North Carolina, like the nation, is seeing increased barriers for too many to get ahead. Inequality for All provides the important context for this experience and makes it clear that policy choices have built these barriers rather than a smoother path to a strong middle class.”

Screenings in nine cities across the state will begin on July 22nd. These interactive events will spotlight the threat of income inequality on the viability of the workforce in North Carolina and will involve audiences in dialogue and action to address economic inequality.

Join us for Inequality for All this month or tell your friends in North Carolina!

Schedule:

Winston Salem: Tuesday July 22nd, 6pm
Green Street United Methodist Church, 639 S Green St, Winston-Salem, NC 27101
Local hosts: Scholars for NC’s Future, Forsyth County Association of Educators, The Ministers Conference of Winston Salem.

Fayetteville: Tuesday July 22nd, 6pm
The Main Library, 300 Maiden Lane, Fayetteville, NC, 28301.
Local hosts: Fayetteville NAACP, FAyetteville N.O.W, Cumberland County Progressives, Fayetteville A. Philip Randolph Institute, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fayetteville, Fayetteville-Cumberland Black Leadership Caucus, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1208.

Asheville: Friday July 25th, 7pm
Ferguson Auditorium at AB Tech, 340 Victoria Rd. Asheville NC 28801
Local hosts: The Mountain People’s Assembly

Greenville: Tuesday July 29th, 7pm
Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 131 Oakmont Dr. Greenville, NC 27858
Local hosts: The Pitt County NAACP

Raleigh:  Tuesday, July 29th 7pm
Community UCC, 814 Dixie Trail, Raleigh, NC 27607
Local hosts: Action NC, The Raleigh-Apex NAACP, The Raleigh-Apex NAACP Youth.

Durham: Thursday July 31st, 6:30pm
Durham County Public Library Auditorium, 300 N Roxboro St. Durham, NC 27701
Local hosts: The Durham People’s Alliance

Greensboro: Thursday, July 31st, 7pm
Central Library Nussbaum Room, 219 N Church St. Greensboro, NC 27405
Local hosts: The Beloved Community Center

Wilmington: Thursday, July 31st, 7pm
Cameron Art Museum, 3201 S. 17th St. Wilmington, NC 28412
Local hosts: The Black Arts Alliance, The NHC NAACP

Charlotte: Thursday, July 31st, 7pm 
Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte 234 N Sharon Amity Rd, Charlotte, NC, 28211
Local hosts: Move to Amend – Charlotte, Action NC, NCAE Charlotte.

 

 

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Coal Ash Stories Screening Tour Launches in Eight N.C. Cities in Response to the Duke Energy Spill

June 12th, 2014 by Kristin Henry

Today organizations across North Carolina are launching Coal Ash Stories, a statewide screening tour featuring four short documentary films focused on coal ash, related public health concerns, and policy.

Winston Salem
Thursday, June 12, 7pm
Old Salem Single Brothers Workshop
10 West Academy Street Winston-Salem, NC 27101
Hosted by: Sierra Club Foothills Group

Belews Creek
Tuesday June 17th, 7pm

Pine Hall Ruritan Club
1555 Pine Hall Rd Pine Hall, NC 27042
Hosted by: Appalachian Voices

Durham
Tuesday, June 17th, 7pm
Motorco
723 Rigsbee Ave, Durham, NC 27701
Hosted by: NC WARN, Sierra Club Headwaters Group, Durham People’s Alliance

Charlotte
Wednesday, June 18th, 7pm
Area 15
514 E. 15th St., Charlotte, NC 28206
Co-hosted by: Charlotte Environmental Action, Greenpeace NC, The Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation

Asheville
Thursday, June 19th, 7pm
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville
1 Edwin Place, Asheville, NC 28801
Co-hosted by: Southern Alliance for Clean EnergyMountain People’s AssemblyClean Water for NC

Greensboro
Thursday, June 19th, 7pm
Central Library Nussbaum Room
219 N Church St., Greensboro, NC 27405
Co-hosted by: Fund for Democratic Communities, League of Conservation Voters, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League

Raleigh
Thursday, June 19th, 7pm
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh
3313 Wade Ave, Raleigh, NC 27607
Co-hosted by: 350.org Triangle, Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation, Sierra Club Capital Group,  League of Conservation Voters-NC, Triangle Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

Wilmington
Thursday, June 19th, 7pm
Jengo’s Playhouse
815 Princess St. Wilmington, NC 28401
Co-hosted by: Cape Fear Sierra Club, New Hanover NAACP, Cape Fear River Watch

This February, a storm water pipe below a massive Duke Energy coal ash impoundment failed, spilling 140,000 tons of toxic-laden coal ash and contaminated wastewater into North Carolina’s Dan River. This coal ash sludge now coats the Dan for 70 miles downstream, and the full public health and economic impacts for this spill are still unknown. Dozens more coal ash impoundments across North Carolina and the Southeast are at risk of failure.

The films and post-screening programs will provide an opportunity for the public to learn about the health environmental impacts of coal ash in communities across the country, talk with community members, and get involved in efforts to hold utilities accountable for their waste.

“Coal ash is the second largest industrial waste stream in America, though it is less regulated than your household garbage,” states Amy Adams of Appalachian Voices, one of over 20 organizations partnering to present the tour.

The four films featured in Coal Ash Stories - An Ill Wind, At What Cost?, Coal Ash Chronicles, and Downwind and Downstream - paint a grim picture of what life looks like when coal ash pollutes a community. People are unable to drink their own water, take a bath, fish, or farm without worrying about long-term health effects. Similar fears are now facing communities located near other coal-fired power plants in North Carolina. Filmmaker Rhiannon Fionn, creator of Coal Ash Chronicles, states, “It is important to elevate conversations about pollution of all kinds in our country for the sake of our health and the health and viability of future generations. My hope is that films like mine will galvanize citizens who have the power to push for positive change.”

Bridget Whelan of the North Carolina Conservation Network says, “The stories we’re hearing in these films and from North Carolinians living near currently leaking coal ash ponds remind us that real people are suffering real affects from coal ash pollution. For their sake, it’s imperative that North Carolina immediately move all coal ash to safer storage, away from our water and from threatened communities.”

Ulla Reeves of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy says, “The Dan River is a tragic reminder of the dangers associated with storing coal ash in outdated, leaking impoundments next to our rivers. However, it’s not an isolated incident and communities across our region and country are living with coal ash impacts and threats on a daily basis.”

Working Films, a national nonprofit and nonpartisan organization based in Wilmington, NC, is coordinating the statewide screening tour. Working Films builds partnerships between nonfiction media-makers, nonprofit organizations, businesses, educators and advocates to advance community-based and policy solutions to social, economic, and environmental challenges. Coal Ash Stories is a new initiative using issue-specific media to support allied organizations and is part of Reel Power, a larger campaign among filmmakers and organizations working to address the negative impacts of climate change and natural resource extraction.

The NC screening tour is co-presented by Appalachian Voices, Earthjustice, North Carolina Conservation Network, NC WARN, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, and Working Films. Additional collaborators include 350 Triangle, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, Cape Fear River Watch, Clean Water for North Carolina, Durham People’s Alliance, Fund for Democratic Communities, League of Conservation Voters, Mountain People’s Assembly, Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation, New Hanover County NAACP, Sierra Club Cape Fear Group, Sierra Club Capital Group, Sierra Club Foothills Group, and Sierra Club Headwaters Group.

Contact Kristin Henry, khenry@workingfilms.org, with any questions.

 

 

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“Constant Joy” – Memories of Robert on the Anniversary of his Passing

June 6th, 2014 by Anna Lee

robert westToday marks one year since the passing of our beloved co-founder Robert West. We are continuing to honor him today by posting more tributes  from his friends, family, and colleagues.  Below you’ll find the eulogy given by  Judith Helfand, Robert’s dear friend and the co-founder of Working Films, who reflects on their longtime friendship and pioneering work together. We’re also sharing reflections from Robert’s twin sister, Jane Bench, and Robert’s childhood friend Ted Winfield that were given at Robert’s memorial service last year. If these stories and tributes inspire you to share your own memories of Robert, please post in the comments here or on our Facebook page.

 

Judith and her "Healthy Baby Girl" Theodora, who Robert would love to have met!

Judith and her daughter Theodora, who Robert would have loved to have met!

Tribute for Robert West

by Judith Helfand

Hi.  I am Judith. I co-founded Working Films with Robert West.

How do you write a memorial for your best friend who also doubled as your best editor? The one who under normal circumstances would be on the receiving end of this prose…and who, at the eleventh hour… would be the one I could count on to give me frank, stark, commentary, inspiration, a concrete applied lesson in “Less is More,” and when necessary – a hatchet job?

You see Robert was my “Less is More” man.

Many of you might not know this.. but Robert’s favorite tool (in Microsoft Word) was strike-through: RED, BOLD, and FEARLESS – even when afraid.

And what remained – was the heart of our brainstorming sessions, the EKHT (in Yiddish) — the IKAR (in Hebrew) the ESSENCE of the essence of our vision and our ideas.

We fought about “less is more” for many years and in many contexts… If we were doing a residency, I wanted five nights for the filmmakers and he wanted three. If we were doing a workshop, he wanted to end at three, and I wanted to end at six and take everyone out for drinks. I demanded we had to have more protein at breakfast (hard boiled eggs) and fewer pastries. What ever the back and forth, the resulting compromise was our secret sauce.

We met in spring 1994. I followed a lead, “Call the film curator at the Mint – Robert West – he’ll lend you a video projector” for a work in progress screening of a risqué documentary about the radical labor/union history of southern textile workers in the 1930’s and the impact of keeping that history – and legacy – a secret and silenced. That film, and that screening in the basement of the First United Methodist Church would inspire meaningful discussion, interest and a dialogue about respect and workers rights… vs. shame, retribution and shunning. That’s why we needed an emergency video projector at the First United Methodist Church in Charlotte. That’s what I told Robert. “When is the screening,” he asked? “Tonight,” I told him. And, with what I would come to know and expect – an intake of breath, a voice that goes up with a bit of exasperation -  we began what has been, and will be, the most important, pivotal, cathartic, kinetic, transformative, and exponentially life-changing working relationship of my life. (You see this is what I am like without him. I use run on adjectives. He would have made me choose one).

That film and that night turned into a “Labor to Neighbor” screening project which then turned into “From Farm to Fast Food, On the Job in North Carolina” – a classroom curriculum project in which we figured out how to use clips from award winning independent documentaries to teach economics and workers rights — to 8th, 9th and 11th and 12th graders in NC, as part of their standard curriculum (It was subversive).

But the thing that led us to found Working Films - the thing above all others – was a moment when everything he cared about and was passionate about all happened in one room.

It was at a screening of the film It’s Elementary, when the Charlotte Mecklenburg County Commission threatened to defund community based organizations and institutions they believed were supporting a gay and lesbian lifestyle.

It was the beginning of a moment when a few very frightened, angry, complicated people with power were promoting censorship against organizations that were creating a civil and inclusive society (Arts groups, social service organizations, etc.), and his film festival and his position at the museum were both in question

They were asking the Mint Museum, which housed the Charlotte Film and Video Festival, “Just how many LGBT films were/are you screening?”

So Robert screened It’s Elementary by Debra Chasnoff, a story about how to teach about gay families in the classroom. By that point he’d been running the Charlotte Film and Video Festival for many successful years. A festival known for Robert personally working hard to bring out a large engaged audience and to make the filmmaker feel very cared for. Each one – by the way – was paid a fee for their time. This was a priority for him.

He also ALWAYS seized the opportunity to really use the moment. He was thinking about those moments more as a curator than an activist (oh we should have these people and those people, fill up the audience), but on some level with that particular screening and a little bit of ego involved (the room needs to be packed and full) he made the shift from curator to activist.

Something happened in that screening of It’s Elementary that became elemental to his thinking. In this moment of self-censorship and gay baiting, public school teachers were at risk of losing their jobs. So you can imagine how much courage it took for a middle school teacher to stand up, essentially out himself, and say that he was gay, his students came to him, with anguished questions, pain – some very likely related to their sexual orientation. ” And I,”the teacher said, “can’t refer them to services, support, or even talk about my life, for fear of losing my job. But honestly I am afraid that we will lose some of these kids.”

Robert said to me later – “We were lucky the right people were in the room.” But it was both luck and strategy that enabled Robert to use that moment to say to the school chancellor (who was in the theater), “You have to spend time and meet with this teacher and talk about the kids who are at risk for suicide. Really – whom are they supposed to talk with other than adults at these institutions?”

Robert said, “You need to make time and open up your office.” He pushed him for a YES… “Tell me you’re going to do that this week.”

Robert told me: “Judith, that combination, the right people in the room at the right time, the passion of the storytelling, the pressure, and the urgency of the moment all swirled together in this one instance. I was willing to risk my position at the film festival for that. And that’s what I want to do with my life.”

It was soon after that we created and founded Working Films. He was inspired by the catharsis, the one he personally felt and the one that took place in the room. The idea that you never have to leave “change” for chance. The idea that you can marry synergy, strategy and storytelling and come out on the other end with the core elements for social change and transformation. Sometimes you’d be able to measure it and sometimes you wouldn’t, but either/or, it would be there in the community. We wanted to bottle that feeling linked to strategy and it became Working Films.

Robert West… was and will always be, my “LESS IS MORE” man.

You have artfully, consciously and mindfully enlarged the definition of “life partner” — (beyond the beloved, committed live-in spouse or co-parent) to mean someone you co-create with, dream big with, take risks with, be your whole complete vulnerable self with.

Someone you go to the farmers market every Saturday with, play ritual games of scrabble with, take fearless Cape Fear river runs in a kayak with…

You have made many life partners in your all too short lifetime. Some you have known for years, and some for much less. But your less – is MORE.

You defied societies focus on finding “the one” to embracing and emboldening many to forge an utterly unique FRIENDSHIP, PARTNERSHIP, WORKSHIP, and FELLOWSHIP, with you.

None of them bound or determined  by the amount of time,  just the quality of it.

Which is why I can look around the room and see so many of your different life partners — who loved you Robert for, “being exactly who you are.”

On his behalf I have to thank and call out to Molly, Anna, Andy, Kristin, Cassie, and The Working Films Board of Directors, for your tireless selfless work to keep Working Films moving, strategic and working in this most painful of time. And to our long time comrades Shelia Leddy and Dianna Barrett from the Fledgling Fund who came all the way here to join us today – thank you.

AS FOR ME…

You, MY BELOVED FRIEND Robert West

You were, are

& ALWAYS WILL BE

MY partner AND GUIDE in all things engagement,

Be it REAL or R-E-E-L,

Always striving to be

AUTHENTIC,

ON-THE GROUND,

Respectful, mindful optimistic and timely…

ROBERT WEST

WAS and will always be

My “LESS IS MORE” MAN

and LESS

WILL just have to be ENOUGH.

 

Tribute for Robert West

by Jane Bench

Hello, I am Jane Bench, and it’s my privilege to be Robert’s twin sister. It’s like winning the lottery. Robert is a “cheerful giver.” This is giving that reaches the core of others. Robert and I often joked that I trained him to be a giver because I always asked him for things. I saw and felt him giving all our lives. I saw it was not always easy for him to give like this, but it started at such a young age. It is just who he is. One of many example: I cried a lot in elementary school over little things. Robert never told me there was no reason for such tears. I looked over at him, and he always had his head turned to the wall, crying along with me.

We had grown apart in our adult years, as many people do. I am eternally grateful that my son, Jordan, transferred to UNC-Wilmington. On a visit to check out the school, Robert entertained Jordan and me all weekend, telling hilarious stories, providing lots of home cooking and introducing us to some of his wonderful friends. Afterwards, Jordan and I rode silently in the car until Jordan said simply, “I like Uncle Robert.” From a young man of few words, this was quite a compliment. That was the start of a great friendship between Jordan and his Uncle Robert. My relationship with Robert was renewed and flourished. Robert told me he loved his life, his work, his friends and family. I certainly understand as I had the privilege of meeting many of you over the past year. Robert summed it up by stating, “I am the luckiest man in the world.”

Last fall, it was time for Jordan to go to UNCW. My husband, Bruce and oldest son, Robert, drove 3000 miles from Seattle to Wilmington with Jordan-much too fast, but arrived safely in late August. Just a week later, Robert was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I asked Robert, “What can I do?” As always, Robert had the answer and said he would tell me exactly what to do, when to do it and that he had an excellent care team in Wilmington. I reminded him he was a man who loved his life more than most and loved others with the ability to show it more than most. He told me as he was on this journey, “Jane, remember that you said and did everything just right.” He was still taking care of me!

I know Robert is in heaven, or whatever each of us wishes to call it. I feel his love shining down on me every day. That’s why I say he is still a cheerful giver because he is still giving. I hope you all feel his love shining down on you.

Thank you, Robert

 

Tribute for Robert West

by  Ted Winfield

I’m here today for myself of course, but I am also here as a representative of those friends that Robert made in Richmond. Those who knew Bob – when he called himself Bob – and have continued to know and care for him and about him. We always looked forward to his trips to Richmond; usually they were made to visit his Mother and his Brother Fred and the rest of his family. David Stover and Caryl Burtner are here I know from Richmond. The four of us would nearly always get together for dinner when Robert was in town.

In the months before Robert’s death, as you all know, he invited everyone to “be present.” He said it often, and he said it in a number of different ways. But of course he simply wanted everyone to come clean - to tell the truth,  to share something that mattered, and to give him something “engaging” to think about - or more usually – to talk about.

In that spirit and, I think , to “set an example” for me as I’m sure he did for others, Robert told me a little bit more about his experience growing up – importantly, he did this in a way that I could relate to. He was superb at taking into consideration to his audience - whomever he was speaking to.

He said, for instance, that when we were growing up, that he would come over to my house, in-part to play, but also to receive the lavish attention that was given to him by my Mother.

Bob explained that boys, at his home, were an ever-present-commodity and that because I was the only son in my family (with three girls) that I received all the attention - and that he wanted some of it. He even went so far as to point out that I was so spoiled – so much so that I didn’t even notice that he had “taken my spot” – usurped the throne. He would sit and chat with Mom, and she in turn would feed him.

He told me this story as he always told a story - with one eye toward clarity and the other toward making the story interesting. But he also told me this, I think, because he knew that my mother was dying, just as he was. And he wanted to shine the light of attention back toward someone else – in this case – my mother and me – and away from him.

Shortly before my mother died, Robert wrote in one of his emails about a visit from a friend. He wrote:

“On Friday one of my best friends from Charlotte came and spent the day here. We worked together in Charlotte and we were close buds for 15 years. He moved and I have not seen him in about five years.   We talked and laughed some about the past but mostly we talked about his Mom’s death a few months ago. Bob went on to write - “I share this, Ted, because he talked a lot about how helpful Hospice was in the last three weeks. He said they should have come in sooner, but once they were a part of the team – they were incredible. Is your mom taking advantage of Hospice?”

This remarkable attention toward other people – even as he was within the last few months of his life – was typical. And with this I can say that Robert was the quintessential giver.

Bob was a giver and that large part of his personality “THE GIVING” defined his relationships – his relationship to his family and with his friends:

It of course was the cornerstone of the work that he did at Working Films. It was the whole point of Working Films, as it will continue to be, and it was the “great thing” that, I think, that made his life worthwhile to him – this giving back.

Second, In addition to giving – he was an opportunist of the best sort.

The second piece that was so fascinating about Robert was his innate ability to “see” the fruits that could be got from a particular circumstance and to then hammer out, in a very practical way, a positive result. He was a giver, but he was a problem solver as well.

Once again, even, as he lay in bed, he found a way to turn that time and situation into a sublime opportunity to make positive things happen – to make his family members closer to one another (something very important to him), to make his friends comfortable with his imminent death, to make his brain-child, Working Films viable - as they were to go on about their mission without him.

Robert was a kind and giving man who had the tools to turn his goodness into a way of life. And this, I think, is what he was most proud of – his ability to enjoy his life and live it on his own terms while, at the same time, giving back to the world – and make a living by doing it.

David Stover (here today) and I went to high school with Bob. We played at the river a great deal, got in to trouble now and again. We were in what seems like an endless number of accidents. We shared one or two car accidents together and a boating accident as well.  Robert stayed in Richmond after High school and went to VCU while I was in the army. After coming home we shared an apartment for a year or so. Robert managed a book store downtown.   Eventually he took a job in North Carolina with a publisher. That move eventually lead him to Charlotte and to the Mint Museum. I had moved to Charlottesville and then to Seattle. It was during this early time in Seattle – when Robert was 25 – that he told me and others that he was gay.

I think that this was the beginning of Robert’s new and “real” happiness which of course fueled his desire to “come clean,” to “tell the truth” and to “be of good cheer.” He found, in Charlotte, a community that understood him and allowed him to flourish. He had found a new “second” home.

This new openness allowed him to breathe fresh air – to act in good faith, you could say – across the board. His friends in Wilmington and Charlotte can speak of this better than I can, but I think this honesty directed toward himself gave him all that was needed to feed and direct his incredible talents - his artistic abilities, his love for just-causes, even his organizational skills – and his incredible desire to give back to the world. I think that Bob become the happy, confident, totally engaged Robert when he was 25.

Robert very artfully wove together the things that he loved. He did this in a way that gave him enough time to enjoy his life – to travel, to enjoy the water as he always had, to kayak, to paint – and to simply “play,” however he wanted to play. He was very proud of how he allocated the time in his private world. He was a very rich man in this way. He did in fact fulfill the requirements of his imagination. He was, by his estimation, a success. And he was proud of his accomplishments. Just as he was proud of his family, his work, his friends. In short he did what he had set out to do.

To close, I will miss my friend, Bob. I will miss seeing him and calling him. I’ll miss arguing with him for long periods of time – over extraordinary minor things. I will miss him telling me how to set the table, for example. I will miss going fishing with him on the bay with Freddy and David.  But I think mostly I will miss his laugh. Robert was a great deal of fun - especially when he chose to be silly. Mostly when he went into “Story Mode.”  Mostly, after a glass of wine or two.

And I do hope that he is in a happier place. Partially because it always gave me joy when he was wrong (not often) – but also because Robert West is certainly one of the few who deserve to be pleasantly surprised.

I’d like to thank friends and family for helping me to be a part of Robert’s last months. It has meant a great deal to have met many of you for the first time and many of Robert’s family after many years – and I hope, in the future, to see more of all of you.

Robert lived a life that should be paid attention to. He was both happy and giving. The knowledge of his own death and how he approached it, only reaffirmed all that he did and believed in while he lived. In Hollywood cemetery, where Robert’s mother and his older brother Jay are buried, where we took countless walks and countless pictures, he has asked that his epitaph read “Constant Joy.” I think he, in his own mind, met that goal by giving to others while listening carefully to the things inside himself that made life rich and full.

I would like to thank Betsy, Julie, David Bill and Tom for taking such good care of Robert.

And my heart goes out to Fred, Jane, and Johnny and their families. Thank you for sharing your brother.

Please share your own memories and reflections about Robert with us. If you would like to honor him by contributing to the Robert West Reel Engagement Fund, which we set up with his blessing and encouragement last spring as a way to memorialize his role in founding the organization and his vision for our work, you can do so atwww.workingfilms.org/donate.  Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

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“A Force of Nature” – Remembrances of Robert

June 3rd, 2014 by Molly Murphy

4595497562_b421d127b6_z(1)It has been a year since our co-founder Robert West passed away. We’re honoring him this week by posting tributes to him from his friends, family, and colleagues. Today we’ve shared the words of Reggie Shuford, Robert’s friend and the Working Films board chair, and Robert’s niece, Emily West.  If you feel inspired to share your own memories of Robert after reading, please post in the comments here or on our Facebook page.

 

For Robert West emily west picture
By Emily West

Thank you for letting me speak about Robert today. I am so happy to be here. And thank you to all of you who have loved him so well.

I have been lucky to have loved Robert without complications. And he was definitely a complicated person. But I have loved him without the complications of misunderstandings, perceived slights, petty alienation as well as any catastrophic offenses. I have loved him, simply, as long as I can remember. As I have grown older and my awareness of myself and the world has grown, it has only shored up my respect for him and our friendship. Our friendship has been an anchor in my life.

Robert has brought profound respect to his relationships. He has seen people and has allowed people to see him. How did he know how to do this? Where did he learn it? In a book of photographs he gave me the Christmas before I turned 18, he wrote, “To Emily, a creative woman.” That certainly gave me a new perspective – I wanted to be creative, but who knew I was a woman???!

Later, when I was in college in New York City, we would go out for these marathon dinners – just the two of us. I don’t know how many of you have had the experience of being in public with Robert- but probably not as teenagers. When I was a self conscious teenager it could be so embarrassing to be in public with Robert. He would laugh so loudly and everyone would look! Mortifying! Then I got older, and when I was out with Robert and he would laugh and every head would turn, it wasn’t embarrassing. It was awesome. We were having more fun than everyone else!

That laugh combined with his knack for telling stories was a force of nature. Robert had the ability to turn something sad or painful into something amusing and take the sting out of it. My mother has said all we Wests have a sense of humor that’s a little sick, or French as I like to think of it. My favorite story – and I’m not sure who originally told it to me – maybe Robert’s sister Jane actually – happened when they were kids growing up in Philadelphia. (I’m no longer sure which parts, if any, of this story are true). Jane was told to go out and find Robert; dinner was ready. She walked around the block yelling ROBERT! ROBERT! DINNER! She found him lying in the neighbor’s yard with croquet hoops around his neck, wrists and ankles. She looked at him and said, “Robert! Dinner! Come On!” He replied quietly, “Jane. I can’t get up.”

Every time we would double over laughing and scream “Tell it again!” Finally, after years of this, on some holiday in Richmond, probably lounging on the rug yelling at us about the horrible TV we watched, he rolled his eyes and said in his soft, calm voice, “You know Emily, that’s not a happy memory for me.”

Where did Robert get his awareness? How did he love and accept himself and others so honestly? I think it’s because he had no fear. I asked Robert why he didn’t fear death. He said, “It’s not unfamiliar to me.” He said he had been with a number of people he loved dearly at their deaths and what he saw wasn’t fear, but acceptance.

He talked about being with Uncle Charlie when he died and what a gift that was. Robert and Charlie (my great uncle) were cut from the same cloth. This is from a letter Robert shared with me written by a priest at the time of Charlie’s death: “Charlie died a long time ago to the vulgar success of money and material luxury….So, Charlie (and Robert) your quiet quest for life has not been in vain. May you have life in abundance. May your heart, which always sought peace for the people, be filled with its fullness.”

My mother found a excerpt from a speech by Theodore Roosevelt and we both felt that it describes Robert.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, fails while daring greatly.”

Robert’s fearlessness in accepting and loving himself allowed him to do the same for all of us. I love the quiet welcome in his voice when he would say ”Hey.” I love the intense passion he had for social justice and change and fairness. His was a life of bravery and compassion. A rare life lived with power and honesty.

I’m reminded of my favorite part of church growing up – the painted words behind the altar at St. James’ in Richmond. And although there is no churchiness today at all, I think he would agree with the sentiment:

“Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only.”

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Robert West Memorial
By Reggie Shuford

Good afternoon, everyone.  My name is Reggie Shuford, and I have been Chair of the Working Films board for the past three or so years. I was vice chair for 2 years before that. I am honored to be here with you today and to be a part of today’s service.  I would like to talk about Robert’s generosity.

I grew up here in Wilmington, in Creekwood, a housing project quite literally on the other side of the tracks. I was the first African-American to graduate Cape Fear Academy, a local private school, in the mid-80s. Most of my schoolmates were the children of the most well-off people in town. Many had been sent there specifically to avoid integrated public schools. For many reasons, I felt very confined here in Wilmington, like a plant that was not being sufficiently watered or a caged bird – a la Maya Angelou.  So, when I left for college, I couldn’t leave fast enough.

In an earlier tribute to Robert, Judith mentioned that Robert had curated his home, filled it with art, old family photos, cool furniture, cut flowers, delicious food, warmth and great friends. The same can be said of his life writ large — from his lifelong work towards making the world a more equal and just place, to founding Working Films with Judith when his position as curator of Film and Video at the Mint Museum of Charlotte didn’t work out, to creating family and community and a safe space, filled with fun, good food and cheer, for those he cared about.

That Robert chose Wilmington, my hometown, to do all of this in was the first of many gifts to me. Literally, after I joined the Working Films board, I was able to visit my family, friends and hometown from New York, the Bay Area and now Philadelphia, on a more frequent and regular basis. Robert’s gift to me, vis-a-vis Working Films, was the gift of reconceptualizing Wilmington, to experience it differently than my childhood. This new vision and experience are broader, more progressive, inclusive, diverse, integrated, humane. Wilmington is not perfect – no place is. But I am grateful to be able to see it much differently than when I left it.

Another gift was Robert’s approach to living and dying. I was with Robert when we discovered there might be a problem.   Last August, I flew to Wilmington to meet with Robert in lieu of a full board meeting. It was too hard to get everyone’s summer schedules to work. The plan was for the two of us to meet and then report back to the full board. So, it was just the two of us meeting at the firehouse. During our conversation, Robert lost the ability to complete sentences, no matter how hard he tried. This lasted just a few minutes but felt like an eternity. When the episode passed, Robert promised me he would get it checked out, which led to his diagnosis. So, I felt especially close to his diagnosis and this situation from day one. From then on, Robert’s approach was matter-of-fact, gracious, generous and inspiring. He cared about how we felt — that we allow ourselves to experience the full range of emotions, but that we also be of good cheer. Robert curated his death, just as he had his life. He went out on his own terms. He wanted his final months and days to reflect quality over quantity, so no extraordinary measures or interventions to prolong his life. He chose dignity instead. To die in his own bed, surrounded by – or at least in touch with – the people and things he loved most.

A curator til the very end, he curated every inch of this memorial service. From the music, to the order of speakers, to the length of time we should speak.

In closing, I would say that Robert gave all of us another gift: the inspiration and example of how to curate your life. To fill it with the people, causes, and things you love, to take occasional breaks from technology.

Robert certainly gave material gifts, but his most important gifts were less tangible and more enduring. They were about friendship, community, living one’s life and helping others live lives in full bloom, tearing down walls, and spreading one’s wings and soaring.

Please share your own memories and reflections about Robert with us. If you would like to honor him by contributing to the Robert West Reel Engagement Fund, which we set up with his blessing and encouragement last spring as a way to memorialize his role in founding the organization and his vision for our work, you can do so at www.workingfilms.org/donate.  Thank you!

 

 

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Nine Cities Across NC Renew the Fight for Voting Rights with Moral Movies

June 3rd, 2014 by Andy Myers

50 years have passed since Freedom Summer, when more than 700 local organizers and students took segregated Mississippi by storm, registering voters, and creating freedom schools. Freedom Summer put a national spotlight on the violent voter suppression facing Black Americans in the deep south and ultimately led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Half a century later, voting rights are under attack again.

That’s why Working Films, the NC NAACP, Democracy NC, and many allies are bringing screenings of Freedom Summer to cities across North Carolina this month as part of the Moral Movies film series.

With the dismantling of voting rights in North Carolina, the themes in this film resonate all too well. After the screenings representatives from Democracy NC will draw the connection between the fight to end voter suppression on screen and the struggle playing out right here and now in North Carolina. If you’re in Wilmington, Durham, Raleigh, Greenville, Charlotte, Greensboro, Fayetteville, or Asheville come join to find out what is being done to defend voting rights and how you can get involved! If you know people in these locations, spread the word! Dates and Locations for all screenings below.

 

Winston Salem: Monday, June 16th, 6pm

The Central Library Auditorium, 660 West Fifth St. Winston Salem, NC 27101

Greensboro: Tuesday, June 24th, 6:30pm

International Civil Rights Center and Museum, 134 S Elm St. Greensboro, NC 27401

Greenville: Tuesday June 24th, 7pm

Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 131 Oakmont Dr. Greenville, NC 27858

Raleigh: Tuesday, June 24th, 7pm

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh, 3313 Wade Ave. Raleigh, NC 27607

Wilmington: Tuesday, June 24th, 7pm

New Beginning Christian Church, 3120 Alex Trask Dr. Castle Hayne, NC 28429

Fayetteville: Thursday June 26th, 6pm

The North Regional Library-855 McArthur Road, Fayetteville, NC 28311-2053

Asheville: Thursday June 26th, 7pm

Jubilee! 46 Wall St. Asheville, NC 28801

Charlotte: Thursday June 26th, 7pm

Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte 234 N Sharon Amity Rd, Charlotte, NC 28211

Durham: Thursday June 26th, 7pm

Hayti Heritage Center 804 Old Fayetteville St. Durham, NC 27701

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Remembering Robert

June 2nd, 2014 by Anna Lee

old photo of robertThis Friday, June 6th, 2014 will mark a year since our co-founder Robert West passed away. All this week we will be posting tributes to him from his friends, family, and colleagues. Today we are sharing the remarks given by Robert’s dear friends Betsy Bilger and Tom Warshauer at his memorial service held last June at the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, NC.  Re-reading these remembrances brought smiles to our faces, and we’ve spent the morning in the office telling stories about our dynamic friend and colleague. We hope that as you read and gain glimpses into Robert’s rich life that you too will recall your favorite anecdotes and share those memories of Robert with us in the comments section or on our facebook page.

Tom warshauer Remarks for Robert Kyle West
By Tom Warshauer

Welcome. I am so gratified to be a part of this community of Robert’s friends and family as we remember our friend and celebrate his legacy.

He wanted us to gather here, built by his friend Ren Brown and the location of Ren’s Memorial service. Robert spent his last decade here in Wilmington, and the firehouse in this coastal town and his friend’s home in Windy Point were the places Robert loved as his final home. After he became ill, he didn’t travel. He stayed here and watched the boats, dolphins and birds on the intracoastal, the sunsets over the marsh, and you visited. He loved it here, so it is fitting that we should gather here today, and thank the Cameron Museum for making it possible.

He loved you and planned this day for you.  He wanted you to relax into some good music that he selected with his friend Tom Noonan.  He wanted you to think back into his life and your life with him as you hear from speakers he invited to address you today.  He was always in control and is in control of this day too.

Robert left no one behind.  He remembered his illustrious family – the 14th great grandson of Pocahontas, a descendant of Robert Pleasants who freed his slaves in 1782 and encouraged Thomas Jefferson and George Washington to do so to.  His Uncle Charles Butterworth worked for the Catholic Workers Movement for social equity. His activism was deeply rooted in his family. So as you listen to stories from these aspects of his life, I believe we will see more clearly how this man we admired and loved was constructed.

Robert collected people about him, connected them together and then connected us to the world. When at Robert’s you knew that you mattered, that one person could change the world, because one person sitting with you, Robert, was doing just that.

He built a community as he served us with dinner and served us with thought.  He never shied from something difficult. In fact, he preferred something difficult to talking about what you agreed on. He didn’t mind being challenged, or pushed in the pool.  He knew that rigorous thought was honed by challenges, as steel is strengthened by fire. We argued,and we knew it was ok.  So any arguments I may have had with anyone are no match for the arguments with Robert.  I am practiced. His dinners weren’t empty conversation, but places where thinking mattered and good stories prevailed.

So today we all try to rise to the occasion to tell the stories Robert would love you to hear and to remember. Today you will hear of Robert’s impact on the world of film and activism on issues critical to our world, you will hear from family about their brother and uncle, and you will hear from friends, in Wilmington and long-time friends from Richmond. You may have heard some before- that’s not new – but today we hear them together and remember your friend, your brother, your uncle, and my good good friend – who challenged me and helped me grow.

Memories of Robert West betsy bilger
By Betsy Bilger

When I say the name Robert West it feels like I am saying a word that is bigger than the individual. The name Robert West is like saying The Fourth of July – we all recognize it as something important. Because he is kind of famous… He is the director of Working Films; he is the guy that lives in the firehouse; he’s the person that kayaks on the Cape Fear River; he is the host of legendary dinner parties….

But then there is the personal experience. And that is the Robert West that unfolds slowly and is revealed when you get to spend time with him and pay attention.

Robert has been a regular presence in my life for around 30 years. So, I am really fortunate to have had that time with him. He was first someone I admired; then was a neighbor, a colleague, and a friend. Twice we lived on the same street at the same time. We partnered on projects together, and we went to the farmers market and planned meals together. In fact, I say that Robert was a rhythm in my life. If we were in the same town on Saturday, we were at the farmer’s market. That was true when we lived in Charlotte and in Wilmington. And if one of us was out of town, we picked up provisions for the other. I told people that Robert was the punctuation to my week. Saturday mornings with him was the thing I started to look forward to on Monday.

I told Robert before he died that he has been a steady, stalwart friend. And that is a big deal. But he was more than that. He was one of the most generous people I know. Many of us here have been the lucky beneficiaries of Robert’s generosity in the form of his dinner parties. Not only have I been lucky to eat at his table many, many Saturday nights, but he has welcomed friends of mine that he had never met to his house. In fact, he has welcomed friends of friends of mine to dinner. He just welcomed them without hesitation in his non-effusive, authentic way.

He was not effusive, but he was generous. He didn’t care about receiving or giving gifts in the traditional sense. But he gave many gifts. One of his gifts was the way he celebrated individuals. He acknowledged them and recognized their worth. Sometimes they were people he barely knew, and sometimes they were people close to him. When I started a new job at a museum in Charlotte he showed up with a carrier of coffee, cream, cups, and sugar for the whole staff.  He wanted to celebrate my new job by giving to those around me so that they thought I was pretty cool. When I worked on projects with him he gave credit to me—even though he was the one who came up with the idea, who found the funding, made the contacts, and facilitated the activities.

He was also generous in his honesty. When you were at his house for dinner and it was time for you to leave he would say, “Ok, it’s time for you to go now.”  When he was first in the hospital, and he needed time to himself he would again say, “Ok, it’s time for you to go now.” He once asked me if that was ok to do, and I told him it made it so much easier to be his guest, because I never had to worry about overstaying or being an imposition. He wouldn’t let you.

His honesty pushed him to guide people to unaccustomed and sometimes uncomfortable ways of seeing the world… and also of seeing your own life. I think of myself as a pretty happy person, but he often needled me about having more fun. In fact, in one of the last conversations I had with him, he asked me what I was doing for fun. I am a social studies teacher, and I told him that I was enjoying reading about history and preparing my classes. That didn’t satisfy him, and he said, “Yes, but, what are you doing for fun?” And I said, “Well, Eddie and I are taking lots of walks together.” And he said, “But what are you doing for fun?” And I realized that I wasn’t really taking care of my fun needs. And I am still not very well. And part of that is because he died and I am sad. But you know what—I have had such a great time thinking about and talking about him as this memorial was being planned, I think his final gift to me has been to have fun this weekend.

Robert taught me so much through the questions he asked, the way he lived in this world, and the opportunities he made happen and included me in. He could make me so annoyed at times, and at other times we would both be laughing so hard we were in tears.  And, then of course, we shared tears of sadness and concern. First, after watching Judith’s film, A Healthy Baby Girl, and then, last, when he told me he was dying. He was not only generous until death but because of death.

I am grateful for all the experiences he offered me, and I am grateful to his family for sharing him with me.

Thank you.

Please share your own memories and reflections about Robert with us. If you would like to honor him by contributing to the Robert West Reel Engagement Fund, which we set up with his blessing and encouragement last spring as a way to memorialize his role in founding the organization and his vision for our work, you can do so at www.workingfilms.org/donate.  Thank you!
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Moral Movies continues with American Winter

May 14th, 2014 by Andy Myers

The Moral Movies Film Series got off to a great start last month with screenings of  the Teacher Salary Project’s American Teacher. Hundreds of people turned out across North Carolina to witness, discuss, and take action in response to the struggles on screen and those faced by public school teachers every day in a state ranked 46th in the country in teacher pay. The screenings were timed just as shocking teacher turnover numbers were released in the wake of a legislative assault on public education.

It wasn’t hard for audiences to make the connection between the film to the challenges educators in N.C.are dealing with. After the screenings they composed postcards for state legislators and signed up for the Tar Heel Alliance for Classroom Teachers’ action network.

Moral Movies will continue this month with screenings of American Winter, which  follows eight families struggling in the wake of America’s Great Recession and reveals the devastating human impact of rising economic inequality, a shrinking social safety net, and the fracturing of the American Dream.

The NC AFL-CIO will co-present this month’s round of screenings. Communications Director and Operations Manager, Jeremy Sprinkle says, “Many working families in North Carolina will be able to relate to the powerful stories of personal loss and struggle told in American Winter because the devastating and long-lasting effects of the recession continue to be felt here. It may be springtime on the calendar, but for all those who are now falling into poverty, it still feels like our economy and policymakers have left them in the cold. We hope American Winter opens people’s eyes to the new faces of poverty in America, which increasingly include those of well-educated and once middle-class working families. Only by working together can we build an economy that works for all of us.”

American Winter will screen May 29th in seven cities across North Carolina, more details below:

Asheville: Thursday, May 29th, 7pm

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville, 1 Edwin Place. Asheville, NC 28801

Charlotte: Thursday, May 29th, 7pm

NCAE, 301 S McDowell ST. Suite 1200, Charlotte, NC 18204 Parking is available in the lot beside the building and your parking pass will be validated once you come upstairs

Wilmington: Thursday, May 29th, 7pm

Hannah Block Community Arts Center, 120 S 2nd St. Wilmington, NC 28401

Raleigh: Thursday, May 29th, 7pm

Kenan Hall at William Peace University, 15 E Peace St. Raleigh, NC

Durham: Thursday, May 29th, 7pm

Full Frame Theater in the center of the American Tobacco Campus, 320 Blackwell St. Durham, NC 27701

Greensboro: Thursday, May 29th, 7pm

Weatherspoon Art Museum, 500 Tate St. Greensboro, NC 27412

Greenville: Thursday, May 29th, 7pm

Lucille W. Gorham Intergenerational Community Ctr. 1100 Ward St. Greenville, NC 27834

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Coal Ash Stories: Join us in June!

May 12th, 2014 by Kristin Henry
Film still from Downwind and Downstream: With Power Comes Responsibility. Coal ash impoundments along the Catawba River with the Charlotte skyline.

Film still from Downwind and Downstream: With Power Comes Responsibility. Coal ash impoundments along the Catawba River with the Charlotte skyline in background.

 

Imagine being afraid to drink your water, take a bath, fish, or farm. These are the fears facing communities near the Duke Energy coal ash spill and in areas around other coal-fired power plants in North Carolina.

You’re invited to Coal Ash Stories, an event featuring four short films focused on coal ash, public health concerns, related policy, and ways that communities are responding. Events are taking place in Wilmington, Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro, Belews Creek, Winston Salem, Charlotte, and Asheville. Come learn about the issues, talk with community members, and find out how you can get involved.

The NC screening tour is co-presented by Appalachian Voices, Earthjustice, North Carolina Conservation Network, NC WARN, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, and Working Films. Contact Kristin Henry, khenry@workingfilms.org, with any questions.

Winston Salem
Thursday, June 12, 7pm
Old Salem Single Brothers Workshop
10 West Academy Street Winston-Salem, NC 27101
Hosted by: Sierra Club Foothills Group

Belews Creek
Tuesday June 17th, 7pm

Pine Hall Ruritan Club
1555 Pine Hall Rd Pine Hall, NC 27042
Hosted by: Appalachian Voices

Durham
Tuesday, June 17th, 7pm
Motorco
723 Rigsbee Ave, Durham, NC 27701
Hosted by: NC WARN, Sierra Club Headwaters Group, Durham People’s Alliance

Charlotte
Wednesday, June 18th, 7pm
Area 15
514 E. 15th St., Charlotte, NC 28206
Co-hosted by: Charlotte Environmental Action, Greenpeace NC, The Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation

Asheville
Thursday, June 19th, 7pm
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville
1 Edwin Place, Asheville, NC 28801
Co-hosted by: Southern Alliance for Clean EnergyMountain People’s AssemblyClean Water for NC

Greensboro
Thursday, June 19th, 7pm
Central Library Nussbaum Room
219 N Church St., Greensboro, NC 27405
Co-hosted by: Fund for Democratic Communities, League of Conservation Voters, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League

Raleigh
Thursday, June 19th, 7pm
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh
3313 Wade Ave, Raleigh, NC 27607
Co-hosted by: 350.org Triangle, Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation, Sierra Club Capital Group,  League of Conservation Voters-NC, Triangle Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

Wilmington
Thursday, June 19th, 7pm
Jengo’s Playhouse
815 Princess St. Wilmington, NC 28401
Co-hosted by: Cape Fear Sierra Club, New Hanover NAACP, Cape Fear River Watch

 

 

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