Film Series Strengthens Transition Group

An update from Lindsay Curren of Transition Staunton Augusta on their recent 'Local Motion Film Series.'

Transition Staunton Augusta (TSA), the 61st official Transition Group in the U.S. and a Shenandoah Valley, Virginia initiative, recently wrapped up the first season of its Local Motion Film Series.

Since February of this year, TSA has partnered with another local group, Staunton Green 2020, to bring free screenings of compelling documentary films on energy, economy, food, and culture, to downtown Staunton.

Held in the Roots Music Hall of the Mockingbird Restaurant, a locavore eatery and performance hub, the series has drawn standing room only audiences of 150 people to the monthly third Thursday screenings. Film fans, students, families, City Council members and the Commonwealth's Attorney, among other engaged citizens, have come to these showings. By pairing with other organizations, from a local land conservancy to a college's Civic Engagement Department, to the Sierra Club, TSA crafted food and film events that were affordable for the organization, an economic generator for the venue, and a laboratory for the community.
 
Part of the draw for locals is the post-screening film discussion. Local farmers, alternative energy experts, architects, conservation officials, and even musicians have offered their time to field questions and lead conversations on issues pertinent to our times. Bringing people together in this manner offered another avenue for the kind of outreach and ground building that can help transition groups cultivate the consensus necessary for a great unleashing.

Films in the first series included Coal Country, DIRT! The Movie, and Fresh. The End of Suburbia was also screened, which gave our group temporary pause as its message generates much more controversy. Was our conservative, business-first area really ready to talk about peak oil? Not only was the screening a success, it may have been the best conversation yet as we tackled tough issues about declining fossil fuels with the Gulf Oil catastrophe as a background. That showing was followed just days later by a concert play reading of James Howard Kunstler's Big Slide, deepening the conversation even more. The play offered an opportunity to use drama, human emotions, and scenarios to launch talks about what a resource crunch might look like right here at home.

  All of the sudden we're finding a lot of closet peak-oilers out there who are wondering out energy, the future, and our own community. Showing films to begin conversations has helped to diffuse tensions as the talk orbits around the shared experience of what just seen--and there are many different view points. In short, it has been a tremendous success.
 

The Local Motion summer season, opening June 17, includes King Corn, Save Our Land Save Our Towns, A Crude Awakening, and The Green House.
 
As the coordinator for the Local Motion Film Series, I hope that this model for local events might be emulated by other transition groups and grass roots organizations. A key piece seems to be moderating the event skillfully, and partnering with local figures who help broaden audiences  to further legitimize the conversation.

If your group is interested in trying this out, I am happy to act as a contact point to help traverse the unfamiliar process of film bookings, community partnerships, and speaking engagements. Please e-mail me with any questions.

 

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