Monday, January 17, 2011

Hibernation - not a bad concept...

As snow fell in Chattanooga and everything came to a stop, it occurred to me that hibernation is not a bad concept. I had my own retreat in a way - the edit cave and I was happy, warm and quietly at work. The first few weeks of January was spent wrapping up two pieces on the Benwood Speakers - one on Malcolm Gladwell, the other on Cory Booker. Both proved engaging and challenging. I’ve also been hired by National Geographic to develop two stories loosely based in the south and hope to complete that research by the end of this month. So for the moment, I’m staying in the cave, when I emerge I’ll post a couple of videos and head out to do some more filming. Stay tuned, stay warm…and when in doubt HIBERNATE.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Open Letter to Mayor Booker...

Dear Mayor Booker,

I was hired by the Benwood Foundation to document your trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee. In the course of filming your speech and visit, I saw a contagious energy spread in the crowd. So in an effort to go beyond that “feel good” moment you left us with and build on your inspiring visit, I’m posting this letter to you on my blog to further a conversation not on community building but rather on community inspiration and the power of our own stories.

When you stand up before a crowd and retell the stories of your grandfather, father or neighbor, you harness their strengths. The neighbor who fought for civil rights, the bus driver who survived the war, and even everyday lessons of work, hope and life that bind us all together are an untapped resource. There is nothing really new in this thought, indeed it is the backbone all great books of faith. And behind every great minister is a great storyteller. But in a world where technology can send a story around the world in seconds, you would think we would be up to our eyeballs in inspiration, but we are not. Our children grow up unaware of the ordinary people all around us that do extraordinary things. But think of what would happen if we actually turned off the “reality” TV show and stopped to listen to the real life stories of our own community.

There is a deep spiritual fuel locked up in a remembered story of a treasured life. They are perhaps our greatest untapped resource. And I believe in much the same way that Malcolm Gladwell explains the tipping points of social trends that all humans have tipping points as well. Moments that can forever change our path. They can be stories or acts of kindness or words of encouragement – the slightest push can make a monumental change. Now, of course, this is my own theory and the social scientists may prove me wrong, but time and time again I experience human “tipping points” in my work as a filmmaker. A simple box of crayons given to a child, a teacher who connected with a student or as I discovered during your visit, a documentary about you so inspired one man that he became active in our community and now serves on our city council. What seems to be a fleeting and insignificant moment in a day, can alter the course of a person’s life forever.

I have actually given this search for sustained passion, and the tipping points in life that create it some thought. The enclosed film is my best answer to that search. And if you are looking for new material, look no further than Jimmie Woodruff…She is always a great way to kick off a New Year and like you, is a great disciple of storytelling. It is just a small thank you for bringing your stories to our community and filling us with inspiration. My hope is our community can discover ways to unlock our stories and harness the inspiration or the fuel we need to sustain our passions. May you have a safe and warm New Year.

Best Regards,