Earlier this week, I wrote about a power film on community building titled "Twisp: The Power of Community", by Leslee Goodman, a first-time filmmaker from the Methow Valley.
This film, which beautifully captures the history of community resilience of the Methow when confronted with huge challenges, is something that deserves to be seen in every community in North Central Washington as a way to inspire and further encourage this kind of can-do attitude. Every town in the region has similar stories of rising to the challenge that can be used to bolster confidence that the small and large challenges we face can be solved.
"Twisp: The Power of Community" was an audacious first film effort by Goodman, who was living in Santa Barbara before moving with her husband to the Methow a little more than a decade ago. They were looking to move to a town with a strong sense of community with open-minded people and a thriving arts environment and a connection to the outdoors. They found that in the Methow.
Goodman, who earns her living as a writer, participated in a film workshop at TwispWorks and then decided to take the plunge as a filmmaker. Film just added another group of skills to help her tell meaningful stories that change lives.
Her original concept was to create a film about the skills that people have developed to make ends meet without a lot of resources, such as shoeing horses, canning tomatoes and milking cows. But with the growing acrimony of our political system, she shifted to focus on how a community evenly split between conservatives and liberals has maintained a strong sense of community.
The attitude in the valley, she told me, is “nobody is expecting someone else to (solve problems) for us.” She acknowledged that maintaining a spirit of cooperating and collaboration across the political divide is easier in a remote valley like the Methow.
It seems to me that focusing on what we can do locally in strengthening community by finding common ground is a positive path forward — far more productive than yelling at the television set about national issues.
Goodman is in the process of submitting her film, which was funded on a microscopic budget of about $7,500, to film festivals. She hopes to make a difference regionally and nationally with the film. She’ll be up against stiff competition, because the category she’s competing in – microbudgets — includes budgets up to $250,000. “Mine’s a nanobudget,” she quipped.
In the course of researching and shooting scenes for the film, she was continually amazed at the broad vision of the people who live in the valley and how individuals are trying to build bridges. For example, the director of Confluence Art Gallery in Twisp brings diverse and sometimes controversial programs that inspire challenging conversations. The Methow at Home effort, she added, is about finding ways to help folks who want to stay in the community as they age. Everywhere you turn in the valley, people are viewing community and a sense of belonging as essential. In a society that is increasingly transactional and zero-sum, the spirit in the valley is highly relational.
After showing the film for the first time in the valley, she said locals told her it “reflected the best of them back to them,” which she took as a high compliment.
“I am grateful to live in this community where beauty is healing and nature is healing and that I am surrounded by people who recognize that as well,” Goodman said.
When we take the time to look for the good in people in our communities and celebrate their contributions, we find that an incredible reservoir of goodwill exists. Communities are about we, not me.