Increasing community awareness of social issues facing residents of Indiana County has been the goal of the Center for Community Growth during its “A New Economy” film series.
“We are a small organization focused on addressing issues of social, economic, racial and environmental justice,” said Eric Barker, a center member who has helped to coordinate the six-month series.
The series, held at the Indiana Theater on Philadelphia Street, gives the community the chance to discuss the issues they’re passionate about.
“We have been at the theater basically having a documentary on an issue with a panel discussion and a Q-and-A,” Barker said. Friday marks the last of the six-month series that’s been held on the last Friday of every month. Previously, the series has featured:
• “Triple Divide,” which, according to the film’s website, attempts to explain “how are state regulations and industry handling impacts from fracking.”
• “YERT,” a documentary that Barker said is all about sustainability and recycling.
“At that film we had a recycling petition, we had over 300 people sign it and we were promoting single stream curbside recycling here in Indiana Borough,” he said. Because of the high interest regarding the issue, the center presented that petition to Indiana Borough Council.
• “Urban Roots,” according to the Internet Movie Database, is a documentary that tells the story of the emergence of urban farming in Detroit, which was a part of the series in May.
• “8: The Mormon Proposition,” which Barker called “timely, because the film is about how the Mormon church was putting all of this money into this anti-gay marriage campaign.”
It was good timing, he said, because the week the film was shown, the Supreme Court stood in support of gay marriage.
“We had a panel of local LGBT leaders that were talking about their experiences and how they got involved with the movement here in Indiana County.”
The last film in the series, “Capitalism, A Love Story,” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the theater, and is co-sponsored by the United Mine Workers of America.
It addresses the economic crisis of 2008 and how capitalism and the big banks “caused that calamity,” Barker said.
“The film sort of talks about issues of social inequity that exist in American life today.”
IMDb describes the film, written and directed by Michael Moore, as “an examination of the social costs of corporate interests pursuing profits at the expense of the public good.”
The Center for Community Growth and UMWA have local labor union leaders coming in to serve on the panel and do the Q-and-A. Those present will include Ron Baker, of the Service Employees International Union; Ron Airhart, of the UMWA; Dr. Brandon Vick, a labor economist at Indiana University of Pennsylvania; and sociology professor Dr. Jim Dougherty, moderator of the panel.
The center suggests a $5 donation for entry into the event.
Throughout the series, Barker said the center has been pleased with the turnout, with more than 100 people coming to see the first film in the series, and 40 to 80 people at the films following. In turn, Barker said, this helps the Indiana Theater.
“Sean Howard has been good at managing the theater and trying to revitalize that historic property, and the center has been one of the first main recurring renters of the theater,” he said.
The center welcomes members of the community to this event and future events for the sake of getting involved in the local social justice initiative. In addition, Barker said, the center is looking for people to become members.
“If you have a social justice project that you would like to take on, we’re happy to bring you in as long as it fits with the mission of our organization,” he said. “If you want to sponsor a project, then we’ll support you as the Center for Community Growth and handle advertising and promotion.”
The center has been involved with other initiatives, including the Indiana Farmers Market and the 2012 Voter Registration Drive.
“We’re trying to fill a gap in the community where we can stand up for issues of social, economic, racial and environmental justice,” Barker said.
For more information on The Center for Community Growth and the film series, visit theindianacenter.wordpress.com.