Begin Content Display
By Gordon Dritschilo - October 11, 2011
Art Jones thinks Congress could learn from Rutland, Vermont.??The filmmaker, with the help of Rep. Peter Welch, D-VT. and a nonprofit group called the Northeast-Midwest Institute, has scheduled a showing of “The Blood in this Town” later this week at the Congressional Auditorium, located in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C. ??Jones’ documentary uses the Gift of Life Marathon blood drive as a backdrop to look at Rutland’s various problems and the efforts under way to solve them.
Jones has held a number of showings of the film accompanied by panel discussions about community renewal.??“I think we’re going to get a number of lawmakers, but I think really there is something in getting their staffs,” Jones said of the Washington showing, scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday. “It’s staff members on the Hill who do a lot of the day-to-day dealing with constituents.”??Jones said he also hopes to attract “advocates” and people from Beltway think-tanks.??“I’d love to kind of reignite the fire for federal support for the small towns, who are the ones hardest hit in this recession,” he said.
Like the other screenings, this one will include a panel discussion, and Jones said panelists who have signed up to go to D.C. include Gift of Life organizer Steve Costello and Rutland Area Farm and Food Link executive director Tara Kelly.??Jones said when Congressmen pay attention to small towns, it is typically to listen to people’s problems and “feel their pain.”??“I wish they’d do a little bit of listening to what is working at the grass-roots level,” he said. “Small towns are an incredible resource for reinvention and new ideas, but I’m not sure people are used to listening to them that way. I’d like to bring this to a larger audience in Washington where it should be on their radar.”
“The Blood in this Town” has found its way into some regional film festivals, but Jones said he feels he has been more productive showing the films at small-town forums.??“What you get at a festival is an audience of moviegoers, but they’re not the sort of people who will turn around and say ‘What is happening in our community and what can we do?’” he said. “I really believe this film is going to live and do its work at the grass roots level. If we can go to DC and take a macro view of things now and then, I’m all for it.”