The Blood in This Town,’ the documentary about Rutland, Vermont’s grassroots efforts to revitalize itself, travels to Capitol Hill this week for a screening and revitalization forum, bringing the plight and promise of America’s ailing small towns to the attention of national leaders and advocates. The event is hosted by the Northeast-Midwest Institute in cooperation with US Rep Peter Welch’s office, the Rockefeller Foundation, Great Jones Productions and the German-Marshall Fund. It will take place on Thursday, October 13 from 6:00 - 9:00pm at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center.
In less than a year since an early version of the film was screened for the citizens of Rutland, ‘The Blood in this Town’ is sounding a wake-up call in the nation’s capital as part of its growing national outreach to spark the exchange of revitalization ideas and resources among local communities state-to-state. Organizers of the DC event from the Northwest-Midwest Institute see Rutland’s example of re-invention as emblematic of how communities can work together to turn their fortunes around, and chose to screen the film at the height of Washington’s fierce debate over economic turnaround in the U.S.
Rutland, by building on local strengths and assets to chart a new way forward, is creating a blueprint for revival that could help save a recession-battered America.
‘Given today’s intense national search for new ways to build a stronger economy and reinvigorate local communities, Rutland’s story of transformation is right on time and right on target. Now is the time to share Rutland’s grassroots spirit and revitalization know-how with more and more towns across the United States and bring the plight of America’s struggling rural and rust-belt towns to the full attention of power in DC,’ said Art Jones, the film’s director.
The panel discussion to follow the film will include: moderator Paul Costello, Executive Director, Vermont Council on Rural Development; Art Jones, Director, ‘The Blood in This Town’; John Robert Smith, President, Reconnecting America; Tara Kelly, Executive Director, Rutland Area Farm & Food Link; and Steve Costello, Director of Public Affairs, Central Vermont Public Service and ‘head coach’ for the Gift-of-Life Marathon blood drive.
For six weeks beginning September 17, 2011, ‘The Blood in this Town’ has been on the road taking Vermont strength & revitalization to the nation. With stops across Vermont, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Washington, DC and New York City, the fall series brings together community leaders, urban planners, business people and government officials to engage local citizens in action to create a more vibrant, sustainable future for small towns.
‘Ultimately, this is a story about challenges facing town after town in America,’ Jones said. ‘Rutland’s revitalization efforts are instructive and inspiring, and the best news is that they are transferable.’
As background, ‘The Blood in This Town’ is an 80-minute documentary that uses Rutland’s remarkable Gift-of-Life Marathon blood drive to explore how an ailing rust-belt town can rebuild from the grassroots up. Rutland’s act of giving blood in record-breaking numbers becomes a powerful symbol of renewal and social change that radiates throughout the community - in initiatives to engage new ideas and create sustainable businesses, world-class natural recreation, farm-to-table networks, entrepreneurial start-ups, and the revival of a historic downtown.
‘Rutland Revival and Small Town Revitalization’
Screening & Forum with ‘The Blood in this Town’
Thursday, October 13, 6:00-9:00pm
U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, Congressional Auditorium, Washington, DC
6:00pm Reception: Taste of Vermont
6:45pm Opening Remarks from U.S. Rep. Peter Welch / Film Screening
8:15pm Panel Discussion and Q&A