Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Southern Circuit "Ripe for Change" Tour Day 6 Ashland, KY


Driving through the mountains from Paducah to Ashland, Kentucky the trees were changing from green to shades of red, yellow and orange. In another week or so they all be that color. I have not taken the Blue Grass trail before. I noticed there was no litter and a very smooth highway as I passed through small towns made the driving a pleasure.

I knew "Ripe for Change" was playing at the Paramount Arts Center in Ashland but I did not realize that it was one of the classic art deco theaters that Paramount Studios built in the thirties. It was built for the "Talkies" and has been carefully restored to its former glory.

Kathy Timmons Setterman, the Paramount Arts Center's executive director, gave me a tour of this wonderful facility, which today serves primarily as a performing arts center. The community organization that owns and operates the Paramount bought a building behind the theater and remodeled it for dressing rooms for the touring companies.

I was very pleased to hear that "Ripe for Change" is the first independent film ever to be screened at the Paramount, and only the second film to play since the theater was restored.

Kathy and her colleague Tyson Compton (who took the photos for this blog) turned out locals interested in food and agriculture from three states: Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. Most of the crowd was my age, which led to a 40-minute discussion about local agriculture practices. While folks were lamenting the lack of local agriculture, conventional or organic, a gentleman from a newly form grass roots "localvore" organization asked everyone to join them at their weekly meetings at the First Christian Church. No one in the audience had ever heard of the group but they wanted to learn more. This is what film screenings and discussions can do...connecting people to resources in their own community that they may not about.

This wasn't the only connection that was made at this screening. After the Q & A, a young woman named Brooke Baker walked up to me and said she was a professional dietitian. She had heard about the film when it was screened at the national convention of the American Dietetic Association in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia screening came about because Melinda Hemmelgarn, M.S., R.D. Writer, Speaker, Columnist, Change Agent and 2004-2006 Kellogg Food and Society Policy Fellow had seen the film at the International Food Security Coalition's national conference in Vancouver Canada in 2006. Brooke purchased a DVD of "Ripe for Change" to show at the West Virginia Dietetic Association. She is also affiliated with the West Virginia University Extension Service. I told her that the kind of screenings and discussions she is proposing is the reason Emiko Omori and I made the film.