Despite the doom and gloom that people seem to focus on, much is good about the Williamsport area and its people. These positives will be highlighted in a film made by the Heart of Williamsport that will be presented on Friday, February 9 at the Community Arts Center.
From the Heart of Williamsport” is a one-hour movie that weaves together moments from peoples’ Williamsport stories; moments that will make you smile and feel good about where you live. A free movie premiere is being shown as part of a community celebration on Friday, February 9 at the Community Arts Center. Doors open at 5 p.m. with light refreshments and live music by members of the Susquehanna Jam Crackers. The movie screening will begin at 6 p.m., followed by a reception with music by pianist Jacquie Engel, free hors-d’oeuvres, and a cash bar. This reception will provide an opportunity to learn more about the Heart of Williamsport project and how to be involved. This event is free to the public; no registration is required.
This movie was developed as part of the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership’s (SGP) river town initiative — Heart of Williamsport (HOW). In 2016 SGP collaborated with the Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC) to bring the Orton Family Foundation’s ‘Community Heart & Soul’ to Williamsport. This is an innovative approach to public engagement based on three principles: involve everyone, focus on what matters most, and play the long game.
In the typical public process, public meetings are held to present a proposed project, and the public is given an opportunity to share feedback. Heart and Soul reverses that process. You start by going out to meet the people where they are, and through storytelling discover what people value most about where they live. From this information and community conversations, ideas for projects emerge, and people work together to develop their ideas into projects.
Heart of Williamsport assembled volunteers, explored the City’s demographics, and developed a strategy for outreach that included both familiar and unheard voices. Working with Lycoming College WISE interns Sophie Herzing and Christopher Cizek, volunteers collected over 900 survey responses and recorded 80 in-depth Williamsport stories, giving insight into what our residents value most. Volunteers worked to extract qualitative data from these stories, and last April at a Summit they developed draft Heart and Soul Value Statements. These are posted on the website http://www.heartofwilliamsport.org — public review and comments are encouraged.
In 2017 Lycoming College WISE intern Hayley Pisciotti wanted to write a screenplay using clips from the recorded stories that make people feel good; from this, the movie developed. The primary video editing for the movie was performed by Curtis Trowbridge, a sophomore at Loyalsock High School and the final editing, was completed by Charles Blake, a Junior at Lycoming College.
The objective of the movie is to inspire people to get involved in making sure that what we value is still here for our children and for their children. “The movie premiere is a celebration to rekindle community pride, and to serve as a call to action,” Alice Trowbridge, project coordinator, told Webb Weekly. “Each of us has a role to play in making sure that Williamsport is a great place to live, and we hope that this ‘feel good’ movie inspires people to take action. There are things that can be done by individuals, small groups, and organizations – things that are small but have a positive impact in our neighborhoods. Heart of Williamsport’s upcoming “Community Conversations” in February and March will provide opportunities for citizens to come together, share ideas, meet people, and form partnerships to develop strategies for implementing their ideas. The HOW leadership team will provide support, and work with people, organizations and our local government to develop an action plan to steward these ideas and projects.”
Also coming out of this project will be the formation of a river town team, to work with the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership to envision, prioritize, and implement community-led projects that reconnect Williamsport’s residents back to the Susquehanna River, create trails and river accesses, and interpret the community’s natural and cultural assets.
Some additional points of interest about the movie, cited by Trowbridge:
• Movie theme/music is by the Morgan Valley Road Band, including “She is Williamsport”.
• People will hear friends and neighbors tell stories about heritage, baseball, the arts, trains, our beautiful natural environment, sharing what we value most about Williamsport helps us define our special ‘sense of place.’
• We have a core team of volunteers with many additional volunteer opportunities available for anyone who wants to be involved.
We have a lot to celebrate about where we live, and we hope the community will join us on February 9. To learn more visit: http://www.susquehannagreenway.org.
For additional information about the Heart of Williamsport initiative visit http://www.HeartOfWilliamsport.org and follow us on Facebook to keep up to date with opportunities and events to stay involved.