Monday, February 16, 2015

Two Towns Emerge in Search for "Our Town"


When Rhode Island PBS put out the call in December for the next Our Town location, residents from two towns were vocal right away. By the time the January 31 deadline arrived, it was clear that support from two towns was equally enthusiastic.

“The people have spoken, and we will visit two towns in 2015 – North Kingstown and Portsmouth,” said David W. Piccerelli, president of WSBE Rhode Island PBS. North Kingstown will be featured in a documentary televised in September, and Portsmouth will be featured in December.

Piccerelli attributes the enthusiasm for this next chapter of Our Town to the success of Our Town: Glocester, the first documentary in the planned series. “The comments that we and the participants received since the premiere are positive and inspiring. We’re looking forward to building on that energy as we take the project to North Kingstown and Portsmouth.”

Our Town is a community project wherein neighbors become filmmakers and tell the stories of Our Town. Part fund-raiser, part community builder, part historical and cultural documentary, and part “day-in-the-life” video scrapbook, Our Town shares with viewers the local legends, historical happenings, and backyard secrets of the particular town and its villages – untold or uncelebrated stories that capture the essence of the town.

Our Town gives the community a platform to share stories and perspectives on the town in their own voices,” Piccerelli said. “It's also a meaningful way for us to connect with our community.”

Residents of North Kingstown and Portsmouth are especially urged to participate, but one need not be a resident of the particular town - just have a great town story to tell. Community meetings and a technical workshop lead up to filming. During the planning meetings, participants discuss and choose the subjects and locations they want to include in the documentary about their town. Two days are allocated for filming, but volunteers can film stories anytime before the deadline.

“Those who wish to start filming right away do not have to wait for the filming dates – just contact the station and let us know,” said Jodi Mesolella, Our Town project director and director of membership and special projects at Rhode Island PBS.

“The content is decided by the participants. They pick what will be in the film. We’re looking forward to seeing what North Kingstown and Portsmouth choose to do,” Mesolella said.

In each town, Rhode Island PBS will recruit 20 to 25 volunteers with video cameras. There are no restrictions as to age or experience and there is no cost or compensation to participate.

“We will offer guidance, technical advice and support to our volunteers, but this is definitely their story as told by them in their community,” said Margie O’Brien, Our Town project producer. Video recorded by the volunteers will be edited together by Rhode Island PBS to create a one-hour film of each town.

Wickford Lighthouse in Wickford Harbor, North Kingstown. Photo credit: Walter Sulyma
The first planning meeting in North Kingstown will be in early March, with the technical workshop for the volunteer filmmakers in early April. The filming deadline will be mid-June.

Gull Cove, Portsmouth, RI  Photo: Jennifer Teichman

After an initial planning meeting in March, Portsmouth’s first community meeting will be in August, with the technical workshop and filming deadline in September.

For information about joining the Rhode Island PBS Our Town project, and for details about meetings as the dates approach, visit ripbs.org/ourtown, or call Jodi Mesolella (project director) at 401-222-3636, extension 209, Margie O'Brien (producer) at extension 225, or email ourtown@ripbs.org.

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