Laurie Simons & Terry Sterrenberg
We are counselors, filmmakers, activists and pretty much ordinary citizens who like many others are trying to make a difference as we face the challenges of today’s society. We look around us and see poverty, racism, homelessness, violence, war, environmental degradation, species extinction, ocean acidification, nuclear accidents, inequality, criminal injustices and many other tragedies.
There has to be a better way.
One way we have found to try to make an impact is through making documentary films. We produced The Healthcare Movie in 2011, and NOW IS THE TIME: Healthcare for Everybody in 2016, to address some of the myths surrounding the idea of national universal healthcare. We learned that there has been a long history of events and campaigns that have dissuaded the American public from creating a national, publicly supported healthcare system like those in most other developed countries.
We also learned that healthcare is just one example of how corporations have changed our culture over the last century. Back in 2013 we woke up and realized that when we paid our apartment rent, our car payments and our health insurance, our money was going to increase profits for big corporations. Big real estate conglomerates, banks, car dealerships, and health insurance companies were benefiting from our hard work.
Even though we lived in a beautiful apartment complex we did not know any of our neighbors. It was a lonely treadmill, and we knew that we were not the only ones whose lives had been shaped by an economic system that values profit over people.
The impact of this new clarity led us to make a bold decision to change our lifestyle, leave all that behind and use our filmmaking to advocate a new approach, to inspire vision and create change.
We started researching communities that were taking on their own sustainable economic transformation. In the meantime we played a lot of “Settlers of Catan” type board games with our grown sons and their friends. It was frustrating for us to find ourselves competing for resources in the games when what we really wanted was to aim for more cooperation!
We wondered if we could make a cooperative board game to help us concretize some basic principles from our filmmaking research. We considered the making of the Community Wealth board game to be a part of our research, and we played it over and over again until our friends agreed it was fun to play!
It took many years for us to finally put together our next feature documentary film, THE DREAM WE CHOOSE (2021). This film includes our own personal story along with accounts of communities we found that are transforming their economies, building community wealth, and changing the nature of work from survival to contribution.
The Covid pandemic hit just as we were finishing our final cut.