Friday, July 12, 2013

Karen Elliott Greisdorf, photographer and film maker from Bethesda, Maryland, writes of her experience of filming in Richmond, Virginia:

 

Richmond is steeped in history. Close to 30 museums capture the details and determination of the former Capital of the Confederacy. Recently I interviewed 15 Richmonders (native and adoptive) who are writing a new history.

Duron Chavis (Photo: Karen Elliott Greisdorf)

 

On location to film for an upcoming web short on Hope in the Cities, a program of Initiatives of Change for over 20 years, I traveled from the University of Richmond in the west end to the Fulton community in the east and south over the James River along Hull Street.

 

After covering the visiting the city and covering Initiatives of Change for nearly two decades, Richmond has come to occupy a significant piece of real estate in my heart and mind for someone who doesn't live there. After the privileged interview time, I am even more deeply impressed and inspired by the women and men who are working to examine the legacies of the past and build an equitable future.

 

Each interviewee's story and contribution left me wanting to hear more - from corporate leader Tom Chewning's account of crossing barriers to build a friendship with local tennis legend Arthur Ashe when they were both in their teens, to learning about the challenges met today by City of Richmond Multicultural Director Tanya Gonzalez.

 

At the end of the five days of shooting, I was deeply encouraged by the network of people that the Hope in the Cities team has connected with over the years. I was also struck by the way in which these Richmonders, while called to their individual pursuits, also share a collective commitment to honest conversation required for the social and structural transformation still needed.

 

Shooting for the web short, which will be online by the end of the summer, led spontaneously to the creation of an even shorter piece titled "defining Hope in the Cities." At the end of each interview I asked each Richmonder how he or she would define the work of Hope in the Cities. That translated into the piece you can see here.

 

 

The city website sports the tagline "Easy To Love". After all these years of journeying south on I-95 from the DC area, I find that this tagline is truer now than ever. But I don't just feel love. I have a deep sense of gratitude and hope for what's yet to come.