Brandon Kramer’s look at the unintended consequences of grassroots organizing had its world premiere at the American Conservation Film Festival last year. Other fest screenings include St Louis, Annapolis, Full Frame, and at enviro fests in Washington DC, Yale, and Princeton.
When Washington DC nonprofit Washington Parks & People receives a $2.7 million stimulus grant to bolster the local economy in the wake of the Great Recession, it seems like a win-win situation: the grassroots group can continue its mission to nurture communities while increasing the greening of derelict public spaces, while the 150 jobs it creates will benefit area residents hardest hit by unemployment, a largely African-American population. As Kramer’s insightful film quickly shows, however, it’s never quite so simple. While the three stimulus-backed employees profiled look to thrive in their new positions, the grant is running out, and there’s no guarantee that their jobs will continue. Even as Washington Parks & People head Steve Coleman braces himself for how to deal with this harsh reality, he finds his organization charged with ignoring the wishes of the local community as he moves forward with a tree planting project. As the best of intentions come up against white privilege, he must face the vital factor of black stewardship in his plans for urban improvement.