We are pleased to formally release the new CITY OF TREES discussion guide this month. Written over the summer and fall by CITY OF TREES producer Lance Kramer and impact producer Angelica Das, the guide is an in-depth resource designed to help facilitators host screenings and dialogues that dive deeply into the film’s central themes.
Click here to learn how you can host a screening of CITY OF TREES and access the new discussion guide.
At a time when people of all backgrounds are struggling to come together to confront our country’s most pressing issues, we hope the film and guide help catalyze diverse groups of people to have hard, honest and constructive conversations about environmental justice, social justice, race, and community engagement, inspired by the lived experiences of the people in the film.
The 25-page guide includes a new essay on the ‘story behind the story’ making CITY OF TREES; advice on organizing a screening; suggested structures for leading dialogues on five central themes explored in the film (personal storytelling, community engagement, environmental justice, long-term unemployment and racial justice); background context on key concepts introduced in the film (i.e. urban forestry, the stimulus, job training and green jobs); and a section identifying how the film relates to potential audiences (i.e. urban forestry practitioners, nonprofit staff, neighborhood groups, funders, etc).
Since beginning work on CITY OF TREES more than six years ago, our vision has always been for the film to create the space to navigate the contradictions, complexities, and sensitivities, that emerge when different people are all trying to work together toward a common goal. In making the film, we went to great efforts to tell a nuanced story that gave audiences the room to think and feel for themselves. Over the past year, we have seen this vision come to life. CITY OF TREES has screened at dozens of festivals, conferences, nonprofit organizations, public agencies and on public television, inspiring audiences across the country to have deep, impassioned, far-reaching, and often-difficult conversations covering a range of themes and issues. Thanks to an outreach grant from the USDA Forest Service, we were able to embark on a year-long process of research to understand how to best structure the discussion guide to meet audience needs for broadening these conversations.
During many of these screenings, we used an audience survey to collect qualitative and quantitative feedback on people’s reactions to the film. We asked whether CITY OF TREES resonated with audiences (more than 95% of respondents said ‘yes’); what themes people would use to describe the film? (most common responses were: environmental justice, workforce development, community engagement, returning citizens); had people experienced challenges similar to those documented in the film? (more than 85% of audiences said ‘yes’); and if people felt inspired to take some kind of action after watching the film? (more than 90% of audiences said ‘yes’). We also asked audiences to share three other people/groups/audiences whom they thought would benefit from viewing CITY OF TREES.
"This film should be a study. A class. Take a semester and take the time to go through everything that’s in there.” —audience member, U.S. Department of Agriculture screening
See more about what people are saying about the film here: http://www.cityoftreesfilm.com/reviews
We largely used the data from these audiences surveys, combined with input and ideas from outreach partners at the USDA Forest Service, Corps Network, Catalogue for Philanthropy, Georgetown University Beeck Center, and Washington Parks & People, to inform the content and structure of the guide. The guide was then designed by Dan Sharkey of Dizzy Giant, who also created all of the graphic design materials for the film (poster, postcard, website, opening title sequence, final credits, etc).
In releasing the guide, we invite you to participate in constructive dialogue on the issues that impact the lives of people in all kinds of communities. We want you to make meaningful connections to situations you have experienced in your own life, relate to people who feel similar to you, and step into the shoes of someone who is different from you. We hope that through watching the film and participating in the conversation, you can better understand the complex factors facing the people in the film and gain new insight into how they may affect your own life and work. We hope the film challenges audiences to think deeply about the triumphs and struggles in creating long-term social impact.
To learn how you can host a screening of CITY OF TREES and access the new discussion guide, visit: http://www.cityoftreesfilm.com/request-a-screening.