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network 14/04/2014 - 10:00AM

Local Spotlight: Ridge Meadows

With so many dedicated and tireless groups, organizations and volunteers running all the Cinema Politica locals that make up our network, we thought it would be apropro to help paint a picture of the sprawling abstract thing known as "Cinema Politica" by zooming in to individual locals. Periodically we will hear from many of our locals about their activities, histories, challenges, triumphs, and more. To begin, we asked CP Ridge Meadows to send us their thoughts. Their response, which was written collectively by the local, is below.

In the summer of 2010 a group of people in the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows area of BC came together to form a local chapter of Cinema Politica. We felt that there was the need for an alternative form of media locally, a different format for highlighting the leading issues facing our community, our province and our country. Documentaries are a very effective medium for sharing information and ideas on issues, and Cinema Politica documentaries focus on these issues in a manner that is visual, factual and informative. Like other chapters we not only show these great films, but we also have discussions after each screening led by individuals who are involved in, knowledgeable on or affected by the issues raised in the films.

Our founding members, Verity Howarth, Sharon Shinkaruk, Brenda Iley, Rick Cordoni, Rod Smelser, Vash Ramsoondar and Oosha Ramsoondar (pictured at right) from the very beginning decided that the screenings were for the community and should reflect the issues and concerns of our neighbours. As activists in the community we felt that this was an excellent medium for highlighting such issues as the environment, social justice, workers rights and so on. As such we ask our audience for suggestions on films they would like to see and also to choose the film that is shown each month. This has worked well for us since the audience is very much invested in seeing the films that they have voted for.

On a sad note, in 2013 we lost two of our original members, Ric and Rod, to cancer, but their partners Verity and Sharon continue on and we have added new members: Stan Hutchinson, David Iley and Jasper Des Roches.

As a community-focused initiative, CP Ridge Meadows has reached out to to other community groups to partner with, and as such we have worked with several groups over the years, including: The Golden Ears Transition Initiative (GETI), the Council of Canadians, the Ridge Meadows Gogos (Stephen Lewis's Grandmothers Helping Grandmothers), Vancouver Area Network Drug Users ( VANDU), the District of Maple Ridge, Alouette Home Start Society, Society for Organic Urban Land Care (SOUL),and Citizens For Safe Technology (CST).

We have also taken part in the Canadian Labour International Film Festival (CliFF) and in local Earth Day-celebrations co-hosting a film with our local Arts society, The Arts Centre and Theatre (The ACT) Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows. We have also hosted screenings in local high schools. In addition to all these screening activities, we invited all candidates during the last municipal elections to one of our screenings to meet and mingle with our audience members and to answer questions.

Since the beginning we have also had a plan to host a film festival with a focus on our community's youth. Our purpose is to encourage and engage our youth in thinking about their community, seeing the challenges and coming up with solutions. So this year we are partnering with the Golden Ears Transition Initiative (GETI) to host a film festival: The Youth Vision Film Festival 2014.

The theme for the first edition of the festival is “Ridge Meadows 2014”. This festival is open to youth residents in the Ridge Meadows area 25 years and younger, and they are invited to submit a short video of between 6 – 10 minutes in length depicting their vision of our community in the future, when they are adults. The films illustrate how we would have addressed such issues as environmental degradation, food security, traffic gridlock, poverty and homelessness etc. Local businesses have donated prizes and local artists have helped with our poster and our logo. Our vision is to make this an annual event involving various groups, topics and issues.

From the beginning there have been challenges in getting the message out and raising awareness about what we do. Our screenings are advertised in the community calendar of our local newspapers, posters are displayed in local businesses, libraries, and schools. There are times when our local newspapers print stories on our films and our guest speakers. Raising sufficient funds to pay for our expenses is also ongoing. Our persistent challenge however continues to be growing our audience, not just numerically but across age groups, in particular youth. We are hoping that our Youth Festival will attract younger people to our screenings.

The organizing committee for CP Ridge Meadows has one major wish: that the the chapter continues on for many years, bringing great documentaries with honest debate and discussion in the community. We can only do this, however, if Cinema Politica is around so we wish this unique, exceptional organization and all the people who work so hard for it all the best and many more years of providing exceptional documentaries to all the chapters that exist in North America and world wide.

We are thankful for the very unique service CP provides and for the opportunity that we have to share our story.