Jim Thorpe was invited to join WVIA's Our Town project at an organizational meeting hosted by WVIA host and Our Town project producer Lisa Mazzarella.
The meeting, with approximately 20 members from the Jim Thorpe business community, was held on Friday, August 24 at the Inn at Jim Thorpe.
Over the past two years, Mazzarella has work with 10 communities in WVIA's 22-county region of Northeastern Pennsylvania to produce one-hour documentaries highlighting the natural, artistic, historical and business aspects of the communities. Segments have been produced for Pennsylvania towns including Stroudsburg, Selinsgrove, Carbondale, Pottsville, Mansfield, Hawley, Berwick, Tunkhannock and Danville. Our Town Muncy is currently airing.
Mazzarella decided to approach Jim Thorpe for this marketing and fundraising project after sorting through a variety of towns with a population between 3,000 and 7,000 residents.
"Jim Thorpe is among a host of small towns that I have been approaching these last couple of years," she said.
Before selecting the town as a potential Our Town subject, Mazzarella had never visited the town.
"I first contacted Jack Sterling of the Mauch Chunk Historical Society," she said. "He connected me with John Drury of the Mauch Chunk Museum and the Inn at Jim Thorpe who arranged to bring the movers and shakers to this meeting."
Upon arrival, Mazzarella was immediately impressed with the town.
"There is a quaintness about Jim Thorpe. There is a European feel about Jim Thorpe. It has a small town persona. It's not so large that people are forgetting what the past is all about. There is a respect for the past here. There is a respect for the future of Jim Thorpe. We have these two elements coming together plus the natural beauty. Put all that together and you have the makings of a really fine film.
"You have a beautiful town," she told the gathering business leaders. "Nature has a great hand in it. You have beautiful mountains and you have all this great natural wonder around you but you are the individuals that make this town happened, make it tick, make it percolate, make it bubble over, and make it boil. This is what we are trying to capture when we do the Our Town presentation for WVIA."
Mazzarella presented the Our Town project as a marketing tool to attract new businesses, new residents and bolster the town's profile as a tourist destination.
"The project is grassroots," she began to explain. "It's very basic, but it's probably the most effective marketing tool the area will ever know. The people of the town will be responsible for not only telling its story but they will also be responsible for filming the content of the documentary.
"This is a preliminary production meeting to introduce you to a project we hope the community is going to embrace. If people agree with you, we will have a business meeting followed by community sessions open to the general public. At these community sessions we will have people from all walks of life. People with different talents and different vocations that will come out of curiosity to find out what is Our Town all about.
"What they will find out is it will be their responsibility to tell the story of Jim Thorpe- with their viewpoint, their video cameras, and their stories-they may want to jump on board. We are looking for between 15 and 20 volunteer videographers and storytellers.
"We want to center on a day in the life of Jim Thorpe as seen through the eyes of people who live and work here. Maybe people with deep roots or maybe people who recently moved into town. Maybe they like the mountains surrounding you and give you a big bear hug."
She explained that the intent of the presentation is to show "why this place is so special, why its history is so rich, why its present is a good present, why there is little bit of flux here and there, and what is the future Jim Thorpe?
"These are some of the questions we want to answer in this documentary and the only ones that will be able to provide us with the answers are you," she said, "through your stories and anecdotes, musings and observations, your historical content and stories of your family, with old pictures, your pictures, and pictures of the landscape.
"Ultimately will have a lot of material and will have to pare it down to one hour, so it just gives people a glimpse of what they could expect when they take the road into Jim Thorpe-what they're going to find, who they are going to find, and the character and architecture of this place.
"After all the videos are collected, our production team at WVIA will edit the video and the interviews, and turn it into a tapestry of all the people who live and call Jim Thorpe home."
Here is the schedule for the project.
Monday, September 10 at 1 p.m. at the Inn at Jim Thorpe conference room meeting with "host town" business leaders.
Thursday, September 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the auditorium at St. John's Lutheran Church, at 6th and North Streets on the East side of Jim Thorpe open forum for members of the community to discuss the project and recruit volunteer videographers and storytellers.
Wednesday, September 26 at 6:30 p.m. at Jim Thorpe Memorial Hall "White Board Session", planning for the design and feel of the Our Town Jim Thorpe documentary.
Tuesday, December 4 initial broadcast of WVIA's Our Town Jim Thorpe.
For additional information on WVIA's Our Town project, see: www.wvia.org. For information on the Our Town Jim Thorpe project contact John Drury at (610) 737-7389.