Vermont Speaks For Itself  is a 1973 social justice multi-media documentary project produced and distributed by the Vermont Media Project in the mid-1970s. The documentary uses extensive interviews with Vermonters, and original photography to illustrate the economic and social hardships endured by Vermont’s low-income and working people during that period. Additional narration presents research findings and proposes solutions for a way forward. A traditional string band sound track recorded by local performers accentuates the project.
Vermont Speaks for Itself was originally produced as a slide-show accompanied by a separate audio track. That was the advanced state of multimedia in those years! Luckily, in 1976, the slide show was transferred to the 16mm BW film format. That film is the only copy of this important part of Vermont history, as the slide show itself was disassembled and is no longer accessible in its original form. We are extremely fortunate this film was able to be restored and moved to a digital format.
In recent years, the progressive path of Vermont has aroused widespread attention, most notably with the national political campaigns of Vermont activist Bernie Sanders. There is great interest in why and how Vermont became the symbol of progressive politics it is today. Vermont Speaks for Itself is an important part of that story.
Vermont Speaks for Itself emerged from a grassroots progressive movement that grew in Vermont, that converged with small farmers, communes, Quakers, labor, and numerous social justice organizations in the 1970s. During that time, the Vermont Media Project was shown throughout Vermont at community centers, political events, faith community forums, and colleges. The Vermont Department of Social Services contracted with the Media collective to show the film to social services agencies throughout the State. Vermont Speaks for Itself was an influential component of what helped make Vermont the progressive State it is today.
We believe it is critical to share this film with new generations of activists, both as an example of activist media and as an important part of Vermont history. We are pleased that the Vermont Historical Society in Barre, Vermont, screened the film as part of their current exhibition on 1970’s Counter-Culture and its lasting influence. Our screening in Burlington will be a rare chance to watch the film and to converse with the members of the film’s producers-The Vermont Media Project collective.
“Produced by the Vermont Media Project during the early 1970’s using interviews and original string band music, Vermont Speaks for Itself presented a progressive view on economic conditions for Vermont’s poor and working class. Collective members showed the program around the state at public venues, colleges and social service agencies. The project was based in Charlotte at the Mt. Philo Collective, a community whose members also played a strong role in developing the Burlington Free Clinic (now the Community Health Center) and the Onion River Co-op/City Market. If you get a chance don’t miss seeing it since its message still resonates today.”
                               –Jackie Calder, Curator, Vermont Historical Society
This event is sponsored by the Vermont Media Project, the California Center for Media Arts and Democracy: Stories of Solidarity, the Peace & Justice Center, and the Economic Justice Task Force of the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington.
Film Screening: VERMONT SPEAKS FOR ITSELF followed by Q&A with Filmmakers.
Friday, August 18, 2017, 7:00pm at the First Unitarian Society of Burlington, 152 Pearl St, Burlington, VT.
This is a free event.
For more information on the film: www.greenmountainhistory.com
For more information contact: Jesse Drew at jdrew@ucdavis.edu or 415-819-2859.