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this black soil
a story of resistance and rebirth

Chronicles the successful struggle of Bayview, VA, to pursue a new vision of prosperity.

A printer-friendly version of this page 58 minutes
Directed by teresa konechne
Produced by Working Hands Productions

"Destroy(s) the myth that being poor means ignorance, apathy or surrender." Cleveland International Film Festival
This inspiring and provocative film chronicles the successful struggle of Bayview, Virginia, a small and severely impoverished rural African-American community, to pursue a new vision of prosperity.

Catalyzed by the defeat of a state plan to build a maximum-security prison in their backyard, the powerful women leaders and residents created the Bayview Citizens for Social Justice, a non-profit organization, secured $10 million in grants, purchased the proposed prison site land and are now building a new community from the ground up.

Under the leadership of visionary women, this new rural village challenges all conventional ideas of community development and includes not only improved and affordable housing, but a sustainable economic base to earn a living wage, a community center for educating its residents, a daycare center, laundromat, and a community farm, which not only provides jobs and income for the organization, but returns them to their roots, working on the land.

Bayview's story has been featured in national and international media including: CBS' "60 Minutes", the New York Times, Washington Post, People magazine, and the BBC.

Grade Level: 10 -12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2004     Copyright Date: 2004
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-086-3     VHS ISBN: 1-59458-050-2

"The tendency of today's policymakers to serve up prisons as the answer to rural America's economic plight comes with devastating consequences...The story of Bayview, Virginia provides a much-needed example of what can happen when indigenous rural leaders reach beyond the boundaries of race, class, and geography to fight back against the prison industrial complex. Teresa Konechne's inspired and inspiring chronicle of one community's successful struggle to defeat a plan to locate a prison in their town and pursue a sustainable future instead should be in the toolkits of all educators, organizers, economic developers, advocates for justice, and founders of innovation across the nation seeking an answer to the question: 'If not prisons, what?'"
Tracy Huling, Author, An Analysis of the Economics of Prison Siting in Rural Communities, Founder/Co-Director, National Resource Center on Prisons and Communities

"This is the story of people who help themselves and destroy the myth that being poor means ignorance, apathy or surrender."
Cleveland International Film Festival

"Teresa Konechne puts the Bayview residents at the center of her documentary, telling their hard won story without the intrusion of a narrator. We see both the obstacles and victories, making this an inspiring primer of grassroots organizing from the bottom up. This film is truly an example of what REAL democracy looks like! ...this black soil honors the struggle of 'ordinary' people seeking economic justice, improving their lives and discovering their own power through activism."
Lydia Howell, Print/Radio Journalist

"A model for grassroots organizing, but it also speaks to the importance of local governance...This sort of human triumph makes for an inspiring experience, but Konechne ensures that her doc also provides the tools for others who wish to follow in the footsteps of Bayview's activists."
Caroline Palmer, City Pages (Minneapolis/St. Paul)

"A potentially incisive template for social activism, Teresa Konechne's This Black Soil spans almost a decade and stands as a heartening shot across the bow for everybody who imagines the poor can't come together to seize power."
Central Standard Film Festival Program

"This black soil is unique in that the filmmaker is able to document a decade long process of American activism at the grassroots level. It serves as a motivational and inspirational story for all social activists. Highly Recommended."
Monique Threatt, Educational Media Reviews Online

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Awards and Festivals
ALA Notable Videos for Adults
Director's Citation, Black Maria Festival
Audience Award, Best Documentary, Central Standard Film Festival, Minneapolis
Second Place, Documentary, Big Muddy Film Festival
Bronze Plaque, Columbus International Film & Video Festival
Finalist, Best Short Documentary, Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
Cleveland International Film Festival
San Francisco Black Film Festival
Planet in Focus: International Environmental Film & Video Festival - Toronto
Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival
DOCNZ International Documentary Film Festival, Auckland, New Zealand
Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival
Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival
The Green Film Festival, Washington DC
Bulldozed! Film & Video Festival
James River Film Festival
Downstream International Film Festival
GiRL FeST Hawaii
Black Harvest International Festival of Film and Video, Chicago

Affordable Housing
African-American Studies
American Democracy
American Studies
Citizenship and Civics
Civil Rights
Conflict Resolution
Human Rights
Race and Racism
Social Justice
Urban Studies
Urban and Regional Planning
Women's Studies

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