2014 Annual Report
Action in 2014: As we finish our third full year, we have formed four distinct action teams: The Film Series, GMO Action Network, Farmer’s Market, and The Center Radio.
The Film Series: Forging Connections for Change
- From February to July, we held our second annual progressive film series at the Downtown Indiana Theater on the theme of “Forging Connections For Change.” Preceding the screening of the following six films, we held discussion panels related to each film’s content that featured speakers from the community and the region.
- “Inequality For All,” featured former US Labor Secretary Robert Reich describing the social harm of America’s widening income gap. Our local panel included economist Brandon Vick (IUP Economics Department); sociologist Dr. Jim Dougherty; nutritionist Dr. Jody Seybold; county planner Jeff Raykes; and Chevy Chase Community Center President Dianne Reese-Walters.
- “Escape Fire,” critically examined our health care system, and its failure to keep Americans healthy. We featured our most ideologically diverse panel for this film, including Dr. Abigail Adams, IUP professor and medical anthropologist; Dr. Kim Hatcher, local medical doctor and dermatologist; Leann Bevak, Certified Application Counselor for the Affordable Care Act, Mike K. from the Armstrong-Indiana Drug & Alcohol Commission, and Elizabeth Sierminski, HealthCare 4 All PA Development Coordinator.
- “Miss Representation” provided a compelling account of gender bias in the media, challenging the limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls. Moderated by Dr. Susan Comfort, IUP English and Women’s Studies, our panel featured professionals directly advising young women and men, Malinda Levis, Director of IUP’s Center for Health and Well-Being; Michele Whitman, Girl Scouts of Western PA Membership Manager; Pat Heilman, Former IUP APSCUF President and Professor of Journalism and Dr. Lingyan Yang, IUP Professor of English and Women’s Studies.
- “OMG GMO” followed one father’s quest to determine what exactly are Organic Modified Organisms. The GMO Action Network sponsored this film, and then brought several of our panelists to advocate for strong labeling laws. Our panel included Lisa McCann, Heirloom Seed Project, Beth Marshall, Organic Gardener and VP of the League of Women Voters (who recently conducted a study of GMOs but do not yet have a position); Shayna Speicher, Real Food Challenge on IUP Campus; Brian Okey, IUP Geography Professor; Kay Snyder, PASA (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture) and Indiana Community Gardens, and Tina Palmer, GMO Action Network.
- “The House I Live In” documented the tragic failure of the War on Drugs. The compelling stories of systemic breakdowns told were echoed by our panelists, Dr.Melanie Hildebrant,Sociology Professor from IUP; Patti Holmes of the NAACP of Indiana County, and Mike Krafic of the Armstrong Indiana Clarion Drug and Alcohol Task Force.
- “Pandora’s Promise,” argued that nuclear power was the path to a green energy future. We were proud to welcome Dr. John Benhart, Geography and Regional Planning, as well as the East Run Hellbenders, a community group from Pine Township that is taking the fracking industry head on.
- In conjunction with the 2014 Northern Appalachian Folk Festival, in August we hosted a screening of the film “Wrenched.” This 2013 Sundance winner told the remarkable true stories of Indiana County native Edward Abbey’s time fighting against industrial expansion in the West, and the modern day monkey-wrenching he inspired. We were proud to feature one of the foremost experts on Abbey, Dr. Jim Cahalan as our featured speaker.
GMO Action Network,
The GMO Action Network held a rally for awareness on May 24, 2014. Also, on August 25, 2014, Tina Palmer led a delegation of farmers, academics, small business owners and mothers on a visit to Representative Bill Shuster to advocate for better GMO Labeling laws. While Rep. Shuster refused to budge on support for his bill to BAN labels indicating genetically modified organisms, he and his office recognized and appreciated the depth of knowledge of the Action Network.
The Farmers Market
The Center sponsored the Artisan tent at the Indiana County Farmer’s Market, and our members continue to support its long term presence in Indiana. The Center is pleased to announce that under the leadership of board member Chloe Drew, the farmer’s market may be accepting SNAP cards in 2015, lowering barriers to healthy food for low-income residents.
The Center Radio
The Center Radio on WIUP FM was launched in October 2013 with the first annual candidate feature program, then continuing every Saturday before our film series. This year, our host, Eric Barker, was joined by a variety of guests. Center Member Cybil Moore also served as a panelist and co-host for the radio shows. Topics and guests included:
- Candidates for Indiana Borough Council: Larry DeChurch, Don Lancaster, Julie Adcock, and Gerald Smith.
- Affordable Care Act Q&A: Payton Miller, Pennsylvania Communications Lead for Enroll America, Mike Krafick, certified Affordable Care Act application counselor with the Armstrong-Indiana-Clarion Drug and Alcohol Commission.
- Inequality in the United States and Resources for the Needy in Indiana County: ICCAP Director of Social Services.
- Healthcare for All in Pennsylvania: Paul Ricci, Board Member and Social Media Specialist, Health Care for All PA, Will Farrell, Board Member and Legislative Affairs Coordinator, Health Care for All PA.
- Women in the Media: IUP PhD candidate and member of the Board of the Chevy Chase Community Center Cybil Moore.
- The War on Drugs, Local Support Services: Kami Anderson, Executive Director, Armstrong-Indiana Drug & Alcohol Commission, Cybil Moore, IUP PhD candidate and member of the Board of the Chevy Chase Community Center, Ellie Horvath, Master’s Degree in Sociology for IUP, political field organizer, social worker, job coach at Goodwill Industries.