Shattering Stereotypes

April 4th, 2013

My movie project requires me to spend many hours in unfamiliar environments in New Orleans. As a private college kid from a small town in Oregon, admittedly I did not feel comfortable at all with the concept. After all, my only exposure to low-income neighborhoods was only through reading crime articles on newspaper. My expectation of the project did not differ too much from my immature attitude. Since the movie features grass root groups who usually do not receive much media attention, I figured I was doing all of them a favor; thus, they should celebrate my presence and cooperate with me to the full extent. Now I realize how utterly judgmental and closed off I was. Through my experience with the project, my attitude has completely transformed.

The movie I am working on deals with food excess issue in New Orleans- how underprivileged communities lack fresh groceries. The food excess issue does not just stop at a dinner table. The lack of green dishes and inundation of junk food lead to a various health problems, which result in physical, mental, and social discrimination. The city has yet to come up with a city-wide solution to remedy the situation. Most all efforts are done through grass root organizations, urban farmers. The urban farmers are scattered through the communities to involve as many local residents as they can get, but in reality these communities need much more then several individuals. On the Saturday afternoon, my partner and I visited lower-ninth ward to film an urban farming organization named Guerilla Farms. Prior to our arrival, I have never been to the lower-ninth ward, so I had all kinds of wild expectations of what the neighborhood and the Guerilla Farms would be like. I figured the lower-ninth ward is still abandoned from Katrina and the farm would just be a piece of land with a tool shack. Also my arrogant self expected a warm welcome from the organizers because I have arrived to help. However, the first visit to the farm shattered all expectations. First, the sustainable garden was extensive with all kinds of produce ready to be distributed to the community members. The farm was sustainable with the community volunteers alone. Second, they definitely did not need my help. If anything I was a helpless college kid with no experience of any useful skill but full of arrogance and attitude. The realization came to me harshly but at a right time. My attitude towards the project changed, and I reassessed what my position is in producing this film. Also my outlook in life changed as well. It was a great experience for me and I’d never forget the moment.

By Gabriel Choi