Thursday, September 25, 2014

And The Winner Is..

Reverend Ray Welles shows me a rock wall in the Pilgrim Congregational Church. Parishioners gathered the rocks themselves to help with the construction.

And the winner is. . . us!

A few days ago the adorable and spunky Sue Lang rushed through my office door, excitedly waving a piece of paper. "We won! We won!"

Sue was there to tell me that we had won the Governor's Historic Preservation Award for 2014 for The Wright Time, a documentary film we had collaborated on about the building of the Pilgrim Congregational Church, one of the last buildings designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright before his death.

The Wright Time was a joint Jefferson Public Radio/Shasta Historical Society effort. It was the brainchild of Sue Lang, who serves on the board of the Shasta Historical Society, who recruited videographer and co-board member Charley Williams and then asked me if I'd perform the interviews and narration for the project.

I jumped at the chance, because I've always had a fondness for local history, and I'd been in the Pilgrim Congregational Church a few times, and have been mesmerized by the rock walls and the angles of pretty much everything in the building.

 Over the course of several months, Charley, Sue and I met with about ten people who had been involved in the building of the church, including former church pastor Ray Welles, several parishioners now in their 80's and 90's, and a number of youngsters in their late 50's, who really were just youngsters back in 1960 when ground was broken on the last holy place Wright designed, but never had the opportunity to visit.

 We ended up with about 12 hours of footage. Poor Charley, who had to slog through all those interviews, trying to figure out what to include and what stayed on the cutting room floor, and how to put it all together in a way to artfully tell the story of the little congregation that could, and how the they built a world class design with their own bare hands because they couldn't afford to hire someone else to build it for them.

 We found out that families would go out on the weekends and bring back loads of boulders, which were later used to create the walls of the church. We learned how the triangle designs in the floors and in the windows represent the holy trinity. We also heard from pretty much every single interviewee that when it rains, the roof leaks. In fact I could see a stream of water running down one of the rock walls while I interviewed Ray Welles during a stormy November morning.

 I learned a lot, and we ended up with an amazing film.

The Wright Time. We held the premiere at the Cascade Theatre last Spring with an audience of at least 800. A few months later Whiskeytown Park archeologist Danica Wright nominated the project for the Governor's Historic Preservation Award. The honor recognizes individuals and organizations whose contributions demonstrate significant achievements in preserving the heritage of California. It's the only award given by the state for historic preservation, and we didn't think we had a chance.

 It's rarely bestowed upon a film, although a few years ago it was presented to a group of producers who created a documentary about San Diego. In my research, I only noticed one other award going to far northern California, and that was for a cultural gathering in Humboldt County related to the history of the Karuk Tribe. So yeah, chances were slim.

 But we won!

 We'll travel down to the state capitol in mid-November to receive our award. If you're interested in seeing the film, it's available for purchase (and mayhaps for viewing) at the Shasta Historical Society, and there's a good chance it might be shown on local television in the near future. You can read more about the honor, check out a photo slideshow and even listen to a Morning Edition piece that incorporates some of the interviews from the film that was produced when the film premiered on the JPR website.

 In the meantime, I'm basking in the glory of hard work paying off in amazing rewards, and I leave you with a playlist of songs that pay tribute to winning, great architecture, and there's even one song paying tribute to the late great Frank Lloyd Wright. Enjoy by clicking on the play arrow below, or going clicking through to the Grooveshark website!
Winning by Valerie Ing-Miller on Grooveshark

  1. We Are The Champions - Queen 
  2. You Win Again - Jerry Lee Lewis 
  3. So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright - Simon & Garfunkel 
  4. An Architect's Dream - Kate Bush 
  5. You Win - Cats on Trees 
  6. Win With Me, Baby - Roomful of Blues
  7. Win Your Love For Me - Sam Cooke
  8. Win Some, Lose Some - You Me At Six
  9. To Win The World - Puggy
  10. Like A Champion - Selena Gomez
  11. Champion - Buju Banton
  12. Lyric Architect - Westbound Train
  13. All I Do Is Win - DJ Khaled
  14. Win - David Bowie
  15. Win, Lose or Draw - The Allman Brothers
  16. First Place Winner - Lil Wayne
  17. We've Won - The Who
  18. Here I Dreamt I Was An Architect - The Decemberists
  19. The Architect - Monty Python
  20. Award Tour - A Tribe Called Quest

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