America’s first suburbs, those communities built next to urban centers, were once the birthplace of the American Dream. Driven by a desire to escape the smokestacks of the central cities, and a housing shortage following World War II, thousands of suburban homes were rapidly constructed and middle class families flocked to fill them. Sixty years later, many of these original suburbs are facing a crisis: a dwindling tax base, population and business loss, decaying infrastructure, increased racial tensions and white flight. Lacking polices to help reverse these trends, many towns are looking for strategies for revitalization. Using compelling, personal stories as the thread to highlight these important issues, award-winning filmmaker Andrea Torrice has crafted two new half-hour long documentaries.
• A Crack In the Pavement unravels the national infrastructure and regional land use policy debate through the stories of two first suburban public officials from southern Ohio. Starting with a short history of Eisenhower era policies, the program chronicles some of the policy issues that prevent revitalization. The film then points towards possible solutions through balanced growth and regional cooperation strategies. Narrated by actor Peter Coyote, the film also includes commentary from Myron Orfield, Bruce Katz, Dr. Carla Chifos and Kim Gibson.
• The New Neighbors tells the inspiring story of two people, who made racial integration the centerpiece of revitalizing Pennsauken New Jersey, a first suburban town of Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey. Working with an integration specialist, the documentary shows how the town council and residents implemented a unique strategy of “stable integration” in their housing market. Pennsauken has become one of the most vibrant, integrated towns in the country. Narrated by Academy Award-nominated actress Ruby Dee, the documentary includes original archival materials along with commentary from David Rusk and Angela Glover Blackwell.
Andrea Torrice is an award-winning documentary and public television producer whose work spans a range of contemporary issues. Some of her award-winning documentaries include: Forsaken Cries: the Story of Rwanda, which examines the historical factors contributing to the 1994 genocide; Large Dams, False Promises, which examines the impacts of dam projects in Brazil and China, and Bad Chemistry, which exposes the hazards of low-level chemical exposures on human health. Her documentary, Rising Waters, which explores the global warming debate through the personal stories of Pacific Islanders, was featured at the 2004 United Nation’s Earth Summit, as well as broadcast around the world and on National Geographic TV. She was the segment producer for Election Day (Ohio segment), which explores the 2004 election, and aired on PBS’s POV. Her programs have won many festival awards and she is the recipient of a CPB gold award for community programming.