SHERIDAN — Sheridan’s Green House Living project will be featured in a documentary on the Wyoming Public Broadcasting Service station this spring. Organizers with the Green House were successful in raising $25,000 for the film to be produced by award winning videographer Dale Bell.
Bell has worked with board members of the Green House Project since 2002 and took video of key developmental milestones in establishing a new model of elder care in Sheridan. Until recently, the hours of footage sat stored and untouched in Bell’s California home. The procurement of funds allows Bell to piece the film together into a coherent story of Sheridan’s unique initiative.
While there are approximately 150 Green House elder care facilities across the nation, Sheridan is unique in the way the resource came to the community.
“We were the first community that’s done this from a grassroots effort,” Green House Living for Sheridan Sage Barbara Walter said. “We weren’t an existing nursing home or affiliated with a church.”
Walter said that while Sheridan’s Alternative Elder Living facility has reached a self-sustaining level of operation, it’s still necessary to conduct fundraising for extra projects and aesthetic additions to the cottages.
The documentary in production is possible because of local donations.
Don Roberts and the Scott Foundation chipped in a large bulk of local funds, along with several Green House board members, that were amplified by The Lia Fund, a national foundation that supports community arts and holistic health and healing projects.
Bell said he has begun the editing process and isolated approximately four hours of video from the original 100 that will serve as materials for the final product, which will be a feature-length film.
“We’re in the middle of what is really the second phase,” Bell said. “We’re not looking at having a finished product until May.”
Bell said he hopes to have the film aired in theaters in Los Angeles and New York City before it airs on Wyoming PBS so it can be technically considered a film, instead of a television special.
“After we do that for a week, it will go on television,” he said, indicating the public premiere of the film will likely feature a follow-up talk session to discuss how the Green House project is affecting Wyoming.
Bell said longer term goals for the documentary are to have it broadcasted nationally. He also hopes to establish a complimentary website and book to help other communities introduce the concept of non-institutionalized elder care.
Bell has compiled a 20-minute preview of the documentary to be titled “Homes on the Range — The New Pioneers.” The film preview features interviews from multiple Sheridan residents and community officials, including County Commissioner Bob Rolston and Sheridan Mayor Dave Kinskey and Sheridan Senior Center Director Carmen Rideout.
Bell previously did a documentary entitled “And Thou Shalt Honor,” which focused on a national need for a higher standard of handling of society’s vulnerable geriatric population.
“In a way, we’re extrapolating one little story — one little thread from the tapestry of ‘And Thou Shalt Honor’.” Bell said. “It will be illustrative of the roll a small town and a community can play if it is dynamic and sensitive to the needs of all the strata the community.
“We’re trying to say goodbye to traditional nursing homes and move into an environment where home-like care can take place,” Bell said.
Bell will show a preview of the film highlighting Sheridan this year at a convention for the National Society on Aging in San Diego next month.
The “Homes on the Range” preview can be accessed at www.mediapolicycenter.org. The access password is posted by the video link.