SHERIDAN — Residents and workers of Green House Living gathered with their friends and family Friday night at the WYO Theater to see the world premiere of “Homes on the Range,” the documentary account of the planning and building of Green House Living homes for elders in Sheridan.
The theme of “home” prevailed as guests were led to the theater by Bob Wyatt playing “Home on the Range” on bagpipes and were welcomed by a choir singing “God Bless America.”
The documentary covers events that ran from 2001 to 2012 when award-winning videographer and director Dale Bell proposed making a documentary film about an alternative style nursing home to Carmen Rideout, executive director of the Sheridan Senior Center.
After finding no entity such as another nursing home or hospital to act as an anchor for a Green House home, Rideout partnered with financial consultant Keith Wilson and former Wyoming state legislator Doug Osbourn to make Sheridan’s Green House Living project the first ever grassroots Green House home despite setbacks such as the recession in 2009.
“Having someone filming was an inspiration,” Rideout said during a question and answer session following the film. “You couldn’t just give up because it was all on tape.”
Also in the audience were members of the Green House Task Force that worked to gather funding, write grant proposals, knock on doors and garner support for the home.
Wilson praised the involvement from the community.
“There were times we would open envelopes and there would be only a dollar or a five-dollar bill or even quarters,” Wilson said. “But people wanted to help, and they gave what they had.”
Since Green House Living opened in Sheridan, it has also been considered by other cities in Wyoming such as Jackson, Casper, Gillette and Riverton, but development in those towns has run into roadblocks, Bell said. Rideout said the Veterans Administration has approved Green House homes for aging and disabled veterans.
The documentary was narrated by Beverly Barnoff, Bell’s editor.
“He told me he was ready for me to start editing and handed me this shoe box,” Barnoff said. “There were about 20 memory cards in it, and nothing was labeled.”
Barnoff said the first cut of the 80-plus hours of footage was four hours long before being cut to 90 minutes for the theatrical premiere and 60 minutes for the show that will be airing on Wyoming PBS at 9 p.m. Tuesday night. It is being marketed to other PBS stations across the country to begin showing in March and April.
The documentary finished to a standing ovation.
“Where else would you see this?” Bell asked. “Where else would you see people come together like this and their elders to cross what is essentially the red carpet for a world premiere? Only in Sheridan.”
Miss the premiere?
Catch “Homes on the Range” when it airs at 9 p.m. Tuesday on Wyoming PBS.