September 10th, 2013 | Shored Up | Millville, NJ
Day 2 brought me from the north of New Jersey to the south for a screening at the beautifully rehabilitated Levoy Theatre in Millville. It turns out that one of the local offices of the American Littoral Society is directly across the street from the theater and my friend Executive Director Tim Dillingham and others from the society hosted a pre-screening reception. Tim, who is also in the film, joined me on the Q&A and though it was a small crowd it seemed each person there had at least one thoughtful question for us.
Millville, to me, looks like a lot of other struggling small towns across America. The main street seems to be in the midst of a stuttering reimagining of what main street can be after the ubiquitous strip of malls has sucked the life-blood from the economy. The Levoy is part of that, clearly meant to be an arts hub for the town. As Tim explained, Millville used to be a mecca of glassmaking because of the particular minerals found in the sand nearby. When plastic was invented and glass lost its hold on the market, Millville lost its main economic engine.
Millville is on a river and near the coast, and though the region is dealing with different versions of the issues of erosion and sea level inundation that plague the barrier islands, they don’t have the means to address those issues with massive coastal armoring projects (though it sounds like they might have plenty of sand). The coastal areas are much less wealthy and desirable, so for the residents of this struggling region, like in so many other coastal communities, the fight against sea level rise is most likely going to be fought on their own.
Post by OSIP Touring Filmmaker, Ben Kalina