TAKE INITIATIVE: The Theory (and Story) of Stone Soup

Soup's on: Matt Poland, CEO (far left) and Jerome Meyers, Public Services Director (far right), of the Hartford Public Libary with Jeremy Quist, Global Lens Series Manager and Santhosh Daniel, Director of Programs

Ten years later, the the folk tale is still the best way to define our community, films and programs

Do you know the story of “Stone Soup?”  It goes something like this:

Some travelers come to a village, carrying nothing more than an empty cooking pot.  Suspicious, the villagers are unwilling to share any of their food with the hungry travelers. So, the travelers go to a stream and fill the pot with water, drop a large stone in it, and place it over a fire…

Eventually, one of the villagers becomes curious and asks what they are doing. The travelers declare, “We’re making stone soup!”  “What does it taste like?” asks the villager.  And the travelers say, “Why, it tastes wonderful—but could use something to improve the flavor.”  Enchanted, the villager decides to give them a few carrots…

 A few moments later, another villager walks by.  And the travelers again mention their stone soup, which still needs “something” to make it just right.   The villager hands them a little bit of seasoning to help them out.  Eventually, more and more villagers walk by, each adding another ingredient.   And finally, the entire village adds a little something, and a pot of soup is made and enjoyed by everyone.

The story is a fable, a folk tale about cooperation—and inspiration.  And without over-stretching a metaphor, it’s always been the best analogy for explaining our programs, and how we cultivate community, and create relationships, via film…

For example, a few months back, we acquired BEIJING FLICKERS, by Zhang Yuan, for Global Lens 2013.  And for all intents and purposes, it was just another [spectacular] film in our collection—until we suggested to our friends at CAAM that maybe it could be more than a film.   “It could be an event,” we said, “Something to gather ’round, the ‘stone’ in the proverbial pot.”  And they agreed, and then told friends at the Great Star Theater and Chinese Culture Center.  And we told the Empress of China, who dropped a few butterflied prawns in the pot…

And soon enough, under the umbrella of our Arthouse Revival project, Global Lens @ the Great Star was borne, in the heart of San Francisco’s Chinatown.  The Chinese Culture Center hosted a reception for the event (with catering from Empress of China), and BEIJING FLICKERS was just one of four films we co-presented at the Great Star, with CAAM.  And with each screening, local residents not only came out to thank us for the films, but also tell us how pleased they were to see arthouse cinema returning to their community, and the Great Star–the first theater to ever show a Bruce Lee film in the States, abandoned for years, and now experiencing a revival…

“Stone soup,” if we can call it that.  We’ve been making it for years.  With MoMA.  The Hartford Public LibraryUniversity of Texas Pan AmericanRoosevelt High School.  And whole lot of other people.  It doesn’t take much, and we’ve got the stone.  And the pot.  We just need you to bring the rest…

 

 

 

 

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