Letters

Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

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'Ticket, Please'

Volunteers keep TC Film Festival reels rolling

Erin Crowell - July 23rd, 2012  


Last year at the Traverse City Film Festival, I volunteered at the State Theater. My shift, which consisted of taking tickets and counting occupants, had me working alongside a couple who were summering in the area.

We talked casually as the crowd herded through the doors, our conversation evolving from movies we’d like to see and how long we’ve been volunteering (it was my first) to where we were from and what we do. When I told them my last name, the gentleman—an older man—said, “I had a college roommate whose last name was Crowell. He was an artist.”

“Was his first name Bob?” I asked. “Yes, actually.” “That’s my dad.” “Well I’ll be damned,” he laughed, adding, “I haven’t seen him in 20-some years!” And so begins my volunteer story, one of many when it comes to not only the impact the festival has on the local community, but the impact it has on the individuals who keep it running: the volunteers.

A GROWING (UP) FESTIVAL

Happening July 31- August 5 in downtown Traverse City, The Film Festival needs about a thousand volunteers to keep the gears going, said Nancy Baker, volunteer coordinator.

“Probably 10% of those people are actual paid positions. The rest are wonderful people from the area, as well as from around the state—and even the country—who give up a week to volunteer,” she said.

Some are families who make it a volunteer vacation, having attended the festival in years past but want to be a part of it in a different way; others volunteer their vacation time entirely.

“It’s every bit of an 80-hour week. My donation to the festival is a week’s vacation,” said Sid Van Slyke, festival manager at the City Opera House who puts his actual job working in trust and investment advising at Northwestern Bank on hold during the festival.

Van Slyke started with the festival as its volunteer banker -- the person in charge of handling the incoming money -- when it was still in its infancy.

“The first year we had an unbelievable amount of success. We weren’t prepared,” he said, recounting the night he took home to deposit the next day what he thought to be $11,000; instead, one of the volunteers (a woman who had worked as a cashier) miscounted and there was actually $21,000 Van Slyke was carrying that night.

“I told the festival manager at the time, ‘What if it’d been $10,000 short instead of extra? I could just see the headline, ‘Local banker gets away with $10,000 in cash,’” he recalled, laughing.

The incident shook up Van Slyke, but it didn’t keep him away from volunteering. This will be his seventh year as the Opera House venue manager.

And as far as the money handling goes? “It’s a very precise and well-oiled machine,” he assured.

SPREADING THE V-BUG

Other volunteers have held multiple positions. Mary Fisher, who found her home collecting food donations for the festival, has been everywhere from concessions and ticket collection to box office and greeting duties.

“What I’ve found in all aspects of volunteering is, one: we can’t do it alone and two: this is probably the most generous place I’ve lived. It’s just an incredible community of people donating their time, money and talent,” said Fisher, a native of Washington.

When it comes to donating food, the response from area restaurants and vendors is overwhelming, she said.

“I hardly ever get turned down,” she said of approaching business owners. “There are some that want to, but just can’t because of economic reasons, but it’s amazing how much people want to give something.”

Such food donations, from places like Little Bohemia, Folgarellis, Oryana, Euro Stop, Zakeys and more, are served at the festival’s vital fundraising parties, including the opening and closing parties.

“Every (business) brings 500 appetizers. If everyone does that, you can feed a thousand people easily,” she said.

Fisher pauses momentarily, adding, “Can you imagine the festival having to pay for all that food? It’d be impossible,” she notes of the way local businesses volunteer in their own way.

By donating food, local restaurants and businesses are able to showcase what they offer, a win-win situation for everyone.

“It’s a way of saying, ‘Hello! We’re making great stuff here!’” said Fisher. “We’re creating our own economy.”

Fisher also believes volunteering gives one something in return.

“I’ve been involved with many charities, but I do this for myself. You give your time, but in the end—with all the friends you make—you look at it and realize you’ve gotten something in return.”

For Matt Dayton, volunteering for the festival is a way to become immersed in the film world.

“I went to school for film, and so when the festival first started, there was this renewal and energy for film coming to Michigan. I like just being part of the excitement and it’s something I look forward to every summer,” said Dayton, who was 17 when he first started volunteering with the rest of his family. Today, he and his father, Tom, help manage the Lars Hockstad venue.

INTERESTED? SIGN UP!

Since the Film Festival is in its eighth year, there tends to be an assumption when it comes to volunteering, said Baker.

“I don’t want people to think, ‘well, by this point they’ve got it down.’ We always need more help.”

Besides forming new friendships and being part of the film festival atmosphere, volunteers are treated to a list of incentives for their work, including a festival t-shirt, a free movie showing as picked by festival co-founder and filmmaker, Michael Moore, swag coupons for festival merchandise and a volunteer party following the festival.

“It’s probably the coolest party of the whole festival,” said Baker. “It’s held on the lakefront and has some of the best food and beverage.”

While only about a quarter of volunteer shifts have been filled (as of press time), Baker said more will be filled as movie tickets open to the public.

“People will buy their tickets and think, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve got to sign up for my volunteer shifts,” she said. “I encourage anyone who has enjoyed a film at the festival to take it to the next level and get involved by volunteering. You’re going to meet a lot of fun and friendly folks.”

The 8th Annual Traverse City Film Festival is happening July 31-Aug 5. For information on volunteering, visit www.traversecityfilmfest.org and click on the ‘volunteer’ tab where you can choose from multiple shifts at various venues throughout the week.

 
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