Looking at a Documentary Project … A Year Later

It’s been over a year since I completed the documentary piece on the Peoples Temple location in San Francisco, and a lot has changed in that time. As an economist said following the economic crash, the world is now worth a third less. This is a bizarre concept for me to wrap my head around, that a planet can be worth less. These current times have caused everybody to rethink a lot of aspects of their lives, and when things really get rough, people often look to a “higher” power for help, guidance, and company. This makes me reflect on my project in a different way then I had a year ago. And this is what I now contemplate.

During these times people find themselves in vulnerable positions that are sometimes out of their hands, and when given an opportunity to change the situation, most people make a move. Jordan Vilchez had shared with me a lot of positive stories of all the community activities the Temple was creating. For this I can see how the movement gained so much momentum quickly and why so many people would want to be part of something positive. The way the story ended up was not as positive but it would be a shame not to remember the good intention of all the people who joined. When people talk about situations after the fact, everybody has the answers. When you are intertwined and involved in a collective, it becomes a living organism all its own, and sometimes you don’t know what the feet are doing and you have to trust it or it will fail.

(Heidi Petty can be reached at heidi.petty@gmail.com..)