A group of Augustana College students is trying to highlight the connections all people share while helping give Quad-Cities youth opportunities to express themselves.
The students call themselves the Redwood Movement, and they have produced two films. One is a documentary focused on the life stories of a number of Quad-Citians. The other is a stop-frame artistic short that ties the different themes found in the documentary together.
Veronica Smith, a member of the group, said Redwood is hoping to use storytelling as a way to foster a sense of community. The stories the group found are unique to the individuals who told them, but universal themes such as love also are present within the narratives.
"Everyone has something to say, and the more that we listen to each other, the more we will find beauty in our lives," Ms. Smith said.
Moselle Singh, another member of the group, said that people passing each other every day all have life stories they carry with them.
"Just saying 'hello' to someone could connect you to that story," Ms. Singh said.
Beginning today, Redwood will be showing the films and collecting donations for the downtown Rock Island youth shelter, The Place2B, as well as for the The Second Baptist Church Academy. The money will be used for art supplies and instruments at Place2B and to help the Academy provide low-cost music lessons.
By providing art supplies and music lessons, Redwood is hoping to encourage artistic expression — storytelling in a variety of forms — among youth who otherwise might not have the opportunity.
"All the donations that we get, we're going to give it right back to the community," said Danielle Hollis, another Redwood member.
The group says it takes its name from the tree, which, despite its giant size, has a very shallow root system.
The parts of a redwood's root system often intertwine and connect, and the group is using it as a metaphor for the connections between people, said Ashley Higuchi, who had the initial inspiration for the name. As the group filmed the people chosen for the documentary, it found that many of their stories involved finding, losing or rediscovering someone, she said.
"People really do want to feel connected," Ms. Higuchi said.
The group also is hoping its efforts will cause more connections between the Augustana community and the larger Quad-Cities. Often the college seems to be an enclave separate from the rest of the area, Ms. Hollis said.
"We really want to pop the 'Augie bubble,'" Ms. Hollis said.
The Redwood Movement has been assisted by the Augustana Center for Vocational Reflection. Producing the films already has had an effect within the Augustana community, said Ms. Hollis, as the group's membership has representatives from many different segments of the student body.
"These people probably never would have met each other (otherwise)," Ms. Hollis said.
For more information email email@example.com or visit them on Facebook at facebook.com/pages/The-Redwood-Movement/266279743406884?sk=wall
The first showing of the Redwood Movement's films is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. today in Augustana's Centennial Hall, 3703 7th Ave., Rock Island.
Other April screening dates are:
* 8 p.m. April 14 at Rozz-Tox, 2108 3rd Ave., Rock Island
* 7 p.m. April 19 at Figge Art Museum, 225 W. 2nd St., Davenport
* 8 p.m. April 22 at LeClaire Park, 400 W. Beiderbecke Drive, Davenport
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