Dec. 5, 2018 12:19 pm

4 projects from Good Pitch Local Philadelphia that could ‘change the world’

Or at least change Philly. Black and Brown Workers Cooperative, Media in Neighborhoods Group and other social impact orgs and filmmakers pitched to an audience for resources, funding and other support on Tuesday.

Good Pitch Local Philadelphia on Dec. 4.

(Photo via

To kick off Good Pitch Local Philadelphia, former Philadelphia poet laureate Yolanda Wisher recited her piece, “west of philly.”

“Just write a poem that contains the essence of West Philly — a poem you’ve already written — write that,” she said. “Yeah, write a recycled Philly poem about a Philly that doesn’t exist anymore.”

While she recited these lines, attendees hummed and snapped in affirmation. Many would do the same later on Tuesday when 16 Philly media makers and community organizers presented their projects and asked the audience to help them find the resources to execute them.

As part of Good Pitch’s model, attendees — which included local professors and researchers, lawyers and potential funders — raised their hands after each presentation to offer help, ranging from post-production assistance for a film to cold, hard cash.

Yesterday was the first time Good Pitch Local has been held in Philadelphia, said Shannon Thomas, the program operations manager for Doc Society, the New York- and London-based nonprofit that organizes the event.

“Doc Society’s mission is to connect documentary films with impact and a lot that happens around social justice,” Thomas said. “So our dream is to see films that have messages that are going to change the world, get out there and have impact.”

Here are four social impact projects presented on Tuesday:

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“Finding Elijah”

Yolanda Johnson-Young’s son Elijah died by suicide. Still grieving, Johnson-Young wants to document the story of her son’s upbringing in Philly, homelessness and mental health issues.

She plans to use art that Elijah created while studying filmmaking in the documentary.

Several people who raised their hands after Johnson-Young pitched her film said they were survivors of suicide, and thanked her for the courage to share her story. She was pledged technical help and equipment, screenings and a simple coffee date for support.

MING: Media in Neighborhoods Group

After Richard Patterson of MING was released from prison in 2013, everyone around him was using “percs.” He said he didn’t know the term “opioids” until he attended an event in Harrisburg with MING in February 2018.

Patterson wants to create a 10-minute film about the language surrounding the opioid crisis and the different words that communities use to describe the issue.

He was offered some financial support, screenings and encouragement from local organizations like Prevention Point Philadelphia.

“La Luche Sigue/The Fight Continues”

Melissa Beatríz is creating a film centered on the advocates running the Shut Down Berks campaign, which aims to spur the closing of the Berks County Residential Center that holds immigrant families. She wants to detail the laws and statues that make the detention center unjust.

Good Pitch Local attendees offered Beatríz legal assistance, suggestions for applicable grants and help with arranging a meeting with Gov. Tom Wolf. From the back of the room, Councilwoman Helen Gym offered to have a screening of the film in City Hall once it’s complete.

Black & Brown Workers Cooperative

Darren Wallace of the BBWC asked for support of a public arts and political campaign that the workers’ rights organization hopes to launch during the next election season.

The purpose of the campaign, which will be called the Department of Space and Land Reclamation, “is to resist the neocolonial violence that is gentrification and displacement,” Wallace said. It will be a cohort of artists, organizers, recently displaced residents and soon-to-be displaced residents, who will collectively create public art to make the public aware of the issue.

Attendees offered connections to strengthen the cohort and technical assistance for films.


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