Our Town: Spencer DVD
Spencer residents tell the story of what makes their Owen County town unique.
There are many features that make Spencer, Indiana unique—adventuresome pioneers, a strong biomedical industry, a mail-order livestock business, Babbs Grocery Store, the Doughboy Statue, a clothespin factory, and McCormick’s Creek State Park to name a few.
But what stands out most—the one element that makes this Owen County town so special—is the people.
WTIU’s 2005 production, Our Town: Spencer, Indiana puts the spotlight on the people, places and things that make Spencer important. The program is a pilot for what may be a series of Our Town specials following a national model in which public television stations have given cameras to people and asked them to document what makes their community unique.
“We looked for a way to work with townspeople yet give us a video product that was a little more professional,” says executive director Gino Brancolini. “We came up with the idea to work with advanced telecommunications students from Indiana University and have Spencer residents identify stories and use the students to help them execute those stories.”
Since WTIU director John Winninger also teaches in the Telecommunications department, he was able to recruit student for an independent study course and the project took off. Once the team was in place, the process of finding the stories started. WTIU held a public meeting in Spencer last fall to gather stories and volunteers. WTIU then signed Jim DeCoursey on to narrate the program and has utilized the expertise of Vivian and Jack Zollinger to provide background information and help keep the stories accurate.
“In our early interviews we learned that the people were pioneers who settled there,” Winninger said. “They were the adventurers and the hard workers. Those values have stayed. Those early pioneers came here and had real strong values of fierce independence, a great work ethic, resilience, determination and characteristic patterns of language. These qualities still exist within Spencer.”
Although the program will be of obvious interest to Spencer residents, Brancolini said it should also appeal to other WTIU viewers. “What I think is interesting is that every community has interesting people and interesting stories to tell. By looking at a story like this, it’s a chance to reflect on what’s interesting in your community. You start to draw parallels and think about the stories in your own community.”
If that happens, Brancolini hopes viewers will take notes so they can be prepared when the next community is selected for this ongoing Our Town project. “We have students signed up for the fall to begin working on another project to air next spring.”