Over a year ago we sat down with the leadership at Creature Comforts Brewing Co. to discuss their Get Comfortable charitable initiative. Their determination to rally the Athens business community for social good and their ability to simplify the process was impressive. We asked how we could get involved.
Quickly it became clear that the best way for us to contribute was to produce a film on behalf of the program. However, Creature did not want this piece to be a typical charity overview video.
They challenged us to make a film where neither Creature nor the donors were the spotlights. Rather, this film was to be an unfiltered look at the problem. One that helps the Athens community Get Comfortable with the challenges that plague our town. We had full artistic license and were ready to make the comfortable uncomfortable.
The goal was to make a film that would inspire many to give back and push them in the direction of Creature Comforts. They had already built the foundation and structure to make participation as easy as possible. Even simpler, all you had to do drink their beer to make a difference!
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One of the first people we met was Jamie Scott, a former gang member, hustler, and drug dealer. Jamie shared with us his story, which began with first doing drugs at five years old and robbing convenience stores at six.
Our minds were blown.
We were introduced to the difference between equality and equity. It’s the reality that while two students may show up to the same school to take the same test (equality), sometimes that’s where the similarities end. One may live in a safe neighborhood, study with parental supervision, and sleep in a warm bed. That morning they’ll dress in clean clothes and have a nutritious breakfast before coming to school. The other student may have a very different experience, just like Jamie.
Without equity, it’s difficult to expect equal results.
The more we learned, the more uneasy we felt. We even asked if we were the right people to tell this story. While we had the equipment and willingness and talent to capture it, we became acutely aware that our life experiences were very different from those we met. The last thing we wanted to do was inadvertently deepen the divide between audiences.
If you don’t, who will?
In the film, you’ll hear that Athens is “a cool, go-getter city with a laid-back vibe.” As different as people may be, we definitely felt the commonality and experienced the connective tissue between the residents and the town.
People that were incredibly different initially became friends. Beneath it all, the desires of the have’s aren’t that different from the have not’s. Family. Community. Legacy. Things of lasting value beyond our years.
Importantly, we were reminded that charity is not about throwing money at the problem. It’s about understanding where others are coming from and where they want to go. Helping them get there. And investing the time, energy, and resources so everyone benefits in the future.