DURHAM, NH – When you think about what you love most about the Granite State, what comes to mind? Natural resources? Friendly business climate? Small town charm? Do you know what makes your community thrive? And what is standing in its way?
These are some of the questions that demographer Peter Francese, former Agricultural Commissioner and writer Lorraine Stuart Merrill and filmmaker Jay Childs have been pondering for a long time. The trio approached New Hampshire PBS with an idea to revisit a film produced and presented on NHPBS more than ten years ago. The state, they said, has not addressed its demographic imbalance – the population is rapidly aging and local communities are growing increasingly inhospitable to young people, families and essential workers. They wanted to show what communities need to do now to rebalance the state’s human ecology. The problem is even more acute now given the Covid-19 pandemic.
Having spent the past two years travelling all over the Granite State, the stories they’ve gathered are cause for concern. Merrill says, “Communities across the state are struggling with how to provide places for people of diverse ages and income levels. The film and companion book explore the tensions between traditional New Hampshire values like family, community, equal opportunity–and local control and taxation.”
It’s those tension points that are sparking positive change. Filmmaker Jay Childs has attended dozens of town planning, board and committee meetings. “One thing I hope viewers take from the film is that there are many people in communities all over the state who are working to make New Hampshire more welcoming and accessible to everyone – despite some well-documented resistance.”
Peter Francese and others believe that some of that resistance comes from misunderstanding things like the impact of new housing stock on the cost of education. “It’s a stubborn myth,” he says, “and it’s doing great harm to communities across the state.“
Childs says some of the people in the film may remind you of someone in your community working to improve it. Featured solutions stories include the Upper Connecticut Valley, Keene, Pelham, Conway and Bradford. All are facing unique challenges and are creating new partnerships and coming up with solutions that might inspire people in other communities to take action.
Produced in partnership with New Hampshire PBS, the film, companion book and upcoming engagement series are designed to help communities rethink how they plan, legislate and partner to create something new and help their communities thrive.
Francese says, “This project is about communities working together and the future of New Hampshire. We encourage everyone to read the book, watch the film and then go out, get involved and make a difference.”
COMMUNITIES AND CONSEQUENCES II premieres on October 22 at 8 p.m. For more information go to nhpbs.org/communitiesandconsequences.
Support for COMMUNITIES & CONSEQUENCES II is provided by:
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health, New England Studios, LLC, Cathartes, DTC Lawyers, PLLC, EnviroVantage, Exeter Hospital, Heritage Home Service, New Hampshire REALTORS, New Hampshire Electric Cooperative, New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, Anagnost Companies, Hitchiner Manufacturing Co., Inc., Orbit Group, Northeast Delta Dental, Chinburg Properties
About New Hampshire PBS: New Hampshire PBS inspires one million Granite Staters each month with engaging and trusted local and national programs and services on-air, online, via mobile, in classrooms and in communities. Beyond its award-winning television programs, New Hampshire PBS is a leader in education and community engagement. www.nhpbs.org