“American Spring” Documentary Series on Democracy Reforms Released
Examines the “green sprouts” of a 21st Century Democratic Republic
June 23, 2020, West Newbury, MA – “American Spring,” a documentary short film series examining democracy reform issues, is being released this week and is available for free to the reform community for education and advocacy use. The first episodes explore public campaign finance solutions; Michigan’s 2018 citizen movement that reformed anti-gerrymandering laws; and Maine’s 2018 Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) experience. The 10-minute episodes are designed for both offline and online viewing events hosted by groups or individuals.
“Let’s bring the power of storytelling to engage people around structural political issues and empower people so that they can make a difference,” said series creator and documentary film maker Kevin Bowe. To view the “American Spring” trailer, click here.
The series blends original stories with commentary by experts, such as two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Hedrick Smith and activists like Katie Fahey, along with interviews with representatives from RepresentUS, Open Democracy, the Brennan Center for Justice, and American Promise.
“This is a new tool for the age-old problem – how to engage people at the grassroots level. It is a great conversation starter that is the first step in building political change,” said Katie Fahey, executive director of ThePeople, whose leadership in the Michigan anti gerrymandering effort is featured in the People Powered Change episode.
FairVote is using the episode Unspoiled Elections: Ranked Choice Voting, which provides first-hand accounts by voters and observers regarding Maine’s 2018 RVC elections, on its social media platforms and is evaluating how the content can be used in state and local ranked choice voting initiatives, reported David Daley, Senior Communications Fellow for FairVote.
“It gives a compelling and nonpartisan view of how ranked choice voting works on the ground with voters and its potential impact on negative campaigning” Daley said.
In addition to FairVote, other groups utilizing the content include Election Reformers Network, Democracy Matters, Open Democracy and ThePeople. Any organization or individual may use the content for both large and small events. The series can be accessed here or by searching on YouTube.com for “American Spring Channel.” For groups who would like their own media files to use on their social media platforms or viewing event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bowe, a former advertising and technology executive turned documentary film maker, created this series based on his experience as a political activist. According to Bowe, there are at least three more episodes that cover other critical issues in the production pipeline.
“If you want to build a movement, you need to bring people into it. This is my way of trying to help,” Bowe, whose 2017 feature film, “Democracy Through the Looking Glass,” chronicled the early days of President Donald Trump’s campaign in 2015 and 2016.
The “American Spring” episodes are short so that they can be used alone or in combination. “One episode could be used to kick off a monthly meeting, or multiple episodes could be stacked together for 40 to 60 minutes of content, with a Q&A panel, to make a larger event out of it online or offline,” Bowe said. “We just want to make sure people leave the event with a call to action that gets them involved in fixing our broken system,” he added.
“American Spring” is a series of documentary short films examining the problems and potential solutions needed to reestablish our democratic republic in the digital age. From nuts and bolts election reforms to reimagining our civic institutions, each 10-minute episode explores a reform designed to increase public trust or reduce hyper-polarization in a political system plagued by public corruption, digital propaganda and deteriorating institutions. To view a trailer, click here.
The current episodes released are:
Ranked Choice Voting: Unspoiled Elections – Examines Maine’s first ranked choice election in 2018 and whether elections were less hostile. Also includes first-hand accounts from voters on their experiences with a new concept of voting.
People Powered Change to End Gerrymandering – Chronicles Katie Fahey’s story of spontaneously organizing thousands of citizen activist to overwhelmingly pass an anti-gerrymandering measure in Michigan in 2108, along with profiling other activists.
Paid for by the People: Public Campaign Financing of Campaigns – Takes a look at Connecticut’s public financing program, surveys other of public financing programs and the need for a constitutional amendment to regulate money in politics.
The series can be accessed here or by searching on youtube.com for “American Spring Channel.” For groups who would like their own media files to use on their social media platforms or viewing event, please email email@example.com.
To support “American Spring” and ongoing efforts to produce videos examining ways to fix our democracy, please visit https://www.documentaries.org/american-spring.
Kevin Bowe, the creator and producer of “American Spring,” is a self-taught documentarian. Prior to “Democracy Through the Looking Glass,” he produced two short documentary films: “Bringing History Home” and “Honoring Ken”. Since 2004, he has been a communications consultant for non-profits, government agencies, as well as having held staff positions with Congress and a Presidential campaign.