by Craig Juntunen
April 17th was originally a scheduled day off. That changed when Allison Wilmarth Kovak introduced herself to me at the Austin screening, looked me in the eye and boldly said, “This tour has to come to Opelika!”
I told her I would consider it, I had no idea where Opelika was located. Over the course of the week we stayed in touched, I learned my Alabama geography and Allison told me about Cotton Seed Studios, a company she and her partners, Richard and Rob, have formed to establish a vibrant performing arts center in Opelika.
Over the phone I really connected with her entrepreneurial spirit to transform a community with the arts as a catalyst. I did mention to her April 17th was a day off, and that I was not sure the team had the bandwidth to organize one more city on the tour, especially on such short notice.
Her reply: “If you are willing to show up, we will take care of everything.”
So we showed up, Cottonseed Studios not only took care of everything, they did so in a monumental way. If I was going to describe the day in a word, perfect would immediately come to mind.
The day was very well organized, full of media opportunities and a hosted lunch which included leaders of the community and some social justice students from Auburn. The film was set to be shown at a renovated performing arts center. In front of the center was a big lawn area set for a pre-party dinner complete with musical entertainment. The community came out in force and the first STUCK tailgate party on the lawn was thoroughly enjoyed.
Everything worked and worked well. The film was very well received, the Q&A went great, and the intangible fiber of the entire day was the positive attitude and the kinetic energy of Opelika. This magical day came to be as a result of a few motivated individuals determined to make something work. Days like today don’t organically happen. A day like today requires vision, leadership and ‘can do, let’s make it work’ mentality.
If the world’s leaders shared this ‘can do’ attitude to improve the welfare of children, things would be very different for kids who are shut out of any chance to grow up in a family. The obvious question is: “Why can’t those in charge of child welfare be instilled with a leadership influenced by a ‘can do’ attitude?”
The charm of the Opelika community is undeniable; in one day I came to learn it is a very special place. What makes it that way is an attitude.
I have to look at this tour in terms of productivity and producing outcome. Today was a very enjoyable day, but it also served as a productive day because the movement added some really special people who will make a positive impact with their ‘CAN DO’ ATTITUDE.
Social change happens when attitudes and values are examined and reconsidered in a completely new context. The UN-STUCK movement is forming by shifting the collective awareness of a society to form a new attitude because at the core, behavior is influenced by attitude. Today I saw how a great attitude produces great things. As I wound down the Q&A tonight, a community realized attitude is at the core of the problem we are trying to address.
I want to thank Cottonseed Studios and the community of Opelika. I will go back to visit Opelika someday, just because it is a great place to be.