Planted :: A screenplay

In development; check back regularly for updates

Planted is an original screenplay in development that tells the personal paradigm-shift stories of a group of 5 privileged white urban graduate students—Liliana, Daniel, Jake, Beth, and Pat–immersed for a year in 5 different U.S. rural cultures. Looking for meaning in a seemingly broken world, each answers the call to leave everything and everyone they know behind to embark on a solo, unplugged, fully-immersed ethnographic journey into the rural unknown. Isolated and struggling to cope, each grapples with her/his/their own role in a changing world, reckons with the meaning of whiteness and privilege, and comes to the realization that the power to change the world is in each one of them when they work together.

Liliana

Liliana walks through the world like a cis white entitled male. Her best friend when she was little (and not so little) told her she’s a gay man in a straight woman’s body. The kids at school called her “tank” when she was growing up. She once, when she was 16, convinced two girlfriends to break into the police academy pool after hours. They drank the vodka they spotted straight from the bottle, chased it with orange juice, and flirted with the smiling officers who arrested them in their wet tanks and shorts. She couldn’t stop complimenting her mother’s driving on the way home from booking. She still gets super supportive of other people when she’s had a few.

Liliana has nothing to lose. She digs that Carpenters song, the one about white lace and promises? About so many roads to choose and so much life ahead? She knows Karen Carpenter wasn’t singing to her, though. First, she wasn’t alive, right? Second, well, that’s a life for regular people, people who follow rules, who make normal middle class choices. Not her jam.

Liliana’s been a “criminal” her whole life. The rules never really applied to her. If she could think her way around something, she could justifiably ignore the rule. She wears this sense of self like an invisible sweater, something people feel but can’t really see or understand. It does not endear her to others.

Liliana has noticed a certain compassion weariness in the people around her lately. Enough for friends and family. For big tragedies. Surely none for someone like her. If you don’t make it inside before the gate locks, you’re shit out of luck. Or, as Mz Badu sings it: the mothership can’t save you so your ass gon’ get left.

Liliana’s not waiting for the mothership. She’s done here. She’s bouncing. Going rural. Becoming a citizen-researcher for a year, which sounds like a super easy gig. Move to the country, watch the local yokels, and write up a report. A cinch.

Liliana replied in the affirmative to every question (but one) in this part of the ad she answered: “Do you have a sense of immediacy? A deep drive to do good work? A deep need to understand? Little or no interest in being famous? A desire to put your privilege to work? A scary ability to make connections? Excellent in-field observation, listening, and note-taking skills?”

Daniel

Daniel decides to pack a second bag. A whole year “immersed” visit to the country appears to require more than his beat up oversized overnight bag will tolerate. He grabs the huge blue gym bag stuffed with camping junk from the back of the closet, dumps the contents unceremoniously on the stacked boxes filled with his old life, and throws the empty gym bag next to his overnight bag on the bed. On second thought, he grabs the compass and tosses it back into the gym back. Never know. 

He hears the front door open, and his roommate, Chris, slams it shut. He’s yelling at someone on the phone about the logistics of some rally. Daniel closes his bedroom door quietly so his roommate’s attention doesn’t turn in his direction. Lately, Chris’s constant anger keeps the two apart. He can’t wait to be far from the drama of Chris’s activism. Daniel’s activism will be a little quieter. The ad drew him instantly:

“Do you have a sense of immediacy? A deep drive to do good work? A deep need to understand? Little or no interest in being famous? A desire to put your privilege to work? A scary ability to make connections? Excellent in-field observation, listening, and note-taking skills?”

Check! Check! Check! Maybe a little. Check! Check! I can learn! Good to go—what’s next!

“If you’ve answered ‘Yes’ to all of the above, we want you on our team! As a citizen-researcher, you’ll contribute to an urgently needed study to understand rural cultures in the U.S. Your participation is a way into a world where you can choose to be truly unplugged. It is a world where you can choose solitude and work. For a person with no rural background, it is a world full of humbling lessons, both personal and professional. It has radically changed many lives. Let it change yours, just a little.”

Impossible to resist.

The Call

:: The Rural Portal Project ::

Call for Citizen-Researchers In Rural America

Rural America is changing, and rural cultures are rapidly diversifying: more young people, people of color, immigrants, and LGBTQ folks have recently made their way out of urban centers and now call rural places home. Some are cannabis farmers, others are simply drawn to the natural beauty; still others prefer a slower pace than the urban “treadmills of busy” offer.  Currently, this population is invisible in discussions, research, or cultural work addressing U.S. rural challenges. The Rural Portal Project focuses on connecting with, understanding, and supporting newcomers to rural cultures.

Citizen researchers (CR) are non-professionals who devote dedicated time to methodological understanding of pressing cultural problems. CR are unaffiliated with religious, business, academic, non-profit, or political organizations.

As a rural citizen-researcher, you’ll have:

  • A sense of immediacy
  • A deep drive to do democratic work
  • A deep need to understand
  • Little or no interest in being famous
  • A desire to put your privilege to work
  • A scary ability to make connections
  • Excellent in-field observation, listening, and note-taking skills

The Rural Portal site is a way into a world where you can choose to be truly unplugged.

This is a world where you can choose to be truly with yourself and your work.

For a person with no rural background, this is a world full of humbling lessons, both personal and professional.

This work has radically changed lives. Let it change yours, just a little.

Observe. Connect. Understand.

Summary:   One year in-residence multi-researcher rural study focused on connecting with, understanding, and supporting newcomers to rural cultures.


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