The Postcards crew was in Montevideo yesterday capturing a story on American Surplus & Manufacturing in Montevideo, better known as the makers of Ice Castle fish houses. Stay tuned later in the season to hear about how this popular brand is revolutionizing fishing.
The next installment of Pioneer Public Television's Postcards program to be aired at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday February 23rd will trace the effort of a Willmar native to make a crime thriller movie in his home county, explore how a community based dinner theatre thrives in the village of Barrett, (pop.408) and document how one man, with a passion for history and community, created a museum in Milan, Minnesota (pop. 361). The 30 minute episode will be repeated on Monday, February 24th at 1:30 p.m. and on Thursday, February 27th at 7:00 p.m. The program will also be available for online viewing after the Febraury 23rd broadcast through the station’s web site: www.pioneer.org/postcards.
Nicholas Engan is the subject of the first Postcards segment which explores the story behind the making of his yet to be released feature film “Kandiyohi” which was shot in various locations in western Minnesota in 2009. The film, as Engan describes it, is “a character study and a thriller” centered on the plight of three childhood friends, a robbery gone wrong and a ruthless, corrupt sheriff out for revenge. Postcards viewers will be treated to scenes from the film’s trailer which were filmed at the Cenex gas station in Clara City, lonesome roadside locations in Kandiyohi County and the Horseshoe Bar in Lake Lillian. “Making independent, personal films is terrible, beautiful and wonderful all at the same time,” says Engan.
The next segment captures the excitement surrounding the final performance of Tennessee Williams “The Glass Menagerie” by the Prairie Wind Players in Barrett, Minnesota. Director Twig Webster shares his excitement about the performance and his sorrow that after two months of intense practice, the show must come to an end. “We’ve become a family,” he says. This is the way it has been for the past 35 years as the company has grown to include more than 150 members, drawing a cast of volunteers and patrons from a 100 mile radius around Barrett. “We’ve found that people like to get dressed up and have a nice catered meal,” said executive director Christy Johnson. “I am proud of the quality and that I can be a part of this unique community theatre,” she added.
The episode concludes with a feature on Billy Thompson and the Arv Hus Museum in Milan. Thompson is the 3rd generation to work out of the family building on Main Street in Milan. “Billy,” as he is known by the locals, tells the story about how his father started the museum out of his appliance and electrical shop back in 1983, but it wasn’t until Billy retired in 1993 that he began in earnest to create the tourist destination Milan is known for today. With more than 400 photographs, dozens of antique radios and exceptionally well preserved vestiges of Milan’s history, the Milan Arv Hus Museum is truly one of a kind. “The good Lord put an idea into my head and from there it went to my heart and from there to my hands,” said Thompson as he described the process of creating the museum over the past several years. “I want people to know about our forefathers.” he added. “The past always forms the future.”
In 1981, Al Quie was Governor and Willis Eken was House Majority Leader and Roger Moe was in his first year of a 22 year reign as Senate Majority Leader. During that same year, a small public television station in western Minnesota began producing a live call-in show for Minnesotans to ask their representatives questions during the legislative session. 33 years later the program Your Legislators, is still going strong.
The 2014 season of Your Legislators premieres on Thursday, February 20 at 8:00 p.m. Viewers are encouraged to call in questions at 1-800-726-3178 or email firstname.lastname@example.org during the hour-long program. Minnesota legislators from both the State House of Representatives and the State Senate will be on hand to answer viewers questions with Barry Anderson serving as a moderator for the program.
Each weekly live broadcast of Your Legislators is repeated every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. through the end of the legislative session. Each episode of the program will also be made available for viewing online at www.pioneer.org/your-legislators.
When Aaslak Thompson and his fellow Norwegian immigrants first staked their claim in Milan in the 1870's they could not imagine that one day their town would become home to immigrants from the South Pacific islands of Micronesia. But Milan (pop. 353) is a community that is continually reinventing itself, as all communities must do in order to survive. The Micronesian experience in this predominantly Norwegian community of western Minnesota is the subject of a special 30 minute episode of Pioneer Public TV's popular Postcards program to be aired on Sunday, February 16 at 7:00 p.m. The episode will be repeated on Monday, February 17 at 1:30 p.m. and on Thursday, February 20 at 7:00 p.m. The program will also be available for online viewing after the premiere broadcast through the station's web site: www.pioneer.org/postcards.
The journey from Micronesia to Milan began in the early 1980's when Erik Thompson of Milan lived on the island of Chuuk as part of a stint in the Peace Corps. Thompson kept in touch with his host family on the island over the years and eventually his host brother from Chuuk asked if he could move to Milan and bring his family. Erik made the arrangements and eventually one family led to another with more and more relatives coming to join them. Today more than 20% of Milan's population is Micronesian and they are having an impact. "They've brought life to the community," says Thompson.
The episode is full of scenes of colorful social events and parties organized by the Chuukese people at the Milan Community Center. The program features touching moments of women singing and working together. "Music and dancing is a big thing in our lives and the elder people teach the younger ones from generation to generation," says teenager Christa Herman who is interviewed in the documentary. "We don't want to forget how to do those things."
The program also documents a community gardening and food processing experiment carried out by the community in the summer of 2013. Bob Ryan of Olivia talks about how he secured a grant to set up and organize the project which involved the entire community in an exploration of food self sufficiency. "It has been a very rewarding experience," said Ryan.
This special Postcards production was directed by Pioneer Public Television's award winning producer Dana Johnson. Johnson worked over the course of a year to collect the footage used in the final program. Johnson specializes in stories about how diverse people define what "home" means to them. Over the past few years she has produced specials about the Somali culture in Willmar, about young musicians who grew up in western Minnesota who find success in the big city and now this Micronesians in Milan piece. Johnson is currently working on a documentary about Haitian children who are adopted by western Minnesota families which will air in May of 2014.
Love of place is what makes a small town and learning how to dance, sing, celebrate and watch movies together gets us through the cold days and the isolation -- this is the take away from the upcoming episode of Pioneer Public Television's Postcards program which airs on Sunday, February 9th at 7:00 p.m. The city of Granite Falls' experience with outdoor walking theater productions, the community of Madison's story of how they saved and renovated the Grand Movie Theater, and a window into the life of a small town dance instructor are all contained in this 30 minute episode which will be repeated on Monday, February 10th at 1:30 p.m. and on Thursday, February 13th at 7:00 p.m. The program will also be available for online viewing after February 9th through the station's web site: www.pioneer.org/postcards.
The episode begins with a feature on PlaceBase Productions -- a new kind of theatre company led by Ashley Hanson and Andrew Gaylord. The two artists talk about their process of going into a town and collecting stories and writing an original play based on those stories. They then take the sidewalks and buildings of the community and turn them into a stage where the play is performed by local actors. "This process is transformational," said Scott Tedrick, the local newspaper editor who also acted in the three plays staged by PlaceBase Productions in Granite Falls over the past few years. "Our intent is to use theatre to remind communities of what they have," says Hanson. "Our goal is community revitalization."
The next segment of the program tells the history of the Grand Theater in Madison, Minnesota. Long time community champion Maynard Meyer, the owner and operator of KLQP FM, tells the story of how the original theater burnt down and was restored, only to fall into decline. However, The Grand was recently revitalized through the contributions of many volunteers and the city government. Several theater goers are interviewed in the episode including Molly Hacker, Stan Bjorgan and Charlie and JT Ulstad. "The Grand Theater is really supported by the community -- it is a gathering place for all of us and it gives something for the kids to do," says Meyer.
The love of dancing and how someone can turn a passion into a career is the subject of the final story about Sara Konsbruck of Morris, Minnesota. Konsbruck gave up a career as a school counselor to teach dance to young girls and to lead Zumba and other fitness classes to adults in the community. She choreographs many of her own routines and serves as a guest choreographer for University of Minnesota Morris Dance Ensemble productions. Konsbruck displays her grace, poise and determined work ethic in the program. "I like being busy," said Konsbruck with a laugh. "I love teaching and seeing people leave the studio with a big smile on their face," she adds.
Postcards viewers will also be treated to a performance of an original song by Jack Klatt and the Cat Swingers at the Riversong Music Festival that is held every July in Hutchinson. The episode concludes with a performance by Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary fame as he sings the song "It's Magic."