With the next viewing of our Seasonal Film Series being the great 2016 documentary Planeta Petrila, it just seemed right to explore how different towns are trying to reinvent itself. Now for those who are not familiar with this film, let’s first review its synopsis from iMDb.

In Petrila, a coal mining town in Transylvania (Romania), an ex-miner turned artist and activist uses art and absurdism to stop local authorities from demolishing the historic buildings of the oldest coal mine in the country after its’ closure in 2015, at EU’s recommendation. His quest is not only to preserve the history and the identity of his hometown, but also to find new ways of keeping the community from irreversibly falling apart.

The subject of the death of small-town economies is a global story. But let’s first start off on a positive note and provide you reading materials on how some cities and towns are trying to rebrand their economy.

Late last year, CBC/Radio-Canada did a piece to showcase how small-town Canada is changing. They looked for stories that focused on adoption and re-invention. For example, they look at the tiny fishing town of Tignish.

From an accessible health centre to customized employment options, the community of Tignish finds a way to provide its residents with exactly what they need — all while boasting a population of just over 700.

The story is worth a read, but you can also listen to the radio special:

Nationswell profiled James and Deborah Fallows, who embarked on a journey in their single-engine Cirrus SR22 to explore American life on roads less traveled. Their book, Our Towns: A 100,000 Mile Journey Into the Heart of America, examines everything that’s going right in the country. This particular quote stood out in the article:

The secret of U.S. vitality over the centuries has been [that] it’s always stronger when it makes itself more open and always weaker when it fails to do that. [Thriving towns] make themselves open, and by open I mean to immigration, to people at different stations in life, of allowing people to reinvent themselves, etc. To me, that is the idea of America,

This is not just an American problem. The Nikkei Asian Review profiled Arkalyk, a town of fewer than 30,000 people in the central belt of Kazakhstan. Like in Planeta Petrila, mining drove the area’s economy. This isn’t a flowery profile that goes to show that sometimes a town just can’t turn itself around, but, will look for ways to make progress with its current infrastructure.

And sometimes towns are lucky to have people like Ion Barbu, the subject of our documentary at this Saturday’s screening at Box Office Brewery.