Director-Producer of Story of America

commented on First Images Inside Belhaven's Shuttered Hospital 2014-09-22 09:52:52 -0400
Sandra, I commend you for your service to the community hospital and for your personal sacrifices for people’s healthcare. I’m sure you deserve more gratitude and recognition than you have received.

However, I feel compelled to point out my disagreements with your claims.

You seem to think that your 4-year volunteer experience on the foundation earns you the credibility to make assertions about the financial state of the hospital and the characters of various hospital advocates. The truth is, there are people with more years of residence in the community, more years involved on the PDHC board, more days spent in meetings about the hospital, who completely disagree with you. Many of the people who are most critical of Vidant and the LLC managers are LLC members who were once PDHC board members. Let me briefly summarize why they disagree with you.

Vidant did not “buy” the hospital. If they did, what was the amount that they paid? Vidant did pay off over a million dollars in debt, but it also assumed control of the bank account that had close to a million at the time of the transfer, millions in account receivables, and a property estimated to be worth 9.6 million.

The truth is there was no money exchanged in October 2011 when the contract was signed. It was not a purchase. It was an agreement to transfer control of Pungo District Hospital Corp from a community-based board to one controlled by Vidant executives. In exchange, Vidant promised to maintain and strengthen the hospital. Why else would PDHC board just give the hospital worth nearly 10 million to Vidant?

A judge or jury will decide this once all the evidence is presented by both sides of the lawsuit, but it appears that Vidant deliberately misled the PDHC board members and the community. It is certainly arguable that Vidant’s intention was to close the hospital even before they entered negotiations with PDHC board in 2011. In any case, Vidant certainly did not hold up their end of the bargain to maintain and strengthen the hospital.

I don’t know all the reasons behind some of the management decisions that were made in the past. I have heard that many people knew that the hospital needed to be significantly down-sized but no one on the board wanted to make the hard decisions that would lead to people in the community losing jobs. It’s the obvious management decision that was never made before board members became convinced in 2011 that Vidant would save the hospital.

Yes, it’s true that I am not a long-time resident of Belhaven. Perhaps that gives me the fresh perspective I need to be more objective about the hospital issue since I see some people bringing a lot of old personal grudges and loyalties into a discussion that should be based on hard evidence such as financial numbers and legal documents.

To understand the hospital issue, I have read all the legal documents that I can access, studied the business plan, and talked to a number of people with knowledge of rural hospital management in the community and outside the community.

My guess is that you’ve not read the legal documents, studied the financial numbers, or seriously considered the business plan vetted by researchers from Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill and Campbell. It seems to me that you’re taking a less than objective position on the issue of the hospital because of your past personal conflicts with two or three of the main advocates of the hospital. Your hostility towards them is very obvious to me and I can’t help but think that it’s in the way of you recognizing that there are valid perspectives on the hospital even if they’re different from yours.

commented on Deeds and Misdeeds: the 1947 law that may save Belhaven's hosptial 2014-08-16 14:41:34 -0400
I suggest that the people of the Town of Belhaven ask their elected representatives at the Belhaven Town Council, Beaufort Co. Commissioners, and NCGA to enforce this 1947 state law and revert the property back to the People of Belhaven since you are the rightful owners.

It seems that Belhaven Town Council can pass a resolution immediately to file for a Reversion of the property. I suggest that you contact Mayor O’Neal and town council members, Greg Satterthwaite, Julian Goff, Tony Williams, Robert Stanley, and Vic Cox, and ask them to take action. I have a feeling that they would be quite receptive to hearing from the people.

commented on Not a Monster's Daughter 2014-04-24 23:59:07 -0400
Such courage is contagious.

Chief Murphy Recognized by President Obama for Act of Racial Reconciliation

One of the great honors on our 18-month (thus far) Story of America journey was meeting Police Chief Kevin Murphy of Montgomery, AL. Recently at the White House, President Obama recognized and thanked Chief Murphy for an act of reconciliation that we documented in the video above.

The exchange too place at the St. Patrick’s Day reception (Murphy is Irish American), when President Obama gave Murphy a personal “thank you” for his continued efforts to improve the relationship between law officers and communities of color.

Rebecca Burylo of The Montgomery Advertiser reports:

“The president had heard of my gesture and told me that I was a good man, that I did a good thing,” Murphy said. “I was very humbled by that. I never thought that the president of the United States would have known about the gesture and that really touched me.”

The relationship between Lewis and Murphy is a testament to the chief’s mission of reconciliation.

“Congressman Lewis is a great man. He is just so humble and a genuine gentleman, but a tough guy,” Murphy said. “Who would have known 50 years ago that this young man then would become a United States congressman?

“He’s one of the biggest heroes we have today,” Murphy added.

Since becoming police chief three years ago, Murphy has made it his mission to change the country’s negative perception of Montgomery and the South because of its history of slavery and segregation.

It is a history that should be taught and remembered, but never repeated, Murphy said. [MORE]


commented on Republicans, NAACP join forces to prevent 'medical desert' in coastal NC 2014-03-16 17:37:17 -0400
Re. “Looking at the issue strictly from a business standpoint…” are there some issues that should not be looked at strictly from a business standpoint? If so, health care might be one of them.

commented on Hand to Mouth by Lila Little 2014-02-22 14:01:07 -0500
It’s a shame when people are afraid to share their stories and struggles because they’re afraid of the judgement of others. We will be at the mercy of mainstream media’s manufactured stories unless We the People speak up and share their truths.


@StoryofAmerica tweeted link to Abortion Bill . 2013-07-07 20:25:25 -0400

Epic Debate in NC Senate on Sharia Law/Abortion Bill 7/3/13

Note: There are two videos about what happened Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at the NC General Assembly when the Senate voted on HB 695 "Faith, Family and Freedom Protection Act": One documenting what happened inside the Senate chamber and one documenting what happened outside the Senate chamber after the vote. 

As they near the close of the 2013 session, North Carolina Republican senators pulled together a bill (HB 695 "The Faith, Family and Freedom Protection Act) that combines a law prohibiting the recognition of Sharia law in family courts with dramatic restrictions on abortion access.

On July 3rd, with less than 14 hours of notice given to the public, the NC Senate passionately debated and then voted for the bil. along party lines and passed the bill. 

Twitter and Facebook exploded with outrage. Between 8pm on July 2nd and 9am on July 3rd, NARAL and Planned Parenthood led the online mobilization. Hundreds of men and women showed up at the General Assembly to witness and protest. Wearing pink and purple in solidarity against the bill, they were armed with smart phones, sharing their comments and images on the web. 


@StoryofAmerica tweeted link to NEW VIDEO: Tea Party Values, the Civil War and Race in Raleigh, NC . 2013-02-19 11:03:42 -0500
VIDEO: @annabelpark talks to NC #TeaParty leader about conservative values, the Civil War and #race. http://www.storyofamerica.org/diane?recruiter_id=2

NEW VIDEO: Tea Party Values, the Civil War and Race in Raleigh, NC

NOTE: Listen to Annabel Park & Eric Byler talk about this video on Coffee Party Radio

Annabel Park recently spoke to Diane Rufino, leader of the Eastern North Carolina Tea Party, at the "Honor the Oath" rally at the State Capitol in Raleigh.

Diane had drawn applause during her speech when she praised North Carolina's role during the Civil War, yet, she said that Rev. Dr. William Barber is wrong to remind us of historic struggles for racial equality in order to counter the TEA Party, and address modern day injustices. "Time to move on," she said.


followed About 2014-07-28 17:46:54 -0400

About Story of America

madison.jpgIn today’s America, 50 years after Martin Luther King, Jr. marched on Washington and 150 years after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, America faces profound divisions along political, economic and cultural lines that threaten to destabilize our nation and democracy.

America - the nation of the people, for the people and by the people - is deeply divided. The divisions are political, economic and cultural. The result is economic decline and governmental dysfunction. Moreover, the people are growing hopeless and cynical, losing faith in America's ideals. 

Opinions have polarized to the point that people along both sides of the divide view the opposition with a great deal of fear and paranoia, leading to alienation and a dehumanizing view of those who don’t share our beliefs.

The Story of America is a unique project to both document the story of our divided nation in 2013, and engage those with the power to heal these divisions - the people - in the transforming power of storytelling and dialogue. 

Our main purpose is to use our videos to foster dialogue so that we may become more united as a country and deliberative in how we engage in our democracy. 
 
In its format, it is a web series with over 100 videos already up on our youtube channel, and it will be a feature-length documentary. 
 
We began in October 2012 and as of now we have traveled to Virginia, Maryland, Washington, DC, Connecticut, New York, Kentucky, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina and Alabama. We are documenting our journey and the people we meet along the way, but we are also showing our videos and engaging people in small groups and large community settings. Those discussions are also documented. 

We are focusing particular attention to the Moral Monday movement and the political struggle in North Carolina for the feature documentary. The fight here involves many fundamental divisions in America including election laws/voting rights, influence of money in politics, the role of government in our lives, racial divisions, demographic shifts, and economic policies/income inequality. 
In North Carolina, we see a story of a state and its people that is dramatically divided, yet yearning for a sense of unity and hope. We hope that our videos, screenings and discussions may contribute to healing the divide. 

We invite viewers to submit their own statements, responses, and stories in the form of essays, videos, and photos. These submissions will be uploaded to the website, and, we anticipate that some of the clips will be included in the feature documentary. 


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Director-Producer of Story of America.