Making It Count
Activism via A and E

By Sarah Tackett

I’m always suspicious of those who say there is nothing to do in Lexington. Even if you’ve heard every band, watched every show and danced on every bar, I’m sure there are plenty of things that you haven’t tried. For instance, you could get out the old clubs and drive golf balls at your neighbor’s cat, or maybe streak main street making sure to take a dip in each of the city’s fountains, or you could even hide your friends wallets, cell phones, and car keys all over town in a grand treasure hunt. In fact, I can go on forever thinking up enjoyable ways to waste your leisure time, but someone might get arrested, or a cat might get hurt, and at the end of the day no one would be better off for it. What I am trying to say is that there are countless ways to spend your free time here in Lexington, however, it is important to realize that some may be more worthwhile than others.

The Kentucky Theater is releasing two films in the next week that promise not only to entertain, but to raise social consciousness. You are probably already aware that Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 will be out this Friday, June 25th. The Kentucky Values Coalition is sponsoring the premiere, holding a reception at 5:30pm with the film beginning at 7:00pm. The tickets are $25, and the proceeds go towards the coalition’s commitment to lifting progressive concerns to public attention (a type of “Move On” organization acting at the local level). The Kentucky will also run the movie at its normal price after the premier. Whatever your political flavor, I believe this film to be important in that it defines pertinent issues facing American communities, as well as discusses America’s current position within the global community.

The other film brought to The Kentucky also raises questions of global importance. Civic groups such as Kentucky’s Student Global AIDS Campaign and Lexington’s Laymen’s Response to AIDS are presenting a free film screening of A Closer Walk. This Oscar-nominated film interrogates the current progress of the world’s fight against AIDS, and the devastating consequences it creates. Glenn Close and Will Smith narrate the stories of those who have been changed by the disease through personal loss or affliction, and then examine the effects of these tragedies on society as a whole. The scope of the film extends to four different continents, including our own, and ranges from interviews with Ukrainian physicians to discussions with the Dali Lama. The purpose of the film is to reevaluate the predominant understanding of the AIDS crisis, bringing to light what some refer to as “a silent holocaust.” According to public health officials, the number of those infected with HIV will reach more than 1 billion by the year 2050. This film provokes the question of how far the disease will be allowed to develop, invisible to the eyes of humanity and compassion.

Please allow me to remind you that the screening is FREE. Yes, people are actually paying for you to be enlightened to the reality of such a profoundly significant epidemic. The sponsors are locally based advocacy groups working to prioritize the global AIDS fight among leaders and individuals alike. The screening of A Closer Look will be shown Thursday, July 1st and there will be an open discussion held afterward. If you have the time, you really owe it to yourself to go. The growing AIDS crisis is something that none of us can afford to ignore.

I would now like to take the time to congratulate two local women who have strived to achieve activism through art. Joan Brannon and Norma Spencer have recently been awarded grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, supporting their work to project positive social change. Joan Brannon, a media artist, will collaborate with students from the Kentucky School for the Deaf in producing a video which addresses rape and sexual assault in the deaf community. The grant awarded to Norma Spencer will help Hispanic and Latino women (ESL students from Bluegrass Literacy) create and perform scripts depicting their social, economic, and political concerns. The Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning was also awarded a grant, offering a series of writing workshops for girls ages 13-18. In order to obtain a grant, each applicant had to validate their project’s artistic quality, commitment to feminism, and ability to empower Kentucky women.

Lexington is buzzing with things to do, especially during the summer. You can listen to jazz in Ecton park, or go see the Actor’s Guild put on their tribute to Sinatra. Concerts consistently roll through town, and there are a growing number of block parties celebrating different themes. All of these events promise entertainment, but some offer the greater satisfaction of social improvement. Look, I’m not trying to make you feel self-indulgent or guilty during your off hours,( I even appreciate the occasional naked jaunt through town, or the indignent expression of a scared cat). I’m just saying that there are plenty of alternative forms of entertainment that actually give back to the community. So if you do decide to do something, you might as well make it count. n