Spring 1969 I had one major project to complete my BA in Sociology at American International College in Springfield Massachusetts. My initial proposal to do a photo-essay based on C.Wright Mills book, White Collar: The American Middle Classes was shot down not by the Professor but by Mass Mutual where I proposed to wander the work areas (under supervision if necessary) to capture images that illustrated Mills ideas regarding hierarchy, bureaucracy and alienation! Still delight at their polite reaction.
That idea and the one accepted was heavily influenced by Montreals Expo 67. One could capture ideas in still and moving images with sound and commentary. I would document the hierarchy of public priorities and analyze the choices illustrated by urban renewal in Springfields North End, public housing, and other publicly supported initiatives and spaces.
The presentation of the movie and photos took place in my student apartment. The Professor was unimpressed. He said I’d have to write a paper to complete the course.
The original 8 mm part of the presentation surfaced during a move in 2015. The digitized 6.5 mins, without audio, are now on Youtube.
The opening, shot from top of the Holiday Inn, give a panorama of the Springfield North End renewal area. It includes the Rt. 291 right of way and construction which obliterated homes and communities; the then new Seniors public housing towers which have the Springfield Housing Authority head office.
At 1:24 the scene shifts to Court Square and its traditional institutions of court, church, and the symphony/music hall all watched over by the statue of Miles Morgan, town founder.
At 2:35 we see people enjoying a variety of public spaces. Some streets and parks are well used and maintained; others not.
At 3:27 we see the Riverview Housing Project high rises and town houses across the Connecticut River. The largely abandoned first floor units contrast with new Student dorms aided by Federal Funds. Low income residents live in deteriorated housing in the North End while others enjoy low rise public housing built for returning WWII veterans
At 5:02 we see the neighbourhood being changed by urban renewal. Seniors continue to have attention and priority over the needs of families.