An upcoming documentary, “A Reckoning in Boston,” tells the story of systemic oppression, resilience, and the power of community-based solutions.
The film was written, directed, and edited by nonfiction editor James Rutenbeck, and produced by Common Good Cooperative activist and founder Kafi Dixon and Boston-based Carl Chandler.
Six years ago, when Burkett first started his film, he was trying to follow students taking the Clemente Course in the Humanities – an educational program designed for people affected by homelessness, previously incarcerated, or obstacles for college education.
But during the course, Rutenbeck meets students Dixon and Chandler, and as time goes on, he begins to take a more critical look at the racist and misogynist structures that oppress color communities.
Rutenbeck tells Food Tank that Dixon “helped me look beneath the surface of the city of Boston. I love Boston, I’ve always loved it, but I didn’t really get it. “
The film follows Dixon as he builds the Common Good Cooperative, Boston’s first urban farming cooperative and a justice-based initiative for women in color. It explores Dixon’s vision of a community-driven solution that supports both self-sufficiency and resistance of the project.
Dixon explains that the project exists to teach black women about cooperative justice and their ability to act as a stabilizing force in communities. “The cooperative is just me as a cooperative developer, as a farmer, as a farmer, as an environmentalist who says to women:” You have the power to save yourself, “she says to Food Tank.
Despite these intentions, Dixon and Rutenbeck highlight the backlash the project faced when urban actors tried to deter the cooperative’s development.
“The shocking thing for me, and what it took me so long to understand, was why it was so difficult for something so noble and idealistic to get on my feet. Why did everyone put up obstacles? “Asks Rutenbeck.
These challenges came not only from the city government, but also from foundations and non-profit organizations that wanted to control the project and withdraw the agency from community members.
Dixon explains that she opened up to Rutenbeck and allowed his film to document her experiences so that he can witness these challenges.
“You have to understand how we are denied equity. You need to understand women’s fear that colors are solution based in their community, ”Dixon told Food Tank.
Despite these challenges and after years of effort, Dixon was able to found the Common Good Cooperative. During COVID-19, the cooperative was able to produce more than 270 kilograms of fresh products and deliver them to neighboring families.
In order for this work and similar projects to continue, Dixon emphasizes that communities need more resources, space, and time to develop their own solutions. And she says companies must see “economic development as a true form of sustainability”.
“A Reckoning in Boston” is expected to be completed in 2022 when it airs on PBS.
Those interested in supporting the Common Good Cooperative can do so by supporting their upcoming membership campaign by visiting their website.
Image courtesy A Reckoning in Boston