Back in March I got to view the trailer for Stillmotion’s first feature length documentary, Stand With Me. It premiered February 1st of this year and was about a little girl in California, Vivienne Harr, who was selling lemonade on the sidewalk to free child slaves. I got to sit down with one of the co-producers, Grant Peelle, and the social media campaign director, Emily Thomas and we talked about what made this documentary so special. Here’s the summary of Stand With Me:
Only a 9-year-old would dream a lemonade stand could change the world. After seeing a photo of two enslaved boys in Nepal, Vivienne Harr is moved to help in the only way she knows how: by setting up her lemonade stand. With the goal of freeing 500 children from slavery, she sets up her stand every day, rain or shine. In telling Vivienne’s story, #standwithme examines the realities of modern-day slavery, the role we play in it as consumers, and the importance of knowing the story behind what we buy.
What is the The Power of One?
Even while I’m in the business of educating students and helping them aim high academically, the larger work at play is in developing contributing citizens. “Do you know what we all have in common? Someday we’re all going to get jobs in this world. We all get there differently.” I ask this question of every incoming and outgoing student in my building as I speak to them about their progress in school, but ultimately I learn that so many of them want what many children want: they want to change the world.
But, they think they’re just one person and how can they possibly make a difference?
The film opens with photographer, Lisa Kristine, and how she captures stories through photography. She’s the first connection in the story that leads us, eventually, to Vivienne Harr. It was Lisa who put a face on slavery with her pictures to portray the community of humanity, but it was the burden of showing their dignity that she took on as her life work. For me, the most powerful part of the film is when she, humbly, explains that she missed seeing the obvious numerous times when she previously visited these developing countries. She hadn’t even noticed the child slaves right before her eyes.
From there, the film shows Lisa’s work in a gallery that Vivienne’s parents visited and they shared that experience with her. Almost immediately, she wanted to do something to help. After viewing the movie, my initial reaction about dreaming big was renewed because, as Grant said to me on the phone, “If we ask the right questions as consumers, then we can end slavery.”
Let me repeat that: we can end slavery. We can make purchasing decisions that affect the conscious capitalism we’re supporting here at Little Pickle this month.
When a 9-year old learned about the 29.8 million people enslaved in the world today, she decided to take action. When Lisa Kristine took a photograph it ended up in a film that took filmmakers from Vivienne’s home in Fairfax, CA to Namibia, Nepal, Ghana, and the Dominican Republic. When Vivienne sold lemonade for free and asked people to give what was in their heart, it brought awareness to an audience about really knowing where our products come from. And while it’s not enough to just support the anti-slavery movement, the message of this movie is that if you want to make a difference you have to know that the products don’t come from slaves. The more we buy these products the more we actually support slavery.
Now, the Make a Stand company is on a new journey. They decided to continue raising money for anti-slavery and the company is neither a not-for-profit nor a non-profit; it’s a social purpose company. Proceeds from it go to International Justice Mission, Free the Slaves, and Fair Trade USA. Make a Stand became simply Stand and it is the first mobile crowd-funding for friction-free philanthropy. They’re coming out with an app where people can donate to make it easier to directly support.
Building the Future
Perhaps my favorite part of Stand With Me is that it explores modern day child slavery through the eyes of a 9 year old who decided to take a stand, a concept from a true-to-life story that takes conscious capitalism to children in an accessible way. It’s a film I want all of my students to view.
Take just a moment to watch the trailer and, if you rent the film directly from the site for $5.99, you can rest assured knowing that a portion of that goes to the anti-slavery movement.