This article was originally published in the April 2018 Trenton Downtowner.
The Trenton Project’s five years of films are available for online viewing at thetrentonproject.com.
Has Everyone Abandoned Trenton?
In 2013 students focused on home, housing, and urban development. Here one can find and view “Has Everyone Abandoned Trenton?” a film addressing the issues of abandoned properties from the perspective of Trenton resident and retired fire chief Dennis Kennan. “Refugee, Refugee” follows a Rwandan refugee’s routine as she attempts to provide for her children. And “Transitions” follows a family’s journey using the Mercer County Board of Social Services to move from homelessness and mental health problems.
Work Makes a City
In 2014 the theme was “Work Makes a City” and looked at people attempting to support themselves in a post-industrial community. Films included “Z Line,” about the shuttle providing Trenton Amazon employees a reliable transportation source to work in the suburbs; “Kyla,” about a young woman working as a carpenter’s apprentice; and “Workers Unprotected,” an exploration of Latin American immigrants and wage theft.
Sanctuaries in the City
The selected theme for 2015 was “Sanctuaries in the City,” where “individuals gather — away from the immediate economic and social pressures of inner-city living — and together re-imagine and reweave the fabric of their community.” The films include interviews with poets, street artists, and soup kitchen patrons who have centered their lives on music as a passion, ambition, and career.
The 1960s: Looking Back, Moving Forward
The 2016 theme was “The 1960s: Looking Back, Moving Forward,” with films examining the impact of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. on the people of Trenton, the ensuing riots hurting an already ailing downtown Trenton, and a Trenton still waiting for recovery. Films included “The Light That Shines from Within” and “Mapping Trenton,” touching on the Trenton riots; “Protest,” an examination of the Civil Rights movement in Trenton; “A Game of Inches,” focusing on three Trenton High School alumnae whose quest for higher education was impeded by prejudice against their gender, class, and race; “Heart of Trenton,” a profile of longtime Trenton merchants who remain hopeful for the city’s future; and “Keeping Jazz Alive,” a story of E.C. and Valarie Bradley and keeping Trenton jazz alive at their Candlelight Lounge.
The 1960s & The Footsteps of the Past
The 2017 films used “The 1960s & The Footsteps of the Past.” Films included “Green Inside the Redline,” focusing on the shifting fortunes of Trenton’s Coalport district; “The House Without a Door,” examining how the Trenton Cogsville family promoted community service and activism; “The Good People,” a Princeton program to promote trust between the police and area youth; “Reach One,” highlighting the link between Trenton’s Quaker history and spirit of stewardship; and “Adelante! The Puerto Rican Experience in Trenton.”