McClain alumni Kyle Barr ‘09 and Caleb Mootispaw ‘12 created a video about life in Greenfield not only to enter the town in an HGTV makeover contest but also to share positive stories about the village and community.
“The contest initiated this project, but that’s not the primary focus,” Mootispaw, now a librarian at the Greenfield Branch Library, said. “The intention of this piece was to tell people’s stories—because we do have stories here—to keep us looking ahead at where we want to go, what we do have. Often we’re stuck on what we don’t have, so we’re not looking at what we have to be thankful for right here, right now. For us, a lot of that is our history. We are the future of the town. It’s whatever we want to make it.”
According to HGTV, the Hometown Takeover contest aims to “help you and your community revitalize the place you call home” by renovating the entire town.
The video, entitled ‘Greenfield: A Canvas,’ incorporates footage from around the village with anecdotes from community members.
The community members who appeared in the video included First Presbyterian Church Pastor Mike Anderson, Greenfield Historical Society President Wendy Royce, entrepreneur Tim Richardson, Cream-N-Sugar Cafe owners Heather and Lee Walker, Greenfield City Manager Todd Wilkin, and Greenfield Exempted Village School District Superintendent Quincey Gray.
The video was posted on YouTube on Sunday. At press time on Tuesday evening, it had 2,661 views.
Barr, a member of the Greenfield Village Council as well as a librarian at the Greenfield library, said, “There was a person who commented on the video and said, ‘I’m going to have to move back to Greenfield.’ Even if it just inspires a single person to come visit, it brings revenue to the town.”
Though he can’t quite remember where he first heard about the contest, Barr was the one who approached Mootispaw about making the video. They took a few days to plan out their interview questions and film footage of the town.
“We focused on the three primary tenets of what I felt shaped our community: education, business and faith,” Mootispaw said. “You can see it in four towers of Greenfield—the Greenfield clock tower, the school, the two church steeples. The four towers of Greenfield represent those three facets that have always worked together to make Greenfield what it is. That’s why we picked the people we did—they’re representatives of each of those categories.”
Though each community member Barr and Mootispaw interviewed had a different background, their stories were similar.
“I hope it wins, but contest aside, that’s not what it’s about. It’s about a community coming together. We all have similar stories. Just the six interviews we did in the video were all virtually the same story, the same ideas,” Mootispaw said. “I had questions pre-planned—you can’t pre-plan answers, but everybody had very similar answers. I didn’t tell them anything the other people said. The first person I interviewed was Mike Anderson, and he makes the comment that people are always helping take care of your kids; the next person I interviewed was Wendy Royce, and she affirmed what he had said. And I thought, ‘You couldn’t have planned that.’”
While they were filming at the high school, Barr said he noticed something in one of the murals that he hadn’t noticed while he was a student.
“I keep thinking about the line on the painting above the marble staircase. On the bottom it reads, ‘If there is no vision, the people perish.’ That just kind of gave me a new drive on the project,” Barr said.
But there are people with vision in Greenfield.
“There’s a hunger. People are getting into the mindset that we need to move forward. Constantly encouraging each other is essential,” Mootispaw said. “We dog on how things are here because it’s hard living in a small town, but when you have a chance to potentially shift and change that? Put in your ticket.”
Mootispaw and Barr said the video has been shared across various community Facebook pages and groups.
“We’re not the only ones [who have submitted entries for Greenfield],” Mootispaw said. “And that’s what I love.”
“I think the video inspired a lot of people to go and do more,” Barr added. “The more positive messages you get out there, the more positive mindsets people begin to have.”
A little over an hour after Mootispaw posted ‘Greenfield: A Canvas’ on his personal Facebook page, a Facebook group, “Hometown Takeover HGTV Greenfield,” was started to encourage community members to submit applications for the village and to provide images of the village to accompany community members’ applications. Multiple community members within the group stated that they had submitted entries for Greenfield.
“I would argue we have strong odds for us, but there are going to be thousands of small towns like us that are going to be sent in, so you want to have ulterior motives outside of winning a contest,” Mootispaw said. “We do care about this place we call home, so we need to act on it. We should constantly be reminding ourselves about what we have to be grateful for. Pick up the trash, volunteer, be apart of the community, be apart of the change you want to see. Your community is the people around you, not the buildings around you. We’re in this for each other.”
For more details about the contest or to submit a town for consideration, go to hgtvhometowntakeover.com. The deadline for submissions is Friday, Feb. 7.
To watch Barr and Mootispaw’s ‘Greenfield: A Canvas,’ go to youtu.be/HN0VMLWjdXg or search “Greenfield: A Canvas” on YouTube.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.