BY NANCY HILLER
If you could watch a time-lapse film of Bloomington since the town’s founding in 1818, you would see houses, banks, cafés, theaters, jails, and other buildings rise and fall like waves on a breeze-swept lake. Men and women would run here and there, often filled with urgent purpose, only to disappear from the screen. As you neared the end of the film—the present—you would see some people fervently engaged in the work of documenting lives, ideas, and events, while others made impassioned arguments in an effort to keep old buildings standing. You would certainly emerge from this experience with a richer appreciation of Bloomington and a broader perspective on your place within it.
The WTIU documentary Bloomington: Remember When offers just such a slice of history. It’s as though that imaginary time-lapse footage were stopped at several different points and you could enter the picture, hearing places and events described by some of those who lived through them. Producer John Winninger interviewed nearly 40 community members, then paired selected recordings with historic photographs to bring Bloomington’s history to life.
The program looks at Bloomington from several distinct perspectives. Among these are factories, such as RCA; the Monon Railroad, which was critical to economic development beginning in the late 19th century; and the ever-shifting character of Bloomington’s iconic East Kirkwood Avenue and downtown Square. Not surprisingly, the overarching theme of the program is change—“both good and bad,” says Rob Anderson, WTIU director of educational services and production. “Bloomington is an ever-evolving city and community. Change does not come without struggle or controversy.”
WTIU has been producing documentaries since its founding in 1969. “It’s part of any public broadcast station’s mission to tell local stories that commercial stations typically don’t tell,” says Anderson. “Local commercial stations largely only produce news. Public TV stations feel a responsibility to tell more local cultural stories, and this is certainly entrenched in the culture of WTIU.”
Bloomington: Remember When will premiere on WTIU’s main HD channel at 8 pm, Monday, August 26, and will be rescreened periodically thereafter. It is also available on DVD or BluRay disc as a station-member thank-you gift during the WTIU August membership campaign. The program’s Facebook page where all are welcome to post photos, videos, and memories and join the conversation.