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The Untold Stories Project

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About this film:

City Kids in National Parks explores National Park Service efforts to bring inner city kids into the parks, often for their first encounters with wilderness. The film tells the story through the lens of two programs – Biscayne National Park, a successful, well-established program working with fifth graders from greater Miami, and Death Valley National Park, a new program working with seventh grade students from Las Vegas – and is underpinned by the kids themselves: what they're learning about the earth, about teamwork, and about themselves.

Manzanar: "Never Again " looks at the interconnected stories of Japanese internment during World War II, Sue Kunitomi Embrey's efforts to commemorate Manzanar internment camp, and the ongoing work of Manzanar National Historic Site to educate visitors about civil rights. At the heart of the of the film is the site's annual pilgrimage and the words of Sue Embrey, who speaks movingly about protecting all citizens' rights, especially in times of national crisis.

Mount Rushmore: Telling America's Stories focuses on the new interpretive program at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, spearheaded by Supt. Gerard Baker. In addition to telling the traditional stories of the carving of the mountain and of the four presidents memorialized there, the program now highlights the stories and cultures of all Americans, including American Indians, imparting a more complex and complete understanding of the National Parks and the legacies they protect.

San Antonio Missions: Keeping History Alive centers on San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. A thriving hub for the city's Latino community, the park hosts Spanish and English language masses throughout the week, celebrates traditional Hispanic festivals year-round, and educates more than 50,000 school children annually about our nation's Hispanic heritage.

Yosemite's Buffalo Soldiers highlights the work of Yosemite ranger Shelton Johnson and his rediscovery of the story of the African American soldiers who patrolled the parks of the High Sierra at the turn of the last century. Shelton tells the story in the dramatis personae of a Buffalo Soldier himself, directly engaging visitors in a way that is immediate and often high impact.


About the Untold Stories Project

National parks do more than preserve our nation's natural and cultural heritage; they enrich lives, enhance learning and provide inspiration in an increasingly challenging and complex world. While all Americans should be able to personally benefit from national park experiences, unfortunately many African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans do not visit the parks and do not find them personally relevant or welcoming.

The community engagement and outreach efforts around The National Parks: America's Best Idea were designed to help create a larger discussion about a variety of topics: the unique American idea (and ideal) of setting aside these vast pieces of land, the importance of preserving our natural environment and cultural history, the fragile relationship between development and preservation and the on-going need to create greater accessibility to these treasures so all residents of America have access to them.

In 2005 WETA and Florentine Films, with generous support from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, launched the Untold Stories project, designed to bring to light stories from the national parks focusing on the role of African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans and American Indians in the creation and protection of individual parks and to engage new and traditionally underserved audiences in the educational richness of the national parks.

As part of the Untold Stories project WETA and Florentine Films have produced five original mini-documentaries (see above) and a 45-minute companion film entitled This Is America and compiled numerous text-based stories and photographs. The Untold Stories material has been used across multiple platforms, featured on the series DVD, streamed on the companion web site, used in the extensive educational materials created for the film and made available for use in community and park settings throughout the country. Through the Untold Stories project and in partnership with the National Park Foundation and the National Park Service, it is our goal to help people recognize that national parks preserve a wide variety of history and stories representative of our diverse society and all Americans have a right to experience the historic, natural and cultural wonders of our national parks.

The community engagement and outreach efforts around The National Parks: America's Best Idea will help create a larger discussion about a variety of topics: the unique American idea (and ideal) of setting aside these vast pieces of land, the importance of preserving our natural environment and cultural history, the fragile relationship between development and preservation and the on-going need to create greater accessibility to these treasures so all residents of America have access to them.

Four years ago WETA and Florentine Films, with generous support from the Haas, Jr. Fund, launched the Untold Stories project, designed to bring to light stories from the national parks focusing on the role of African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans in the creation and protection of individual parks and to engage new and traditionally underserved audiences in the educational richness of the national parks.

The Untold Stories material will be used across multiple platforms, featured on the series DVD, streamed on the companion web site, used in the extensive educational materials created for the film and made available to stations for broadcast and use in community and park settings throughout the country.

Through the Untold Stories project and in partnership with the National Park Foundation and the National Park Service, it is our goal to help people recognize that national parks preserve a wide variety of history and stories representative of our diverse society and all Americans have a right to experience the historic, natural and cultural wonders of our national parks.

As part of the Untold Stories project WETA and Florentine Films have produced five original mini-documentaries, and a 45-minute companion film.

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Bank of America Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr Fund Corporation for Public Broadcasting The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations Park Foundation

National Park Foundation The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation The Pew Charitable TrustsGM

THE NATIONAL PARKS: AMERICA'S BEST IDEA is a co-production of

Florentine Films and WETA

 

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