The Common Good

Stories for Social Change in “Flight Behavior” & “The Line”

Date: December 24, 2012

In early October, on the eve of the first Presidential debate, the social justice-focused Sojourners presented a documentary it had produced about poverty in America. The Line—the title a nod to both the statistical marker of “official” poverty, as well as the invisible fences between the “haves” and “have nots”—profiled four Americans who help to comprise the approximately 46 million people who live below the poverty line. The producer, Linda Midgett, is a friend of mine, and a few weeks ago we talked about the project, as well as the way that Sojourners hoped to present it: The Line first aired in Washington, D.C., with a panel discussion following the screening. From there, Sojourners aimed to equip individuals, churches, and organizations to host their own screenings and use the documentary as a springboard to facilitate discussions. Much like the marketing of “Race to Nowhere,” Sojourners hoped to provide information to propel a conversation forward.

The documentary had an estimated audience of 125,000 online viewers in October alone. It was created not necessarily to get a particular candidate or party elected, but simply to put American poverty into people’s psyches and range of visions. However viewers decided to vote was up to them. But the people behind The Line would like to see this issue become one that is talked about with greater frequency. In its simplest form, the film is a transfer of information, from sources to viewers.