Echoes from Lock One explores the legacy of the Erie Canal through Troy teens’ research and stories. Uniquely situated at the Canal’s confluence with the Northern tip of the Hudson River Estuary, this project merges tales of the past with a call to action. Once-splendid homes and towering factories bear silent witness to Troy’s influential role in the creation of great wealth during the Industrial Revolution. In our neighborhood, little of that privilege remains, with the vast majority of children growing up below the poverty line. Their inheritance: a toxic landscape along the Hudson River, devastated by industrial waste, PCBs and pollution. During the “Uptown Summer” program at the Sanctuary, artists, professionals and educators worked with teens in media, science and STEAM workforce skills, including camera and audio production, script writing, creative storytelling, music and dance, research, media literacy, editing and graphic design, to create this call to action.
Branda Miller is media artist, activist and educator, dedicated to exploring new visions, using media as an organizing tool for social and environmental justice, and supporting independent voices. She is the Arts and Education Coordinator at The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy, NY and a tenured Professor of Media Arts at RPI. During “Uptown Summer,” a media arts and environmental education summer youth employment program at The Sanctuary, we made this film to explore our community’s deep-rooted connection to the legacy of the Erie Canal.
The film’s experimental, participatory documentary practice shifts power from director to the subject. It was recorded, scripted, and edited by youth, in collaboration with an interdisciplinary group of artists and media makers, scientists and community organizers. The stories within the film transform negative stereotypes of our economically disadvantaged and environmentally devastated neighborhood into compelling messages of hope.