GILMANTON — The downtown barn gatherings began as a way to bring people together in an uplifting and friendly environment. The most recent event at the barn took place nearly three years ago, and now that the public health landscape seems secure enough for their return, the series founder said the encounters offered just as much value. , if not more, than they ever have.
The Scriven Arts Center, a title that alludes to the loftier goals of the barn talks, will resume on July 8, featuring a filmmaker turned local chicken farmer.
“The goal is to be a friendly gathering of neighbors in a physical space. It’s an old New England tradition,” said Bill Donahue, a writer who launched the series in 2015 and named it after his mother, Jane Scriven Cumming.
“Our last thing was 2019, now we are [in] 2022, we had the pandemic, but we also had George Floyd, the 2020 election, the January 6 insurrection. Division is the theme of the day. We’ve been through that in Gilmanton, it’s important to affirm those values of coming together,” Donahue said.
“Local food keeps us alive, local culture keeps community spirit alive,” Donahue said. His first guest for 2022 provides both.
Filmmaker, farmer, father
Marc Dole, a contemplative man who wears overalls, a baseball cap and a goatee beard and raises chickens and other farm animals on the road to the Scriven Arts Center, will take the stage at 7 p.m. on Friday, the 8 July.
Dole grew up in Newmarket, then pursued his early career as a filmmaker and animator working out of a studio in downtown Portsmouth. He started farming when one of his daughters, who left home for college, found she couldn’t swallow eggs no matter how ‘organic’ the packaging was. or “open air”. He, his wife Wanda and their other daughters were living in Nottingham at the time, and he started out with half a dozen hens.
“Good water, be on the grass, be able to eat all the bugs,” was the recipe he found for chickens that produced eggs that could feed his daughter better than anything her money could buy in Washington. , DC And so began Dole’s journey into the world of small-scale sustainable agriculture. He’s a hobby farmer, he said, and he’s proud of it.
At its busiest, its farming has resulted in many meals for many friends and neighbors. He foresaw the supply chain issues the pandemic would cause, and so in one year he raised 100 chickens for meat, five pigs and 30 turkeys.
By this point, farming had become a dynamic side job for Dole, a sort of occupational therapy to clear and refresh his mind from his primary duty. His daughters all have inherited mitochondrial disease, and two of them require full-time care, which he provides.
Farmer, filmmaker and father, these three roles combine to make Dole’s life these days. Films and animation demanded nearly all of his time, as he spent his waking hours in his studio cutting boring films for corporate clients, while creating cutting-edge animation in an attempt to attract creative contracts from ‘Hollywood. Now, filming and editing mostly takes place in his imagination, only acting in times when his farming chores are done and someone else can take care of his daughters.
The shooting of Dole has been in the center of attention lately. He is recording his farming activity for a documentary, and a recently completed film documents his domestic life.
This documentary, “Mito Kids,” brings viewers into the Dole household, including moments that are both sweet and uplifting. It has been viewed thousands of times on YouTube and has achieved its goal of increasing understanding of living with people with chronic health conditions.
Due to her daughters’ vulnerabilities, Dole was among the first to wear a mask due to the coronavirus. It wasn’t always a popular choice, especially once the masking was seen by some as a political statement, however inaccurately.
“It’s not a political thing for me, it never was,” Dole said. He couldn’t convince one of his more conservative farmer friends of this until he sent him a link to see “Mito Kids.” After watching it, the friend showed up with a gift of N95 masks.
Dole expects his Scriven presentation to last around an hour and a half. The evening will include the broadcast of several clips. It will feature “Mito Kids,” as well as some of his lighter works, such as “The Toll,” an animated mockumentary about a bridge troll whose career was affected by the development of automated toll systems. Dole will talk about filmmaking, animation, and some of the projects he’s worked on — music videos, scripted comedy, and writing, shooting, and editing a film in two days for a 48-hour film festival.
Donahue said it was mainly circumstances that led to Dole being first on the list this year – but he’s glad it worked out that way.
“I think he’s very fitting,” Donahue said. Dole is “rooted” in Gilmanton, Donahue continued, and is involved in the Gilmanton’s Own agricultural cooperative. “He has a community spirit.”
Later in the year, Donahue’s series includes: naturalist Sue Spikol on August 7; filmmaker Chris Sessions on August 17 and; journalist and true mystery writer Dave Howard on September 2.
“We’re really lucky to have the people we do,” Donahue said. “Whoever comes, it’s very special. They’re in a very intimate space, it’s the sloping, splintered floor of my barn, with the improvised sound system, it makes me very happy.