Marlboro College



MARLBORO, VERMONT – A film offering a blow by blow account of a small town’s fight against corporate sprawl will be shown on Monday, Jan. 26 at Marlboro College.

“Talking to the Wall: The Story of an American Bargain” is a new award-winning film by filmmaker Steve Alves on the fight against Wal-Mart and corporate sprawl ten years ago in Greenfield, Massachusetts.

When voters in Greenfield more than a decade ago defeated a zoning petition, it was hailed as the birth of the region’s anti-sprawl movement. Alves, a Greenfield resident, caught it all on film.
A decade after that zoning battle, Alves has released a film about the small town David who felled the Goliath corporation. At the film's world premier last fall it played to a standing room only crowd at the Northampton Independent Film Festival.

"Talking to the Wall” blends archival footage, animation, interviews, humor, and drama to examine another side of the bargain offered to communities by large chain stores-- a side that paves over open space, obliterates local culture, lowers wages, and eliminates manufacturing jobs.

"I spent many years of my life running from sprawl, searching for a place to live,” Alves said. “When I arrived in Greenfield, I breathed a sigh of relief. Then Wal-Mart showed up with its plan to build a 250,000 square foot shopping center on the edge of town. I decided to stop running and figure out what's behind the corporate logo."

Alves spent several years capturing footage of the skirmishes in Greenfield and in the nearby town of Orange, Mass., where Wal-Mart was embraced as an economic stimulus.

Kenneth Jackson, a Columbia University history professor who has been an advisor on the film project since 1994, said the film's focus on "the role that large corporate retailers played in reshaping the American landscape and economy is an important and little known part of our past."

"Talking to the Wall" was produced by Alves' company, Hometown Productions, in association with the Independent Television Service with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities. WGBY-TV, in Springfield, Mass, is the co-producing station. Alan Dater, who lives in Marlboro, Vermont, also did quite a bit of shooting for the film.

The film, part of the “Monday Nights at Marlboro” lecture series, will be shown at 7 p.m. in the Whittemore Theater of Marlboro College. This event is free and open to the public. For more information or for cancellation information due to inclement weather, contact Erin George, Public Relations Coordinator, at Marlboro College at (802) 251-7644.

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