With recent reports of staggering numbers of new U.S. unemployment claims–including over 21,000 in Maine alone–the oft-forgotten segments of the struggling American economy are facing an even steeper climb out of this period of economic malaise and uncertainty brought on by public and private efforts to discourage social contact to help stem the outbreak of COVID-19.
Some have endeavored to shed a light on those who have been in a near-constant state of economic struggle since the Great Recession in the beginning of the last decade, and for others even earlier than that.
Christopher Rufo, a documentary filmmaker based in Seattle and director of the new film, America Lost, is one such figure. Over the five years it took to make America Lost, Rufo traveled to three cities: Youngstown, Ohio; Stockton, California; and Memphis, Tennessee, to gain a deeper look into the economic hardship many face in the “American interior.” These cities lie in the shadow of the mid-20th century American manufacturing boom, having failed to adequately transition to the global economy of the 21st Century.
Given the truly unprecedented and unique struggle our world contends with today, Rufo and the America Lost team are offering their film for free for the next week in an effort to spread understanding and awareness of the forgotten corners of the United States.
In an interview with PJ Media last week, Rufo explained how making the film informed his outlook on society:
“Today, more than 50 million Americans live in distressed communities, with high rates of unemployment, addiction, crime, and violence…I thought I’d be telling an economic story, but over time I discovered there’s a deeper, human crisis. We’re coming apart economically, to be sure, but we’re also coming apart as a culture.”
“While making America Lost, I witnessed another model: communities have stopped waiting for solutions from D.C. and started to take their destiny into their own hands. I call this the ‘inside-out’ model, which recognizes that families, neighborhoods, and churches are the real building blocks of society, and within the direct control of local communities. That’s the hope for the future of these cities.” -Christopher Rufo, director of America Lost