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“The Blood in this Town” invited to Holland to inspire and spark action in struggling Euro Zone towns

"The Blood in This Town," the documentary chronicling Rutland, Vermont's grassroots drive to revitalize itself, traveled across the Atlantic to make its European Premiere in the historic city of Breda, The Netherlands on Sunday, June 2, 2013. Inspired by Rutland's story of boot-strapping transformation, leaders from Soroptimist International, a global service organization with 95,000 members worldwide, invited the film for a regional screening to kickstart action among citizens, community groups and businesses keen on reviving local towns hit hard by company downsizing, unemployment and the Euro Zone crisis.

Planning for the film's premiere, according to organizers, has been a Vermont-style self-starter initiative, driven by Rutland-like can-do spirit. Monique Mols, a business executive and Breda native leading area Soroptimist outreach, joined forces with eight members from the local chapter, pooling resources and talents to overcome obstacles that could have derailed the event. When local cinemas proved far too expensive to rent for a large screening, Mols' team approached the owner of PARA, a downtown dance hall and culture center. Seeing the power of a good idea, the owner made his venue available for free.

When estimates for Dutch subtitling of the film topped out in the thousands of Euros -  nearly halting all plans - Mols decided to tackle the translation and subtitling herself, with the aid of a local graphic designer who came to believe in the project.

"It was quite a challenge to get the subtitling done. There are companies that can do this but the costs were substantial. And then I thought the Rutland way: why not try and do this myself? And the funny thing is that when you start doing this, other opportunities present themselves. Other people get involved, the momentum builds," said Monique Mols. "For me personally, it is a great honor and a personal adventure to get this film viewed in my home town."

Breda is one of Holland's largest cities with a population of 175,000, situated in a region that is no stranger to the kind of economic downturn that gripped the U.S. and intensified Rutland's postindustrial challenges. Yet Mols and her sister Soroptimists have also recognized the transferability of the Rutland revitalization model, especially if advocates, thinkers, community leaders and businesses can be brought together as part of the solution. That's why the Soroptimists have engaged the Chamber of Commerce, economic development officials and corporate leaders as well as key community organizations in the June 2 event.

Mols said, "When I heard about 'The Blood in this Town' and what it was all about I thought this was extremely well suited for us. The film and the way Art [Jones] turns it into a movement is especially appealing. As Rutland, Vermont shows, it is important to remember that you have a role in this society, that you can make a contribution to make things better for others. In that sense, the film is an inspiration to us, its message is strong: if we all work together and stop waiting for others to solve our problems, great things can happen. We fully endorse that."

Founded in 1921, Soroptimist International is a worldwide volunteer service organization for business and professional women who work to improve the lives of women and girls in local communities and throughout the world. Through international partnerships and a global network of members, Soroptimists inspire action and create opportunities to transform the lives of women and girls by advocating for equity and equality, creating safe and healthy environments, increasing access to education, and developing leadership and practical skills for a sustainable future. The organization's 95,000 members in more than 125 countries worldwide contribute time and financial support to community-based and international projects. The Soroptimist Club Breda is one of 102 Soroptimist Clubs in the Netherlands.

The European Premiere of "The Blood in this Town" ("Het Bloed in seze Stad" in Dutch) follows on the heels of the recent May 16 screening at the EPA's National Economic Redevelopment Conference in Atlanta. Since the film first played for Vermonters at Rutland's Paramount Theater just two years ago, Art Jones and his team have been taking Vermont strength and revitalization on the road to the nation's small towns and cities as part of a larger outreach program. Screenings with local communities have helped spark the exchange of ideas and community-building tools in places ailing from the recession and the after effects of globalization. From Pennsylvania and Michigan to Florida and California - with stops in New York and on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC - Rutland's example of re-invention in progress has demonstrated how communities can work together to turn their fortunes around.

"The Blood in This Town" is an 80-minute documentary that uses Rutland's remarkable Gift-of-Life Marathon blood drive to explore how an ailing rust-belt town can rebuild from the grassroots up. Rutland's act of giving blood in record-breaking numbers becomes a powerful symbol of renewal and social change that radiates throughout the community. The film chronicles many of Rutland's innovative initiatives now creating sustainable new businesses, world-class natural recreation assets, farm-to-table networks & entrepreneurial start-ups.