Indianapolis, November 9, 2014 – I’m With Phil should be a metaphor for post-election America. The documentary showed at the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis last month and it showed how America can, and will, grab the proverbial bootstraps together.
Phil Campbell, Alabama, was named for a railroader who was promised a legacy if he’d run the rails through that settlement and build a siding. When he met his part of the bargain, Phil Campbell, Alabama, was born. It was 1911.
Agriculture and industry flourished, following the typical pattern of 20th-Century rural America. Continuing that pattern, Phil Campbell lost industry and its young people, as futures dried up. Nevertheless, the town planned a 100-year celebration, a Hoe-Down, to commemorate the centennial.
The name had consequences. Phil Campbell, a Brooklynite, had visited the Alabama town in 1995, when a whimsical get-together of Phil Campbells from around the world had shown up for a festival.
He approached locals with the idea of repeating the “family reunion” in connection with the Hoe-Down. Though the town didn’t want to lose focus, they said, “Sure.”
For months, “Brooklyn Phil” corresponded with other Phil Campbells around the world, drumming up a publicity stunt, pretty much just for the heck of it. But then, on April 27, 2011, a huge E5 tornado hit Phil Carpenter, leveling much of the town and killing 26 residents.
Hundreds of families were displaced. In the tornado’s mile-wide path, 85% of buildings were destroyed or severely damaged. Phil Campbell, Alabama was on the ropes.
Brooklyn Phil, rather than calling off the get-together, now had a cause: bring the Phil Campbells of the world together on-schedule in Alabama, and help rebuild the town.
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And come together they did, from New Zealand and Australia, Wisconsin and Alaska, the United Kingdom, and points in-between. Phil Carpenters (and Ms. Phyl Carpenter, daughter of yet another Phil Carpenter) converged early on the town, and chipped in.
They raised money, and more-importantly gave their own sweat to clearing rubble, cleaning up the wrecked park, and rebuilding morale in the ripped-up town. Details, including the DVD, are available at ImWithPhil.com – they can still use your help.
Phil Campbell, Alabama is a metaphor for the United States.
Ripped apart by a sudden tornado of partisanship and socialism, it took years to organize a relief effort. On November 4, 2014, the country came together – blue as well as red states – to heal the country, to put into action a tornado defense, and to start repairing the damage.
Clear the rubble.
Just as in Phil Campbell, the United States has suffered a cataclysm, with lives, jobs, and futures destroyed; faith in age-old systems and traditions shattered, families torn apart.
Now, there is a new hope across the land. As with Phil Campbell, Alabama, the damage to the nation is severe and traumatic. It will take years to fix, but if Republicans can come up with a plan (unlike the Phil Carpenters in Alabama, there is no concerted effort, yet) that returns the landscape to pre-socialist ideals under the Constitution, there is hope for a strong recovery.
As Donald Trump tweeted late on election night: “Now the Republicans have to get together and get the job done.”
And the president – the tornado that came out of nowhere to spread destruction on the land — needs to get out of the way. Elections, as he said, have consequences. At least that’s the plan.