A local multimedia company is capturing the positive side of Warren one frame at a time. Tommy Ross, CEO of Clear Choice Creative, is spearheading the venture, which has evolved from a small video project into an hour-long documentary movie.
"Any time you Google Warren, Ohio, you're getting just negativity," he said.
Ross said he grew sick and tired of hearing all of the bad things people say about the city and decided to create a film that highlights the positive things it has to offer. He said he is funding the project at great cost, but declined to provide an exact figure, instead saying that he just wanted to give something back to the city.
Tribune Chronicle / Bonnie L. Hazen
Deryck Toles was interviewed Friday for a documentary about Warren. Toles, founder and executive director of Inspiring Minds, is among Warren residents and businesses being featured in a film highlighting positive aspects of the city.
Ross' idea has been well-received by area residents, officials, organizations and businesses that want to get involved. So well-received, in fact, that he has had to turn many away in order to keep the film a respectable length.
"There's been so much traction that we're getting calls daily," he said.
So far, his crew has filmed and interviewed about 40 participants with 20 or more still to go. Some organizations and businesses include the National Packard Museum, YMCA, Mickey's Army-Navy, Sunrise Entertainment and All American Cards and Comics, to name just a few.
"We're showing a little bit of the personal history. There's a lot of positive things in Warren, there's a lot of things going on in Warren," he said. "There's so many places that have been here forever. If things were that bad, they wouldn't be here."
Warren Mayor Doug Franklin called the documentary a great opportunity.
"It's refreshing to hear an organization that wanted to highlight the positives in our community. I'm just encouraged that somebody's documenting it, but I know that there's a lot of positive energy in our city, it just never gets heard," he said.
Mary Ann Porinchak, executive director of the National Packard Museum, said she excited about the documentary and is glad the museum will be included.
"I think it's a fabulous idea. It is something that definitely needed to be done. We get so caught up in what's wrong and what's not good that we fail to realize that there's another side of it," she said.
Porinchak said part of the problem is some people have a narrow view of the city because they aren't stepping back to see it how it truly is.
"We don't look around and say, 'This is a really wonderful place to live.' I think we need to be reminded about how good (Warren) is. I'd like to see them play it over and over on local stations so we can get people to realize that there's a lot of positive here," she said.
Ross hopes the film will be well-received by viewers and plans to hold a release party in late August or early September. The documentary will be available online as well on DVD, he said.
"I think Warren's on the upswing. I hope Warren uses it for marketing and to develop itself," he said.
Also interviewed for the expansive project was Deryck Toles, founder and executive director of Inspiring Minds.
"I think sometimes our city gets such a bad rap. There really is so much good that's going on. We need to listen more to the people that care and the people who are doing things," he said.
Founded in 2006, Inspiring Minds offers after-school programs designed to improve the lives of under-represented youth in the city.
Ross filmed Toles on Friday, asking him questions about his involvement in the community, his opinion of the city and ways it has changed in recent years.
"I've seen a lot of growth. I see the population growing again, I see the unemployment rate dropping. ... I see more positive things in the newspaper. I would describe (Warren) as a group of hardworking people who have a lot of pride in themselves and their children and what they do," he said.
Toles told Ross he tries not to listen to naysayers.
"I would ask them, 'Do you just want to talk about the problem or do you want to be part of the answer?'" he said. "We have a lot of kids accomplishing a lot of things and I just think we need to pay attention to the positive things."
Toles cited some of his favorite parts of Warren, including Harding football games, the Hot Dog Shoppe, area festivals and Sunrise Pizza.
"It's just home," he said.