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Life in the cornfields comes to the big screen

Upland documentary featured on PBS

By Emily Pawlowski | Echo

New PBS documentary about life in Upland

Junior Caleb Newcomer enjoys every moment he has in Upland

What defines a town? Is it the buildings? Its people? The stories and traditions? “Now Entering…Upland” is a celebration of all of that and more.

The PBS website states, “NOW ENTERING… is a video scrapbook of the people, places and history of towns as seen through the eyes of its residents.”

“Now Entering…Upland” was the fourth episode in the series, and according to a news release on the Taylor website, the largest one to date. More than 30 people volunteered to share their stories about life in Upland. Storytellers range from local community leaders to Taylor staff to ordinary residents with extraordinary experiences. The documentary has a lot of variety, but there is one thing all stories have in common: a love for Upland.

“I love Upland because it is a community of people who help each other and who take care of each other,” Troy Shockey, director of the Red Barn, said.

The Red Barn itself is an example of this love the community shares. It was originally founded as a way to keep kids and teens out of trouble when school was out. Thanks to volunteers, it offers snacks, fun activities and positive environments at practically no cost to the kids.

Many other groups also work to serve Upland residents including Lift, an organization that works to improve literacy in young children. Victory Acres offers fresh food to intercity groups which might not otherwise have access to good fruits and vegetables. Several churches have youth groups and other ministries which look to give back in a variety of ways.

Other people have found ways to contribute to the community through businesses. One cafe, The Bridge, was founded as a way to bridge the distance between Upland residents and Taylor students.

Joe on the Go, a coffee shop right off Taylor’s campus, is used to help people in poverty gain experiences and training to help them regain control of their lives.

“We were looking for a business that would cross several different age groups, that could help people understand a business model and maybe do some training with them,” Andy Glentzer, director of the organization that founded Joe on the Go, said.

One of the most iconic local businesses, however, is Ivanhoe’s. Founded in 1965, this small ice cream shop has grown into a legend, boasting over 100 flavors of sundaes and shakes. It is the go-to destination for all Upland residents and was even named the one place to visit in Indiana by the Huffington post.

Of course, one of the biggest attractions in Upland is Taylor University. Taylor’s campus came to Upland in 1893, and it has since cemented itself as a major part of the community. Like most colleges, it has its quirks and traditions, but one stands out in particular: Silent Night.

Silent Night takes place the Friday before finals week at the men’s basketball game. Students join together, most dressed in outrageous costumes, and sit completely silent until the 10th point is scored by the home team. As soon as that point is scored, everyone goes crazy, and in recent years, storm the court. This tradition has been recognized by many places, including ESPN.

These stories are just a small part of “Now Entering…Upland.” The full documentary can be found at http://www.wipb.org/now-entering-upland-stream/.

Upland might be a small town, but it is a place with a big heart. Everyone, whether a short-term student or a lifelong resident, has a story to tell about what Upland means to them.

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