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Greenfield Foundation: Improving quality of life through innovative projects


Jill Greenfield Feldman giving a Greenie Award

Jill Greenfield Feldman giving Victoria Bell a "Greenie" Award as part of this Greenfield Film Festival


By Jill Greenfield Feldman, Greenfield Foundation Manager and Trustee


What do promoting a more effective and ethical government, awarding an artist by giving them a commission for future work and recognizing high school students for meaningful and well-made films have in common? They are all aspects of initiatives supported by the Greenfield Foundation, a private family foundation based in Philadelphia that is managed by harp-weaver LLC.


Hannah Dreier receiving the Goldsmith Award
Hannah Dreier receiving the Goldsmith Award

The Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting focuses on one aspect – promoting a more effective and ethical government. Established by Bob and Louise Greenfield, the Prize was created to expose examples of poor government resulting in it becoming more ethical and effective. This year, New York Times reporter Hannah Dreier received the Goldsmith Prize for her series ‘Alone and Exploited,’ which subsequently won the Pulitzer Prize. The ceremony to honor her and the other finalists, held every year at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, also honored NPR correspondent Nina Totenberg with the Goldsmith Career Award.


The best part of attending the event is hearing from the finalists at the talk-back event before the winner is announced and talking to them at the dinner following the awards presentation. Listening to the journalists speak about how they got to their story, the steps they had to take to get down into the weeds, and usually, the pushback they got from the people from whom they were trying to get answers, is fascinating. This year, for example, one of the finalists’ pieces, ‘Friends of the Court,’ was about Supreme Court Justices accepting ‘gifts’ from their wealthy friends and colleagues. To get details, reporters spoke to people such as a former butler (of one of the Justice’s wealthy friends), a private scuba diving instructor, and a yacht worker. Hannah Dreier had to speak with migrant children who didn’t want to lose their jobs or get in trouble but were working 8-hour overnight shifts after a full day in school just to support themselves because whatever adult(s) they are living with don’t have the money to support them.


Each of the pieces directly addresses the Foundation’s goal to inspire government to become more ethical and effective.


Greenfield Foundation and Hermitage Artist Retreat representatives and winners at the 2024 Awards
Greenfield Foundation and Hermitage Artist Retreat representatives and winners at the 2024 Awards

Addressing the second aspect, the Greenfield Prize at the Hermitage Artist Retreat was created by Bob and Louise Greenfield after they moved to Sarasota and met Bruce Rodgers, then Executive Director at the Hermitage.  Each year, the Award rotates among music, theater, and visual art, and is a commission for future work that will improve our understanding of social issues. Each winner receives a residency at the Hermitage in addition to a cash Prize and two years to come up with their completed work. The celebration includes a weekend of events in Sarasota, Florida, where attendees can meet and hear from both the artist who was announced in the current year, and see or hear the completed work of the recipient from two years before. There are public conversations between accomplished artists about relevant topics. This year, winner Deepa Purohit, was part of a panel called “Hermitage Artists and Thinkers: South Asian Artists in America,” held on the beach of Manasota Key where the Hermitage is located. The three women panelists talked about what it is like to be a South Asian American artist (all of whom live in New York) in the United States  and each of their experiences as a playwright, a singer, and an actress.  From listening to and speaking with all of the people over the course of this weekend, and over the many years of meeting Hermitage artists, we definitely get a better understanding of social issues - not only ones that are going on in our communities or in the United States, but in the many areas where the artists have travelled, have lived, or currently live.

Students at The Greenfield Youth Film Festival
Students at The Greenfield Youth Film Festival

 

The Greenfield Youth Film Festival, which just completed its 16th year, addresses the third aspect. Created by me and my late husband, Ron, the festival encourages young people to pursue their interest in film. The year starts in November when high school students from the Philadelphia area attend a full-day workshop taught by professionals who work in different aspects of film. This year, the session titles were: 5 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Entered Greenfield [Film Festival] (taught by a man who won the Greenfield Prize in 2017), How to Tell Your Story Effectively With What You Have (in 6 Minutes or Less), Set and Production Design, Using Tech to Tell the Story, and Building Story Through Conflict.  Some of the instructors come back year after year (and we joke that they could teach the exact same thing and students would still learn from it, but they do change up the topics). One of our newer instructors, Andrew Barrer, was a writer on movies such as Die in a Gunfight and Ant-Man and the Wasp. In April, we close out the year by hosting a red-carpet awards ceremony to honor all of the young filmmakers and hand out prizes. The prizes include hand-blown glass trophies from Remark Glass in Philadelphia, which makes handblown products from recycled glass, as well as cash prizes or Amazon Gift Cards.

Jill Greenfield Feldman at the Film Festival
Jill Greenfield Feldman at the Film Festival

The most surprising thing this year was that of the nineteen films shown, two were about anxiety, one about suicide, and one about the change in life that the student was about to experience moving from high school to college. Not all of the films are so serious, but it is satisfying to know that the students feel safe and confident enough to make such brave emotional films.  One of the best things that they get out of it, aside from the prizes and seeing their films on screen (though the nineteen shown were out of nearly two hundred submitted this year), is the feedback that they get from the judges describing what they liked about the film, what worked, and what could be improved upon and how. Many of the judges also suggested directors or filmmakers that they would recommend each student watch, based upon their work or interest.


These initiatives, while varying greatly in their structure and goals, form important components of the Greenfield Foundation’s giving and overall strategy – to improve quality of life while also investing in innovative projects which have a ripple effect beyond the immediate impact of the expenditures. As a newer client of harp-weaver LLC, we have been able to incorporate these three initiatives and the multiple other organizations that we support through a rewritten philanthropic strategy.  I look forward to sharing more about our work in the future!

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