We’re proud of the impact our work. Speaking Place has served as a catalyst for social change using media in unique ways and in diverse environments. We share our experience through training and through this website. The following is a list of selected projects grouped by type of project, e.g., Language Revival, that describes the evolution of methods and their impacts. These sections illustrate how each new undertaking built on the knowledge, skills, and experience gained in the previous projects. Hallmarks of the work are experimentation, responsiveness and flexibility, interdisciplinary collaboration, and community participation. Every new collaboration brought additional ideas and strategies for implementation, offering new opportunities for community change.

(See also our blog: “Impact and Success”)

Note: Producers other than Speaking Place were earlier organizations directed by our staff which brought together these methods to found Speaking Place.



Language Revival Projects:

"Si Je ComprendS Bien..."
50 MIN. 

"Réveil–WaKing Up French"
80 MIN.

These two documentaries were made in response to the sovereignty movement for the protection of French language and culture in Quebec and the correspondingly dramatic loss of French speaking in New England. Si Je Comprends Bien. . . is most likely the first documentary ever made to address the causes and effects of communal language loss. It became a video feedback trigger film for Réveil-Waking Up French, which helped bring French speaking back in several Maine communities. This, in turn, became a model for other communities across the region. In 2003 Ben Levine was elected to the Franco-American Hall of Fame by the Maine State Legislature for these films, which are credited with French language revival in New England.

Produced by Watching Place.
Funded by Maine Community Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Maine Humanities Council, Verizon Foundation, Government of Canada, Provincial Government of Quebec, Le Club Français, and the Franco-American Center.


Multiple projects (2006–2012)
Passamaquoddy Language Documentation and Revitalization

Members of the Passamaquoddy Tribe of eastern Maine brought the filmmaker to their communities to begin a documentary film on their language (Language of America, 2009, 80min.) which was so endangered that is was rarely spoken in public. We developed new documentation methods (see Documenting Endangered Languages) and interdisciplinary collaboration with Robert Leavitt’s Passamaquoddy dictionary project. A corpus of 100 captioned videos of language as it is actually lived was then linked to the 19,000 word dictionary to become the basis of the first online endangered language portal ( (see TECHNOLOGY) With the language now more visible, and accessible both on and off the reservation, the Tribe was able to begin language revival with the opening of its first immersion schools. (see below)

Produced by Speaking Place.
Funded by The National Science Foundation (multiple grants) and (for the documentary film) The Maine Community Foundation, and The Humanities Councils of Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.


Passamaquoddy Revival: Immersion Preschool, Family Outreach, and Fluent Comprehender Project

Using the resources previously developed by our team, we trained tribal teachers and speakers to employ total immersion language (see French Language Immersion programs elsewhere in Impacts), develop curricula, and open and manage two preschools. A family outreach program and training for people who understand but can not speak Passamaquoddy (see Fluent Comprehender blog(s)) complete this comprehensive approach. Today, many people are becoming speakers of Passamaquoddy for the first time in several decades.

Produced by Speaking Place.
Funded by The Administration for Native Americas (United Stated Department of Education) and The Fleck Family Foundation.  


Totontepec Mixe (Ayöök) Language Revival

Inspired by the Passamaquoddy project, members of the Mixe speaking community of Totontepec in Oaxaca, Mexico initiated a project with Speaking Place to document and revive their language showing vulnerability to future endangerment. The project began with trials to determine if and how a project might be developed which resulted in the directive to develop a “community encyclopedia of how things should be done” and train local filmmakers. We created the first (Linguist Guided) Community Self Documentation Project by training community video production, editing, and translation teams, and building a media lab. A documentation of traditional agricultural practices followed by language documentation and an endangered language portal for Ayöök ( have laid a strong foundation for building programs for Mixe language education and stabilization

Produced by Speaking Place in collaboration with the Department of Anthropology, Indiana University, Bloomington.
Funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities.


1986 to present
Language Immersion Development, Training and Curriculum and Program Development

Julia Schulz, Co-Founder and first President of the internationally known Penobscot School, created and continues to lead innovative workshops and consultancies in the U.S., Guadeloupe, Montreal, and France, in language immersion training. Two early collaborations brought together the combined talents of Ben Levine and Julia Schulz:

1. Accès Cinéma Africain (1997–2009)

In collaboration with Ben Levine, Julia Schulz led French immersions for adults in the context of the annual Vues d’Afrique Francophone African Film Festival in Montreal, giving Americans an incisive look into societies and cultures of Francophone Africa as well as bringing to African filmmakers and Canadian moviegoers an added cross- cultural learning environment for their films.

2. Franco-American Film Festival and French Reacquisition (1999–2001)

Produced by Penobscot School, Co-Founder and as President, Julia Schulz, and Speaking Place,
Funding from the Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Foundation, the Maine Community Foundation, and The National Park Service.

3. Ongoing Immersion training workshops in Maine and France for teachers and students to help both understand and use Total Immersion training to create new speakers in any language.  

Community Education – Anti-Discrimination:

2015, 2016
"Health Disparities"

Health Disparities is a series of 6 short documentary profiles of people representing minority groups that experience systematic disparities in access to health care. The videos are used to train mid-career health professionals and sensitize government and policy makers to stimulate change in the health care system.

Produced by Speaking Place.
Funded by The Center for Disease Control (CDC).


2012–in progress
"The Peter Francis Story"

A documentary film in which video feedback is used to help a Native American family chart its response to the murder of a family member by known white men.

Funded by People of Color Fund, The Maine Community Foundation.


1972, New York City
Air Pollution Assessment and Education

Protecting the Nation’s Groundwater, 1987-1990 – A national education and training initiative that used innovative documentary and animation techniques to motivate an industry to change its technologies to save our drinking water from gasoline pollution.

Funded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency


"Crime in South Orange, New Jersey"
50 min.

Using video feedback techniques to mediate communication between the black community and the police force, the film resulted in: the reduction of racial tension in the town, the indictment of corrupt police officials, and a $1,200,000 grant to retrain the police force and begin youth programs for an underserved youth population.

Produced by People’s Video Theater.
Funded by the US Department of Justice, Law Enforcement Assistance Program.  



STIGMA! is a hybrid drama-documentary that follows the lives of people recently de-institutionalized from state mental facilities. The film galvanized mental health advocacy and inspired other groups to begin using video for community outreach education and advocacy.

Funded by Maine Alliance for the Mentally Ill.

Community Education – Health Campaigns:

(SAS) 2006
"Substance Abuse Solutions"

Initiated by health officials from two school districts where 24% of the students arrive at school every day under the influence of drugs and alcohol, a unique feedback design stimulated a rare dialog between students who were using drugs and alcohol and those who weren’t. The result was valuable survey data about student attitudes and school resistance to change as well as new programs to support non-drug using students.

Produced by Speaking Place.
Funded by Maine Community Foundation and the MBNA Foundation.


1980–2013, (Many Programs)
Maine Children’s Initiatives

Documenting the needs of rural children most often in their own voices in combination with cutting edge developmental science helped shape a generation of policy to address the needs of rural families.

Produced by Media Source and Speaking Place.
Multiple funding sources including the Maine Department of Health, the US Center for Disease Control, United States Department of Labor.


Harvard Pilgrim Health Care 

A documentary to educate employees about the new Total Diversity Initiative by the company eliminating barriers to health care based on gender, ethnicity, age, class, and language.

Produced by Speaking Place.
Funded by Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.


"Hurricane Hugo Recovery"

A multi-part series documenting the recovery of St. Croix Island (USVI) following the worst community devastation in American history. The films were used for community trauma recovery, staff training, and program evaluation.

Produced by Media Source.
Funded by The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA).


The Central Maine Interactive Health Network

An early microwave communications strategy for delivering health education to rural areas by connecting hospitals, medical faculties, and universities with 2-way video. It led to the acceptance of distance learning technology.

Produced by the University of Maine and Medical Care Development.
Funded by the US Department of Health.


At Your Service

A monthly television series and unique collaborative documentary production design enabling regularly scheduled broadcast television programming of health prevention information bringing mass media outreach to many state agencies and non—profits for the first time.

Produced by Media Source.
Multiple source funding.


OUI, HIV, Child Abuse Prevention, and Vaccination Public Service Broadcast Television campaigns
(individual CAMPAIGNS)

We often are asked to design and produce public service campaigns that also incorporate expert witness and actors to create impact.

Produced by Media Source.
Funded by Maine State Police, Center for Disease Control (CDC), and Maine Children’s Trust Fund.


1983, 2002
Schizophrenia Training and Recruitment

A series of videos designed to recruit patients and train psychiatrists and families to community-based treatment of schizophrenia. Still in use after 15 years, the videos have been used widely in the United States Europe, South America, and Australia and led to the acceptance of this approach.

Produced by Media Source and Speaking Place.
Funded by National Institutes of Mental Health, Columbia University, and Dartmouth Medical School.


Air Pollution Assessment and Education

Fed up with the City of New York’s refusal to address concerns about the effects of air pollution on its workers, the Bridge and Tunnel Workers Union commissioned several videos to document the problem, leading eventually to dramatic union actions that finally brought the city into compliance with federal regulations.

Produced by People’s Video Theater.
Funded by the Bridge and Tunnel Worker’s Union.


VD” – 22 min. 

On a busy city street, this video feedback dialog event engaged a cross section of people with a doctor and nurse to survey attitudes and behavior about sexually transmitted diseases at a time when STD’s were increasing at an alarming rate. The program inspired many other health prevention projects and was one of the first early videos to be shown on US Cable and broadcast on Canadian, German and French TV as an example of what the media could do. The interviews identify new disease transmission vectors that could have alerted health officials to the impending AIDS epidemic.

Produced by People’s Video Theater.
Funded by Rockefeller University and the Scientist’s Committee for Public Information.


Sickle Cell Anemia Awareness/Prevention
(multiple programs)

Responding to the threat of an epidemic rise in the incidence of Sickle Cell Disease, an internal video network using interactive feedback video was created in a Harlem high school to connect black doctors with students resistant to being tested. The ensuing community dialogs led to a 30% increase in testing participation and increased awareness for disease prevention.

Produced by Survival Arts Media in partnership with Cornell Medical School.
Funded by the March of Dimes Foundation.


Community Education – Other:

Baobab Center Media Lab
(Dakar, Senegal)

Training and media design in documentary filmmaking resulted in a community documentation center that supported NGO’s in their work as well as visiting documentary filmmakers.

Produced by Media Source.
Funded by the USAID.


Handicapped Transportation
20 min.

Two wheel chair bound persons and the obstacles in their way to getting to work and school in New York City. Shown first to the City Council, which immediately reversed its long-standing resistance to dedicated handicapped parking areas, and then to the US Congress, which then enacted Architectural Barriers Elimination legislation, this video literally opened new doors for millions of handicapped people and continues to benefit today's growing elderly population. A feature documentary on the handicapped rights movement is now being made using some of this footage.

Produced by People’s Video Theater.
Funded by the New York State Council on the Arts.