Let’s Work Together
(Near the Oregon Coast.)
After showing the film in Missoula, Montana on October 4th, the next morning we woke up early to make the long drive to Bend, Oregon. Surrounded by snowy mountains, pine trees, and sagebrush, Bend provided ample opportunity for our team to enjoy a small sampling of the Pacific Northwest’s beauty. We were welcomed into the home of Nita Belles and her family. Mrs. Belles is the Central Oregon Regional Coordinator for Oregonians Against Trafficking Humans, also known as OATH. She has been studying about human trafficking since 2006, and recently published In Our Backyard, a book about human trafficking in the United States. She was kind enough to organize and promote our film’s screening throughout Central Oregon. We showed our film at Westside Church in Bend on Thursday October 6th. The event was attended not just by the congregants of Westside Church, but also by people from the greater community of Bend and the surrounding areas; it was a great example of the cooperation that must take place to address this challenge in our communities.
(Nita Belles introducing the film at Westside Church in Bend, Oregon.)
(Joseph Swanson and Isaac Gill.)
On Friday, October 7th, we made the drive up to Portland to show the film at Portland State University. The panel was comprised of Jamie Broadbent, from the Child Welfare division at the Department of Human Services; Attorney Lynn Haxton, from Youth Rights and Justice; and US Attorney Kemp Strickland. Attorney Strickland reminded the audience of the cyclical abuse propagated by commercial sexual exploitation. Because these crimes affect children in a variety of adverse ways, many generations of people are then impacted. Someday abused children become parents. The fruit of that parent’s abuse then falls to their children. Those children, raised in less than ideal situations, will be fortunate to grow up with enough love and resources to live to their full potential. Without intervention, the cycle can easily continue on. When we realize the negative ramifications of sexual exploitation, it’s easy to see how the future of our communities depends to a large degree on the preservation of our children.
(Panelists at Portland State University.)
After spending the next day off in Portland, and meeting up with our friends at the Artists Inspiring Action Launch Party that evening, we spent the rest of the night on the road. Thanks to the overnight driving abilities of Sarah-Jo Sampson, we made it to Boise by the morning of Sunday, October 9th. After a quick pancake stop at IHOP, and some afternoon naps, we headed over to Vineyard Church to screen the film. The event was co-organized by IJM representatives from both Boise State University and Northwest Nazarene University.
(The Sex+Money team and friends at the Artists Inspiring Action Launch Party.)
(Scott introducing the film at Vineyard Church in Boise, Idaho.)
On Monday October 10th, we brought the Sex+Money bus over to Boise State University to do a bit of promotion for that evening’s screening on the campus. The evening’s panel included Mary Kay Jost, a trainer of local law enforcement and ICE agents; Bill Proctor, from the Love Justice Task Force in Boise; Idaho Attorney Annie Kerrick, from the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence; Michelle Miles, a Physicians’ Assistant who works with local refugees; and Officer Shellie Sonnenberg, the Refugee Liaison for the Boise Police Department. While the state of Idaho does have a provision against sex trafficking, panelists agreed that it needs to be much stronger and more specific.
(Boise State University in Idaho.)
While the panelists made it clear that ending sex trafficking is certainly aided by strong legislation, Mr. Proctor also alluded to the necessity of confronting misguided sexuality in our own personal lives. He commented, “I’m really challenging the men that are in this group tonight to think seriously about your attitude towards pornography.”
On Wednesday October 12th, we drove from Boise down to Salt Lake City, Utah for an evening screening at K2 The Church. Recently the church has been gathering their multiple campuses back into one primary location. Though the screening was held at K2’s main campus, multiple churches and organizations from around Salt Lake City were in attendance. The diversity of the crowd offered a glimpse of the resources that the faith-based community has to offer when they come together with a common vision and goal in mind.
(K2 The Church in Salt Lake City, Utah.)
Thursday October 13th, we made the quick drive from Salt Lake City to Orem, Utah for an afternoon screening at Utah Valley University. The event was put on in partnership with Child Rescue. Panelists for the afternoon included Detective Robert Woodbury, from the Salt Lake City Police Department’s Domestic Violence Squad; Alana Kindness, the Executive Director of the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault (UCASA); Gina Bellazetin, an active member of the Utah Human Trafficking Task Force; and Andy Choate, a Prosecutor with the Utah United States Attorney’s Office, where he is the Chief of the Immigration Unit. A few questions from the audience expressed a common concern for how to address the unhealthy sexual appetite that is consuming much of our culture. Ms. Kindness encouraged the audience to start by looking at gender roles and gender socialization within our society. She also emphasized how even without being directly exposed to sex, unhealthy sexual stereotypes can be developed just through looking at our culture at large.
(The panel at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah.)
It’s a good question to consider. When we come across gender objectification in our everyday lives, do we push back and challenge the inequality, or do we accept it as the way things are?
For the rest of the week our team is working out of Colorado to put on screenings in Laramie, Wyoming, Colorado Springs, and Boulder before heading east to Kansas.
All photos by Samuel Taipale.
Timothy C. Dyk was one of the narrators from the Sex+Money film. He is now touring around the United States with the rest of the team, and working on a degree in Global Development at Seattle Pacific University. Read more from this author