Insight: A 2014 study at the University of British Columbia found that the more weak ties a person has (with neighbors, a barista at the neighborhood coffee shop or fellow members in a spin class for example), the happier they feel. Maintaining this network of acquaintances also contributes to one’s sense of belonging to a community, researchers found.
Directed and Filmed by Marc Havener.
On September 18th 2020, the city of Lawrence, KS celebrated its 166th birthday, and its residents marked 6 months of separation from the life forces which make this place our home. What better time to launch an initiative to bring us back together, reconnect us to the tone of our town, and remember what we’ve been missing?
Things changed a lot in Lawrence between the time COVID hit back in March and September 2020. Phrases like “the new normal” entered the lexicon, and we’d grown accustomed to masks, and patios, and six-feet of separation. Businesses struggled, and tensions between the University and the town reached an all-time high as students returned and helped spread the virus. Lawrence was divided. Both literally and figuratively. Things felt a little hopeless, and it was tempting to accept this as our fate.
But in times like these it’s imperative that we remember who we are and what we’ve lost. And what we have waiting for us to return to. “Dear Larry: A Letter to Home” helps us do just that.
As a film, Dear Larry serves to document Lawrence’s response to the pandemic. You watch it and witness a community stand together and sacrifice for each other. The final film celebrates our common goals, reveals our interconnectedness and calls us to keep hope alive. Along the way, you see the people and places that make Lawrence home, and you see characters dreaming of going back to those people and places.
Because these things aren’t just what make our home our home, they’re what evoke the feeling in us that we matter, in a tangible and experiential way. This pandemic has reminded us that our homes can be a great place to be, but out there in the world, exists the tapestry of culture that we each help to make. It’s what makes Lawrence, KS “Larrytown” for the people who know and love it.
So on Friday September 18th, 2020, Marc Havener gave the film “Dear Larry: A Letter to Home” as a gift to the people and organizations of Lawrence. The premiere was hosted live on Facebook by Callahan, the advertising agency that’s called Lawrence home for over 30 years, with virtual “watch parties” spread throughout the digital town by The Boys and Girls Club, The Granada Theater, and the KU Alumni association. Other partners joined soon after and helped spread the film.
Three days later, the story of Dear Larry had been viewed over 100,000 times. Surpassing the population count of Lawrence, and prompting viewers to say things like:
“It’s hard to put my love for my hometown into words. You have done it.”
“There’s no place like home.”
“Wow…that gave me chills. I love Lawrence so much.”
“Of course, those of us who live in Lawrence resonate with the people and places we recognize, but I feel it’s the sense of hope that the film exudes that draws us in.”