State grant brings free movies in the park
July 7, 2023
A state grant is bringing free movies in the park to the city of Cloquet, starting Friday, with "Inside Out," a Pixar film about Riley, a happy, hockey-loving 11-year-old Midwestern girl whose world is turned upside-down when she and her parents move to San Francisco. It's the kind of movie lots of kids around here could probably relate to.
"I think the messaging about expressing your feelings is really important, and something maybe we all need to do: learn to express ourselves," said Amy Louhela, who invested in the outdoor movie screen and got the movie rights to make the free movies happen.
It's all part of her job as positive community norms" grant coordinator. It's a $920,000 grant focusing on decreasing substance abuse and decreasing misconceptions of substance abuse by focusing on the positive things in a community.
"We want to grow the good that already exists in the community by hosting events and getting out positive messaging," Louhela said.
The five movies planned between now and Sept. 15 provide that kind of positive messaging, encouraging healthy behaviors, and they're just great movies, something to enjoy with others. The movies will be shown at Veterans Park, on the grassy side of the Veterans Memorial Wall. Start times vary, as the sun will be setting earlier.
Louhela works with the REACH program and the Carlton County Drug Prevention Coalition on fulfilling the grant objectives, which are many. She's worked with students in the middle and high schools in Cloquet and Carlton. In May they brought LionHeart Experience to both schools, plus a community meal followed by a performance that included music and messaging about identity, self worth and purpose.
The group also will be giving away blankets at Friday's movie, with the message that "Most Carlton and Cloquet students don't use alcohol, marijuana or vape in a typical month."
She's hoping the grant's "sparking conversation" cards will be ready to hand out as well. The idea for the cards came about because she's a huge fan of "chatpacks," which contain icebreaker questions or other ideas to get people talking and thinking.
Her questions range from "What makes you laugh?" to "Why are some kids picked on in school? What can you do to help them?" to "How would you solve the problem of drunk driving?"
Louhela said they had about 30 family members at the lake on July Fourth and a large group of them played the sample card conversation game, with participants ages 4 to 93. Her husband's grandmother was a hoot, she said. She's also played with her young grandchildren.
"They really enjoyed it and so did I," she said. "Kids are a lot smarter than you think, and a lot more aware. We want to get this messaging out to kids when they're younger."
Louhela is the third grant coordinator for the five-year grant. She said it's challenging and rewarding as she finds her own way to fulfill all the goals of the Minnesota Department of Human Services grant.
Unlike in the 1980s when kids were warned with videos of an egg frying that "this is your brain on drugs," the PCN approach is to talk to kids about the good things that are happening, and help them realize all the ways they can enjoy themselves without using substances. Hopefully, they will get a good crowd Friday, and those families will go home and start some conversations after an enjoyable evening together.
"I love that I'm able to serve the community and impact families in a positive way," she said. "And I get to support local businesses, because the grant money must be spent locally. So all that money goes into the schools, businesses and the community. The grant really is for the entire community - that's the best part of it.
Movies in the Park:
Friday, July 7 9:05 p.m.
After young Riley is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions — characters Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness — conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house, and school. PG
Friday, July 28, 8:45 p.m.
Sixteen-year-old Sarah is given 13 hours to solve a labyrinth and rescue her baby brother Toby when her wish for him to be taken away is granted by the Goblin King Jareth, played by David Bowie (1986). PG
Friday, Aug. 11, 8:25 p.m. “Up”
As a boy, Carl Fredricksen wanted to explore South America. About 64 years later he begins his journey along with Boy Scout Russell by lifting his house with thousands of balloons. On their journey, they make many new friends and figure out that someone has evil plans. PG
Friday, Aug. 25, 8 p.m.
“Spider-Man: No Way Home”
With Spider-Man’s identity now revealed, Peter asks Doctor Strange for help. When a spell goes wrong, dangerous foes from other worlds start to appear, forcing Peter to discover what it truly means to be Spider-Man. PG-13
Friday, Sept. 15, 7:25 p.m. “Coco”
Aspiring musician Miguel, confronted with his family’s ancestral ban on music, enters the Land of the Dead to find his great-great-grandfather,
a legendary singer.