A new documentary from Goodwill and the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts looks at how textile and paper mill workers in Lowell, Massachusetts, are struggling to afford to produce high-quality, eco-friendly textile art.
The film, entitled “Hemp Textile,” is about the struggles of Lowell’s textile workers who are struggling under a state-wide drought that has resulted in a significant decrease in the number of mills operating in the city.
According to the Boston Globe, Lowell’s mills produce approximately 60 percent of all textile produced in Massachusetts.
The documentary looks at textile manufacturing in Lowell through the eyes of Lowell residents who live in poverty.
The Lowell mills’ textile workers are not only living in poverty but are also struggling to survive in the harsh climate and weather conditions of the city in which they work.
The films makers focus on the lives of textile workers like the widow of Lowell textile mill worker John A. Paine who, according to the film, lost her husband to lung cancer.
The widow, who was a former textile mill employee, shared her experience as a widow of textile mill workers and their families during a TEDxLincoln event.
She shared her story of losing her husband, a veteran who fought to keep his job despite a disease that has been linked to lung disease, during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The new documentary, which premiered at TEDx Lincoln on June 17, is part of the nonprofit’s continuing effort to highlight the work of textile and mill workers.
The filmmakers are hopeful that this film can serve as a rallying cry for textile workers in Massachusetts to demand better wages, health care and other issues that affect their livelihoods.
The makers also say that the film’s focus on textile workers and the challenges they face will help bring awareness to the issue of low-wage work and the unfairness that they face in the United States.
The project is part-funded by the National Labor Relations Board and is also being supported by the nonprofit New England Institute for Conservation and Empowerment.
It is part documentary, part-event and part-community engagement.
“Hempseed” is available on Amazon Prime Video and YouTube and can be viewed in full below.
Watch the documentary here.