This post has been updated (see “Rebel”)

Baltimore, MD. Yepoka Yeebo for Business Insider

I’ve been having on-going discussions with persons who work or have lived (or were born) in countries where there’s extreme poverty, war, and other maladies. What distinguishes “their” poverty from American poverty? Is it just a matter of food, resources, and material goods? In the U.S., we’re talking about “food swamps” and poverty in the same breath, while someone else is talking about literal starvation, drought, no food at all for days, months. But despite material contrasts, we’re identifying something that has a profound and distinctive impact on American poverty — “poverty of spirit.”

I can see the on going wave of “poverty of spirit” everyday and especially in the abandoned neighborhoods of Baltimore, MD. Whole blocks that look like the aftermath of war. Whole communities gutted and unable to rebuild. “Poverty of Spirit” has eliminated the “can do” and the “will” to even try. What’s the point? Resentment of family, friends, neighbors who try to “Do the Right Thing.” Yes, part of it is contributed to lack of access to resources, discrimination, bureaucratic negelct. The best we can do is shake our heads and say “It’s a damn shame,” then move on. How do women who were raped by soldiers, seen spouses, children, family, neighbors murdered, lose their homes to war, dance in the morning? Why do we dread Monday morning as if it were a death sentence? More on that later because it’s a much deeper discussion.

This weekend ITVS Communtiy Cinema presents THE REVOLUTIONARY OPTIMISTS a film by Nicole Newnham and Maren Grainger-Monsen. The preview screening is Sunday, May 26 at 5 PM, Busboys and Poets (14th & V Streets, NW, Washington, DC). Reserve on Eventbrite. This story takes place in Calcutta with children who have the richness of spirit and the will to lead and make change. The children have little material-wise, but they are wealthy in support from their community and a visionary named Amlan Ganguly. All is not perfect. All is not lost either. Watch the trailer.

There will be a presentation by members from Young Playwrights Theater after the film.

REBEL, a film by Maria Agui Carter, is the story of a woman, a myth, and the politics of national memory. Shrouded in mystery and long the subject of debate, the amazing story of Loreta Velazquez is one of the Civil War’s most gripping forgotten narratives. While the U.S. military may have recently lifted the ban on women in combat, Loreta Janeta Velazquez, a Cuban immigrant from New Orleans, was fighting in battle 150 years ago — one of an estimated 1,000 women who secretly served as soldiers during the American Civil War. Who was she? Why did she fight? And what made her so dangerous she has been virtually erased from history? REBEL broadcasts on the PBS series VOCAS 10 PM tonight. But check your local listings. Update – Watch the complete documentary online (for a limited time)

Finding a lost story is never a lost cause.

Watch Rebel on PBS. See more from VOCES.