The surprising discovery at the heart of A Small Good Thing
is that hard—but not impossible—is a crucial part of a good life.
The stories inspire us to make small, good changes in our daily lives.
For the longest time, we’ve been living as though the more we have—the more money, the more goods, the more territory—the happier we’ll be. Surprisingly, over the last fifty years as our standard of living has improved, our happiness has not. A Small Good Thing examines how our ideal of the American Dream has come to the end of its promise. The film tells the stories of people moving away from a philosophy of ‘more is better’ toward a more holistic conception of happiness — one based on a close connection to their bodies and health, to the natural world, and to the greater good.
This feature-length documentary is set in western Massachusetts in the Berkshires, long a destination for change-seekers, spiritual explorers, artists, and musicians seeking solace and stimulation amid the pastoral landscape — the perfect setting for a story about renewing personal and universal bonds. The film follows innovative farmer Sean Stanton, social work student Tim Durrin and yoga teacher Mark Gerow, whose earlier careers in the armed forces have now shifted to service of a different kind; Jen and Pete Salinetti, a college-educated couple with two small children who have chosen to be farmers as a way to connect with their community; and Shirley Edgerton, community activist and founder of both the Youth Alive Step Team and the Women of Color Giving Circle. What these people share is a deep desire to have more meaning in their lives, a closer bond with their families and communities, and a connection to themselves and the natural world.
A Small Good Thing also explores how it’s important to live in a more meaningful way not just here in one community in the US — traveling to Rwanda, we see how an organization working to provide lasting agricultural solutions to chronic childhood malnutrition in the developing world has created a community at Gardens for Health International where living a life centered around compassion, community and connection has improved the health and well-being of their families.
The film asks whether we can change our larger goals as a nation and learn from the rest of the world about the small truths that are the sources of human happiness. Can our dreams serve as a conduit for the developing world’s financial well-being? The film explores how working in small but meaningful ways, we can overcome obstacles to happiness – the isolation of suburban comfort as well as the despair of poverty – to create joy for ourselves and others.