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Dogtown Redemption (2015)Dogtown Redemption (2015)

Dogtown is a neighborhood in West Oakland that's plagued by drugs, violence, crime, systemic poverty, and unemployment.  It's also home to a bustling business called Alliance Metals, a sixteen-year-old recycling center that's owned by Jay Anast.  Everyday, some 600 shopping cart recyclers come to Alliance to trade their trash for cash, perhaps $100 for a hard worker on a good day. Alliance also functions as a de facto community center where the poorest of the poor gather most every day.  This documentary film follows the personal stories of three recyclers, and in doing so humanizes their lives.  They come from broken families.  They struggle with addictions, violence, poor health, and the many stigmas attached to street people.  But they are creative, resilient, hard working, and inspirational.  There's one big problem, though.  After complaints from neighbors and local business owners about the grime, the garbage, the drugs, public defecation, the smells, and so on, the city of Oakland sues Alliance for illegal activities.  At a council meeting, Jason protests, "recycling saved my life" (and the life of his partner Heather, who formerly worked the streets).  "I'm not a saint," Anast tells the council, "I'm a business owner."  The stories of Jason, Landon, and Hayok take the viewer on "a journey through a landscape of love and loss, devotion and addiction, prejudice and poverty."  I watched this film on the PBS website.  For the very interesting website of this movie, see here:

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