Mother-Daughter Video Team Documents Accessible Trail Project

Jared Catapano
Trail Walker

Video volunteers film a trail volunteer at Bear Mountain.Susan Breault-Brudnak and her daughter Michelle Crowther are enjoying a new way of volunteering for the Trail Conference. They are video-taping an ongoing trail project. Their subject: construction of a new trail designed to meet the rigorous standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and a required component of the Bear Mountain trails project.

Building an ADA-compliant trail is a first for the Trail Conference, and we sought to document the work to provide a video report to one of its funders, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. Susan and Michelle responded to our call for video volunteers.

The mother-daughter team-Susan contributes trail experience, Michelle brings experience in film-editing-visited the work site several times this past fall, taping construction and interviewing volunteers. Their aim was to complete a first draft of the video-which will be a cut of just a few minutes-by early winter.

The handicapped-accessible trail is a one-half mile section of a mile-long loop that runs from Perkins Tower on Bear Mountain to scenic summit views. The grade along the trail does not exceed 5%, which will allow disabled trail users the joy of experiencing it.

Susan has been volunteering for the Trail Conference for approximately two years, and has worked closely with her father and fellow volunteer, Roland Breault, for the past decade. She saw the video project posting on the Trail Conference's Facebook page and figured that she and her daughter could get it done. "I started thinking that [volunteering] was something that has always brought an attachment between me and my dad" says Susan, "and I see a similar connection between me and Michelle on this video project."

During a morning walk along the yet unfinished trail in November, Michelle explained that as a high-school student, she had won an award and scholarship for film editing. Her proud mother expands: "Michelle had placed first in the state for film editing, which also helped her win a scholarship from Apple Computers, one of only 10 students in the entire country to receive that scholarship." A graduate of the honors program at Boston College, in December 2010 Michelle took exams to qualify as an actuary. The video project marked her return to her earlier interest in film. "The industry [film editing] is very cutthroat," she explains, "but I enjoy doing it as a volunteer.

Susan and Michelle's final cut will be posted on the web (watch the Trail Conference website for details); it will show the progress of the project and the wonderful work being done by a number of trail workers. Susan and Michelle plan to return to the site in the late spring to finish filming the final stages of the trail construction and its inauguration.

The two hope that this video project will not be the last of its kind for the Trail Conference. "It's a good way to spread the word," says Michelle, "and videos go viral on the internet. This could be a great opportunity for future volunteers. Plus," she says, "it's a great way for anyone who is interested in film editing to build their's a free venue."

The Trail Conference offers many ways to volunteer for trails. Visit our website to learn more.