Joel Tauber is determined to discover why “Socialism” is considered a bad word in America and is using a lost community in Aiken County to accomplish his goal.
Tauber, an artist and filmmaker, spent several days last week filming the known location of Happyville, a largely forgotten Jewish farming community that lasted from 1905 to 1908 in the Montmorenci area. He plans to use the footage in a new film he's working on called the “The Sharing Project.”
“Everyone knows what it is (sharing), but it's incredibly complex. Do we have it intrinsically in ourselves?” Tauber said.
He saw an article in the Aiken Standard about Happyville, and made the trip from his home in North Carolina to film here.
The inspiration for the “The Sharing Project” came from Tauber's own son who is learning the practice of sharing.
“My son is struggling with it, and I'm struggling with him,” he said.
Socialism, loosely defined, is a political or economic theory that advocates that the production and distribution of goods be owned and shared by a community as a whole.
Happyville was a Socialist community founded by immigrants who dreamed of a utopian society. They planted crops, built and opened a ginnery and saw mill and harvested timber from the 2,200 acres they owned. However, several years of bad weather ruined their crops, and they couldn't make money off the ginnery and mill.
Tauber is looking at three Socialist communes for the “The Sharing Project,” and “the one I'm most excited about is Happyville,” he said.
The owner of the land where Happyville was located wasn't even aware that it was the site of the defunct community. Tauber found there an abandoned tractor, which may be a remnant from Happyville, and a ramshackle house.
In addition to filming at these locations and talking with researchers, he's also interviewing anthropologists, biologists, school teachers and professors. He also talked with Doris Baumgarten, a docent at the Aiken County Historical Museum and Happyville researcher.
“What's wrong with Socialism? I want to present it (with “The Sharing Project”) in a poetic way without lecturing,” he said.
For more information on Tauber, visit www.joeltauber.com.
Haley Hughes is the news editor for the Aiken Standard. She joined the newspaper in 2007 and covered the Aiken County government until her promotion in 2013. Hughes, a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, hails from Knoxville, Tenn.