Neighborhood NewsLocal Culture

A community lesson for the whole world

Lucky I am to have made a documentary portrait of Carl Bentson. Mr. Positive is a half hour film about a good neighbor who never says a negative word about anyone or anything.

The late Vashti Risdall, foster mother of 162 children including Carl, says of her son in one scene, “I just call him an angel.”

A student at the school where Carl worked says, “Carl’s favorite word is ‘yeah.'”

A story I love. Once upon a time, some hooligans were harassing our good neighbor, egging his house. It happened more than once. The police were stumped because Carl could not describe the bullies with words—challenged as he can be by speech. Then Carl drew a picture of their car from memory, complete with the license plate. The cops caught the bums, and that ended that.

Another side trip. A teacher named Barbara Benda showed the film to her sixth graders. The unruly students were regarded by some (not Ms. Benda of course) as nearly unteachable. They were so moved by Carl’s example, they decided to choose a person in their life to help. “That documentary helped my students to be more selfless with Carl as their example,” writes Barbara.

Looked at in one way, the documentary shows how a community creates good citizens. Bentson lives a good life with a disability which is never actually defined in the film. Like the spokes of a wheel on his legendary bicycle, Carl is at the center of a network of support which makes the world go around.

The documentary is being used by a variety of professionals in the disability field to educate people about self-reliance and community service.

It’s a community lesson for the whole world, a film which touches people of all ages everywhere. It streams free on YouTube.

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