Simple living – Focus on Mount Airy

By Todd Cohen

MOUNT AIRY, N.C. — A Mount Airy couple transplanted from Los Angeles are raising money to produce a series for PBS focusing on the “simplicity” movement they have helped pioneer.

“We’d like to get the project fully funded this year and begin filming next year,” says Wanda Urbanska, a former journalist and co-author with her husband of “Simple Living.”

The Simple Living Co., formed by Urbanska and her husband, former screenwriter Frank Levering, has teamed up with the ETV Endowment of South Carolina to raise money for a 13-part PBS series on living a simpler life. The series would begin airing in fall 2001.

“The focus of the show is to address Americans’ thirst for information about ways to simplify their lives,” Urbanska says. “It’s such a common experience of contemporary life of feeling overburdened, stressed, overtasked. We just have too much to do and not enough time to develop meaningful relationships.”

The project will cost nearly $1.5 million, including $185,000 for research and development and $100,000 for each episode.

The fundraising effort has generated $55,000 for research and development.

“We are just getting started,” says Urbanska. “We have not yet approached major sponsors and we’re getting ready to do so very shortly.”

Gifts and pledges so far include $10,000 from Mrs. Pat Woltz of Mount Airy; $10,000 from the Gilmer-Smith Foundation in Mount Airy; $5,000 from a donor-advised fund at the Winston-Salem Foundation; $5,000 from the Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority; and $3,200 from the North Carolina Foam Foundation.

Nicholas Bragg, retired executive director of Reynolda House in Winston-Salem, is working as fundraising consultant for the project.

For information, call Kay Taylor Riley, director of development for the Simple Living Co., at 919-789-7400.

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