My hometown is dying.
At the crossroads of somewhere and nowhere, is a tiny, little town called Roby. Most people pass through Roby going somewhere else. It has been declining in population for over 70 years and projections for the next census is another decline. What makes it unique is that it’s my hometown. Who hasn’t gone back for their class reunion or to a house they used to live in and sheepishly knock on the door. For me, the place was Roby. I moved away 30 years ago after graduating from high school. Since then I’ve traveled the world, seen things, met people, I never thought I’d experience being a kid from a small town. I currently live in Connecticut and work and go to school in New York. But now I’m drawn back to my hometown.
“I Am Roby” is a documentary short film that explores a small town in Texas as it slowly decreases in population from 673. With the 2020 census approaching, the question becomes, what’s next for Roby? Drawn to the thought of my hometown dying, I went back and began to interview and collect the stories of Roby. This is not the town I grew up in. Being back now, I don’t even recognize it. Places that were a huge part of my life are gone and so are the people. I’ve discovered new and strange things on my exploration of Roby like there was a train connecting Roby to North Roby. I didn’t know there was a train OR a North Roby! I also discovered how farming technology advanced to the point that farmers are working more land with less help causing the decline in population but with a significant financial burden for farmers. “Mechanization of farming killed the small town.” Cecil King, retired mayor and banker. And that the founding families continue to live there for seven generations. “We used to steal watermelons on Saturday night.” Freddie Stuart, founding family. “I Am Roby” is an exploration of small town life and it’s people.
Dan Streety, a native Texan, grew up steeped in stories and tall tales from porch swings to church pews. Dan has worked in advertising and marketing producing work for the biggest brands in the world including P&G, Starbucks, BMW and others but now it’s time to go beyond the limitation of media budgets and brand guidelines and tell his own stories. He’s a daydream and wish maker and he’s finally opening his imagination to anything that wants to escape from it. “I Am Roby” is Streety’s directorial and documentary debut.