Two Years After Sandy: Resilience, Retrospect, & Oyster Restoration
This past week marks the second anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, the destructive and deadly storm that swept through the eastern part of the United States back in 2012. Here in New York, flooding destroyed thousands of homes and structures and further debilitated an already shut down transit system. Some areas haven’t been able to recover as quickly as others, but all communities affected have shown remarkable RESILIENCE.
StoryCorps is proud to launch a new collaborative project with The Rockefeller Foundation to record personal stories of resilience across the country. Resilience is the ability of people and communities to withstand catastrophic events–both natural and manmade–and to bounce back more quickly and emerge stronger from these economic, natural, or social shocks and stresses. In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, we see resilience all around us.
Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Giancinto and her mother Denise were living in the East Village, where she witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of the storm.
“All I [saw] was garbage thrown everywhere. I was just in awe ’cause I saw the city in such chaos. And I thought about all that had happened, and I was just like, ‘we really have to do something more.’”
Inspired to make change, Alyssa decided to join the Billion Oyster Project at her school, a long-term, large scale plan to restore one billion live oysters to New York Harbor to create a natural storm barrier for the future and to clean the harbor water.
Alyssa attends The Harbor School–located on Governors Island in New York–which is home to The Billion Oyster Project.
During their StoryCorps interview, Alyssa told her mother, “I have an amazing feeling of making a difference, but I’m not the only one. It’s me and other kids, and teachers, and other schools. It’s great that a whole bunch of people could come together and actually create this huge impact on the harbor.”
The Stories of Resilience project is just getting started. We will continue to work with various partner organizations in New York and across the country to record stories of endurance and personal strength in their communities.
This is all in an effort to recognize the remarkable stories that surround us, and to celebrate the resilience found within us. By listening to stories about resilient individuals, families, cities, and neighborhoods, we hope to gain insight into what makes us strong, and unbreakable in the face of adversity.
Thanks Emily Hsiao, StoryCorps Custom Services, for sharing!
Archtoberfest—National Archives Month!
At StoryCorps, we talk about “the archive” a lot. There are 55,000 plus interviews in “the archive.” We promise our participants that we’ll keep interviews in our “archive.” We send those same interviews to the American Folklife Center to form an “archive” of voices to be preserved for generations to come. So, seriously…what exactly IS an archive anyway?
Well lucky for us, the Recording & Archive (R&A) department here at StoryCorps turned October–which, as we’re sure you all know, is National Archives Month–into “Archtoberfest!” All month long, the R&A department has been educating our staff about the depth of our collection and bringing in some fantastic guests to provide context about the larger world of archives. Want some highlights of the fun we’ve been having? We thought you might…
(Illustration By Kevina Tidwell)
At our offices, we have a long-standing tradition of what we call “listening lunches.” We join together to listen to a full-length interview, or a few extended segments from interviews that have not been broadcast. Listening lunches remind us of the tremendous riches we can find in our collection, and allows us to take time out of our busy schedules to do what we believe in most: listen. This month, R&A’s fabulous interns Kat Phillips and Kevina Tidwell made the selections. Kat curated a program with three different extended clips about the impact of gentrification–from San Francisco’s Mission District, to the Englewood neighborhood in Chicago, and finally to Charleston, SC. Kevina presented a selection of musical clips which included stories from gospel singers in Nashville to a jazz pianist from Harlem.
Special Archtoberfest Guests
A few months ago, we wrote about our great archival partnership with the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center. In addition to joining the Schomburg’s open house earlier this month, we were thrilled to host Steven Fullwood on October 17th for more Archtoberfest activities. He brought an incredible selection of zines, newspapers, leaflets, poetry chapbooks, and funeral programs from the In the Life Archive for us to check out. In his talk, Steven highlighted key collections they hold and reminded us of the importance of making archives available locally to the communities that created and donated the materials.
We also invited representatives of other organizations from our 80 Hanson Office Building to for a panel discussion about their own archive work. Yvonne Ng from WITNESS, Richard Goldstein from BOMB! Magazine, and Michael Katchen from the Franklin Furnace Archive discussed their collections, their initiatives to provide access to those collections (or, in Witness’ case, to inspire communities to create their own archives), as well as the challenges that each of these organizations face.
Finally, we held a day-long summit entitled “Oral Histories Online: Ethics, Legality, and Opportunity” to discuss the future of our archive. We were honored to host Bertram Lyons from the American Folklife Center and AVPreserve, Doug Boyd of the Nunn Center at University of Kentucky, and John Neuenschwander, who quite literally wrote the book on legal issues and oral history. We covered a broad range of issues that many archives are struggling with, and emerged from the intense day of conversation energized and excited to move forward with new ideas for the future.
As you can imagine, these highlights were just the tip of the archive-iceberg! We also had scavenger hunts through our database, refresher trainings, all manner of snacks, and so much more for StoryCorps’ Archtoberfest!
We hope we inspired you to dig into your old photos & recordings, discover your own family’s oral history, and to think about what you can do to help bring archives to life! After all, EVERY month should be archives month!
Thanks to Talya Cooper, StoryCorps’ Archive Manager, for sharing!