This semester, as part of a Kean University seminar on advanced oral history methods, we are working to develop a longitudinal oral history project that will document the stories of Superstorm Sandy.
This blog will tell the story of that development process.
We’ve spent the past several weeks discussing the history of oral history and the role that oral history has played in chronicling significant disasters in the United States, and we’ve been studying the Best Practices guidelines from the Oral History Association. And now we’re beginning to define the scope and parameters of our own project.
At first, we tried to start with a title.
But we quickly realized that until we had a better sense of what the project would look like, all attempts at titles were clunky, cliched, and far too general.
So we took a different approach. We discussed what themes we wanted to address, what topics we wanted to explore, what communities we wanted to get to know, and people we wanted to interview.
Finally, after an entire class session of making lists, we landed on our project.
And last night, Staring out to Sea: The Story of Superstorm Sandy in Three Bayshore Communities was born.
As the title suggests, the project will focus on three communities right along the Sandy Hook Bay – Union Beach, Keansburg, and Port Monmouth.
We chose this area for several reasons:
(1) These communities were all significantly impacted by the storm itself.
(2) Though geographically close, these communities are quite socioeconomically diverse, and so they will afford us the opportunity to consider the different variables associated with the issues of power, access, and resources in the storm recovery efforts.
(3) These communities are located directly across the bay from Staten Island, one of the hardest hit areas in New York and a region that’s received significant attention in the local, regional, and national press. There are already oral history efforts taking place in Staten Island, and our hope is that eventually we can take part in a larger project to document the storm and recovery throughout the Sandy Hook Bay region.
So, follow along as we reflect on our own efforts to collect, process, and present the stories of Superstorm Sandy’s impact on the Bayshore region.
And if you’d like to get involved, leave us a comment!