Posted tagged ‘oral history’

First 30-day ideaLab project completed

May 5, 2011

For my first 30-day ideaLab-JRC project, I have partnered with local retirement communities and senior centers to gather oral histories from area senior citizens using ipadio.com’s iPhone “record and publish” application in person and recorded phone conversations using ipadio’s three-way calling and recording capability.

Topics have included conversations on faith and spirituality, living with someone with Alzheimer’s disease, motherhood, genealogy, immigration, fleeing one’s country of origin during the war, raising children in the 1960s and 1970s, and local politics.

My goal was to train volunteers in the community to record the interviews and provide the photos, so staff only has to grab embed codes and receive photos, and then upload to our website under a “Podcast” drop-down menu. This, however, has been a huge challenge. So far, I have two volunteers working with me in Saline, but I would like to have more. My editor in Chelsea and Dexter has done two, and is looking for volunteers. My editors in Manchester, Ypsilanti and Belleville will be making contacts with senior communities soon to launch the project in those communities in the next couple of weeks, also building a volunteer base.

I have spent every Wednesday for the last four weeks at Brecon Village retirement community or the Saline Area Senior Center interviewing at least two residents each week, with 14 recorded. My volunteers have done an additional three and my Chelsea/Dexter editor has done two. The profiles include photographs of our subjects.

My 14-day goal was to get the same process going in Chelsea and Dexter with help from copy editor Erica McClain. This has been achieved, but at a slower rate than I anticipated.

At 21 days, I had planned to implement this in Milan. I have conducted one interview there, and have had volunteers supply me with names of potential subjects. I still need to round up volunteers to conduct interviews so I am not doing it all.

At 21 to 28 days, I was to set up a volunteer orientation session in Saline, Milan, Dexter and Chelsea to train community volunteers. I have found that my two volunteers have been able to learn it on their own. However, I have created a presentation that I can use for training purposes and it’s posted here on my ideaLab-Heritage blog on WordPress.

My longer-term goal was to implement this project in Ann Arbor, Manchester, Ypsilanti and Belleville. These editors have assured me that they plan to do so in the next couple of weeks.

I have utilized our ideaLab iPhone for this project to record the interviews and shoot the photos. I’ve used DropBox to move the photos from my phone to laptop computer. I have managed the activity on my ipadio account, where I’ve gotten the embed code to post the podcasts on Heritage.com.

Metrics: The project has generated 6,250 listens. One podcast, shared with a sister publication near Philadelphia, helped drive a lot more traffic than most, with that podcast generating 1,279 listens. The average audio recording generates 250 listens. Most vary from 630 to 65. They have been promoted on our website, Facebook, Twitter and this blog.

I have trained 10 staff members on ipadio.com and Google Voice, the technology I picked from the ideaLab tool list, and posted my presentation on collecting audio to enhance storytelling on my ideaLabHeritage blog. I have also solicited a list of more staff to train at a sister publication, The News-Herald in Southgate, and plan to set up training soon.

What’s next: My next 30-day project will be to learn how to create photo slideshows with audio, Google maps, and my tool to learn will be Kaywa QR Code, so readers can scan the code in print to be taken to the slideshow online. The goal is to have the audience provide the photos and text from Memorial Day activities in our communities.

Partnering with the community to share oral histories

February 27, 2011

As part of my ideaLab work this past month, I have been exploring relationships with potential community partners to launch an oral histories project. On Wednesday, I met with Dianna Huckstein and Michelle Horazdovsky at Brecon Village, part of the Evangelical Homes of Michigan. We talked about using ipadio.com‘s technology and local volunteers to collect audio recordings of residents at Brecon Village, a retirement community located in Saline, sharing their life experiences, insights, and thoughts and feelings about major moments in history that they lived through.

I came to the meeting only hoping to be able to interview some of the residents there and taking their photos. I thought it would be a lot of work on my part and I didn’t know how I would find the time, but it was something I was determined to do. I was pleasantly surprised, however, at their enthusiasm for the project and willingness to totally take it over by not only finding people interested in sharing their stories, but volunteers who would interview residents and members of a photo club who could take their photographs. All I, or a member of my staff, would have to do is go to the ipadio.com account, grab the embed code and get the photo from Brecon Village, and then upload both on our website under our Podcast category. Brecon Village will be able to feature the content on its website, as well, sharing the stories from residents in their 70s, 80s and 90s who have lived through important moments in history and who have led interesting lives, from traveling the world to running major companies.

We talked about organizing chats around themes, such as changes in industry and innovation witnessed over the years, major moments in history, hobbies/collections, world travels, faith/spirituality, leadership, lifestyle and work/career.

We also talked about featuring “celebrity” interviewers at times, such as the mayor, school superintendent, local radio personalities, community leaders, educators and local business owners.

The plan is for Dianna and Michelle to round up three people by early this week for me to interview on Friday. They will flesh out the best theme to base the interview on and I will do a little research before prepping my questions. I’ll first meet the residents, so they feel comfortable with the whole process, and then call them, using my ideaLab iPhone, which will enable me to use ipadio.com. The entire interview will be recorded and available as soon as we hang up. Once everyone sees how it’s done, we can start recruiting and training volunteers and celebrity interviewers.

My goal is to expand this project to include other retirement communities in Washtenaw County. To this end, I met with Sara Wedell of Chelsea District Library, who is working on a similar project using video, rather than audio, for the library’s website. She shared contacts at Chelsea Retirement Community, Silver Maples retirement community and Chelsea Senior Center. Chelsea Standard Editor Erica McClain will take the lead on making it happen in Chelsea.

I am also in touch with Alan Caldwell of Senior Helpers to build a partnership in Ann Arbor.

Here’s an example of an interview one of our former editors conducted with actor Jeff Daniels of Chelsea using ipadio.com.

Check out the ipadio.com app for the iPhone. I used it this morning and it worked just like a recorder. Loved it. Easier than recording the phone conversation. Check out my first interview using the app.