Year: 2013

The Working Waterfront Festival’s 10th Anniversary

Over the summer I interviewed some of the participants in New Bedford’s Working Waterfront Festival. I wanted to know what this festival, which was celebrating its 10th year, has meant to them. Here’s the product of that project — a retrospective video that was shown at the festival and has given the festival production team a reminder about why they do what they do, and why it’s important. We all need those reminders sometimes. I am excited by this because it’s an example of how evaluation can be built into the work of a project, organically. The festival produces lots of oral histories from members of the commercial fishing community; producing an oral history of the festival, of sorts, just makes sense. This project will continue to grow, as more visitors and participants in the festival get excited about sharing their memories and reflections. I can’t wait to see where it — and the festival — goes. Advertisements

Step into a Fisherman’s Boots

The Working Waterfront Festival in New Bedford, MA is two things, at the same time: it’s a moment when the commercial fishing industry shares its stories, secrets and skills with visitors, both local and tourist alike.  But it’s also a time for those fishermen to get together, as a community of their own.  I’m working with the Festival this year to help celebrate their 10th year in existence — a longevity that is hard won, a testament to the real love of the festival that all participants share.  I spoke with the Director of the festival, folklorist Laura Orleans, about what the festival means to her: Like what you hear?  Keep the festival going strong, and join our community, by giving to our Indiegogo campaign.

On missing, remembering, and coming home.

Tisha Tanzillo Mulligan is the co-owner (with her sister, Sandy) of Tanzy’s, a breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea spot in Hudson, New York, where she grew up. I interviewed Tisha at Tanzy’s on June 5, 2013, and was struck by the strong sense of intuition that she described throughout the interview. And how vividly she described food. Music: “Ghosts in the Room” by Nasienie, from the Private Loops album. Private Loops (Nasienie) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 This piece was produced in Oral History Summer School‘s “Oral History for Radio” workshop, Hudson, NY, with instructor Michael Garofalo and Director Suzanne Snider.

putting the land in place.

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know that it started — four years ago! — as a space for me to write and think about the issues I was exploring in cities.  Specifically, how we learn about a city: its history, its people, and its traditions.  I’ve been interested in pop-up urbanism (or as i’ve called it, entropy) since my first post, and other issues like historic preservation, manufacturing and economic development came later, as I got to know neighborhoods and reflect on the stories that they tell about themselves.  I’ve always been thinking not just about cities but about the institutions in them, those third and fourth places where people share and learn memories, ideas, and information.  I got my start in those kinds of places, and think they’re an important part of our cities, whether they’re surrounded by granite and columns to tell us that learning is important, or they pop up in a public square to make it fun and surprising.  The themes have been learning, …


This spring I did some thinking and writing for, as they launched their first new holiday, Neighborday.  It was a day for celebrating neighbors, and neighboring, for getting to know where you live and the folks that you live around just a little better.  I was part of a team led by Kyla Fullenwider, of Imperative, a social design firm doing really interesting work around engagement, evaluation, and impact. We’ve shared some of our initial findings about how Neighborday here.

With Taste, Smell, and Imagination

This piece first appeared at History at the Table, as part of the NCPH Working Group on Public History and the Local Food Movement. * I’m standing in the basement of Bondir, the intimate, award-winning Cambridge restaurant, watching Chef Jason Bond dismantle a hindquarter of beef, removing fat from muscle and muscle from bone.  As he drops each chunk into its designated plastic tub, he explains to me what it will be used for.  Every bit of this 200 pounds of meat will be consumed.  The steaks will dry-age for some months; the fat, brightly yellow because the cow was grazing on bright green grass, will be rendered and used for daily cooking; the tough muscles will be stews, cooked with the stock made from the bones.  This one animal will feed hundreds of diners; it’s the only way for high-quality meat like this, Chef tells me, to be economic. But I don’t think it’s just economy that drives Bond’s pursuit of a “snout-to-tail” approach to beef, or his painstaking efforts to remove different kinds …