I’m afraid my last contribution to the Listening Project blog will be kind of a cop out. At the end of the year all of the Student Arts Fund grant recipients are expected to submit some kind of report, so I’d like to share mine. First of all, I’d like to prove that I did, indeed, write one, but I’d also like to share some of my culminating thoughts. This is also such a lame way to say goodbye that, really, it can’t possibly be goodbye, and I sincerely mean what I say at the end of the report that follows:
The Listening Project never meant to last as long or reach as many as it did. It began as a relatively modest undertaking with a simple goal: get Haverford students to tell stories about Haverford. The idea was to create a new forum (and method) to discuss our experiences at Haverford. We placed four tape recorders in four different locations around campus and invited students to interview each other using a list of questions we had put together as a jumping-off point.
The key to the success of all this was, of course, people. The year started with a search for student volunteers, with focus groups to discuss the structure of the Listening Project. We held a pre-recording event to discuss the interview format; we can approach the role of the interlocutor from many different angles. The semester culminated in a “broadcast” of a compilation of clips (over a delicious pizza dinner).
The paragraphs above detail the intended trajectory of the Listening Project: a success! The paragraphs below detail the continued momentum of the project: a surprise!
As the Listening Project began to advertise to the general student population toward the middle of the fall semester, the Alumni Relations Office also took note – and interest. In collaboration with the Alumni Office, the Listening Project put on an event for a group of alumni as well, playing some clips from the broadcast, and ultimately inviting the alumni to record some of their own memories of Haverford. (We may or may not have snagged a word with one Stephen G. Emerson, class of 1974.)
This moment of outreach taught us what a valuable tool the Listening Project could be, and in the spring, the LP contributed to the “In/Visible: Disability and the Arts” symposium. Conducting a series of directed interviews, we collected stories from students about their experiences with accessibility on campus and used them to create a guided “walking tour” similar to a museum-style audio tour, along with a print guide full of transcripts and other helpful information.
We ended up with many more tapes than we had expected and the beginning of the year and many more hours of stories than we could possibly share, but believe us when we say they are stunning. In true Haverford fashion, many participants found themselves in deep analytical discussions, while others shared amusing anecdotes and vignettes of life on campus. We are currently in the process of digitizing the rest of these recordings and organizing the tapes into an archival library for the Haverford community (and radio station!) to enjoy for what we hope is many years to come.
P.S. I’m currently exploring the possibility of making the original broadcast available on here. (If that happens, this clearly will not be my last post…)
P.P.S. All original LP recordings can be found in mp3 form on the storage server in a users folder called “listening.”
P.P.P.S. For future generations…