Introduction to the Sustainability History Project
My course centers on gathering recorded interviews from professionals, volunteers, and others engaged in some aspect of “sustainability” in the Pacific Northwest. After providing our students with a background in history, research methods, and interviewing techniques, I will pair students with members of the community to gather interviews. These interviews will provide future researchers a valuable perspective on the experiences of community members themselves.
Student work builds upon previous research conducted as part of the Sustainability History Project. Over the past few years, Portland State University students have gathered over 100 recorded interviews with people from a range of Pacific Northwest industries including timber, green building, agriculture, death care, and ranching. These recordings are archived at PSU for use by researchers, and will soon be available through this website. As the Pacific Northwest becomes known for innovative economic and cultural practices focused on sustainability, I am confident that students’ hard work will be a benefit and inspiration to communities throughout the region, nation, and world.
The primary community partner for this ongoing project is the Northwest History Network, a non-profit consortium of regional history, archives, library, and other professionals. As the specific focus of documentation changes each quarter, the SHP also establishes working relationships with businesses, organizations, and individuals to secure interviews and provide service opportunities for students.
The Interview Process
This project provides a unique opportunity for people like you to share your passion for your work, your personal philosophies, the challenges you face, your goals and successes, and other important aspects. The interviews are generally one hour in length and will be conducted at a time and place that works best for you.
The interview process will proceed in the following way:
1. Once you have agreed to participate, you will receive a phone call within a week or two from one of our students. The student will introduce him/herself and provide a draft of interview questions. This is your chance to help shape student research and questions by identifying relevant subject material and suggesting other topics.
2. You and the student will schedule a time and place to meet for the interview. Since the recording devices we use are sensitive, preferred interview locations should be as free as possible from distracting background noises.
3. You will meet at the scheduled time for the interview. Expect two students to arrive: one Interviewer and one Research Assistant who will handle equipment and take notes. The students will bring their own recording equipment and a form for your signature authorizing the transfer of the audio recording to Portland State University for archiving.
4. There will be lag time of a few weeks after the interview during which the recording will be indexed and this academic quarter’s project finalized. You will then receive for review a copy of the recording (in Windows Media Audio (wma) format) and index (in Microsoft Word format).
James V. Hillegas, March 30, 2010