Two years ago, NCPR began an ambitious project called North Country at Work (NC@W). We were trying to reach the many small and often neglected communities scattered across the very rural northern third of New York State. The project puts us in libraries, small historical associations, and museums throughout the Adirondack North Country, scanning photographs that document the community’s work history from the early 1800s to the present and, where possible, recording personal, family, or community stories about that work history.
We collaborate with dozens of libraries, museums, and historical associations who make their collections available to us and who help us connect with community members who may have stories and photos to share. All of this material is collected on a digital platform we built (www.ncpr.org/work) which is easily accessible to the public. The digital archive is designed to encourage curiosity and discovery.
We expanded the project to include a series of three integrated events in each of the towns we work with. First, we do the scanning and audio collection. Then, we return a month or two later with 20-30 enlarged, printed, and mounted photos from the material we collected in that town to create an exhibit. We hold a reception and then leave those photos as part of the local institution’s permanent collection. The third event is a work-related story slam held a month or so after the exhibit. Video and audio recordings of these slams are added to our NC@W website and archive.
NC@W extends the audience of NCPR by putting project staff on the ground in communities and locations often overlooked by our news department or development staff, and attracts participation from people who may not have ever listened to North Country Public Radio. Everyone can participate. Everyone has a work story of their own, or from their family or community.
The project generates content for every platform. We create a weekly story for our broadcast news magazine, build out stories for our website and social media, are in the early stages of creating a weekly podcast, and are continuing to add to our NC@W public archive. In addition, our stories are now being picked up by local publications, both print and digital.