Minneapolis Interview Project
My motivations are complex. These factors are all part of the reason I am doing this:
- I lived in thirteen different places in four states by the time I was twelve.
- As a child the story of my Dad’s family’s escape from Nazi Germany came with a lesson: nationalism is bigotry. Love humanity and principles, not places.
- After my trip around the perimeter of the United States on a bicycle in 2011-12 (story told in my forth-coming book Turtle Road) I concluded that attachment to place (even places we hate) might be innate for humans.
All of these factors made me want to interrogate the place I have called home since I arrived here, on my own, at the age of seventeen.
- My motivation at this moment — to crawl out of my introverted shell and get out there and talk to people — is a response to the passing of Kirk Washington Jr. in April of 2016. There are so many questions I wanted to ask him. He embodied the philosophy of building social justice through personal connections. His interactions were always on the profound level. I don’t want to miss chances to connect anymore.
- 100 interviews from May 28 2016- May 28 2017.
- Interviewees have lived and/or worked in Minneapolis.
- By interviewing people of different ages, races, genders, economic classes, migration experiences, who live in different parts of this city, I hope to see as much of the elephant that is Minneapolis as possible.
- How do places define us?
- How we build communities that celebrate place and culture without building walls/ gates?
- How we create borders for corporations and developers and tear down walls and regulations for working people. On the national level we combat a free trade economy. On a local level, gentrification is basically the same process.
- How do we combat bigotry couched in nationalism or local pride?
- Can we love local places and enjoy their evolution as newcomers arrive?
- What does a focus on place tell us about how to advance social justice?
HOWEVER….letting people tell the stories they need to tell is more important than my questions.
- I use a tape recorder and a notebook.
- I am creating an essay based primarily on the interviewees in their own words, rearranged to tell full stories, with occasional words changes for clarification.
- Interviewees may edit the final version before publication.
- I am sensitive to telling only the story of the interviewee. If the stories of others are told I will most likely omit or curtail them so the focus is on the interviewee.
- I do not check stories for verification except for known facts like dates, places, and names.
- Each essay is accompanied by at least one photograph.
The final finished project will include the compiled interviews and an analytical essay. A book.