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 in May of 2016 when I began,— was to crawl out of my introverted shell and get out there and talk to people. It was in part a response to the passing of Kirk Washington Jr. in April of 2016, a former student, who I had plans to meet for coffee the week he died. There are so many questions I wanted to ask him. Kirk embodied the philosophy of building social justice through personal connections. His interactions were always on the profound level. May 28 is my birthday. The project was a resolution to stop missing chances to connect.
- 100 interviews, beginning on May 28, 2016. (# could change.)
- 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. There is, however, no science to who I interview. People who are willing and who I know or know of, is not a scientific sample. that is not a goal.
- As of October 2017 I interviewed ten people who decided not to allow me to publish their stories. My head is full of their stories as well.
Things I am interested as I approach the project:
- 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?
Letting people tell the stories they need to tell is more important than my larger interests. I do little intervening during the interview, as most people have no problem talking about their lives once they get going. Still there is clearly some of me in the totality of these interviews.
- I use a tape recorder and a computer.
- I create an essay based on the interviewees own words, rearranged to tell full stories, with occasional words changes for clarification. It is not a transcript.
- Interviewees may edit the final version before publication.
- I am sensitive to telling the story of the interviewee. If the stories of others are told I will most likely 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.For example, the night of the week Martin Luther King was killed, or when an organization started.
- Each essay is accompanied by at least one photograph.
The final finished project is yet undetermined, but will include compiled interviews and an analytical essay. If you are a publisher and this sounds interesting to you, or if you have any questions about the interviews or suggestions about someone to interview, you can email me at email@example.com