The Third Thirty

A Community Story Project by Window Seat Media

The Third Thirty: A Community Stories Project

"This class was an exploration of a different kind of listening and a different type of interview. Through the specific class assignment and Elaine's expert coaching, I was able to produce a compelling narrative from an interview with someone I admire deeply."​
-Kris Tucker, Fall 2018 Cohort

What Is The Third Thirty? 

Window Seat Media and Senior Services for South Sound are partnering on an oral history project through Senior Services Lifelong Learning Program. “The Third Thirty: A Community Oral History Project” is an 8-week project-based course that explores the time of life between ages 60 and 90. How does our history and identity shape how we experience this period of time? What challenges are people encountering? What gifts come in this thirty years of life? Students explore these and other questions while learning the art and practice of oral history, building their listening and interviewing skills, and considering the ethical issues of gathering and sharing other peoples’ stories. At the end of the course, students share the stories they've gathered, with permission from their narrators, at a public reading and reflection.

What Makes This Oral History Project Unique? 

The peer-to-peer nature of the project offers seniors in our community with an opportunity to explore and validate shared experience while gaining insights into the ways in which their particular histories and identities shape their outlook and circumstances during this time of life. Our stories include community members from different racial, ethnic, socio-economic, and religious backgrounds, as well as regional differences. As one participant reflected, "Olympia is a diverse community, and capturing the stories of our seniors helps illustrate this point in a very tangible way. I was amazed by each of the stories captured in our class. The experiences of the narrators were varied and unique. When we listen to them all at once, it gives us a sense of the tapestry of history that makes up the community of the South Sound. " We find that by focusing on a broad theme and carefully curating a public gathering to share the stories, we were able to surface and engage with challenging and often polarizing issues with safety and respect – for our oral historians, their narrators, and the public who came to listen to the stories.                                                   

The Third Thirty is the first to document the lived experience of people in this age group who are living in the South Puget Sound region. We are not only building a collection of stories that people can access online to understand the unique challenges and gifts of this generation, but also a community of practice that is grounded in deep listening, asking transformative questions, and honoring the knowledge that comes from our lived experience. Through the process of both gathering and sharing stories of their peers, seniors have the opportunity to deepen their connection to each other and honor the life's work of their peers.

How To Get Involved

Our next cohort will begin in September 2019. For more information and to get involved in the project as a story gatherer or story sharer, please contact Project Curator, Elaine Vradenburgh at elaine@windowseatmedia.org.