The Third Thirty

A Community Stories Project by Window Seat Media

The Third Thirty Community Oral History Project

Photo: Equal Rights Amendment rally at the Olympia State Capitol, 1972.

"Looking back at history is an attempt to say, is there anything we haven't yet heard that could be useful to us now?" -Tracy K. Smith, Poet & Educator

The Third Thirty is a community oral history project that invites South Sound elders to share their stories and memories about a moment in time or theme in relation to their own experience. Our 2020/21 project explores: What is needed for creativity, collaboration, and social change to flourish - within ourselves and within our communities? How can the arts see, heal, and help? 

The project seeks to highlight and honor local elders who have contributed to the creative and socially engaged spirit of our local community roughly between 1960-1980. This was a period of sustained unrest – the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, the anti-war movement, tribal fishing rights - and it was a time of possibility, as many worked together to collectively revise the story about who we are, what we value, and how we want to live together. We’re curious how people experienced, understood, and created (community, art, legislation) during this moment, in this place.

The Third Thirty offers this mosaic of voices as an opportunity to ask: Is there anything we haven't yet heard that would be helpful to us now? Through this ongoing project, we aim to amplify local knowledge, share powerful stories and ideas, and ask what is possible, today.

How can I see the stories?

The stories we gather are shared (with permission) through our digital archive, virtual community dialogue Story Circles, and on display both during Fall 2021 Arts Walk at Browsers Bookshop in downtown Olympia, WA and at The Evergreen State College gallery. We plan to share the stories in additional ways throughout the next year. Sign up for our newsletter or like us on Facebook to stay in touch! All materials collected are housed in Window Seat's community archive.

Get involved! Take the training to become a community oral historian for the project.

Next training date TBD

We believe in the power of the interview process – both for the person being interviewed and the listener. We want to share this experience with our community, so we’ve set up a model where community members receive training so they can gather stories for the project. Participants enroll in a 4-hour workshop to learn the art and practice of oral history, build their listening and interviewing skills, and consider the ethical issues of gathering and sharing other peoples’ stories. At the end of the workshop, participants have the skills and tools they need to invite someone to participate (often someone with whom they have a personal relationship), conduct a recorded interview, and finalize the interview transcript for inclusion in the project.

Want to share your story or collaborate?

If you are interested in participating in an interview or collaborating on this project, please contact Elaine Vradenburgh at elaine@windowseatmedia.org. Thank you!

Learn more about what to expect as a participant here.

Olympia Oyster House and Percival Landing, 1972.

Funding to re-envision and continue this project has been provided by Humanities Washington and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act economic stabilization plan of 2020.