THE THIRD THIRTY:
A Community Oral History Project
"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 reflect on their lives in relation to a moment in time or an event, a question or theme. The project began in 2018 as a community-based learning experience offered in partnership with Senior Services of South Sound Lifelong Learning Program. Participants 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. They invited someone they admired to participate in an interview and then we shared edited versions of those interviewed at public readings at the end of the course. The Third Thirty has since evolved into a dynamic community storytelling project that involves many creative collaborators and partners.
Current Project + Photo Voice Exhibit
Since 2020 our project has explored What is needed for creativity, collaboration, and social change to flourish - within ourselves and within our communities?
We have invited South Sound elders who have helped to shape the creative and socially engaged character of our local community to reflect back on the 1960s and 1970s. This was a period of sustained unrest. 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.
We approach oral history at Window Seat as a process that facilitates the giving and receiving of wisdom that come from our lived experience. All of these stories were gathered by community members who took our oral history workshop and then invited people who they admire to participate. Window Seat then edited each interview into a short audio story that offers a small glimpse into the life of its narrator. It is certainly not the whole story or only story of the narrator or those times.
We offer this mosaic of voices as an opportunity to ask: “Is there anything we haven’t yet heard that would be helpful to us now?”
This project is the collective expression of many people in our community!
We are deeply grateful to Tom Anderson, Tibor Breuer, Debe Edden, Lyn Hertz, Pat Holm, Dr. Thelma Jackson, Nat Jackson, Ed Mayeda, Dan McKinstry, and Harvest Moon for entrusting us with their words and allowing us to share a bit of their truth with our community.
COMMUNITY ORAL HISTORIANS
Where can I experience the stories?
The stories we gather are shared through our digital archive, virtual Community Storytelling Circles, and community exhibits. Our current exhibit is on display at the Olympia City Hall beginning in March 2022. A second exhibit will open in April 2022 at the Evergreen State College.
We are continually seeking new ways to share the stories from our project to spark connection and conversation in our community. Sign up for our newsletter or like us on Facebook to stay in touch with the latests events and activities!
Get involved! Take a 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 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 email@example.com. Thank you!
Learn more about what to expect as a participant here.
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.