Freshkills, March 2011 (Photo: Robin Nagle)
In spring 2011, Draper and Museum Studies students in Robin Nagle’s “Oral History, Labors of Waste, and the Value of Knowledge” class had the opportunity to launch a new online oral history archive unlike any other currently in existence–one which is dedicated to New York City’s Department of Sanitation and Freshkills Park. The oral history projects begun in this class have been collected into one website: the newly-launched DSNY and Freshkills Park Oral History Archive.
Over the course of the spring semester, students conducted interviews with individuals deeply involved with both the history and future of the DSNY and Freshkills Park. Interviewees featured on the website include current and retired sanitation workers and DSNY employees, spouses of sanitation workers, a former resident of Freshkills (before it was converted to a landfill), the administrator of Freshkills Park, and many others.
In the long term, Robin hopes that “the DSNY Oral History Project will have 100 voices from all corners of Sanitation life. Similarly, the Freshkills Park Oral History Project will have recollections from neighbors, workers and planners whose lives intersected with or continue to shape the Park’s future.” For now, the website marks a vibrant start to a project that will undoubtedly develop and expand in the coming years.
Check out the archive’s website to find out more about the motivation for the project, the narrators who shared their stories and experiences, and listen to full and excerpted interviews.
You can also read a recent article on silive.com about the project: “How Does Your Garbage Disappear from the Curb? Hear from the People Who Make It Happen.”