May 2012: Oral History as Catalyst for Community Dialogue

The Hydrofracking Debate: 
Oral History as a Catalyst for Community Dialogue

May 16th, 2012
1:00 – 2:00 EST

Featured Practitioner: William Walker of the Cooperstown Graduate Program Community Stories Project

In this call, we’ll hear from members of the CGP Community Stories project team about their use of oral history to engage rural New Yorkers in conversations about the controversial topic of hydrofracking.   Together we’ll brainstorm effective ways to create dialogue between community members with competing and preconceived views about natural gas drilling, and explore the complications of collaborating with activists and community groups on both sides of the debate.  Some of the questions we might discuss include:

  • How can we create programs that begin by listening to oral histories and discussing the past, but naturally evolve to a discussion of future uses of the land and its resources?
  • Once individuals who support, oppose, or are undecided about hydrofracking are in the same room, how can we capitalize on that opportunity to maximize healthy community discussion and debate? In other words, how can we create an environment, both in person and online, where people with different viewpoints will feel comfortable sharing their opinions about a topic as controversial as natural gas drilling? 
  • How can the team balance their personal beliefs about hydrofracking with their belief that community members should discuss the issues on their own terms and build their own movement?

To participate on the call, sign-up here.