SAVANNAH, GA – Oct. 3, 2016 – Ogeechee Riverkeeper and partner Dr. Simona Perry are continuing their efforts to preserve the stories of Coastal Georgia’s treasured waterway through the spoken words of area residents whose lives are inextricably tied to it.
The Ogeechee River Oral History Project, which has been gaining momentum in recent weeks and months, will result in a compilation of historical narratives that will become part of a collection in Georgia Southern University’s library.
Perry, an ethnographic practitioner and the founder of c.a.s.e. Consulting Services, a community-based consultancy in Savannah, has already collected stories and oral histories from over two dozen residents during one-on-one interviews, community meetings and workshops. Having been successful in generating interest for the project, she’s looking to step up her work and reach out to others in the area who can offer valuable contributions to local history.
Ogeechee Riverkeeper Executive Director Emily Markesteyn Kurilla is pleased by the idea of these important narratives surviving so that future generations can understand the significance the river has played in the lives of area residents for hundreds of years. Perry stressed that her top priority is connecting with anyone who has a story to tell about the Ogeechee River and its role in their family’s history or in their personal lives.
“Participants should understand this oral history project is about them. It’s not about the river, per se, but more centered on the stories of the people who’ve lived around it and have a personal connection with the Ogeechee,” Perry said. “The oral history project is an extremely complex relationship-building initiative, and the Riverkeeper organization is in a unique position to help cultivate the relationships that are found in the basin and on the river. We hope those who value the river and all it has to offer will see ORK as an ally and work with us on this important campaign.”
To give more people the opportunity to come forth and recount their narratives, ORK and Perry have made arrangements to conduct mini interviews with interested individuals at upcoming events. On Oct. 1, in collaboration with the Blooomingdale Historical Society, they had a booth at the Bloomingdale Fall Fling Vendors Market where visitors learned more about the oral history project and could sign up for a short on-site mini interview or an extended interview at a later date. During the Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival on Oct. 14-16, patrons who visit ORK’s information table on October 15 will also have the chance to learn more about the project and sign up for mini interviews to be conducted the same day at the nearby Bryan County News.
“If you have something to share, even if it seems inconsequential, we urge you to get in touch with us and be a part of this project,” Kurilla said. “Even the smallest detail can lead to new developments, findings, and a deeper appreciation of the river. Having lived and worked here ourselves, Simona and I understand how sacred the river is to those who’ve had experiences connected to it. We relate to the residents, business owners, recreational users and government leaders who rely on and value the Ogeechee, and we want to hear your accounts firsthand.”
For more information on the Ogeechee Riverkeeper Oral History Project or to learn about sharing a story with Perry, please visit http://ogeecheeriverkeeper.org/tag/oral-history/, email Info@OgeecheeRiverkeeper.org or call 866-942-6222.
Editor’s note: Ogeechee Riverkeeper’s mission is to protect, preserve and improve the water quality of the Ogeechee River basin. To accomplish this goal, Ogeechee Riverkeeper strives to amplify the voices of concerned citizens and strengthen their efforts to protect their rivers and their communities.