The Glassville Neighborhood Association
To advertise the existence of the community and to expand the reach of the book, the Glassville neighborhood association and the Press also agreed to introduce this book into the “network of exchange.” In one sense, this was happening already, because the book would be assigned across forty sections of courses in the university’s basic writing program, meaning that approximately one thousand students would purchase it. It was also decided, however, that the book would be advertised to other writing programs and disciplines, as well as to local and national booksellers. Ultimately, it was hoped that the book would reach a wide audience of those generally interested in urban life.
To ensure that the neighborhood residents were not exploited, a portion of the profits from all of these different venues would be shared with the Glassville neighborhood association, returning to the residents some of the economic value of their stories. Thomas Sabo Jewellery The project was to be directed by two professors, each of whom brought unique talents to the project. One professor was a trained ethnographer, who brought extensive experience in community-based projects. She also had the trust of the Glassville neighborhood association.
The other had extensive experience working with community writers and had taken a leadership role in our emergent community press. Together they brought a range of expertise and insight to the project. Difficulties occurred almost immediately, however. As part of the project, the two professors were to co-teach a specifically marked undergraduate course that was cross-listed between their two departments. New budgeting procedure made it impossible to have the course co-taught or cross-listed, however. Instead, the professor with community press experience was assigned as the sole instructor. Moreover, neither was given release time to work on the project. Although one was at least “assigned” to the class, the other faculty member had to volunteer extensive time to working with the students. Despite these complications, the two professors brought the students to the community, arranged for interviews, and discussed interview protocols in class. This project depended, however, on their providing sufficient time and support to conjoin their expertise for the benefit of the student “ethnographers” and community members. Systemically, this did not happen, and gaps in communication began to occur, which soon influenced the future direction of the project. Also, the neighborhood association had never before been involved in such an extensive project.
Even though some of the residents had had the experience of being interviewed for other community history projects, a focus on their particular community was new. In addition, as discussed after the book’s publication, many of the residents had been unaware of how their voices actually phrased or articulated ideas in everyday speech and, thus, would appear in print. Many of the residents interviewed were also senior citizens, with a different sense of what it meant to interact with college students in terms of respect and building a relationship. Thomas Sabo Charms Finally, there were the particular issues around editorial control of the book. New City Community Press had made a commitment to producing books that focused on community voices that were not often represented, as well as showcasing those voices with high production values.
The belief was that each community should be able to frame and develop its own communal/historical identity, as well as to have its aesthetic identity fully represented. Previous publications, such as No Restraints, a book on our city’s disability community, had used handwriting, artwork, and graffiti to represent a community’s sense of its voice. In each case, our editorial staff had produced books that were well received by the intended audiences and that garnered awards from city leaders. Given my goals for this project, however, the audience for this project was more nebulous than for any previous publications. For instance, the potential readers included students in writing programs, the community residents, and academics, as well as an unformalized “general audience.” In addition, unlike any other book produced by the Press, this book, in my view, also had to represent itself as the result of an undergraduate course the specific context from which the book would emerge and, for the university, to which it would return.
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