Intro from Jay Allison: This piece was produced as part of the Transom Story Workshop Spring 2015 session. Listen to more pieces from this Story Workshop class here.
About “The Hidden World Of The Cape Cod Homeless”
I knew I wanted to do a story on what it’s like to be homeless. So I spent five days in Hyannis, the center of Cape Cod’s homeless population. Right off the bat, this story presented a number of tricky reporting challenges.
Early on, a homeless outreach worker warned me to question the veracity of everything I heard. There are many reasons why homeless people don’t or can’t tell the literal truth, both intentional and not. So while I did independently verify certain details, I kept my story focus on the lived experience of homelessness. I spoke with service providers and the Hyannis Business Improvement District to get a broader overview of the homeless situation.
My biggest mistake at the beginning was not tailoring my story idea to a specific focus. By the end of all the interviews, I had hours of tape that took off running in dozens of unrelated directions. I was lost when it came time to write a script. It took many, many hours to turn that pile of tape into what you hear now.
What finally helped me make a decent story structure was the idea of on-tape hand-offs between characters. The cast of people I interviewed all knew each other and referenced each other on tape. You can hear this in the transition from Bo (in the photo above) to Turtle. And that was the element that allowed me to keep the story moving along!
Lucy’s Sonic ID
I was interviewing writer Laura Shabott about artist Jay Critchley for my Creative Life piece. She spoke about Re-rooter’s Day (an odd annual ritual organized by Jay) in this beautiful, resonant way. So even though it didn’t fit into my Creative Life story, I knew that I had to save that clip for something. You never know when someone will give you radio gold.