Fecal Matters

Intro from Jay Allison: Radio students from all over the country, plus Canada and Australia, came to live on Cape Cod for a couple of months to attend the Fall 2012 Transom Story Workshop. Rob Rosenthal and Sarah Reynolds ran the class with dedication, and made sure the students came away with skills enough to craft lovely pieces… which they did. The students found remarkable stories sitting under the noses of us who’ve been living here for decades. Come listen. It’s impressive to hear such work from a group of people just starting out, and it’s encouraging too, because there’s bound to be more of it.

Listen to “Fecal Matters”

About “Fecal Matters”

A month before starting the Transom Story Workshop, I was on the hunt for story ideas. Then, courtesy of a family friend, I learned about the Cape’s terrible water problems. Wastewater, especially toilet water, was polluting local bays and marshes. It potentially contaminated local drinking water! The solution — sewage systems and treatment plants — cost billions. This problem went back decades and decades! I thought I’d really hit on something.

And I had. But I soon realized: wastewater was a familiar, well-covered topic on the Cape. When I mentioned my story idea to an environmental lawyer friend, she told me wastewater was the “least sexy environmental issue.” “Whales! Follow the whales!” she urged me. I decided I needed a unique perspective. In class, someone suggested that I spend time with septic tank technicians. I loved the idea: septic tanks are the old, inadequate treatment systems. Most Cape people use them. But, they’re on the way out. They’re part of the problem. I thought, great, I’ll get to hang with some local guys. And I’ll talk to some people close to this issue who rarely get press attention.

Plus, if you’re going to report on potty issues, you need to include potty humor. I figured talking about poop would be fun. And it was. I not only got a unique perspective, I got some levity. Who needs whales when you’ve got toilets?

Listen to More Pieces from this Story Workshop Class

Ruth Samuelson

Ruth Samuelson

Ruth Samuelson is a freelance journalist. She previously worked at Washington City Paper and her writing has also appeared in Global Post, The Washington Post, Fox News Latino and The Atlantic Cities. Ruth is a member of AIR.

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