Intro from Jay Allison: Participants come to the Transom Story Workshop with the intention of creating change in their own lives. That makes it exciting for everyone. The class of Spring 2012 came from all over the country and Canada to spend two months here in Woods Hole. They were led by their gifted teacher, Rob Rosenthal, and dedicated teaching associate, Sarah Reynolds, along with a roster of visitors from This American Life, Studio 360, PRX, The Kitchen Sisters, and other Transom friends and staff. Most of the nine students had never made a radio story before. When they left, they had made stories as good or better than those you hear every day on nationally-distributed public radio programs. If you don’t believe me, listen to their work.
About “Following Seas”
I knew I wanted to make a radio story about the ocean. My favorite family vacations growing up were usually the ones we spent near water; walking and exploring the coast, looking out at the endless sea, and meeting people who lived this life year-round. When I was accepted into the Transom Story Workshop, not only did I see it as an opportunity to learn radio, but I also saw it as my chance to really live by the ocean. I wanted to find out more about what it means to live in a place where you see the Atlantic every day. I hunted for a story with this basic curiosity as my guide.
On my first day on Cape Cod, I drove to the grocery store with some classmates and noticed some beach cottages in Falmouth that looked dangerously close to the water. We speculated about whether these small houses would eventually be washed away. I thought about this a lot. Who owned these cottages? Were they people’s homes? Would they actually let them wash away?
Weeks after this, when I was starting to look for my second story, I decided to search for more houses that looked threatened by the sea. I drove my car all around the Cape, parked near points on the coast, and walked the beaches looking for houses at risk. It turned out to be easy finding these kinds of houses because of the Cape’s fast eroding beaches, but there were no people around to talk to. I left notes on doors, scanned the Internet to match addresses with names, and even sat in local bars hoping to meet people who could help. But no luck.
Eventually, following up on a news event from a few months prior led to my story. I was aware of these cottages on North Beach Island that were demolished by the federal government and assumed it was too late to put something together because it had happened a few months before. But I finally called one of the former cottage residents and it was immediately apparent they were still grieving the loss of this place they loved. I ended up interviewing a few former residents, a local selectman, and the Director of the Cape Cod National Seashore for this story. This process was a wonderful way to take in a few different local perspectives of Cape Cod.
I think when people listen to my story they’ll hear a piece about an issue with two sides. It was definitely one of my goals to highlight something many people will face in coastal areas for years to come – the loss of property, and perhaps memory, due to sea-level rise. But when I hear this story, I will always think of those long walks on the beach, looking up at houses, in stubborn pursuit of satisfying my curiosity.