Electronic Photojournalism

1. Multimedia project about life in the small town called Overton, Missouri.

Overton is a small town near Columbia, situated near the river. What is interested about this place is that only two houses remained from the old town. I met one of the elders who is still living there. Fred Oerley, 89, of Overton, he carves and keeps journals. After his hand notes and oral storytelling, Diane Oerly, his daughter, helped Fred to write a book about how was Overton during his childhood. “Some Mighty Good Years” is a collection of tales about the old Overton between 1927-1935.  Now, what I want to do is to make a multimedia project about Fred but also about his neighbors. The question is “How does it feel to live in such a small town,moreover as an elder?”

Why are they still living there? Why didn’t they move into the city with their children?

About the structure of my content:

Audio: Interview: Fred Oerly and neighbors. I am thinking to interview also his daughter, Diane Oerly because she lives in Columbia, alone. How does she feels about her father, living alone in Overton, at his age?

Video: Fred is also carving. Actually, this is his greatest passion and his doing that for years. Diane told me that probably that is what it keeps him alive and gives him a purpose of living. Thus, I plan to shoot some video with the carving process.

Photo: I plan to have photos to document the area, if there are only two houses left than I really want some photos with the emptiness of the space. I would use still images, rather than video also for portraying those people.

Text: Captions and maybe some data, statistics about how many  similar small towns are on the river, in “Missoura”.

The story will be about what stands at “The end of the road” and what is the element that bonds the people with the land. (The first chapter of Fred’s book is entitled “The end of the road”. It is the chapter which puts the capstones of the story.)

The issues that I anticipate to encounter is the access to that place. It will be a little bit difficult for me because I don’t have a car. This can be a problem or a benefit. I say benefit because most probably I will go there together with Diane Oerly. We got acquainted in the last month. This is how I found out about Overton. She gave me her father’s book to read it before going there so that I can understand what Overton means for her father. Though the book talks only about the past, things that I cannot really illustrate now in the present. Maybe only by using archive photos. Therefore, I want to focus more on what remained from the town.

2. Multmedia project about Diane Oerly

Diane Oerly, 57, of Columbia is working for MU University as a grant writer. She helps the students to get money for their researches. Her husband died 7 years ago. She has a son and a daughter, but she is living alone. For the last couple of years, she has a boyfriend.(I find interesting how some people have the courage to start fresh or at least to try to continue to live their lives after a tragedy. Not everybody has the power and the courage to do that.)

 She is part of the Muddy Speakers group. She volunteers a lot for the clean-up actions for the community.  As my relation with her will develop, I will be able to tell if she is a possible story or not. I just want to find out why is she doing all these things. Why is she helping everybody. I find this person very interesting because she is doing so many things for the community, for her friends and for her relatives.

Pros: I have the access for this story. We meet weekly and we go to different places, out of Columbia. The possibility to make a story about her, is there.

Cons: It can take a while until I will dig deep in her life and find her story. She is a neat person for her age, though don’t think that it is enough for a multimedia project. What is missing here is the vantage point or the story.

If you find anything interesting about this person, please let me know.

3. Farming. Farmers.

Coming from an agricultural country as Romania, food is a very important topic for me. My parents have a farm back in Romania. I grew up by helping them with the work on the farm. My grandfather sells the vegetables and everything we grow in our green-houses and garden, at the farmer’s market. Nowadays, my parents are starting to let go slowly to this activity because they don’t have enough energy to do it anymore, not at the same scale.
I gave you some background info about me, in order to understand my interest in this kind of stories.  What I want to know is how the agriculture is working here. I can do that by going to a farmers market and talk with some farmers, to see if they are opened to make a story about them. It would be great if I would find some Mormons and convince them to let me go and document their agriculture activity. I know that it is very difficult to get access to a Mormon community, but maybe, the fact that I am foreigner0, will help me. Maybe my personal background experience will be an advantage for me.
I was thinking about Mormon’s because they are known as having good quality products and also healthy food. My second option is to make a story about a woman that I met. She’s around 45 years old. She is a student at Journalism school. I don’t really know what she studies here. I know that she has a little farm out of Columbia and she’s growing vegetables only for herself, not for selling. She prefers to do that because she doesn’t like the products that she finds in supermarkets as Hyvee and the ones from the farmer’s market sometimes can be really expensive. If I have to generalize her situation, I would like to know how many people are in Columbia, who have their own gardens/farms and grow their own food. It is a matter of time and lifestyle. A woman that I met, resident of Columbia, told me that Americans are too busy to earn and spend money, in order to do something else, such as growing their own food. This is why most of the houses have lawns and not gardens.

I am sure that this topic was debated, presented before: farming, life on the farm, country-side. However, Again, I would appreciate any opinion, suggestion, critique on this subject, in fact, on any of these subjects.

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