Participatory Documentary: Sandy Storyline

The tagline for the Sandy Storyline project is ‘when you’re rebuilding community, every story matters’. The website collects and curates stories of people who lived through Hurricane Sandy documenting how they have dealt with rebuilding homes, lives and communities.

The stories are contributed by residents, citizen journalists and professional producers in the form of text, audio and photographs. An anonymous contributor shares how hard it has been as a renter in Toms River, NJ to rebuild a normal life. Her landlord won’t invest any money in renovations to the house they were living in, and the renters insurance agency deemed her belongings ‘not necessities’ leaving her struggling financially and relying on staying with family.

Grace Johnson from South Beach, Staten Island shared her struggles with not only losing her house, but her neighborhood – the lifestyle, the community, the chats with neighbors. She also lives with the ongoing fear of another storm coming, constantly wondering if the next nor-easter will be the next big disaster. Living across the road from the ocean will never be a secure thing again for her – it seems more sinister.

There are also stories of community – Marissa Bernowitz was still living with nine family members in a two-bedroom apartment more than a year after Sandy, but was a lynchpin within the community. She was the go-to person for people who needed help sourcing food, building supplies, furniture, toys, and household goods. She was also the local expert in how to submit FEMA documents.

The project aims to allow those who were affected by Sandy to be the ones telling the stories about Sandy and increase the multiplicity of voices that are heard on the issue. People can submit their own stories or organize to tell them to a journalist. Sandy Storyline also partners with schools to develop curriculum around the issue as well as hosting live events and exhibitions.

By designing a storytelling process to honor and reflect the voices of those affected by the event, Sandy Storyline aims to engage people to become more active participants in civic dialogues and decisions that affect their lives. 

image via Sandy Storyline 

Strategic Approach: Audiences
Type: Campaign
Strategic Approach: Audiences
Type: Campaign

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