Listening Project collects Black Mountain stories for posterity

Fred McCormick
Black Mountain News

A collaboration between the Swannanoa Valley Museum and town staff during the month of November will mark a significant point in Black Mountain’s history.

In the final weeks of the years that marks the 125th anniversary of the establishment of the town, a listening project will record stories of those living in Black Mountain today. The narratives will be added to the museum’s collection.

Members of the public are invited to share their narratives in a temporary studio in town hall from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 7; from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 14 and from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 16.

Jessica Trotman, the director of planning and development services for the town, was inspired by the National Day of Listening, which was launched by StoryCorp in 2008. Typically held the Friday after Thanksgiving, the oral history project encourages people to record stories of loved ones or community members. Selected interviews are aired on National Public Radio. 

Jessica Trotman, the director of planning and development services for the Town of Black Mountain, will record narratives of current residents to mark the 125th anniversary of the town on Nov. 7, 14 and 16. The transcripts will be added to the Swannanoa Valley Museum & History Center's collection.

Trotman, who has a background in in public radio, felt that a collection of oral history would be an appropriate way to observe the town's anniversary.  

"Black Mountain is in a really good position right now and the things we're enjoying now have been built over the past 125 years," she said. "A milestone like that is no small feat and it's always good to reflect on the things that have made a place work in the past."

She welcomes the opportunity to facilitate the project. 

"Being the planning director, I think this is a great way to be able to meet more people and understand some of the history and what makes Black Mountain special to so many people," she said. "It will also help me see what people hope to see carried forward into 126th year of the town."

Residents will be given the opportunity to share a special memory of Black Mountain or their hope for the town's future.

"It's a simple project," Trotman said. "For people to participate they'll have to schedule ahead of time and sign a release for the museum."

Once the recording are complete, Trotman will compile them into a collection. A free CD of the stories will be available at town hall in January, according to Trotman.

"Over the next couple of months, I'll work on getting them transcribed," she said. "The transcription of the audio, the recording and the picture of the person will go to the museum for their collection."