I met with Sustain Dane staffers not knowing exactly what I wanted to do to help document what they are doing with The Megaphone project. I only got a press release forwarded to me by Molly Stentz, the news director at WORT with a message that I might be interested in covering the events.
Through some discussion and a few emails, I committed to showing up to their first workshop on January 22 and recording what happened, then turning that into some kind of a feature story for WORT's Local News. What I learned, however, is that by being a person who is documenting the why and how of an event rather than just being a participant, I gained more than I gave.
The Megaphone is a three-part event where community members are invited to learn about the mechanics of composing and telling a story out loud, practicing their stories, and then performing their stories in front of people in a room. And because it's sponsored by power company MG&E's Living In Balance initiative and Sustain Dane, it all revolves around the idea of sustainability. These partners are doing this really interesting, hands-on work to get people talking about how the health and future of our city depends on people making sustainable choices for themselves and for each others' benefit. It's deep work, but it could be a model to watch and replicate.
The first audio story was on WORT's Local News on January 25. This was my first ever audio story and I'm pretty proud of finally getting a chance to try to create something that sounds like the countless, compelling pieces I've listened to on public radio since I was a teenager. There is this often-circulated quote by Ira Glass about the gap between the stuff you make when you start and the future attainment of mastery and taste you're striving for. This audio story is far from perfect and there are things I would have changed even seconds after I hit "send." But every time I do something with audio recording and editing, I get better.