Sunday, June 24, 2012

Graham: Week Two

     The second week of the BLC Field School gave each team a chance to interview the different residence of Thurston Woods in hopes of finding a direction for our documentary.  A number of wonderful representatives of the neighborhood shared their stories of life inside the diverse community.   Throughout the week my team and I scheduled and then conducted a number of interviews with some of the local residence as well as with a biologist from Havenwoods State park.  These interviews provided us with an incredible amount of information about the transformation of the neighborhood from a post WWII housing development into a diverse Milwaukee community.  These residence proved to be very accommodating of us and our efforts to create a documentary to feature their stories.    With the oral histories alone this week would have been a success but what we didn’t anticipate on was really what made the week so valuable.  Throughout our neighborhood exploration from one home to the next my team and I met a Berryland apartment complex maintenance worker out on his lunch break.  He was curious as to who we were and the scope of our project.  After a quick explanation his curiosity shifted toward help mode and he provided us with an opportunity to look inside one of the empty nearby apartment units.   Inside the apartment we could see the material evidence for the changes to the property over time.  The original hardwood floor were still present and I was really happy to see that they had been maintained wonderfully.   The basement of the apartment was the most telling evidence for change over time.  The once present coal storage container had been removed but the coal shoot remained.  The above head hardwood flooring had been retrofitted with new steel beams and the windows that once decorated the tops of the north and south walls had been filled with CMU blocks.  I thought this to be a wonderful example of how the space had taken on a new meaning by a new generation.  The space had at one time been a workshop for the returning WWII veterans but now serves as a storage facility for newcomers to the neighborhood.  In addition to this we were shown the original 1949 blueprints of the facility as well as a number of plans for changes within the apartment complex that occurred in the early 1980s.  The documents that were shown to us were the most important findings for our team this week and should provide us with ample amount of information to move forward with our story of Thurston Woods.