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VIDEO: Students connect with their community in Nome Stories

Tara Young

Nome Stories is a multimedia project created by artists Katie Basile and Erica Rudy. Inspired by projects like One in 8 Million, StoryCorps, and Boise Voices, the series was designed to teach multimedia skills to students at the Anvil City Science Academy while capturing an oral history of the Northwest Alaska hub community of Nome. Teachers Todd Hindman, Lisa Leeper and Teresa Hargung worked with fifth through eighth graders who came to the project with a wide range of video and audio production experience. The intent is to celebrate local people who are connected to the places they live in meaningful ways. From a boatmaker to a painter to a King Islander who grew up in Nome and then moved back as an adult, all of the subjects have a strong connection to the community.

Nome is a tight-knit community with a diverse group of residents from many different ethnicities and Alaska Native tribes. The harsh environment can be isolating but also tends to spur creativity. Many artists and craftsmen inhabit this gold rush town.

Basile and Rudy say they feel perceptions of Alaska are skewed by reality TV, and they wanted to present an alternate narrative. “So much of the media we come in contact with is either sensationalized or completely fictitious. I think we tend to make heroes out of celebrities who don't necessarily look or act authentically. I'd like to see Alaskan youth exposed to media and creating media that is representative of real people in their communities,” says Basile.

The production tasks were divided, with the younger students conducting the interviews and the older kids running audio and editing video. The students used point-and-shoot cameras, iMovie, and Garage Band to shoot and edit the pieces. The interviews were recorded at KNOM radio station, and the website was designed by Rudy with input from the students.