By David Esteppe
Research Fellow and former AmeriCorps volunteer Arabeth Balasko has completed an oral history project with lifelong residents of Ronceverte to encourage people in small communities to interview longtime residents and preserve their town’s history and legacies.
Balasko filmed the interviews of six longtime residents of Ronceverte and asked a series of standard questions of each person. One key question intriguing to Balasko was, “Why would you choose to stay and live your lifetime here with all of Ronceverte’s ups and downs, such as the economic and employment opportunities being what they are?” Each respondent explained how they felt safe, and that their roots of family and friends are here: this is home no matter what.
Archiving these interviews by video gives the anecdotal authority of a community’s history to the actual people who lived it. With a master’s degree in history and archiving from the University of Massachusetts, Balasko also wanted to understand the residents of Ronceverte’s perceptions of how their community has changed over the years.
A common thread amongst the interviewees was their hope for their great community to continue on its path towards growth and prosperity.
Balasko is currently doing research for the Preservation Society of Newport County in Rhode Island. Visit https://arabethbalasko.wordpress.com to view the videos of the Ronceverte oral history project.