Many of the council’s volunteers and staff experienced 1989’s Exxon Valdez oil spill firsthand. Memories of the smell, the terrible sights and sounds, and the social and environmental impacts on communities drive our volunteers to keep such a thing from happening again.
For today’s youth, who will someday join the board to represent communities impacted by that spill, the need to be vigilant and resist complacency can seem vague and somewhat disconnected to their daily reality.
A recent focus of the council on oral history of the oil spill and our creation as an organization, is helping fill this gap.
Students in the annual Copper River Stewardship Program studied the Exxon Valdez oil spill from a different perspective this year. They learned about the spill directly from some of the most affected citizens in the region.
The program, run by Kate Morse, program director for the Copper River Watershed Project, takes youth from the Copper River Basin on a hands-on exploration of their region. During a 10-day trip to various Copper River communities and Prince William Sound they learn about the ecology, culture, economy, and history of the region from individuals representing a wide range of organizations.
This year, Morse added a study of the Exxon Valdez disaster through oral history. Morse had the students listen to recordings from the Exxon Valdez Project Jukebox, the partnership between the council and the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and read excerpts from “The Spill,” the council’s book. From her volunteer work on the council’s Information and Education Committee Morse was familiar with both projects, which documented and preserved stories from local citizens who experienced the Exxon Valdez spill from a variety of viewpoints.
Each student listened, watched, or read the story of someone sharing their first-hand experiences of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, then designed a flag to represent the person’s story based on their understanding and feelings related to the person’s experiences.
The council recently partnered with the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Oral History Program to create an online oral history of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Through the University’s Project Jukebox website, visitors can access video, audio, and written resources that offer a rich understanding of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.
The personal stories of twenty people who experienced the spill firsthand are highlighted in the project. Each person talks about the impact the spill had on their life and the environment, the cleanup response, the long-term effects of the spill, and changes in the oil industry since 1989. Twenty-five years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Project Jukebox is helping preserve this piece of history. Many of these stories are being told for the first time. The experiences documented on the Project Jukebox site are now accessible to the public.
The council recently partnered with the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Oral History Program to create an online oral history of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Visitors to the Project Jukebox website can access video, audio, and written resources that offer a rich understanding of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.
The stories of twenty people who experienced the spill firsthand have been recorded talking about the impact the spill had on their lives and on the environment, the cleanup response, the long-term effects of the spill, and changes in the oil industry since 1989.