Telling people’s stories is not an easy task.
Our team quickly realized this when we started as research assistants for the GMC Project last May. In an effort to bring the project’s research beyond academia and into the consciousness of policymakers, interest groups, and the general public, we’ve been creating stories and videos about the people directly involved in—and affected by—the work of care.
This means sitting down with caregivers, recipients, and people advocating for those impacted by the work of care. The individuals we connect with give us so much—their time, vulnerability, and insight into how the work of care influences so many different people living in Canada. Our interviewees rarely hesitate to open up about the most intimate aspects of their lives, often sparing no detail or nuance.
But these stories need context. Social and economic conditions shape personal realities, so we also create fact sheets to provide quantitative evidence surrounding issues relevant to our interviews, like demographic trends, poor working conditions and job insecurity. We want to highlight that the individual stories of our interviewees are part of a bigger picture, reflecting the experiences of many people involved in the work of care.
Then comes the tricky part. We have to take all of this contextual information and present it in a way that’s easily understandable to the general public. We also have to comb through our interviews and decide the best way to concisely tell each person’s story. How do you capture somebody’s entire experience in less than 500 words, or in 30 seconds of video footage? How do you do this and still represent them accurately, especially an individual whose experience is so vastly different from your own?
These are the sorts of questions we think about everyday in our work. Our newest video, “Why care about care?” shows what we have learned throughout our time at the GMC Project. “Why care about care?” is our entry to Social Science and Humanities Research Council’s (SSHRC) annual Storytellers competition, which highlights student-led research initiatives within the humanities and social sciences.
Our satisfaction with what we’ve done so far only motivates us to do more. Joined by two new summer research assistants, we are in the process of creating a new video that explores the organizing strategies of those advocating for paid caregivers, unpaid caregivers, and care recipients. We are reaching out to and interviewing community organizers, working on post-production tasks, and designing graphics for the video animation, among other tasks. We’re also creating new factsheets–this time drawing upon Dr. Cynthia Cranford’s research of care models in Toronto and L.A.
Stay tuned for our new website content! In the meantime, if you think of anybody we can interview–you know where to find us