IN-DEPTH: Day 1, Monday September 29 2014
First part of today was spent with the class in the department. We had to talk about our story pitches, both to let our respective mentors know what we were thinking of focusing on, and to ensure that there was no overlap in ideas with other students. The class of 17 is divided into four groups of four members each (except for one group with 5), each group falling under a mentor.
In the talks we received last week about Yeoville, the experience of traders within the area really appealed to me. I’ve decided to make that the focus of my project. Informal traders who sell in the area without permission often encounter police, who then force them to pack up and leave, or (according to some, although I cannot as yet verify this) their stock is confiscated by police (which is apparently illegal). Either way, these traders have their means of income disrupted. With this information in mind, I have two possible ideas for stories:
1) Assuming this informal trade is the trader’s only form of income, what does this disruption mean for that person, and their family? Does it mean (as was suggested by a speaker last week) that they will not eat that night? I think this story has a strong human (and character-driven) element.
2) I spoke to someone yesterday who is a Yeoville resident, and they mentioned that there is a system used by the traders to warn one another if the police are about to arrive. A whistle is taken up by those who spot police, and traders thus have time to get away from the area in time. This would look great visually, and is also a different angle, and a slightly more personal story.
Feedback from the mentors were as follows:
– Idea (1) may have been done before, and idea (2) seems to be more interesting.
– for idea (2), I need to tighten my focus more – what story am I trying to tell?
– consider other stories that I could get from traders on how they avoid the issue. Do they carry only a certain amount worth of stock, so if it is lost it is not a huge financial lose? Etc.
After class discussion, we did a tour of Yeoville with Morris Smithers, a local and an activist of the area. We walked what felt the whole place, street by street as he pointed out local landmarks, historical events and practices. For my focus, the most interesting place (I think) was the market on Hunter Street, a big green building bustling with activity. The whole experience was fascinating, and I’m trying to imagine what it will be like working in this place for weeks.
We walked for hours, and ended at a Congolese restaurant. Food took forever, and I didn’t actually end up getting mine. Now I’m hungry and tired, and my legs really hurt. So today’s blog is over, the end. Maybe tomorrow’s blog will be amazingly good, but probably not…