The East Side History Project
The East Side History project is based on the premise that history is a continuum, which moves through the dimensions of time and space, going from the past to present and future, and continually jumping from back and forth across different moments in time. Thus, history is a dynamic, interactive process that transforms people into “time travelers” and change agents, who can refashion the present and create alternative futures. To bring history to life, we must build interactive connectors to the past, present and future. This view fuses together history and urban planning, transforming them into one entity, with two interactive dimensions that connect the past to the present and future.
This conceptual framework informs the East Side History Project. Through funding from the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library (from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences), a large collection of historical documents, reports, plans, photos and news clippings are currently being digitized, annotated and organized in order for researchers and practitioners to be access to access them. In addition, citizen engagement helps drive the project. Residents are involved in the project by (1) sharing stories about their lives and experiences in the Commodore Perry Neighborhood and elsewhere (2) being engaged in the collecting, processing and digitizing documents, photos and oral interviews and by (3) participating in program development and in the interpretation and analysis of data.
The East Side History Project is about using the past and present to meet the challenge of recreating the distressed East Side communities which are embedded in a shrinking city and region situated on an international border.