PR for People Monthly September 2017 - Page 33

overall, these negatives have been overcome with the strong community programs we offer, the quality exhibitions and the important role the museum plays in our community now. From hurricane relief during Isabel (2003) to a place for community gatherings, public meetings, even funerals and weddings, local people now see how much we NEED this special place.

Financially, the museum’s existence is nothing short of a miracle. $6.5 million in the facility is hard to grasp with only a fraction of that coming from state and federal funds. More than 65% of those construction dollars came from fund-raisers, individual families, local businesses and foundations. Hard work and determination have been the key ingredient in building that kind of support and continues to be how we maintain our operations and programs.

Yes, there were questions when my role evolved into a paid position. Operations and programming dollars have always been tracked separately, so no funding for the building has ever gone to salaries. Members and contributors are well-informed of that designation. Membership, gift shop proceeds, events, admissions, facility rentals and program grants pay salaries for four full-time and five part-time employees. We maintain a 7 days/week year-round operation with the help of more than 350 volunteers investing more than 25,000 volunteer hours per year. Our staff receives no benefits and normally volunteers more hours than they are compensated, so there’s little room for questioning the commitment of our staff members. If we had not proven (over and over) our dedication to the museum and the community, I am sure this issue would have been a major stumbling block in building the support we have needed.

Faktorovich: Most of your editing and writing has focused on local histories, communities and other topics related to the Harkers Island. You grew up in this area and spend your life in this beatific setting. Can you describe an experience, adventure, trip, or something else from your childhood that connected you to this place, so that you’ve spent your life dedicated to preserving its heritage, history, and culture?

Amspacher: The first major lesson I learned in writing this book is that I cannot write for people who do not know me and do not know this community!

All of my writing experiences before had been for “my people,” not travelers or newcomers. I found it nearly impossible, and almost offensive, to have to explain details that I understood and had never considered others might not! Basic terminology like shoaling, and an innate understanding of wind and tide, I thought everyone knew. Barbara, and others who edited along the way, helped me become much more aware of needing to explain these concepts.

Still, as I wrote in the “stern line,” there are some things I just cannot describe to others who have not been raised in a place like this by people like mine; and that’s ok. Some feelings are not meant to be put into words and hopefully, those feelings come through indirectly from the stories and places we write about to those who do understand. (I’m not sure that makes sense either!) I have come to the reality that I will never understand growing up in New York City, and that’s ok, just like it is ok that someone from Kansas or Florida or Raleigh will never comprehend what my relationship is with Harkers Island and all that it encompasses. What I hope is that we have somehow encouraged visitors to have respect for local people and in turn, we relay a mutual appreciation for “people from off.”

I remember going to Shackleford Banks to stay in the fishing camps that remained there after people left in the early 1900s. I went there in the summer, like all other Harkers Island children, to the now abandoned island where my grandmother, like everyone else’s grandparents, was born. We would go for days to swim, clam, fish, ride the beach day and night, cook and visit with family and friends and live all together with no electricity in one room camps that had been passed down generation to generation in the very places where our grandparents had been born and raised. It was an amazing, but at the time, everyday occurrence that we just took for granted.

I recall feeling (without anyone even telling me why) that I was “home.” I felt attached to that land, a peace and belonging that I didn’t even feel in the house where I was raised on Harkers Island. I was not really conscious of that feeling then, but now as I look back and remember those days, I remember how simply “good” it was to be there, as Josiah Bailey (my friend) wrote, “living off nature’s abundance.” It wasn’t the excitement of camping as it would appear, but rather being in the right place, and knowing it.

I also remember, as an adult, the National Park Service coming and taking all that away as Cape Lookout became part of a National Seashore. I have lived that history and those changes have been painful, so I am determined to help build a bridge between what was and what is and to make sure that our children understand what a precious heritage they have.

Faktorovich: You have served as the project coordinator for several documentaries about North Carolina. How did you start in this line of work? Did somebody invite you to coordinate a documentary because they knew you from other types of organizational work you performed? Did you gradually take on more responsibilities in documentary-making or did you start at the top of this ladder? If the latter was it intimidating? How did you prepare yourself before starting your first documentary?