From start to finish, this project was an enriching experience. It opened our eyes to several new aspects of the history of Glassboro and its community, from conducting interviews with prominent Glassboro community members in class to an exclusive interview with Councilwomen Daniele Spence that introduced us to the Glassboro Historical Society and also meetings with Heritage Glass Museum trustees including Richard Towne and Richard Grenda. The experience of doing participatory historical and cultural geography have pushed both of us outside of our comfort zones. With certainty, this project has given us a lifelong connection to the Heritage Glass Museum and we hope to be involved with the museum even in our coming semesters at Rowan.
Creating a short documentary instead of a mural was both exciting and challenging. To obtain B-roll and footage for our video, we took a day to traipse through Glassboro and visit some of its most meaningful historical sites and landmarks, including the St. Thomas Church and Hollybush Mansion. Including video clips from some of Glassboro's most well-known sites and popular attractions allows viewers to perceive the town's historical significance and get a feeling of how many tremendous stories and histories are packed in the small town. Although the documentary interviews only deal with the Heritage Glass Museum, the content and B-roll footage of the video eludes to the other fascinating aspects of Glassboro, like politics and Hollybush Mansion, that the documentary does not delve into. We hope, in this sense, that we can spark interest not just in the Heritage Glass Museum but in Glassboro as a whole, encouraging viewers to want to know more. We conducted our interview for the documentary with Glassboro Councilwoman and President of the Glassboro Historical Society at the Train Depot, where we were able to obtain a bulk of our footage for the video as well as conduct further research about the Heritage Glass Museum. Councilwoman Daniele Spence was extremely accommodating and had knowledgeable insight into both the Heritage Glass Museum as well as Glassboro’s history as a whole, qualities that made her the perfect candidate to be a part of our project.
Throughout the course of working on this project, we made several visits to the Heritage Glass Museum to conduct research, visit with the museum volunteers and trustees, and get footage. The museum is a valuable hub of information, and through our time spent in the building, we hoped to grasp a better understanding about the museum’s values and what it seeks to achieve in promoting awareness about glassmaking in Glassboro.
The process of researching and filming for our video allowed us to connect with both the Heritage Glass Museum and Glassboro in ways we wouldn't have otherwise. We now feel invested in this place - Glassboro - and feel a responsibility to encourage others to invest themselves in their town as well. Watching the video is an opportunity for people to gain awareness of where they came from and hopefully see how the past is still relevant today. Not only does using the medium of video allow our documentary to remain current in the modern preferences of digital technology, but it also allows our "mural" to last forever.
Participating in this class and project also opened new avenues that we might never have pursued otherwise. Halfway through the semester, Dr. Kitson informed us of an amazing opportunity to take our ideas and passions for the Heritage Glass Museum to a new level. She encouraged us to enter the 2019 Idea Challenge at Rowan. With little time left to submit the application, we decided this would a challenging new adventure that would enrich our experience in this class and also throughout the semester as a whole. Attending six workshops and meeting regularly every week, we formed a team of fellow passionate students both in and out of our class to craft a business idea we hoped to eventually pitch in the Idea Challenge finals. Our business pitch was a company that would target towns with rich but untold history and create a documentary mini-series, with each town being its own season. This idea allowed us to combine our passions as RTF students as well as history and, especially, cultural geography.
The process was extremely demanding and time-consuming, with many long nights to meet deadlines, but we learned every step of the way. It wouldn’t have been made possible without our hard-working team, including our classmates Lauren Vitale, Jason Conviser, Liam Cunningham, and Jake Campbell. We would also like to thank Dr. Jennifer Kitson, Mr. Michael Benson, and Councilwoman Daniele Spence, who were extremely supportive of our participation in the Idea Challenge.
After twelve weeks of hard work, our team was thrilled to be one of ten teams out of forty-two to make it to the Idea Challenge finals. On Friday December 6th, we participated in the live pitch event and were one of two teams to be named an Honorable Mention, tying for 4thplace. We consider this to be an incredible accomplishment and hope to continue pursuing this idea in the next semester. Our participation in the 2019 Idea Challenge is, by far, what was most important to us this semester, and it would not have been made possible without the Honors Cultural Geography class.