Volunteers and Visitors Commemorate 40 Years at Transition House

transition housePhotos: Fine Art Photography by Maria Verrier

To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Transition House—the first domestic violence shelter in New England and the only one in Cambridge—recently debuted “40 Stories,” a multimedia project that shares the experiences of staffers and survivors who have been impacted by the shelter over the years.

Sandy Goldberg conceptualized this series of “audio slideshows.” The writer, producer and longtime Transition House donor wanted to avoid the invasive atmosphere video recording can create for people who aren’t used to appearing on camera. “Especially if people are telling you quite a personal story, that is not the way to capture an intimate portrait of someone,” she says.

Instead, she conducted each interview one-on-one using a handheld recorder and tiny earbud headphones—no boom mics, no bright lights—while a photographer took photos. She and friend and collaborator Ari Daniel, a PBS Nova producer who worked with Goldberg as a producer and editor on the first 10 stories, then sifted through hundreds of images and paired them with audio, condensing each of the 45-minute conversations to tell stories that are less than two minutes long.

“I feel like sometimes it’s like building a haiku,” Daniel says, adding that the vignettes are perhaps more impactful because they’re so short. “We would sit together and go through the photographs that had been taken and figure out the best way to arrange those so that they would unfold over the course of the story.”

Each of the pieces was emotional and personal. But Goldberg and Daniel agree that a particularly resonant story was that of Christopher Borum, who came to Transition House as a child with his mother and today works alongside the shelter as a detective with the Cambridge Police Department.

You can find the first 14 installments in the series at transitionhouse.org/40stories, where the shelter will post more videos throughout the year. We’re also sharing some of these stories below.

This piece originally appeared in the January/February issue of Scout Cambridge, which is available for free at more than 250 locations throughout the city or by subscription.

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