Indiana University students document the stories of Orange County
Students in a public relations writing course write features from residents’ stories
CommunityOrange County, Indiana
Community Size19,646 (2019 Census Estimation)
ProgramSustaining Hoosier Communities
Case TypeProject Stories
DisciplinePublic Relations, Writing
RegionEPA Region 5, USA
Sustainable Development Goals11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
Orange County is a rural southern Indiana county comprising four incorporated towns and a number of unincorporated communities. Residents are intent on celebrating the county’s industrial roots, natural beauty, and historic architecture while embracing and preparing for the future. Local progress is driven in large part by “grassroots cooperative leadership” (Report, Pg. 4), while legal and medical non-profits provide essential communal services. This community-oriented mentality lends itself to innovative partnerships between various actors working towards common goals in areas like infrastructure, culture, tourism, and healthcare.
Storytelling as a means of placemaking
Our individual experiences contribute to the collective identity of the place we call home. Documenting these stories is a crucial means of preserving a region’s unique historical and cultural legacy. Orange County is no different. Students and residents saw an opportunity to build a local storytelling archive in an effort to celebrate Orange County and educate residents and tourists about the region.
Documenting the experiences of community members
In an effort to showcase the community’s unique history and character, Orange County resident Roger Moon partnered with the Sustaining Hoosier Communities (SHC) program at Indiana University. This project involved Chuck Carney’s public relations writing course in the media school. Collaborating with Moon, student participants worked to craft written features based on Orange County stories that deserve more attention.
An asset for current and future residents
Carney’s students collected and documented the stories of Orange County residents. The features they produced aim to celebrate the community, its history, and the individuals that comprise it. They will serve as a useful educational resource for interested tourists and residents, as well as a source of local pride.
This unique project was as productive as it was educational. By documenting the stories of Orange County residents, Carney’s public relations writing students were challenged to learn about their community’s past while imagining its promising future.
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