OR Books and DW Gibson are proud to be launching Not Working, a multimedia project that will include a book-length oral history as well as ongoing film and audio segments.
Beginning on June 22, Gibson will spend the summer and early fall travelling across the US, beginning in Orange County, California, finishing in Camden, New Jersey. Accompanied by a videographer, he will interview individuals who have become unemployed as a result of the economic downturn over the last three years. Interviews will center on each person’s story of losing a job: the Friday visit to HR, the form letter, the pointed email, the profane text, the security escort. Gibson will visit epicenters of the recession such as Fresno, California; Reno, Nevada; Kansas City, Missouri; and Columbus, Ohio.
The project is a response to Stud Terkel’s seminal book Working, first published in 1972. Familiarity with Terkel’s book will absolutely enhance one’s interest in this project, but it is by no means a prerequisite. Not Working communicates on its own. By presenting the voices and faces of those affected, it reveals the Great American Recession not just as a set of statistics or a political debating point but as an intensely human tragedy that is sweeping the country.
“The reactions that DW is capturing so effectively are filled with emotion – the tension, humor, sadness and anger associated with losing one’s job are all starkly present,” says OR Books co-publisher Colin Robinson.“These personal close-ups are the essence of the project.” Interviews will feature those who have lost their job because of economic considerations, not poor job performance. These are workers who have been “let go” by forces beyond their will, ability, and sense of commitment. Those interviewed come from all levels of responsibility and income: from hourly wage earners to executives, with every tax bracket in between.
Unemployment affects the majority of Americans, directly or indirectly, and it is an issue that will certainly be central to the 2012 elections. Some interviews have been arranged before the cross-country trip begins; others will be found along the way. This project will operate in real time, capturing every place and life it enters on film, in sound and on the page.
Not Working will be published as a book in the early spring of 2012 by OR Books.