Everyday Georgia Project

Everyday Georgia Project

Telling Their Stories:
The Everyday Georgia Project

By Kristen Bailey | Photos by Allison Carter and Sean McNeil September 24, 2018

Every day, lives around Georgia are changed because of research and technology from Georgia Tech — but we don’t always hear their stories.

Now, the Institute for People and Technology (IPaT), in partnership with the Georgia Tech Library and Office of the Arts, is telling a few of those stories through the Everyday Georgia project. Everyday Georgia is a collection of interviews and photographs of people from across the state who have worked with Georgia Tech in some capacity but aren’t directly affiliated with the Institute.

In her role as marketing communications manager for IPaT, Alyson Powell Key talks with researchers about their work all the time. Getting to talk to the sources behind those stories, though, was a new experience.

“A lot of times we focus on data, technology, or conferences, but on the other side are the people who are participating in our research,” she said. “It’s important that we get to know them and learn about their lives, their families, their careers, their challenges.”

alison valk

Alison Valk interviews Joan Prittie, who started Project Safe in Athens, Georgia, for victims of domestic violence. "Hearing her back story of starting in law and wanting to create the organization was really interesting," Valk said. In 2015, Prittie worked with a team from IPaT to develop a web-based interface for the organization.

Key, along with Amanda Pellerin, access archivist at the Georgia Tech Library, and Alison Valk, multimedia librarian and Library Instruction Program coordinator, conducted the project’s interviews, traveling as far as Albany, Georgia, to talk with people about their experiences working with Georgia Tech. A team of photographers, including Tech students and staff, captured the subjects visually.

Though Valk is well-versed in audio and video editing, being on the audio creation side was a refreshing challenge.

“The Library is going through Library Next right now, where we’re redefining what libraries do,” Valk said. “The idea of archiving and preserving the stories of our community, and the people the research touches, is just as important as the research itself.”

alyson powell key

Alyson Powell Key interviews John Quigley and Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel from the Atlanta Police Department. In 2017 and 2018, the department worked with the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering's Yao Xie to test an algorithm that finds connections between crime incidents.

Though the Everyday Georgia stories can be found online already, the project will come to life through an in-person exhibit at IPaT that opens Thursday, Sept. 27. The event will showcase photos of the interview subjects and kiosks for listening to the interviews — with the added bonus of having most of the interviewees in attendance. Kirk Henderson, exhibits program manager for the Georgia Tech Archives, helped bring the showcase to life. He built the structures for the exhibit, which was installed last week.

everyday georgia exhibit

“It’s been a collaborative, creative outlet for everyone,” Key said. “Students, faculty, staff, all parts of campus have been involved. I think that’s something to be proud of.”

The project is a collaboration between IPaT, the Library’s Communication Through Arts program, and the Office of the Arts’ Creative Curricular Initiatives. The exhibit will be open through Oct. 10, when it moves to the GVU Showcase at the Technology Square Research Building, and then to Clough Commons.

“Sometimes, especially at Georgia Tech, we move so fast and the focus is on research,” Valk said. “What was really enjoyable about this project was hearing the personal stories of these people and how Tech has touched their lives. It changes your perspective when you hear them.”

Experience Everyday Georgia at everydaygeorgia.gatech.edu, or RSVP for the Sept. 27 opening.

everday georgia exhibit

The Everyday Georgia exhibit will open this week at the Institute for People and Technology.

amanda pellerin

Amanda Pellerin (center) interviews students and teachers from Griffin Middle School about working with the Georgia Tech Research Institute and the Atlanta Braves to build a baseball launcher.

shelena hawkins

Shelena Hawkins works for the City of Albany's Department of Community and Economic Development. Previously, she was a homemaker before earning a master's degree and making a career change. "She's a  passionate person and is very passionate about the City of Albany in particular," said Alyson Powell Key, who interviewed her. "It’s a growing city, they’ve had some challenges, and now they're really taking on the initiative of developing their smart city technology, so I enjoyed hearing about how she's working with Georgia Tech in that regard, but her personal story was also very compelling."