Podcasting opens a window into our island community

Hello from North Haven!

In all our free time (hah!), my husband and I occasionally produce a podcast, 12 Knots. The title is both a symbol of the entanglement one feels in a small community, and the actual speed of our ferry boat. We’re at a production rate of about one episode every 15 months, but we just released the second one, Outliers, and I’m really proud of it.

The idea for 12 Knots came from my husband, who, as a musician and audiophile, is mildly obsessed with digitally documenting his sonic environment. He wanted to capture some of the stories islanders tell – ghost stories, legends, and news – and examine the way the narratives change over time. From that nugget of an idea came the first episode, The Drift.

Some people are drawn to podcasting because of its potential simplicity – everyone carries a decent digital recorder in their pocket these days, and uploading the files to iTunes couldn’t be simpler. But this is not our way. My husband collected hours of interviews, walking through a property popularly thought to be haunted, late at night, with some terrified friends at his side; documenting memories from a violent tragedy a decade ago; and recruiting islanders to read historical documents in their wonderful accents. He recorded original music to underscore the words, and brought me on board to write transitions and help edit interviews.

Bill hard at work on the second episode of 12 Knots. Photo courtesy of William Trevaskis, used with permission.

My husband and I have almost always had a joint project to work on – we recorded hours of new songs after we moved to the island, for lack of anything else to do, recorded a full-length album and an EP with our chip hop band, 8BIT-ches, and he produced my solo album, Almanac. The podcast was our first joint project after the arrival of our most important and most challenging collaboration, our daughter. Working in the studio together as she finally slept through the night was restorative, a reminder that I could still have a creative life with a baby.

The second episode, Outliers, was inspired by an article from the early 1900s shared with us by the historical society director. It described a young woman from North Haven who surprised the community by revealing that she was – and always had been – a man. He made the announcement far from the island, in Dorchester, Massachusetts. We wondered – how difficult and even frightening would it have been to be different then? What about now? And, despite the island’s apparent homogeneity, how were we each different from our neighbors?

A year and a half ago, we began interviewing friends and neighbors, collecting stories about the visible and invisible characteristics – gender, sexuality, religion, race, even athleticism – that make up the sometimes surprisingly rich tapestry of our tiny island. I got promoted to producer, and although the show was recorded and edited in fits and starts, the final product is worth a listen (in my biased opinion). It shows North Haven at its present day best, and reminds us of a time when people were less open and accepting of diversity. You can listen to it for free on my husband’s Web site, or on iTunes, and get a little window into some of the stories just below the surface of our island home.


Courtney Naliboff

About Courtney Naliboff

In addition to this blog, I'm a contributing writer to kveller.com, a Jewish parenting site, a blogger and book reviewer for reformjudaism.org, and the author of Salt Water Cure, a column in Working Waterfront. I report news from North Haven for Working Waterfront and Island Journal, and was a speaker at the Maine Conference for Jewish Life in 2015. Follow Frozen Chosen on facebook or visit my Web site for more writing and free music to download!