Global Story Project Feature: An Overnight Metropolis

Current Berkman People and Projects 2013-03-27

This is the first in a series of posts highlighting productions from our Global Story Project.

A street in Zeytinburnu, one of the neighborhoods under earthquake risk.

An Overnight Metropolis is the story of city dynamics, eminent domain, and mother nature — and how they affect what we call home.

Producer Ashley Cleek takes us to Zeytinburnu, a district in Istanbul where many live in housing that may not withstand an earthquake. And with the city due for another major earthquake where two-thirds of the city’s three million homes could be at risk, residents are being asked to move. Take a listen (and check out a companion article from Ashley published in The Atlantic online!):

And now, the backstory: Ashley wrote to us about her experience reporting this project.

“Being able to return to a neighborhood multiple times allowed for a couple of key advantages in reporting. It allowed me to keep track of politicians’ promises and forecasts and actually hold them accountable for what they had said six months prior.

“Also, it’s not easy to let a stranger into your house, especially a foreigner with a microphone, but after returning to the neighborhood several times, families began to recognize me and trust me, as a journalist with a real interest in their neighborhood. People started calling me into their businesses to talk or haranguing their neighbors to stop and speak to me. It allowed for surprising character development. On one visit I met a man named ‘Zafer’ who was so suspicious of the government and his neighbors that he carried his apartment deed in his coat pocket and wouldn’t talk about the urban transformation in public.

“On my final trip to Zeytinburnu a few months later, I was walking down the street to catch the bus home when Zafer shouted from his window that he had changed his mind and was going with the government’s plan. That was the most surprising moment, to see a person change, and through his example possibly a neighborhood. None of that would have happened in a single day of reporting or without the help of PRX.”