West Mayfield resident Kevin Farkas is the founder and managing partner of an educational nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the first-hand accounts of military service by southwestern Pennsylvania residents.
The mission of the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Transmedia Oral History Initiative in Partnership with Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum is to preserve and share the voices, images, and experiences of Pittsburgh area veterans of all branches of service and eras, including peace and war-time service. “Our aim is to move beyond the traditional oral history archive,” Mr. Farkas said.
We believe that a story not told is a story not heard, so our focus is on storytelling by using creative and interpretive techniques across different media, including audiographic, videographic, photographic, and literary genres. Each medium allows for new and creative ways to tell veterans’ stories and to make them more accessible to diverse audiences through a wide variety of opportunities, including social networking, blogging, podcasting, traditional radio and television broadcasting, and print.
In early 2011, Kevin Farkas (a Navy veteran who grew up in West Mayfield) began recording veterans’ stories as part of The Social Voice Project’s Veteran Voices Initiative. Its goal was simply to help local veterans capture and preserve their stories for their families. “As a way of saying thanks to our veterans, I wanted to use my skills as an audiographer to help ordinary veterans preserve their personal histories, ” said Kevin Farkas. “Most veterans are not war heroes, but they, too, once put their lives on the line to defend our nation. Their stories of service matter. Also, most people never get a chance to record and preserve their life stories professionally, so I wanted to use my skills to help create high quality historical legacies for veterans.”
In 2012, The Social Voice Project formed a new multimedia partnership that added videography, still photography, and narrative historiography to the ways in which veterans’ stories can be preserved–and told. The new project, now called the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Transmedia Oral History Initiative–includes Todd DePastino of The Veterans Breakfast Club, Chris Rolinson of StartPoint Media, and Andy Marchese of Andy Marchese Photography as principle collaborative partners.
With their talents, the project’s new focus is on sharing veterans’ stories. “Every story matters,” says Todd DePastino (historian, author, and executive director of The Veterans Breakfast Club). “It’s important that we move beyond mere preservation and the traditional oral history archive and bring these stories to life by presenting them across multiple media platforms. With the right approach, veterans’ storytelling can be historically accurate and creative.”
Also in 2012, Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh formed a special partnership with Pittsburgh’s Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum Trust, Inc. Soldiers & Sailors is one of Pittsburgh’s oldest and best known historical landmarks and the nation’s only military museum dedicated to honoring the men and women of all branches of service. For historical and scholarly purposes, every veteran’s story is carefully preserved and archived in its entirety with Soldiers & Sailors.