Well, for the past few years I have been studying the discourse and literacy practices of alcoholics and addicts in recovery as a doctoral candidate (specifically 12th step recovery) through (auto)ethnography. Because of my own personal recovery experience, I have basic knowledge of the recovery community which has helped me greatly differentiate between preexisting bodies of knowledge and conversation on the subject matter compared to more contemporary views.
With a few years of fieldwork under my belt, I’ve become extremely invested in the social consciousness of the recovery community, which as reshaped my fieldwork as action research/activist methodology. Through a more contemporary vision of ethnographic research, I have been interested in exploring language and identity-developing practices and strategies in the recovery community on Staten Island, with which I hope to present the positive recovery literacy of this community despite the constant livelihood odds and societal ideologies/stereotypes against this community.
So, here’s where the story begins … while already being daily immersed in this community (for my own personal well-being) and conducting research, I have been unsure how the community, let alone those outside the recovery community would receive my research endeavors; yet, I wanted to have some sort of impact.
On May 8th, 2018, my wife was performing a creative piece, a spoken word/poem/song, that she wrote for a recovery compilation through Hemlock Theatre Co. on Staten Island, called “Down in a Hole”, which was being hosted/performed at MakerParkRadio.nyc.
As a creative way to celebrate passing oral comprehensives and my ABD status, I attended the event in support of my wife. While sitting “on the sidelines” cheering my wife on, and the many other talented performers with Hemlock, Tom Ferrie (MPR owner and DJ) asked me if I could assist him with the “dj’ing” situation as he needed a “second set of hands”. All my dj dreams came true. So, I hopped into the studio booth with Tom who quickly trained me.
In between acts, Tom and I began chatting. He talked about MakerParkRadio’s vision and mission as a community radio station, how anyone could volunteer and have their own show, but he and his wife have actually been trying to find the “right person” for a recovery series. SAY WHAT?! Hi, hello! It was as if our worlds aligned, and the universe was calling out to me. I told Tom who I was, that I have been in recovery since 2011, and that I would love to be that person.
Two days later, I spoke to his wife Kristin Wallace, who very much not only believed in my vision but was thrilled to support such a positive movement on Staten Island.
That’s how “Voices from Rock Bottom” began its journey.