Ben Casey, photojournalist and author of 3 books on Eastern NC waterways, is nearing completion of the research for a new book, Sound People. Since mid 2015, he and his wife, Carolyn, have been interviewing natives of the Core Sound communities in Carteret County, the region commonly referred to as Down East. They are examining the traditional lifestyles that have defined the people of these small fishing villages while also gathering perspectives on how development is poised to redefine that culture.
Folklore has spawned volumes about Core Sounders, their flat-bottomed skiffs and the Harkers Island boatbuilders. Sound People will record their cultural paradigms from their perspective, listening to the voices of Core Sounders describe their cultural history. The book will not paint them with a broad brush reflecting the perspective of the authors, but will record their words in forming a perspective of past, present, and future. As a photo-essay documentary, Sound People will be a treasured resource for North Carolinians and can be a major asset for policy makers.
Bland Simpson, author of a number of books on North Carolina’s Sound Country, recalled in one of his publications that the environmentalist Rachel Carson said there was no fixed line between land and sea. Shorelines routinely dissolve as sand moves from place to place at the whim of the elements; cultural boundaries and the cultures contained therein also dissolve.
For centuries, Down East heritage has been built around the faith of Core Sounders, in their Creator, in family, in community, and in tomorrow’s catch from the sea. Winter’s bone chilling winds, summer’s oppressive heat and humidity, and no guarantee that fish would fill their nets from day to day … none of these challenges have diminished their faith. But a decades-long sustained decline in their catch accompanied by a massive swell of regulations governing how they earn a living, foreign competition, and development of the coastline for summer resort homes … all are contributing to a rapid dissolution of their cultural heritage.
Study the past if you want to define the future.
When a culture fades, limited historical documentation of and by the individuals who defined that culture obscures the future. Confucius has been credited for observing, “Study the past if you want to define the future.”
This is an expensive undertaking involving a great deal of travel related expense and production costs for a publication that will be full color throughout, printed on a fine glossy paper stock, hard cover, and dust jacket. A tax deductible contribution to the North Carolina Coastal Heritage Association designated for Sound People will significantly impact the success of this project. Contributors will be recognized in the book.