One of the most inspiring stories she heard was her most recent interview with Liz Flores, owner of La Bomboniera Marylu party store on 30th Avenue, who worked cleaning her boss's shop before opening her own, Short said in a recent interview with this paper.
Another, Short said, was a group of young filmmakers in Astoria houses.
“I was just really struck by how dedicated and how bright they all were and how much they had to say with all this violence going around at this time,” she said.
According to her Web site, Short received her inspiration for the project from editors and journalists, including Emily Bell, former editor of the British publication The Guardian Unlimited.
From an issue of National Geographic, Short found that Astoria residents represent all but one nation on the globe.
Another reason why she embarked on the project was because Short missed writing and being a journalist. After studying journalism in college, Short worked for a United Kingdom magazine, Ecologist, freelanced for a while, and then graduated to non-profit work.
She chose 30th Avenue as the location for her project because she walks up and down its sidewalks every day.
“I kind of always felt this street was special and it was really diverse,” Short said.
Staying close to home also helped with raising her now 19-month-old son Jack, who often came with her to interviews, and sometimes found new playmates.
Challenges Short faced in the project included convincing people to agree to an interview, she said. Some did not like the idea of having their stories posted on the Internet.
For every one person who agreed to an interview, she said, two others were hesitant.
“It did involve some persistence,” Short said. “It wasn't like everybody I asked said 'yeah sure.'”
For example, finding a subject at Mt. Sinai Hospital was difficult, Short said, and she eventually nabbed a nurse having lunch in the building's cafe.
But, Short said when her subjects read they're own stories on her site, they usually got excited.
One possible regret, she said, is that the entries are skewed towards shop owners, who were the most willing to be interviewed. But, on top of meeting her goal of one interview a week, Short said her biggest accomplishment was “having been able to tell lots of stories that haven't yet been told.”
“They might not be headline stories, but like the day-to-day stories that need to get out there but don't,” Short said. “So much of the media is sort of regurgitating the same old stuff about celebrities or whatever.”
She was able to give recognition to “lots of really hardworking people who do a lot of really great things.”
Next, the audio recordings from Short's interviews will be archived by the Queens Library in its Memory Project for historic purposes.
Although she would like to compile the interviews into a book one day, Short said for now she is going to focus on raising her family.
To read Short's interviews and learn more about her, visit 30thave.org.
Photo compliments of Annabel Short.