Thanks in part to the generosity of donors to my crowdfunding campaign, I’ve started the process of listening to fishermen and oystermen in St. Augustine and nearby!
In order to capture different ideas and access multiple types of people, I am using a technique commonly called snowball sampling. Every time I interview someone, either formally or informally, I ask them who else I should be talking to. The idea is that eventually there will be enough overlap in the answers you’re getting that you know you are starting to capture the population you’re interested in. This approach is known to have some drawbacks in that it can be challenging to not talk exclusively to people who think similarly to one another. However, when your target populations are small, this method may be the most effective way of accessing them.
While not giving too much away, I’ll also say that I’m already noticing some common themes in the answers I’m hearing to my questions which is exciting. I’m learning interesting details about what fishermen and oystermen look for in reefs. One of the most enjoyable aspects however, is the extra details that are being shared, the personal history and anecdotes people are peppering in with their responses. The experience of local oyster roasts has been mentioned, with each telling rich in explanation about methods of cooking and cultural significance. Stories about growing up on the local waterways abound as well. This kind of research is affording me a chance to really root around and understand the complexity of ways these groups are identifying with this resource, and I’m excited to have the opportunity.
Keep an eye on my blog for continued updates on all things oyster!