To call Camp Runamuck — the homeless community that sprang up under Providence’s Crawford Street Bridge in 2009 — a tent city? That was to give it airs. It was a hovel. Garbage in want of a bulldozer.
Tents were little more than duct-taped tarps delineating borrowed property lines. The communal kitchen: a plastic table and grimy coolers. And the blue tarp shielding the toilet from view was little protection in a stiff wind.
But to Hillary Brady ’12, sent to cover the tent city story for “The Good Five Cent Cigar,” it was a rich experience, one that prompted her to work in a field dedicated to preserving American culture at the largest and, arguably, most esteemed museum in the world.
“It was eye-opening,” said Brady, now outreach coordinator for the Smithsonian Institution Archives in Washington, D.C. “To have the opportunity to practice what I learned in the classroom outside of the campus was invaluable,” Brady said. “My education shaped how I work now.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree in English and Journalism from URI as well as a master’s from Brown University, Brady worked as a research assistant for Digital Public Library of America, collaborating with museums, libraries, and archives globally, creating digital exhibitions and materials for primary and secondary school teachers. In her current position at the Smithsonian, Brady works with people across the Smithsonian’s digitization teams as well as with archivists and historians to share rich and complex stories of science and history.
“Everyone needs to tell their story,” Brady said. “To craft a good story, to do that well, is a marketable skill. I use all of what I learned at URI every day.”