Crandall, who previously worked for the Washington Post and Salon as a video journalist and producer, moved to Alabama a couple of years ago, after a woman she’d met by chance in San Francisco offered her an artist-in-residence position for the Alabama Media Group, which operates AL.com, and suggested that she do a larger project about the state. The idea for “Whitman, Alabama” came to her quickly. She figured that she could piece together “Song of Myself” in documentary fragments, with the citizens of Alabama using Whitman’s most famous poem as a conduit to speak about themselves. The poem has fifty-two verses; each video segment would pair a subject with a verse; they could release one video per week for a year.
… “Though I wouldn’t have articulated it then, [Crandall said,] what I responded to was this idea that everyone embodies diversity, not just the country. That many people are negotiating multiple social contracts, the way I’d been doing since I was born.”