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‘Daughters of Hanford’ radio, art project launches

Anna King has been a reporter for years, and sometimes a special story will bubble up inside her, demanding to get out.

“You have it in your mind and your heart and you have to figure out a way to tell it,” she said.

That’s how it was with Daughters of Hanford, which launched this week.

The multimedia project focuses on a dozen women who’ve influenced or been influenced by the Hanford Nuclear Reservation — from early workers to cleanup watchdogs.

It includes 12 radio pieces, portraits, an interactive website, geo-mapping application and museum exhibit.

Northwest Public Radio and Washington State University Tri-Cities are presenting the project, and it’s hosted by the Reach center in Richland.

The exhibit will open at the center off Columbia Park Trail this summer.

King, a correspondent for Northwest News Network, which is a collaboration of public radio stations across Washington, Oregon and Idaho, is working on Daughters with photographer Kai-Huei Yau and Doug Gast, an artist and associate professor of fine arts at Washington State University Tri-Cities.

It’s exciting to see it start to roll out after so many months of planning and effort, King said.

The first radio story was released this week. It features Susan Leckband, a longtime Hanford Advisory Board member, highlighting how her natural curiosity informs and helps her Hanford work. The portrait shows Leckband nestled against a tree along the Columbia River, flashing her trademark warm, inquisitive smile.

Other women selected for the project range from Leona Woods Marshall Libby, who helped build the B Reactor, to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray. Their stories — and those of the other Daughters — will air on public radio across the Northwest over the coming months.

The project website, www.daughtersofhanford.org, also will be loaded with extra information — from additional photos to supporting documents. And it has a spot for people to share stories of their own Daughters — women in their lives who’ve touched or been touched by Hanford.

King, Yau and Gast said they see the project as a way to shed light and illuminate.

“This is a way to share some of the behind-the-scenes stories, some of the lesser known stories, of a group that’s not as widely represented,” said Yau, a former Tri-City Herald photojournalist who’s now based in the Seattle area.

Gast added that “helping to tell the stories of historically underrepresented women in technology or science related fields is important.”

“I personally witness the lack of representation of women in science and technology everyday on campus — and this is 2015. Just think about how much more difficult is was for them to enter the field 50 or 60 years ago,” he said. “Women have made a dramatic impact on the Hanford landscape and their stories often go untold.”

The idea also is to spark conversation about women in STEM fields, about the contributions and legacies of women at Hanford.

The Daughters of Hanford exhibit will debut at the Reach center in July. After a yearlong run there, it’s to travel to other cities and museums.

King noted that the project’s name works on a several levels.

The subjects are all women, daughters. And the term “daughter products” refers to new isotopes formed from the radioactive decay of other isotopes.

“We named the project Daughters of Hanford because ‘daughter products’ is a common term used in nuclear science,” the project website says. “We wanted also to draw the comparison that these women are spin-off products of the massive Hanford Nuclear Reservation... They have changed the site, or been changed by it.”

The project is nearly fully funded, with about $5,000 left to raise. Contributions are being accepted through The Reach Foundation.

Phyllis Fletcher, Northwest News Network managing editor, is editing the project.

King said she hopes Daughters will inspire and touch people. It’s been stuck in her heart, and now it’s being unveiled.

“This group of women is so beautiful, so strong, their stories are lovely — it’s a joy to work on,” King said. “I hope people find it a joy.”

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