For any of you who listen to NPR’s Morning Edition you have probably heard some of the moving stories recorded as part of the StoryCorps project. Last week I had the pleasure of attending a lunch where Dave Isay, StoryCorps Founder, was the guest speaker. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the project, I recommend you check it out. The idea is pretty simple and comes from of the time-honored tradition of oral storytelling. Their website says that their “mission is to honor and celebrate one another’s lives through listening”.
During the presentation Mr. Isay played recordings of a few of the thousands of interviews recorded since The Project’s inception. We heard a ten year old girl interview her lesbian mother and ask questions about love. He played the interview of a husband and wife and listened to the story of their first date fifty years earlier. We listened to a young woman interview her Mexican-immigrant mother and reminisce about what it was like as a child in pajamas going with her mother to the night job she had cleaning office buildings. She thanked her mother for the inspiration and example she provided by attending college while working full-time and raising two jobs. And we heard a woman recount the last half-hour of her husband’s life which was spent on the phone with her from an upper floor of the World Trade Center. Two weeks ago, that woman died in the plane crash near Buffalo.
The simplicity of the concept is striking: listen and honor. Mr. Isay spoke of listening as a way to learn from those around us. “It celebrates our shared humanity. It tells people that their lives matter and they won’t be forgotten. Through StoryCorps, we hope to create a kinder, more thoughtful and compassionate nation.”
The idea reminds me a little of what us bloggers do by sharing bits and pieces of our lives on our blogs, and how comments by readers can be such a strong affirmation.
The Project has released a book filled with transcripts of hundreds of interviews of regular people. It’s a powerful read and I’ve got a copy up for grabs.
Leave me a comment and I’ll enter your name in the drawing. If you feel like it, tell me about someone who you’d like to interview and why.