I love watching TED talks. I think some of the most fascinating ideas and people being presented in this format. So, when I came across StoryCorps, the idea appealed to me on so many levels.
It began when founder David Isay found out his father was gay, and began looking into an interesting story about gay rights in the 1960’s. After doing several interviews with people who were once banished from acceptable society, he found talking to them and asking questions about their lives was not only rewarding, but fascinating. So, he decided to start a project where people could record stories with important people in their lives, to be kept for posterity in the American Folklife Centre at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. All artwork, photos and other important memorabilia are scanned and returned to the owner, but the recorded interview and a wonderful cartoon are uploaded and available for access through the StoryCorps site.
Isay wasn’t sure whether anyone would want to participate in his project, but he created the recording booth in the heart of New York City’s Grand Central Station to see what would happen. So many people….children, teachers, soldiers, grandparents….delighted in the idea of having their voices and stories saved for generations to hear. It was so appealing, the project expanded.
It’s not only the wonderful short stories in a question and answer format (often) that are appealing, but the artwork depicting each interview. I could sit for hours and watch each of these short works and never get bored. Sometimes, they’re heartwarming and will bring a tear to your eye, and other times they’ll make you laugh. But it proves that everyday people like you and like me, all have stories to tell.
The best part is that YOU can participate as well. You can drop by one of the locations, or request a special recording. How nice would it be for your children’s children to hear their great Grandma’s voice many years from now? Or to be able to access a long-forgotten family tale. It’s amazing how easily family stories can disappear from our memories.
I love the fact that this site also offers up a series of questions based on the person you want to talk with. There is a list of general questions that you could easily use at a dinner party or business conference where you might not know a lot of people, or find making conversation difficult. Give one a try! A bet you’ll have people talking about themselves in no time.
You can see Isay’s TED talk below. Take a few minutes to go through some of the great stories on the StoryCorps website, too. You won’t be disappointed.