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The Power of Storytellers

DZone's Guide to

The Power of Storytellers

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Everyone has their own story; a compilation of vivid experiences or abstract moments that make us who we are. But what happens when thousands of stories are compiled into one accessible archive? The creation of one of the largest oral history projects in America has begun.

StoryCorps, created in 2003, has already collected 50,000 interviews that are preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. According to the StoryCorps website, the organization collects stories to “remind one another of our shared humanity, strengthen and build the connections between people, teach the value of listening, and weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that every life matters.”

Participants can choose how to record their experiences in three ways. Folks can record an interview in a StoryBooth, which are located in Atlanta, Chicago and San Francisco. They can also choose to record themselves with help from StoryCorps’ “Do-It-Yourself Instruction Guide” (but note that these recordings cannot be archived at the Library of Congress.) Organizations, celebrations or those who can’t travel to a StoryBooth, can schedule an appointment for a “Door-to-Door” interview, where professionals come to a house and personally record an experience.

After the recorded conversation, StoryCorps presents participants with a CD of their experience.

Although it’s possible to record with one person, StoryCorps asks participants to bring another person to interview. Participants can interview a best friend, family member, a stranger or simply a person they’d like to know more about. If the interviewee gets stuck on a topic, a StoryCorps facilitator will help the conversation get back on track or come up with fresh ideas.

Here at FunderHut, we’re all about community, so we were especially excited when we saw that StoryCorps provides ideas on how to get the community involved! Hosting a story gathering party and scheduling a Door-to-Door service or taking family members to a StoryBooth is a unique way of understanding, documenting and strengthening communal bonds.

This interview, turned into an animated short, describes the start of a loving relationship and what happens when an illness disrupts the couple’s “ever after.” Warning: a box of tissues is needed.

On the day after Thanksgiving, StoryCorps asks Americans to celebrate National Day of Listening by interviewing a loved one. Who will you choose to share your story with?


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