For three weeks this summer, since Opening Day on August 4 which marked our first day of interviews, StoryCorps’ West Mobile Booth has recorded stories in Tri-Cities, WA, in partnership with Northwest Public Radio. Our recording Booth was stationed in front of the Pasco branch of the Mid-Columbia Libraries and residents of the three neighboring cities, Pasco, Kennewick and Richland, as well as of nearby communities came to share their personal stories. Many people talked about growing up in the area and reflected on the growth and changes they’ve seen it undergo. Others have shared stories of how they found their way to the Columbia Basin and have since come to call this place home.
During Opening Week, Sheri Solomon came to our Mobile Booth with her mother, Lola Yale. Lola has lived in 21 different places since first leaving her home near Walla Walla, WA, and finally settled in Kennewick. She told the story of going on a family trip with her seven children before they lived in the Tri-Cities and having to stop in Kennewick to get gas.
When the Druid Hills High School class of 1986 celebrated its 25th reunion this summer, I invited several of my classmates to record their memories with StoryCorps Atlanta. We grew up in Atlanta in the ’70′s and ’80′s, so one unique aspect of our educational experience was being the first generation of children in the South whose schools were fully integrated. Because of an elective transfer program, our schools were approximately 50% Black and 50% white, from 1st grade through our senior year.
In his interview with fellow classmate Jim Ostrowski, Roland Dawkins remembered that in 1986, “Druid Hills was predominantly white, very affluent, highly educated, but also a very liberal and Democratic portion of Atlanta. At that time, I lived literally on the other side of town, and the (integration) program, “Majority to Minority” was in its heyday. I had to take a bus, actually a couple of buses, for an hour and a half. Eventually it got tiresome, but by then all my friends went to the school I went to.”
Jim, who was our senior class president, added that it was, “something way out of the ordinary for that neighborhood, at that time, but it all seemed to work pretty well.” They talked about how he and Roland, with all their differences, “were the bridge between cliques, we were the bridge between races, between socioeconomic stratuses.” Their friendship has lasted more than 30 years.
How long have you been at your job? 2 years? 5 years? Ok maybe you’re in the double digits, say ten to fifteen? These days that may qualify you as a lifer. By that definition, Camille Petty is a lifer several times over, as the head nurse on the children’s psychiatry unit at Bellevue Hospital for 52 years.
During a day of field recordings at Bellevue Hospital, in honor of its 275th anniversary, Camille was interviewed by friend and colleague Florenna Thompson about her journey to this incredible milestone.
A standout highlight for the San Francisco StoryBooth recording team this summer was our two-day recording trip to the Pinoleville Pomo Nation, the reservation of the Pinoleville Pomo people indigenous to the Ukiah, CA, area. Invited by the tribe’s Environmental Director, David Edmunds, Site Supervisor Natalia Fidelholtz and I took the trip about two hours north of San Francisco. Like most StoryCorps interviews, each conversation touched on a range of themes, though the thread that ran throughout was the importance of documenting stories of Pomo tribal history in the area, particularly those of community elders and leaders like Violet Carpello Renick (interviewed by David Edmunds) and Tribal Chairwoman Leona Williams (shown with her daughters Lenora Dawn Brown-Steele and Angela James).
This July, in collaboration with The Brooklyn Collection, an archive dedicated to the history of Brooklyn, of the Brooklyn Public Library, StoryCorps spent one week recording the stories of people who live and work in the borough. Through storytelling, StoryCorps celebrated the history and diversity of Brooklyn and the members of its communities and…
We did it! With 24 interviews and 49 participants, we have made the first installment of what we hope to be many more, building a growing portrait of the people and life of Brooklyn.
American writer and mythologist Joseph Campbell once said that “the job of an educator is to teach students to see the vitality in themselves.” When StoryCorps Door-to-Door traveled to our nation’s capital as part of StoryCorps’ National Teacher’s Initiative, we met those very educators, the the men and women who dedicate themselves to the teaching profession and the positive impact they make on our education system. We partnered with District of Columbia Public Schools, who invited a few of its public school teachers and students to record stories of how their passion and creativity inspire young people to learn and grow in the classroom. Lisa Jones was one of those teachers.
This July, people from the Warm Springs Indian Reservation and nearby communities came to StoryCorps’ MobileBooth to record their stories and conversations.
We’ve heard from children and elders, cowboys, cowgirls, and ranchers, firemen, teachers, and writers. We’ve heard stories about corralling wild horses and picking huckleberries, stories of journeys and of coming home, of struggles and reconciliation.
HERE ARE YOUR PHOTOS: Feel free to visit StoryCorps’ Flickr album to download and print your portrait, or email your link to anyone you’d like.
Some of these stories will be aired on KWSO, and all will be archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
From the StoryCorps team: THANK YOU! It has been a pleasure and an honor to hear your stories.
A special thanks goes to our hosts, KWSO and the Warm Springs Fire and Safety Department, as well as our community partners, the Art Adventure Gallery, the Des Chutes County Historical Society, the Jefferson County Historical Society, the Jefferson County Library, Kah-Nee-Ta Resort and Casino, the Latino Community Association, Madras High School, Madras Senior Center, the Tribal Youth Program, the Warm Springs Community Action Team, and the Warm Springs Senior Center.
On July 8th, StoryCorps began a new year of the Mobile Tour with its Opening Day in Warm Springs, OR–its first stop on a Native American reservation. The reservation, created in an 1855 treaty, is a confederation of the Warm Springs, Wasco, and Paiute tribes (the latter joined the confederation 1879). In Warm Springs, we partnered with KWSO 91.9 FM Warm Springs Radio, the tribal radio station, with the Warm Springs Fire and Safety Department as our site host. Between fighting range and structure fires, the cadets and firemen and women would often stop by to check out the MobileBooth.
On Opening Day, Sylvester “Sal” Sahme, Director of Business and Economic Development for the tribes, spoke to his friend Adam Haas. He described having two educations: a formal, “white man’s” education, and a cultural “Indian” education.
During his interview, Sal told Adam that he didn’t learn anything at all about his own history until he went to college at the University of Minnesota–his coursework and political activism there inspired him to research the past of his people, and to ask his elders about their history and their religion, the Washat. He said of his religion, and its parameters of behavior: “A lot of that is almost intrinsic. It’s a given that you’re going to grow up with it and be surrounded by it, but there’s no formal process of educating you in it because you’re immersed in the society and the culture…But it wasn’t until Minnesota that I got to really learn about some things that distinctly affect not only me personally, but our people.”
The moment I walked into the San Francisco LGBTQ Community Center I could see it really lives up to its name. “The Center,” as it’s called by patrons and staff alike, is an inviting multi-level, brightly colored building that’s a hub for events and services to support the city’s diverse Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer community.
On any given day at the Center, patrons can find an impressively vast range of direct services and classes, advocacy organizations, and arts events going on. There’s the Transgender Economic Empowerment Initiative; Aguilas, a supportive, culturally sensitive group for gay/bisexual Latinos; Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits, which offers culturally relevant activities for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Native Americans; and the acclaimed San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, just to name a few groups that call the Center home. Their services are an especially critical support to members of the community who, as the Center’s mission states, often experience additional, intersecting forms of discrimination – people of color, transgender, lesbian, and bisexual women, differently-abled people, youth, elders, immigrants, and low-income individuals.
his July Tadashi Yoshii celebrated his 90th birthday. Joining him in for the festivities were his wife of 63 years, Lily, their three children, the children’s spouses, and their five grandchildren, now all adults too. To honor the milestone their grandfather’s birthday and learn more about Tad and Lily’s lives, two of the Yoshii granddaughters, Sachi Yoshii, 28, and Michi Yoshii, 26, decided to bring their grandparents into the StoryCorps booth in San Francisco for a couple of interviews.
Tadashi shared many of his favorite family memories with Michi and Sachi, including the birth of his first son, Kenny, and meeting his wife and their grandmother, Lily, at their church in Richmond, CA. Tadashi’s conversation with his granddaughters focused mostly on his experiences during World War II, a painful topic, and one about which neither he nor Lily had shared much with the family’s younger generations. Tadashi, or “Tad”, as his family calls him, was originally from Oakland, CA, where the Yoshiis were part of a large and vibrant Japanese American community. Growing up, he said, his parents tirelessly worked around the clock to run their family’s restaurant. The start of World War II changed everything. Tadashi was 20 years old when their family, along with thousands of other Japanese American families, was forced to leave their business and almost all of their possessions behind to be interned away from the West Coast, labeled as potential “domestic threats” in the wake of the Pearl Harbor attacks. In all, over 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast were forced to leave their homes during that time.
On Tuesday, June 21, 2011, StoryCorps Atlanta headed into the heart of downtown Atlanta to record at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. The recordings, an effort on behalf of the Foundation to collect stories from some of its veteran staff, donors, and participants in its Neighborhood Fund and AIDS Partnership Fund, were inspiring and heartfelt.Arlene Parker Goldson and her friend Mattice Haynes, talked about how they got involved with The Community Foundation and the work they do as community coaches. They work one on one with community residents and grassroots leaders on various community-based projects that are funded by the Neighborhood Fund. Arlene and Mattice not only shared what they are able to help communities achieve, but also what they learn from the communities and individuals with whom they work. For Arlene, one of the things about which she is happiest is that she gets to meet so many people. “I mean great spirit, great energy, great passion. So, I’ve met so many people who don’t mirror me–because I don’t think you grow that way–but give me an opportunity to grow and stretch.”
Immigration has been all over the news, especially here in Georgia, but it’s not every day that we hear the voices of immigrant sharing their own stories. On May 24, StoryCorps Atlanta hosted a public listening event at the Auburn Avenue Research Library to share the stories of Atlantans who immigrated to the United States.
A number of StoryCorps alumni were invited to share their stories and to talk about why they came to StoryCorps. (Use the links to listen to their stories online.)
Theresa Nguyen came to the United States after the fall of Saigon. She and her daughter, Stephanie, described how the intimate conversation they had at StoryCorps has helped bring them closer.
Sara Takele fled her home country of Ethiopia decades ago. She has spent more than twenty years now navigating this country, not only as an immigrant, but as the mother of a special-needs son. After playing her story, Sara explained she thinks it’s important to speak out as a mother of a son with autism. (more…)
Born and raised in Houston, TX, Bishop Barbara Lewis King (above), or “Dr. Barbara” as she is lovingly called by her parishioners, will tell anyone that the road she traveled along life’s journey has been paved with faith. Her parents divorced when she was a baby. At eight days old, her paternal grandmother took her and raised her as if she were her own child. Her grandmother was a dressmaker and worked for some of the wealthiest families in Houston. However, when times got rough, as they sometimes did, young Barbara watched as her grandmother leaned on her unshakable faith. She would see her grandmother move around their small home and talk to God. On one occasion, when food was particularly low and the rent was due, she heard her grandmother say, “God, now I know you didn’t give me this little girl for us to starve.” Within the week, her grandmother had enough sewing to pay the rent and to buy food.
The 2011 Summer National Senior Games came to Houston, TX, last month, and thanks to Humana, StoryCorps Door-to-Door recorded the stories of athletes, caregivers, and the Houston community for ten days. In a MobileBooth parked at the George R. Brown Convention Center, the term senior was redefined. We met 93-year-old triathletes and 70-year-old competitors who began their sports at age 60. The Summer National Senior Games are open to adults, age 50 and up, who qualify for their sports in the States and Canada. Several athletes stopped by to share their stories after seeing the Booth parked near the Athlete Village, and we were excited when Patsy Lillehei was one of them (pictured in the first slide below).
On Wednesday, June 22 StoryCorps Atlanta fans gathered for our second annual “StoryCorps Out & OutLoud: A Celebration of Stories from the LGBTQ Community.” The evening’s host, WABE’s John Lemley, commented that despite moving to a larger venue, the event was once again standing room only.
Kerrie Cotton Williams, Archivist and Manager of the Archives Division at the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History and StoryCorps alumna discussed the importance of archiving our stories.
Today the big marriage issue captivating the country is the debate around same-sex unions. But, not long ago, it was inter-racial and inter-cultural marriages that sparked intense political and legal debate across the 50 states. It wasn’t until 1967 that the U.S. Supreme Court officially legalized interracial marriages on a national level. The case was Loving vs. the State of Virginia, named fittingly after the newlywed couple who brought the case before the court, Mildred Jeter Loving and Richard Loving. Mildred was African American and Richard was white, and though they lived in Virginia, they married in Washington DC, where interracial marriage was legal. Upon their return to Virignia, they were arrested. With the help of the ACLU, their case eventually reached the Supreme Court, and with the court’s decision, all interracial couples in the U.S. were legally free to marry.
This landmark court decision is now commemorated as Loving Day, celebrated with events and festivities across the country on June 12th, the day of its passing. To honor this year’s 44th Anniversary of Loving Day , StoryCorps San Francisco teamed up with the Contemporary Jewish Museum and the Loving Day national organization, LovingDay.org, to host a special community recording and art-making day for multiracial, multiethnic and mixed heritage individuals, couples, and families. We also set up listening stations with some of our favorite Loving Day-related broadcast stories.
StoryCorps Door-to-Door traveled to the Land of a Thousand Lakes to record stories of the staff and patrons of the Hennepin County Library System, which includes the Minneapolis Central Library, Edina, Plymouth and Sumner Libraries. Over twelve recording days, the team recorded stories as diverse as Minnesota’s landscape. However, we wanted to share one story from our time in Minnesota about a group of people who are often invisible: the men and women of the Hennepin County Adult Corrections Facility. Cheryl D. Tigue and her coworker, Kathleen Hannan, came to the Plymouth Library to talk about Kathleen’s thirty-year career in corrections.
Kathleen earned her graduate degree in Public Health and in 1979 and began working for Hennepin County Adult Corrections’ female division. At the time, there were about forty female residents. Her first day on the job, Kathleen remembers, “I was so excited to have a job. I felt like I belonged there.”
Forty minutes is not enough time to cram an entire person’s life into. Don’t even try. StoryCorps has more than 100 Great Questions for you to choose from, but over the course of the 40 minute conversation you may only get to an handful. When I tell participants they have 10 minutes left their eyes pop in disbelief because time has flown. It’s like the StoryBooth is a time machine where once you enter real time stands still – not true, it flies. So what does one do under these circumstances? Book another appointment!
That’s exactly what Ruth Hunt did. Over the course of 3 appointments she talked about finding her estranged brother, her career as fashion model, and her work with the Jackie Robinson Foundation. During her first visit Ruth came in by herself, unsure of the process, but with a sense of purpose. She was determined to tell the story of being reunited with a brother after 50 years of separation. Her father, a WWII vet, had a child while stationed in London who he’d become separated from until Ruth found him and reunited the two. (more…)
Aloha! For the past five weeks, StoryCorps facilitators have been traveling from Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island to record the stories of Hawaiians! Sadly, we couldn’t bring our Airstream with us across the Pacific, but with the help of Hawaii Public Radio, we were able to record at partner sites on each of the islands: Mission Houses Museum in Honolulu, Maui Economic Opportunities in Wailuku, Kauai Community College Performing Arts Center in Lihue, and the County of Hawaii in Kailua Kona.
Hawaii was also a little bittersweet for those of us facilitating: It was my and my co-workers’ last stop on our Mobile Tour. We’ve all been on the road for a year going from state to state to record your stories. Traveling from island to island in Hawaii we heard uniquely Hawaiian stories from kupuna, taro farmers, ukulele musicians, surfers, cowboys, and coffee farmers. We also heard from grandparents, parents, teachers, and mentors – the kinds of stories we’ve heard from Fargo to Pennsylvania and Birmingham to Los Angeles.
So thank you to those of you we met in Hawaii and thank you to everyone we’ve met this year! You all make our job worth doing. Aloha a hui hou! Until we meet again!
Last week was my second ever in Kentucky, and what better way to usher it in than a morning spent traversing meandering mountain roads for a day of recording at the Hindman Settlement School.
Upon arrival in Hindman, we were greeted with an infectious smile by Randy Wilson, Director of the Settlement’s Folk Arts Education Program and one member of a long-serving staff that works tirelessly to serve the changing needs of the Appalachian community. Randy was accompanied by his 90 year old mother, Shirley, with whom he recorded our second interview of the day.
Established in 1902 by a pair of determined young female visionaries, the Hindman Settlement School was the first of its kind in the country: a boarding school for mountain students whose rural lifestyles didn’t include easy access to education, healthcare, and social services. The Settlement quickly became a model institution, an all-purpose bastion of regional culture dedicated in equal parts to preservation and innovation.