The San Francisco StoryBooth has been at the Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) for the past two and a half years. I began as a volunteer soon after the opening of the booth – a StoryCorps greeter, but without the orange vest. Four months later, I was offered the opportunity to become a StoryCorps facilitator.
I have particularly enjoyed the fact that our booth is located here at the CJM. It’s the first time a StoryBooth has been housed in a museum, and because of it, we have many benefits not available to other locations: we are sheltered from inclement weather, restrooms are nearby and the building that houses the CJM is remarkable architecturally. But by far, one of the greatest benefits is the variety of people coming to our booth and to the CJM. They reflect the great diversity of San Francisco and the Bay Area, and through them I encounter a cross section of our society that I otherwise would never have a chance to meet.
One of my favorite groups is comprised of the young people in the program that the CJM calls Teen Art Connect. They are recruited to do a variety of tasks at the museum as paid interns: Docents for Architectural Tours and Gallery Tours; activities for children and families, art and craft projects; they’ve even worn a Curious George suit or other costume for storytelling events and other programs! They also assist participants when filling out forms, answering questions and being the first welcoming face of StoryCorps.
Two of the interns, Carmelisa and Eliza, also worked directly with us doing research on community-based organizations for us to contact in the Bay, and culminated their internship by planning a day of recordings at the booth. A few weeks ago on a Saturday, when the booth is not usually open, these two teens brought in participants through outreach contacts that they had developed. They had full run of the show: reaching out to participants, telling them about StoryCorps, scheduling them, and coordinating the day of interviews to ensure it went smoothly. And it did!
Eliza did a recording at the Booth with her grandmother, which you can read about here.