Eleven o’clock on a Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America, say Reverends George Cummings and Bill McNabb. This pointed observation is one they witness every week at their respective churches.
Dr. Cummings resides over a predominantly African-American congregation at Imani Community Church in Oakland, and Dr. McNabb’s Piedmont Community Church is in the affluent, predominantly white and Asian-American town of Piedmont. Both California churches are merely six miles from each other, yet in some ways they are worlds apart.
Dr. Cummings and Dr. McNabb met at a community clergy meeting in 2006 and decided to take an unusual leap. They planned a one-time event to bring members of both congregations together and develop what they hoped to be an on-going, deep-reaching partnership between the two churches.
Now, six years into the partnership the sister churches recorded interviews with StoryCorps San Francisco to further their efforts to foster dialogue and sharing. The idea was to encourage members to sit down with one another, share stories about their lives, and reflect on their churches’ partnership. Hosted by the Imani Community Church, several members of the two congregations shared their stories with each other. (more…)
StoryCorps Atlanta had the pleasure of hosting students from Girls Inc., a national youth leadership organization dedicated to providing girls a safe space and after-school activities. Girls Inc. of Greater Atlanta serves over 3,000 girls, aged six to eighteen, with outreach programs, after-school and summer camp programs, and community partnerships throughout the metro area. Their mission: to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.
Three middle school students embodying these qualities visited our recording booth for the first time. In addition to helping our visitors record stories, StoryCorps volunteer Amelia Bower and I led the girls in listening and storytelling games and gave them a tour of the WABE/PBA studios to meet the staff and learn how public radio and television work. Although uncertain about what to expect, the girls jumped into recording with enthusiasm and curiosity.
Facilitator Katherine Brook and I traveled to Wisconsin to learn about the Madison Children’s Museum through its exhibits and the people who make them possible: staff, visitors, donors, and volunteers. The Madison Children’s Museum is one of ten winners of the 2011 Institute of Museum and Library Services National Medal, an award given to institutions for their outstanding public programming. One prize received by winners is three days of StoryCorps interviews by way of our Door-to-Door service.
Interview participants painted a picture of a museum that celebrates and learns from its community in myriad ways, from going on cultural tours to dangling cows from the ceiling. The diverse types of learning embraced at the museum are made possible not only by its exhibits but also by the museum’s loyalty to its museum family, be they fiberglass cows, local experts, volunteers, or fourth graders. (more…)
Since November 2010, Lambda Legal has partnered with StoryCorps Atlanta to collect the stories of trans and gender non-conforming individuals, people who do not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth. To date, 20 people have shared their stories through Lambda Legal’s Trans Tell Your Story Project.
Holiday Simmons, Lambda Legal’s national community educator, travels the country to inform people of LGBTQ issues. In his trainings for law enforcement officers, healthcare providers, and teachers, he uses audio from the Trans Tell Your Story Project to bring voices of trans and gender non-conforming individuals into each session.
Lambda Legal recently hosted an event to share some of the stories they’ve collected and to encourage others to share their own. After listening to excerpts from the conversations, A.J. Jones, the project’s coordinator, invited several participants to share their experiences of recording their stories.
When we first walked through the doors of EdVenture last week, co-facilitator Daniel Littlewood and I faced two of the largest feet we had ever seen. We looked at one another and uttered an incredulous, “Whoa!?” We had to investigate. Passing under the archway, we walked into an atrium, and there he was all 40 feet, 17.5 tons of him: Eddie, the worlds largest child (see the slideshow below).
If the museum’s signature exhibit could make us feel like kids again, we could only imagine the wonders it might work on a five year old. I was excited to find out what else this National Medal Award-winning museum had in store. If the world’s biggest boy says one thing about EdVenture, it’s that this is a place that puts kids first. “We were creating a museum that was for children. This is the world on their terms,” said Catherine Monetti, one of the museum’s original designers. Hands-on learning and creating “ah-ha” experiences are keys to this museum’s brand of education.
Eddie is a prime example of this, and he’s more than a giant statue: Eddie is an interactive exhibit. Kids learn how their bodies work while playing in Eddie, crawling through his brain, listening to his heartbeat, and sliding down his esophagus.
This year, Friendship Baptist Church celebrates its 150th anniversary, and the anniversary committee has been hard at work on sesquicentennial plans, including helping church members pronounce the word that means “150th anniversary.”
The church has come far since its humble beginnings in 1862, when congregants met in a boxcar because they did not have funds to buy land. Both Morehouse and Spelman Colleges held their first classes at Friendship. And Atlanta’s first African-American mayor, Maynard H. Jackson, Jr., was not only raised in the church; his father was one of only six pastors who have served the community in its history.
Many of the church elders remember all of the pastors except the very first, Reverend Frank Quareles, who served until 1881. One important event for the anniversary committee will be the dedication of new tombstones for Reverend Quarles and his wife, whose unmarked graves were discovered at Atlanta’s historic Oakland Cemetery.
The anniversary committee is also collecting oral histories of the church, and Vanessa Brown, a member of the Anniversary Committee, invited church elders to record their memories of Friendship Baptist Church and its leaders with StoryCorps Atlanta. (more…)
Close to one quarter of American high school students drop out before graduation. In Oakland, California, the dropout rate is higher at 35 percent. Last month, Northern California’s KQED hosted it’s first American Teacher Town Hall at Laney College in Oakland. Educators came from across the Bay Area to discuss these high dropout rates and the state of education in their communities – in California and across the nation.
StoryCorps San Francisco was also there to highlight the work we’ve done, locally and nationally with the National Teachers Initiative. For the past year, the National Teachers Initiative has supported the work of teachers nationwide by recording and preserving their stories and broadcasting them on NPR’s Weekend Edition. StoryCorps also supports the American Graduate Initiative by recording stories with public media hubs in communities where the dropout crisis is most acute.
At our table, current and former teachers and students listened to stories we recorded with teachers, including Antero Garcia and Roger Alvarez, Sarah Benko and Meliza Arellano, and Ayodeji Ogunniyi. Town Hall participants also wrote messages of thanks to teachers who have inspired them. (Below are just a handful of those notes.)
Do you have a favorite teacher? Thank them in the comments below!
The phrase “last will and testament” evoke a lot of different feelings. Beyond the finality of death, there’s the desire to carry out those last wishes. When Mrs. Betsy Saunders and Mrs. Mary Mitchell learned about philanthropist Grace Arents’ will and that her intention to have gardens planted in memory of her uncle, entrepreneur Lewis Ginter, had yet to be carried out, the women were spurred to action. We met Betsy and Mary onsite of an Institute of Museum and Library Services National Medal awardee, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia, when they participated in StoryCorps.
LGBG sits on an historic property of over 50 acres of beautiful gardens, but the organization brings more than beautiful nature to it’s community: LGBG is a place to volunteer, somewhere to listen to music with the family, and even a good afternoon picnic spot. Its public programming educates the community on gardening and horticulture, allowing youth to realize that, yes, they eat plants.
That’s LGBG today, but back in 1981, 13 years after the city of Richmond took possession of the property, the land looked quite different.