The Great Thanksgiving Listen
“We are excited to use the new StoryCorps app to bring the country together in a project of listening, connection and generosity. Together we will collect the wisdom of a generation and archive it for the future, while at the same time reminding our grandparents how much their lives and stories matter.” –Dave Isay, StoryCorps Founder and President.
Over the coming months StoryCorps will work with high school teachers across the country to ask students to interview a grandparent or elder over the 2015 Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Using the new free StoryCorps mobile app, participants will be able to upload their recordings to the StoryCorps archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and in one holiday weekend we will capture an entire generation of American lives and experiences.
For the Great Thanksgiving Listen, StoryCorps is partnering with The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, TED, NPR, and ABC News–our exclusive television partner (watch the GMA announcement). Educational partners include Facing History and the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) along with sponsorship from The Rockefeller Foundation.
The scale of the Great Thanksgiving Listen is made possible by the new StoryCorps mobile app that was launched in March using the $1 million 2015 TED Prize.
The app takes the StoryCorps experience out of the booth and puts it entirely in the hands of users, enabling anyone, anywhere to record conversations with another person for archiving at the Library of Congress and on the new StoryCorps.me website.
StoryCorps hopes to make the Great Thanksgiving Listen a national tradition and to continue fostering meaningful connections within families, communities, classrooms while also creating a singular and priceless archive of American history and wisdom.
Click here for more info and to receive an education toolkit.
Follow the Great Thanksgiving Listen on Facebook.
A Return to Post-Katrina New Orleans
This month marks the ten-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina touching down in New Orleans and the massive destruction left in its wake. Over the past decade StoryCorps has made numerous trips to the city and to other affected cities to listen to people and record first-hand accounts of how their lives, and the communities they care about, were changed by this devastating storm.
In July, StoryCorps producers Liyna Anwar and Jud Esty-Kendall–joined by photographer Ira Peppercorn–returned to see where the city’s recovery stands and to listen once again to the people of New Orleans.
While there they met with the family of Dr. James Kent Treadway (listen to their StoryCorps interview), a beloved local physician for almost 30 years who followed in his father’s footsteps to become a pediatrician. Known for wearing eccentric costumes and his ability to make people laugh, Dr. Kent as he was known, listened as his patients recounted their stories of pain and grief while he continued to care for them following Katrina. According to his family, the agony that surrounded him as well as losing the medical practice he dreamed of passing on to his own children left him anguished. Months after the storm he took his own life.
Liyna, Jud, and Ira visited with Dr. Kent’s wife, Tyra, and his daughter Ardyn in the home the family was forced to flee following the storm. While Jud set up the recording equipment downstairs in a house that was uninhabitable for months after Katrina, Ardyn took Liyna upstairs to show her bulletin boards full of personal photographs that once decorate Dr. Kent’s medical office.
Following Katrina, Burnell Cotlon (listen to his StoryCorps interview) spent more than two years living in a FEMA trailer. The Army veteran and father who lost everything in the storm noticed that the Lower Ninth Ward no longer had a community grocery store so he took money he had saved and bought a rundown building opening his neighborhood’s only market. His plaza also consists of a barbershop and a sweetshop.
Burnell gave Liyna, Jud, and Ira a tour of the Lower 9th Ward Market that opened last year. With a sign in front announcing “Makin’ Groceries”-New Orleans-speak for grocery shopping-it has become a place where local kids hang around after school lounging on picnic tables and where inside customers can find fresh fruits and vegetables. Other shelves are lined with items like packaged and canned goods and due to local demand Burnell also offers sneakers and baby clothing.
Another section of his plaza-the sweetshop-sells prepared foods, ice cream, and snowballs (snow cones) in dozens of flavors (including customer favorite, tiger’s blood, which Burnell and others described as “the best mix of strawberry and coconut you can imagine.”)
Burnell’s mother Lillie shared with Liyna and Jud a story about her son’s long-held entrepreneurial streak recalling that when he was a child he would leave home early for school. At the time she didn’t know why, but later she discovered that Burnell was going to the local candy factory before school and later selling the sweets to his classmates out of his locker. Now employing six people, Burnell’s store has recently begun accepting EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) cards and he has also started making deliveries to those unable to get to the market on their own.
While the Lower 9th Ward market is not yet profitable, Burnell’s immediate goal is to raise enough money to buy a commercial grade refrigerator so that he can regularly stock dairy and meat items. Eventually he hopes to keep expanding by opening the first Laundromat in the Lower Ninth Ward since Katrina while also helping to fulfill his community’s needed for a notary public.
If you would like to help the Lower 9th Ward Market supply groceries to the community please check out their Go Fund Me page.
For other market information find them on their new Facebook page.