Inside StoryCorps: A Look Back
Ten years ago the cost of the stamp was $0.37, Norah Jones was picking up Grammys left and right, and our very own, StoryCorps, opened its doors (and ears) to begin our journey telling the stories of everyday people.
Now as our 10th Anniversary begins, we are starting to feel a little nostalgic. We’ve gone through so many exciting, nerve-wracking, and defining moments over the last 10 years. So, we’re going to spend Thursdays “throwing it back” with StoryCorps crew, John White, Katie Simon, Lizzie Jacobs and Michael Garofalo. These brave staff members agreed to take a trip down memory lane for your enjoyment, as they reflect on themselves and the organization, from then to now.
“One great life lesson after another, one participant, one story at a time, expanding our capacity for love and understanding. Can’t beat that.” – John White
Our first Throwback Thursday is with Senior Facilitator, John White. You may know John from such films as: The National Day of Listening promo video circa. 2009.
In 2003, John was living in Harlem in New York City. “Strivers Row to be exact, right across from the Abyssinian Baptist Church,” he says. “Uptown baby!” In 2007, John joined StoryCorps as a facilitator at large. “I travelled mostly with the Griot Tour and worked in the Grand Central Terminal StoryBooth. It was the beginning of the Door-to-Door program as well, so I went on some of those first trips.”
Now, John is a Senior Facilitator working exclusively for our Door-to-Door program. In his 6 years of traveling and recording stories, you can only imagine the sort of memories he’s made. One story in particular hit close to home: “I was on our Griot Tour in Detroit, first month on the job, and I look at this participant’s data sheet and notice he’s from Rome, GA, where my father’s family is from.”
At the time, it had been 25 years since John’s father had passed away. He didn’t have the opportunity to get to know that side of his family before, and he decided to use this coincidence, as his chance. “Here’s this complete stranger who is from my dad’s hometown. So I asked, ‘Did you know the White family?’ And he does. Not only did he know them, he describes them as ‘the cream of crop,’ one of my aunts was his teacher, and another aunt he briefly dated.”
The experience was without a doubt one of a handful of memorable experiences. “It blew my mind and connected me to my history. In that instance I knew that I was in the right place, doing good work,” says John, “I felt like no matter what happened on this job from that moment on, it was already worthwhile.”
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