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Listening in San Francisco

Posted on Friday, December 19th, 2008.

On Sunday, the listening event we’d been planning for weeks went off 100% hitch-free. A large audience of nearly 50 people, including community partner prospects, StoryCorps fans and passersby, came together in the presentation hall at the Contemporary Jewish Museum.

A silence fell over the room as the late Studs Terkel began a soliloquy on the human voice, a passionate portrait of man’s devotion to the art of storytelling. I could tell it was well received when the audience failed to notice the bumbling amateur photographer (me) rushing to each side of the room to take essentially the same photograph. Site Supervisor Sarah Geis followed the the recording of Studs with a proper introduction loaded with audio goodies and a basic breakdown of the StoryCorps essentials.


Perri Chinalai, the StoryCorps Memory Loss Initiative (MLI) Coordinator, had trekked from our Brooklyn offices to help promote MLI throughout the Bay Area. Her relentless efforts in visiting future Door-to-Door sites and preparing for the event proved to be extremely productive and are very much appreciated by the San Francisco StoryBooth staff. It was clear afterwards from the reaction of audience that MLI will be a popular one. Thank you, Perri.


The event-goers had been primed and it was time to jump head on into the StoryCorps experience via an iphoto slide show (alright not head on, maybe a hot tub ease-in?) Patricia and I found our moment in the sun. The slide show seemed to get the crowd a little more visibly involved and hands immediately shot up the moment it ended. I always judge a good presentation by the number of questions raised afterwards. It’s encouraging to see people actively seeking information about StoryCorps and wanting to participate in the StoryCorps experience. For nearly 45 minutes afterwards, Sarah, Patricia, Perri, and myself answered questions and chatted with everyone we could. The immediate feedback was overwhelmingly positive and I came away feeling better than ever about the future of the San Francisco StoryBooth.

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