San Francisco StoryCorps celebrates the 2,000th interview recorded at our StoryBooth!
The participants in this milestone recording, Yara Ahmed (L) and Ayori Selassie (R), each received a copy of a StoryCorps bestselling book to honor the occasion. Here’s Yara and Ayori posing in front of the booth, with their interview facilitator Frank Kingman, and the happy participants after the recording session:
OutLoud is a nonprofit youth media and development organization that “gives Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) youth and their allies a safe place to tell their stories and amplify the voices of LGBTQ youth across the globe. [OutLoud makes an] impact in the lives of young people by empowering budding radio producers to find purpose, connection, and skills that they can use in the future.” (more…)
It was 147 years ago on June 19th, 1865 that Union troops descended on Galveston, Texas, to take possession of the state and announce and enforce the emancipation of its slaves. Juneteenth is the holiday commemorating that day and the abolition of slavery in the United States. The day is an opportunity for people to celebrate freedom and equal rights, and last month, StoryCorps San Francisco was honored to join the celebration at Marin City, California’s annual Juneteenth Street Festival. (more…)
The heart of the StoryCorps experience is the opportunity to share an honest, uninterrupted conversation with a loved one, and all participants leave our recording locations with their interview on a CD, a time capsule of this special experience that’s hot off the presses! Some people listen to their CDs on the ride home, while others tuck them away in a drawer to share with future grandchildren.
But there’s another momento created at the end of every StoryCorps interview: the photo. After sharing stories, a few laughs, and sometimes a few tears, our participants’ conversations with their loved ones are visually captured. (more…)
Summer is here, and StoryCorps San Francisco is gearing up for an exciting June! Check out the events below for a preview of what we’re up to this month.
Saturday, June 9 –We kick off a month of events this weekend at the San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center to celebrate Pride Month at their Annual Pride Party. This year marks The Center’s 10th anniversary, and we’re especially honored to be part of this momentous occasion. This year, we’ll have a listening station featuring stories from our 2011 partnership with The Center. But we’ll also record more stories this year with staff and other community members who have helped make The Center such a vital and supportive institution. Click here for more information and a full line-up of the day’s activities.
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…)
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!
Happy Lunar New Year, from StoryCorps San Francisco!
The team had a table at the Oakland Museum’s annual Celebration of the Lunar New Year and Other Asian Traditions. The family event welcomed 2012, the year of the dragon, with a plethora of fun activities and special performances throughout the day. The colorful, lively party included an opening ceremony with a dragon parade, a mochi pounding demonstration, face-painting and calligraphy, and many tasty treats to sample.
At our table, attendees learned more about StoryCorps in the Bay Area by answering two questions on post-its: What is your earliest memory? and What are you most proud of We got many wonderful responses from party-goers of all ages! Check out our pictures from the day’s happenings below.
Happy Year of the Dragon!
Please note: The mochi pounding demonstation video was shot by our own San Francisco staff.
If there’s one thing I’ve witnessed time and time again while working at StoryCorps, it’s the power of storytelling and sharing to bring families, friends, and communities together. Stories also create the histories of the spaces we inhabit together, especially the neighborhoods and cities in which we live. I was reminded of this when StoryCorps San Francisco returned to Oakland’s Peralta Hacienda Historical Park to record interviews at this unique museum and community cultural center located in the city’s Fruitvale District.
Originally a prominent, Spanish colonial hacienda of 1800′s California, Peralta House is now a fully restored and preserved historical site. The center is, in a sense, a “living museum.” Through interactive multimedia exhibits and an array of community programs, the center brings to life the site’s past and celebrates the stories of the Fruitvale District today. In a city already known for its diversity, residents of the neighborhood trace their roots to all corners of the country and the globe, including recent immigrants from Latin America and Southeast Asia, as well as African-American, Latino, and Caucasian families that go back several generations. Their stories are the center of the museum’s exhibits and certainly celebrated in their motto, “Every human being makes history at Peralta Hacienda Historical Park.”
StoryCorps San Francisco kicked off National Teachers Initiative interviews this fall with a unique and innovative Bay Area high school, Downtown College Preparatory. DCP is a public charter school in San Jose, California whose educators work closely with students and their families to promote academic excellence and to develop the self-confidence and community support they’ll need to succeed in college and beyond. The school prepares students – most of whom are first-generation Americans and will be first-generation college students – to thrive at four-year universities. They do this through a singular goal set for each student: DCP students must gain admittance to a four-year academic institution before graduating from high school.
This fall, San Francisco’s St. Anthony Foundation celebrated 60 years of providing food, shelter, clothing, and health services to much of the city’s homeless population. The day kicked off with a Hope Rally on the steps of City Hall and finished with a BBQ Block Party in the heart of the city’s Tenderloin District. StoryCorps San Francisco was there to share some of the many stories we’ve recorded with St. Anthony’s community for the past three years.
A standout highlight for the San Francisco StoryBooth recording team this summer was our two-day recording trip to the Pinoleville Pomo Nation, the reservation of the Pinoleville Pomo people indigenous to the Ukiah, CA, area. Invited by the tribe’s Environmental Director, David Edmunds, Site Supervisor Natalia Fidelholtz and I took the trip about two hours north of San Francisco. Like most StoryCorps interviews, each conversation touched on a range of themes, though the thread that ran throughout was the importance of documenting stories of Pomo tribal history in the area, particularly those of community elders and leaders like Violet Carpello Renick (interviewed by David Edmunds) and Tribal Chairwoman Leona Williams (shown with her daughters Lenora Dawn Brown-Steele and Angela James).
The moment I walked into the San Francisco LGBTQ Community Center I could see it really lives up to its name. “The Center,” as it’s called by patrons and staff alike, is an inviting multi-level, brightly colored building that’s a hub for events and services to support the city’s diverse Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer community.
On any given day at the Center, patrons can find an impressively vast range of direct services and classes, advocacy organizations, and arts events going on. There’s the Transgender Economic Empowerment Initiative; Aguilas, a supportive, culturally sensitive group for gay/bisexual Latinos; Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits, which offers culturally relevant activities for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Native Americans; and the acclaimed San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, just to name a few groups that call the Center home. Their services are an especially critical support to members of the community who, as the Center’s mission states, often experience additional, intersecting forms of discrimination – people of color, transgender, lesbian, and bisexual women, differently-abled people, youth, elders, immigrants, and low-income individuals.
his July Tadashi Yoshii celebrated his 90th birthday. Joining him in for the festivities were his wife of 63 years, Lily, their three children, the children’s spouses, and their five grandchildren, now all adults too. To honor the milestone their grandfather’s birthday and learn more about Tad and Lily’s lives, two of the Yoshii granddaughters, Sachi Yoshii, 28, and Michi Yoshii, 26, decided to bring their grandparents into the StoryCorps booth in San Francisco for a couple of interviews.
Tadashi shared many of his favorite family memories with Michi and Sachi, including the birth of his first son, Kenny, and meeting his wife and their grandmother, Lily, at their church in Richmond, CA. Tadashi’s conversation with his granddaughters focused mostly on his experiences during World War II, a painful topic, and one about which neither he nor Lily had shared much with the family’s younger generations. Tadashi, or “Tad”, as his family calls him, was originally from Oakland, CA, where the Yoshiis were part of a large and vibrant Japanese American community. Growing up, he said, his parents tirelessly worked around the clock to run their family’s restaurant. The start of World War II changed everything. Tadashi was 20 years old when their family, along with thousands of other Japanese American families, was forced to leave their business and almost all of their possessions behind to be interned away from the West Coast, labeled as potential “domestic threats” in the wake of the Pearl Harbor attacks. In all, over 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast were forced to leave their homes during that time.
Today the big marriage issue captivating the country is the debate around same-sex unions. But, not long ago, it was inter-racial and inter-cultural marriages that sparked intense political and legal debate across the 50 states. It wasn’t until 1967 that the U.S. Supreme Court officially legalized interracial marriages on a national level. The case was Loving vs. the State of Virginia, named fittingly after the newlywed couple who brought the case before the court, Mildred Jeter Loving and Richard Loving. Mildred was African American and Richard was white, and though they lived in Virginia, they married in Washington DC, where interracial marriage was legal. Upon their return to Virignia, they were arrested. With the help of the ACLU, their case eventually reached the Supreme Court, and with the court’s decision, all interracial couples in the U.S. were legally free to marry.
This landmark court decision is now commemorated as Loving Day, celebrated with events and festivities across the country on June 12th, the day of its passing. To honor this year’s 44th Anniversary of Loving Day , StoryCorps San Francisco teamed up with the Contemporary Jewish Museum and the Loving Day national organization, LovingDay.org, to host a special community recording and art-making day for multiracial, multiethnic and mixed heritage individuals, couples, and families. We also set up listening stations with some of our favorite Loving Day-related broadcast stories.
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.
I love jump roping. It’s one of those things that can, in a heartbeat, take me back to childhood and make me burst with pure joy – like jumping on the bed or eating a giant ice cream sundae. That’s why I mostly think of jump roping as a recreational activity, at most a way to get a little exercise or train for other sports. Until I met Ho Ting Lam, that is. He came to the San Francisco StoryBooth with his teacher at San Francisco International High School, Elizabeth de Rham, aka “Ms. Elizabeth.” (more…)
The San Francisco StoryCorps team has now had the privilege of doing two recording days with families at the Mission Asset Fund (MAF), an innovative nonprofit financial services organization in San Francisco’s Mission District. They are committed to the local community’s economic vitality and self-sufficiency. Known by its primarily Spanish-speaking client base as El Fondo Popular de la Misión, their mission is to “expand access to financial services, savings and investment opportunities for work-poor families,” so that low-income and immigrant families are able to build credit, and remain and thrive in the ever-gentrifying area. (more…)
To celebrate the 2010 National Day of Listening on Thanksgiving weekend, the San Francisco StoryBooth and the Contemporary Jewish Museum collaborated to put on a fun-filled afternoon of family activities.
The program featured a “listening stick” art-making project, which was a big hit for all ages! In line with the event’s theme, kids and parents sat at tables hanging out together, telling stories, and adorning their crafty cardboard tubes with ears, collaged images, and even some written messages about the importance of listening in their lives.
Our world is pieced together by a million stories, memories that flow into a pool of words and images that often carry us through our lives as little bright lights of inspiration. When you sit in on a conversation between two people you are given the gift of being transported into that slice of life, that place and time that made such a difference in their lives.
In October, StoryCorps traveled to Anaheim, CA, for the SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Latinos and Native Americans in Science) conference. There, StoryCorps was witness to the encouragement and support that was a common thread through many of the 18 conversations recorded – mostly between students and their mentors.
Many of the students are now in graduate school, but had warm memories of the people who supported them the most during their undergrad years. There were a lot of tears and frequent gales of laughter during these conversations.