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…)
StoryCorps’ Door-to-Door Department visited Madison, WI, to record at the 50 Years of PeaceCorps in Africa Conference. Friends María Moreno and Ephrat Livni are two returning Peace Corps volunteers who recorded an interview with us during a break in activities.
María, a Bronx, NY, native and professor in Madison, served in Mauritania, a North African Muslim community in the desert. After spending some time at her site, María rehearsed a comment about the moon in the local language; the moon was to be full that night, which she hoped to bring to everyone’s attention. When evening broke she and her hosts sat watching in awe of the moon’s light. “The United States sent a man there,” she said in her broken dialect and pointing to the moon. Her host father asked, “Now why would they do that?”
In our last week in La Crosse, Wisconsin Public Radio hosted a Listening Event and reception at the Pump House, to celebrate everyone who came and shared their stories with StoryCorps. It was a wonderful event that gave us all a chance to connect with others in the community over tasty treats graciously provided by the People’s Food Co-Op.
John Gaddo of WPR played a few locally edited excerpts from interviews highlighting the range of stories in the La Crosse community. Over the past month we heard from teachers, nuns, veterans, soldiers, activists, new parents, grandparents, immigrants, Peace Corps volunteers, doctors, and more. People shared their stories of trips, journeys, and discovery; leaving home and finding home; growing up on the farm and growing up in the city; first meetings, first loves, and first partners; finding strength in family and friends in difficult times, and their hopes for the future.
During the event it became clear that the conversations started in the StoryCorps MobileBooth didn’t stop when the recording ended. Participants spoke about sharing their CD and starting new conversations with their loved ones about one another. Library Director Kelly Kreig-Sigman also announced that the La Crosse Public Library will be receiving a full archive of all the stories recorded in La Crosse in the coming months so residents will be able to listen to each others stories whenever they want to.
While StoryCorps’ new team of Facilitators and Site Supervisors were training in our Brooklyn Office, our two Mobile Booths were preparing for their next stops in Fort Wayne, IN (East Booth) and La Crosse, WI (West Booth). Working with the Mobile East Team in Fort Wayne during their first week of recordings, I facilitated a conversation between business and life partners Harriet Miller and Monica Wehrle who talked about organizing an exhibition game with the former players of the Fort Wayne Daisies in their efforts to promote equality for women through the Fort Wayne Women’s Bureau.
A week later I joined our West Booth Team, new Site Supervisor Eloise Mezler and new Facilitator Jackie Sojico, for Opening Day in La Crosse, where we are partnering with WLSU Wisconsin Public Radio and the La Crosse Public Library in downtown.
Wisconsin Public Radio asked StoryCorps to stop by their Green Bay studios just in time to give local Vietnam veterans a belated “welcome home.” The event brought veterans together at the Green Bay Packer’s storied Lambeau Field – LZ (Landing Zone) Lambeau.
During the weekend, Downtown Green Bay roared its thanks alongside the engines of motorcycles, with drivers sporting jackets that proudly proclaimed their military tiers of service, whether it had been the U.S. Marines, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, or the U.S. Army. Cars had American flag bumper stickers that showed support for prisoners of war. Men and women walked about, medals and ribbons pinned on their jackets, berets, and hats, and lawns held signs welcoming the veterans to LZ Lambeau.
…an interdisciplinary college preparatory boarding school located on 1,200 acres of Wisconsin woodland boasting 22 miles of trails and eight lakes. Founded by James R. Lowenstine, The Conserve School in Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin offers its students an integrated educational program that explores the wonders of nature using the sciences, literature and the arts.
Facilitators Quentin Weld and Naomi Greene packed their warm winter clothing and headed to Eau Claire, WI last week for a Memory Loss Initiative Door-to-Door. Naomi and Quentin spent two days at the L.E. Phillips Senior Center conducting interviews with some of Eau Claire’s natives.
Eau Claire, which means “clear water” in French, lives up to it name with lovely views of the Eau Claire and Chippewa rivers. However, the city’s people make Eau Claire a special place. Our participants recounted their favorite memories growing up on their family’s farm. We loved hearing stories about tilling the soil, raising runt pigs and even making ‘white lightning’ for the field hands. A special thanks to our host, Paula Gibson, of Harbor House, for bringing StoryCorps to Eau Claire to capture these memories.
Our last night in Milwaukee was spent watching baseball at Miller Park, where the hometown Brewers defeated the visiting Yankees, 4-3.
Every ballpark has its own flavor, and in Milwaukee it’s meat. Four processed meat mascots, including an Italian sausage and a German bratwurst, raced around the bases between innings.
It was a great way to spend what felt like the first day of summer in Wisconsin. Next stop, Madison.
Ah, the beautiful Lake Michigan and the great Milwaukee County Park system.
Today a participant told us about a Milwaukee tradition: the the weekly fish fry at the Lakefront Brewery, which takes place every Friday night, music provided by the Polka Kings.
It took us a while to find it, but we were delighted by the place. It was a big open room with stained glass lanterns and big tables. We had a long conversation with the family at our table and gathered lots of helpful info about Milwaukee and Madison. The majority of the polka dancers were under the age offive.