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My StoryBooth, My City: Chicago-Style.

Posted on Tuesday, April 15th, 2014.


A travel guide from our Midwest Crew–StoryCorps in Chicago.

Spring is in the air, fellow story-lovers! While that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people (such as allergy sufferers and love-crazed teenagers) we always seem to get the travel bug around this time. Which is why we thought it’s the perfect time for our second installment of our travel-inspired series: “My StoryBooth, My City.”

Last month, we began exploring the stories of our StoryBooth cities as told by the ones who would know best–our local StoryCorps staff. As we huddled near heaters up here in our New York-based offices, Amanda Plumb, Manager of StoryCorps in Atlanta, took us on a virtual tour of her lovely (and warm) Southern city and gave us a peek at what it’s like to collect stories in the ATL.

This month, since Spring seems to have sprung, we believe it is finally safe for us to travel to our StoryBooth location in Chicago, IL without fear of frostbite.

Chicago winter vs. not-winter. You see our point.

Chicago winter (left) vs. Chicago “not-winter” (right). You see our point.

Chicago is a special place to StoryCorps. It was the home-base of famous oral historian and our hero, Studs Terkel, and where our founder, Dave Isay, set the stage for his acclaimed documentary, “Ghetto Life 101.” So we were excited to hear what local facilitator, Andre Perez, had to say about Chicago these days.

Andre Perez (Left) with fellow StoryBooth facilitator Alicia Williams, at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Andre Perez (right) with fellow StoryBooth facilitator, Alicia Williams (left), at the Chicago Cultural Center.

So while we dig into a nice slice deep-dish pizza here, we hope you’ll enjoy our brief travel guide to the Windy City!

Around the StoryBooth:

“Chicago’s Storybooth is located in the historic and beautiful Chicago Cultural Center. While you’re here, you should check out the art exhibits and performances going on. We are a hop, skip, and a jump away from the iconic bean sculpture in Millennium Park and world-class shopping on the magnificent mile.”

Millennium Park.

Millennium Park.

Eating Good in the Chicago Neighborhoods:

“While you could spend days checking out the touristy parts of downtown, I encourage you not to limit yourselves. Our location is close to all major public transportation including the suburban commuter train and city train lines. Especially when it comes to food, the neighborhoods are where it’s at. Enjoy excellent Ethiopian food off the Thorndale red line. If you have access to a car, then take in Indian food on West Devon, Puerto Rican food on West Division Street, or Mexican food on 26th Street or Vegetarian soul food on the Chicago’s south side.

Each neighborhood also has its own unique feel complete with community centers, cultural institutions, and shopping experiences.”

A Day in the Life at the Chicago StoryBooth:

“On recording days, we start our day by opening the booth. We make sure all the equipment is working well and that our supplies are restocked. After I get caffeinated, I call future participants to confirm their appointments and email partner organizations.


StoryCorps in Chicago’s StoryBooth, located in the Chicago Cultural Center.

When participants come in, we guide them through the process, answering questions along the way. At the end of our recording, we say goodbye to our new friends, and begin the archival process. When the next participant comes in, we start all over. In between recordings you can often find me telling a stranger what StoryCorps is or researching new organizations to partner with.”

Partnership to Note:

“We’ve recently begun partnering with the Trans Oral History Project, a community-driven effort to diversify the range of stories available from within the transgender and gender variant communities. This group is developing a ToolKit for youth leaders and educators to use in teaching about issues impacting the transgender community. This partnership is especially exciting for me because it is by and for the transgender community. We get to work with community leaders who are making change by bringing their truths to LGBTQ young folks around the country.”

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