Life on the Road: Adventures with StoryCorps’ Mobile Tour Staff (July 24 – July 28, 2022)
Soap Lake, WA-July 24, 2022
Hello from Soap Lake, WA! We are pretty pumped to have two days of field recordings here!
This little city has been built up around…you guessed it: Soap Lake! The lake boasts the most diverse naturally occurring mineral content on earth, and people have flocked to the lake for its healing properties for centuries, from Tsincayuse or Sinkiuse tribes to World War I veterans suffering from Buerger’s disease.
It’s no surprise, then, that our recording space is a natural medicine practice full of peaceful, healing vibes:
Here, we heard stories about waitressing and bartending the city’s nightlife scene, an adventure that brought one woman here from Yorkshire, England, to Soap Lake, discussions, and plans to create the largest lava lamp in the world (60 feet tall!) After recording, Lea and I jumped into the lake to test out the healing properties for ourselves. We don’t know if it healed us or not, but we sure felt rejuvenated afterwards! We also felt grateful–Lea pointed out how lucky we are to hear stories about such a special place all day, then get to experience it for ourselves.
Leavenworth, WA – July 26, 2022
Lea and I are both off work today, so we are headed to Leavenworth, WA, a nearby Bavarian village.
En route, we got some delicious coffee at Favored Farmhouse.
We also couldn’t resist the urge to stop and take a dip in the Wenatchee River on the way. The air here smelled so splendidly of pine trees that even looking at this picture brings the scent back.
As we eat pretzels and overlook the colorful streets in Leavenworth, we truly feel like we’ve somehow traveled abroad. Life on the road can be like that sometimes–an hour or so away and suddenly we find ourselves in a completely new environment, seeing the world as if with new eyes. It’s wild how we’ve now seen so much, and, yet, there is always another unexpected gem around the corner, just as sparkly as the last experience we’ve had.
Moses Lake, WA – 7/27/22
We all have a way of creating home on the road as we travel to new temporary spaces each month. Teriyana likes to find health food stores where she can find her favorite snacks. Naomi likes to make playlists that remind her of the various places she’s lived. Sonia likes to take walks to explore her new surroundings. Back when she was a Mobile Tour Facilitator, Lea brought her favorite tapestry with her to decorate each room she stayed in. My ritual is to make Sun Art from the plants I see in the area. Since I grew up spending a lot of time outdoors, collecting leaves and flowers as part of the process makes me feel closer to home.
Here’s what I made this month from a bundle of lavender given to me by a kind stranger at the farmer’s market and some Sweet Gum Tree seeds that I collected from around Moses Lake’s Japanese Peace Garden:
Moses Lake, WA – 7/28/22
And just like that, we are done! We had our last day of recordings at the Civic Center today, said our goodbyes, and packed up.
After 10 months on the road, every stop seems to go even faster than the last. Maybe it’s because our days are so full, or maybe this is just how time feels at this stage in our lives. Either way, the car ride to our next destination is always a nice time to slow down and reflect. On Sunday, we will drive to Boise, ID so I’ll get the chance to do just that. I’m sure plenty more thoughts and adventures await that I would love to share with you, but this will be my last blog post for now. Thanks so much for tuning in! Until next time, I challenge you to ask your loved ones, or someone you’d like to know better, some great questions!
Click here to read the first installment of the Mobile Tour series.
Click here to read the second installment of the Mobile Tour series.
Click here to read the third installment of the Mobile Tour series.
Life on the Road: Adventures with StoryCorps’ Mobile Tour Staff (July 17 – July 20, 2022)
Quincy, WA-July 17, 2022
Hello from Quincy Valley! We are in this lovely city for some field recordings. A field recording is when we pack up our equipment and set up at a nearby organization to record with their community members. In the past, we’ve gone to homeless shelters, women’s homes, and small community libraries. We will spend three days at the Quincy Valley Historical Society & Museum (QVHS&M) in partnership with the Initiative for Rural Innovation & Stewardship (IRIS). QVHS&M is the heritage and cultural hub of the Quincy Valley community and IRIS works to foster sustainable, rural communities by gathering and sharing success stories that enhance a sense of belonging, inspire action, and build community. We are excited to see these two organizations in collaboration with each other through these recordings.
Besides being in a new location, these recordings are really special because they have been coordinated by our partner organizations. So far, we have gotten lots of powerful stories about agriculture and immigration here at the museum. For me, field recordings are such a personally moving way to learn more about the communities we are spending time in.
Here are a few pictures of our sweet set-up:
We are thrilled to be here! Each field recording day brings new themes to the space and is rewarding in its own way. Maybe we’ll come visit you someday!
Quincy, WA-July 18, 2022
Today I wanted to introduce you to Harriet and Nancy, who are making these field recording days possible!
Left: Harriet Weber (director of operations Quincy Valley Historical Society & Museum); Right: Nancy Warner (IRIS Archive Program Manager.)
In addition to recruiting so many community members to come out and record, they’ve also been acting as fabulous interviewers for some of our participants. They were kind enough to let me interview them on the process in the midst of our recording days together.
S: So, IRIS is based in Wenatchee, WA and serves many communities. Why did you want StoryCorps to record voices from the Quincy community?
N: Well, a lot of people drive through towns like Quincy and it doesn’t look like that much until you know some of the stories. And then when you know some of the stories and you have some relationships with the people it looks completely different! You just see it with new eyes! I think we all need to be a little bit more cognizant of where we live and our connections with people.
S: I’ve definitely been feeling that as we hear the stories from this community! Before we finish up, I wanted to switch gears and ask you one of the StoryCorps Great Questions: What are you most proud of?
N: Well, I guess I would say that I’m proud of having had this idea in the 1980s…I’m proud that I actually helped turn the idea into reality and created an online archive. It’s been a lot of hard work!
Before we head into Harriet’s interview, here are a couple of visuals of the beautiful Quincy Valley Historical Society & Museum that she directs. Have I mentioned that we love recording here?
S: What made you want to form a community partnership between StoryCorps and the Quincy Valley Historical Society & Museum?
H: Well I think it’s been a multi-year mission of ours to collect oral histories, and I’ve been doing that on my own for probably 15 years…and a quote I’ve always loved is “in the end we’ll all be stories”.
S: I love that! I’ll have to look up who said it! (Update: it’s Margaret Atwood). So, what does having StoryCorps here in Quincy bring to you and your community?
H: It brings a level of professional recording here and nationwide archive of people’s stories, and people who are familiar with StoryCorps, that’s really special to them too because they’ve heard snippets on the radio and they understand the importance of it. This work is really close to my heart and so this has been wonderful because it’s allowed us to have some support and help in making this happen.
S: Before we head out, in the spirit of StoryCorps recordings, I’d love to ask you one question from the StoryCorps Great Questions List: What are you most proud of?
H: I’m most proud of the fine human beings my children turned out to be.
Quincy, WA-July 21, 2022
While Teriyana and I spend time on the ground with participants and the partner organizations we work with, our outreach manager, Lea Zikmund, coordinates with them from our Brooklyn office. Well, usually she does…she’s actually on the ground with us in Moses Lake right now for a surprise visit! I spoke to her about the value of partnering with organizations like Nancy and Harriet’s.
S: What is the purpose of outreach on the Mobile Team?
L: In order to ensure that we are connecting fully with each community we visit, we conduct community outreach. Prior to arriving in a location, we research local organizations that are doing good work in that area and ask them to be involved. Through this model, we bring in unique voices and stories that add to the fantastic mixture of voices in our archive. Our goal is to uplift all of the voices everywhere we go as much as we can.
S: What is the purpose of field recordings?
L: Sometimes when we form partnerships, it’s easier for a community partner to have us come to them. Rather than record at our regular location for the entirety of a stop, our team will take a day trip to another organization and set up there to record.
That’s all for this week, friends! I’ll catch you next week for more updates on our adventure!
Click here to read the first installment of the Mobile Tour series.
Click here to read the second installment of the Mobile Tour series.
StoryCorps on “60 Minutes”
We hope you were able to tune into “60 Minutes” on Sunday, January 9, 2022. StoryCorps—a nonprofit dedicated to recording, preserving, and sharing the stories of Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs—was honored to be the subject of a feature on the premier newsmagazine program. But, if you missed it, you’re in luck–we’ve included it below. You can also watch StoryCorps on “60 Minutes” Overtime here.
Watch the full “60 Minutes” segment here.
The segment, hosted by correspondent Norah O’Donnell, profiles the growth of StoryCorps from its inception in 2003, when founder and award-winning journalist Dave Isay established a single recording booth in Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal, to today. As of 2021, more than 600,000 Americans have participated in a StoryCorps interview, preserving a piece of personal history in the archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and contributing to the largest single collection of human voices ever gathered.
Norah interviews a number of people associated with the organization, including Dave, Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden, and award-winning author and former StoryCorps facilitator Jason Reynolds. “60 Minutes” also visited StoryCorps’ headquarters in Brooklyn, where they filmed Dave leading an advisory meeting and a StoryCorps facilitator training, among other activities.
The feature also spotlights one of StoryCorps’ more recent and ambitious projects, One Small Step. Piloted in 2018, One Small Step brings people with different political views together to record a 50-minute conversation with each other about their lives, not politics and to date, more than 2,000 people in 40 cities have participated.
One Small Step is anchored in four U.S. cities, with an aim to connect people and reinforce the notion that we have much more in common than what divides us. StoryCorps gave “60 Minutes” unprecedented access to One Small Step conversations as they unfolded in Richmond, Virginia this fall and they also caught up with Dave in Charlottesville, Virginia, as he gave a speech at a kick-off event for the organization’s partnership with the UVA Democracy Initiative.
One Small Step is made possible by the generous support of The Hearthland Foundation, the Fetzer Institute, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Charles Koch Institute.
Introducing Our New CEO: Sandra M. Clark
StoryCorps is delighted to welcome Sandra M. Clark, who will join the organization as our new CEO in mid-February 2022. Sandra has built a distinguished career in media and currently serves as vice president for news and civic dialogue at WHYY, the main PBS and NPR affiliate in the Philadelphia area where she manages all news operations across radio, TV, web, and digital media. At WHYY, Sandra led the newsroom’s audience growth and diversification strategies, community engagement initiatives, and managed local news partnerships and funding opportunities. During her five-year tenure, she also led the station’s diversity, cultural competency, community engagement, and trust-building efforts.
As StoryCorps’ second-ever CEO, Sandra—together with Founder and President Dave Isay—will lead all aspects of the organization. Dave said, “Sandra’s vast experience, extraordinary leadership, strong moral core, and deep understanding of our nation and its media and social landscape make her the perfect person to serve as StoryCorps’ next CEO. I can’t wait to work alongside her in the evolution of this organization.” The search was conducted by Ann Blinkhorn of Blinkhorn, a firm that specializes in identifying and attracting transformative leaders.
A Pulitzer Prize
Prior to WHYY, Sandra served as managing editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer where, among other accomplishments, she implemented two of the paper’s most successful reader engagement initiatives and led the paper to a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2014. In 1983, she began her career at the Inquirer and served in various roles there over the years.
Sandra is a long-time advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity and last year was named one of The Philadelphia Tribune’s Most Influential African American Leaders. She also serves on a number of boards, including the News Leaders Association and the advisory board for the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication.
Shining a Light
Having grown up in a military family, with an African-American father from Louisiana and a Japanese mother, one of Sandra’s greatest joys is cooking—what she calls a “treasured inheritance” of history and food for the soul from her rich multicultural upbringing.
Sandra has always loved hearing the stories of everyday people and learning new places and cultures, having lived in Kansas, Louisiana, Japan, West and Southern Africa, and now Philadelphia, and traveled to many more places. She says one of her most “humbling and life-altering experiences” was as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa. Her two-year assignment was on an island with no running water or electricity, but what was most memorable were people with “an abundance of ingenuity and incredible generosity, and so much more to teach me than I could leave them.”
Throughout her life and career, this fundamental belief in the potential of every person has led Sandra to shine a light on those within organizations and the larger communities in which we live, who have much to contribute but are too often unseen and unheard. StoryCorps’ core belief in the power of people’s stories is what attracted her to the organization.
She remarked, “StoryCorps is a national treasure with unlimited potential to grow and reach more diverse audiences…we are living through unprecedented times and StoryCorps is well positioned to help heal the divisions by reminding us all of the power of empathy and our shared humanity.”
She added, “I am not a crier–never have been. But I confess, StoryCorps [stories] get me every time.”
Return to In-Person Recording
StoryCorps is excited to welcome you back to our recording booths in-person starting in Fall of 2021. Here’s what you can expect after reserving your appointment.
Prior to your recording date StoryCorps staff will be in touch with you to confirm your in-person appointment and to brief you on our safety protocols. If you decide to record your interview virtually instead, that’s perfectly all right. We will continue to offer virtual appointments in addition to in-person appointments. If you would like to record in person, please review our safe community agreements below. If you are not willing to comply with these agreements, we will require you to record virtually.
StoryCorps Safe Community Agreements
- -All participants and StoryCorps staff will wear masks fastened snugly over their noses and mouths when interacting in the greeting area and while in the recording space. StoryCorps will provide masks if needed.
- -All non-household groups agree to maintain social distancing. Participants who choose not to distance, do so at their own risk. All StoryCorps staff will maintain a 6-foot distance from participants at all times.
- -Prior to their interview, all participants will be asked to complete a health acknowledgment form to screen for COVID-19 exposure and symptoms and sign an acknowledgment of risk form.
- -All participants agree to cancel their interview (or switch it to a virtual interview) if they are feeling ill, have tested positive for COVID-19 within five (5) days of the Recording Day, and/or have been in contact with someone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 symptoms within the last five (5) days. If a participant is exhibiting symptoms upon arrival, StoryCorps staff will be required to cancel the interview appointment.
At any point in time, you can switch your in-person appointment to a virtual appointment. To do so, please contact your recording team. If you need to cancel your appointment for any reason, we invite you to sign up for a future virtual or in-person recording appointment if slots are available. If there are no appointment slots available, please join our waitlist, or we encourage you to record at your convenience using one of our free digital platforms: the StoryCorps App or StoryCorps Connect.
On your recording date, here’s what StoryCorps is doing to keep you safe:
- -StoryCorps staff will disinfect all surfaces and door handles in our greeting and recording areas, including all chairs and tables as well as all equipment and supplies such as pens and clipboards, with products that are at least 70% alcohol. The recording booth will be sanitized in between recordings.
- -StoryCorps will provide masks for anyone who needs one and will provide hand sanitizer for all participants.
- -StoryCorps will prioritize recording and greeting spaces that allow for social distancing, have HVAC systems that meet COVID-19 standards, and/or that allow for open windows.
- -StoryCorps will prioritize spaces with nearby bathroom facilities that allow facilitators and participants to wash their hands between engagements.
- -StoryCorps will ensure that the recording and greeting space are large enough for three (3) people to sit at least 6” apart from one another—including the facilitator. (StoryCorps recommends two (2) participants in each interview, but if there are three (3) participants, you should expect to share a microphone at your own risk.
- -We’ll prioritize surfaces (desks, chairs, etc.) which are solid (non-cloth/non-porous) so they can be properly sanitized.
- -StoryCorps will make sure that no external visitors or contractors are allowed in the recording space during the recording day, including family members, other staff members, and members of the press.
Please note that these recommended guidelines are subject to change at the discretion of StoryCorps, and in accordance with updates to local, state, and federal regulations and policies. If the requirements above are not met, StoryCorps staff will be able to end the recording. If health guidelines inhibit StoryCorps from recording interviews in-person, StoryCorps staff will reschedule in-person appointments to take place virtually.
Thank you for your interest in sharing your story. We look forward to seeing you soon!
A Daily Dose of Humanity
Whether you are new to StoryCorps or have been with us since the beginning, take a few minutes to explore some of our favorite uplifting, inspiring, and laugh-out-loud stories.
Laura Greenberg grew up as part of a gregarious family in Queens, New York. Her upbringing that couldn’t be more different than that of her husband, Carl. At StoryCorps, they told their daughter about those early days — terrible first kiss and all.
Read the full transcript here.
Celebrating the Stories of Chicago
Goodbyes are bittersweet. After more than eight years — and many wonderful interviews — in the region, StoryCorps is closing its operations and recording booth in Chicago in September 2021.
We’re proud to have had a booth and exhibition space at the Chicago Cultural Center and to have partnered with WBEZ 91.5 FM to preserve, share, and broadcast this city’s stories.
We want to especially thank our Chicago-based staff for their thoughtfulness, care, and excellence throughout the years.
Listen to the voices of Chicago
Since we first opened the recording booth, we’ve been bowled over by the heart of our Chicago storytellers. We’ve rounded up a few favorites below, but there are so many more to listen to in the Chicago Collection.
Jessica Valdivia and Jorge Valdivia
Jorge Valdivia and his sister Jessica Valdivia honor the memory of their older brother Mauricio Valdivia who died in Chicago of COVID-19. They reminisce about their favorite memories growing up with someone full of life who “went out of their way for their family.” They also discuss their experience with grief and loss during the pandemic. Read the full transcript here.
From the Archive: More Voices of Chicago
“A lot of kids don’t have a crazy dad to keep pushing them”Garry Scott Mitchell Junior, better known as Scottie, is currently attending Harvard for his doctorate in Education. His father, Garry Scott Mitchell Senior, was there every step of the way, guiding his son through his journey. Scottie and Garry sit down and reflect on the moments that forged his path today.
“Being able to forgive makes more life possible”Lisa Daniels’ son Darren was killed in a drug deal gone wrong. Lisa sits down with her friend Sherri Allen-Reaves to discuss the violent circumstances of her son’s death. She revisits the events of the night when she lost her son in hopes of redefining his legacy.
“We hope we do a good job”Meg and Bobby Hart met in the Peace Corps when they both were serving in West Africa. They fell in love and got married. Bobby and Meg come to StoryCorps as they share their journey of becoming parents. They discuss their hopes and fears of their unfolding future.
“Nobody else does what you do”Ellen Hughes feared for the life of her son Walker, who has autism, after he had an adverse reaction to a new medication. Then they met Public Safety Sergeant Keith Miller in the ER, who helped Ellen’s son — and herself — get the care they needed.
“Know that they are seen”Sonia Wang was a child of immigrants who had hopes of their daughter living the American dream as a doctor or a lawyer. Instead, she became a teacher on the south side of Chicago. Through her passions and dedication to work that supported a community she loved, Sonia was able to share the joy that her work brought her with her parents. She comes to StoryCorps to share how her parents handled her career choice.
“My disabled body is my happy ending”Anja Herman spends most of her time playing piano, taking Chinese classes, and doing ballet. On top of an already hectic schedule for a nine-year-old, Anja has another hurdle that most kids her age do not face—a physical disability. She opens up to her aunt Andrea Korovesis as they discuss the difficulties of juggling these challenges.
“I can’t wait to build a future with you”Arianna Hermosillo is a journalist who was covering a protest about the anti-immigration legislation when she met Irakere Picon, an undocumented immigration lawyer. The pair hit it off and went on their first date a few months later. Arianna and Irakere came to the Chicago booth to discuss their fears around Irakere’s work but left with their future in mind.
“Coming out at age 12”Carter Wagner knew he was gay from a young age but did not come out to his parents. When he was twelve years old, Carter decided that he could no longer keep such a large part of his life a secret. He and his mother Nicole sat down with StoryCorps to discuss the feelings and emotions leading up to coming out.
How a Streets and San man saved the day when the Chicago River flooded the LoopJohn Wahlfedt played an important role in a dramatic piece of Chicago history—the devastating flooding of underground tunnels in the Loop. His love for trains led him to learn about a forgotten train tunnel system beneath downtown Chicago. Knowing the underground tunnel, John was able to limit the damage caused by the flood. He came to StoryCorps to share his side of the story.
“You believed in me when you didn’t know me”Tiffany Baker was a troubled youth when she met Terri Treiman. Terri was one of the many social workers assigned to Tiffany. Unlike the other adults in Tiffany’s life, Terri remained patient and compassionate with the difficulties that came with their relationship. Years later, the impact of Terri’s approach inspired Tiffany to pay the kindness forward to kids in a similar position as her. They sat down with StoryCorps to reflect on the blessings that leap of faith brought them.
Our booth in Chicago may be closed, but it’s never been easier to record a StoryCorps interview with the important people in your life. Find out how to record your conversations remotely with Storycorps Connect.
Teacher Appreciation Week #GoogleDoodle Featuring StoryCorps Stories
We are kicking off Teacher Appreciation Week 2021 in partnership with Google to honor educators and highlight the voices of teachers and students.
You can find five StoryCorps stories in an interactive, animated Google Doodle here. These stories feature voices from across the country, and touch on everything from the struggles a young man faced as one of the first Black students to integrate his high school to two teachers reflecting on how COVID-19 has affected their work. The common thread across all of them is the incredible and lasting impact that these educators have had on their students’ lives.
Listen to all five original stories below.
From the first roll call of the 1964 school year, Dr. William Lynn Weaver was targeted and harassed by the faculty of his previously all-white high school. Then a former teacher stepped in and saved his life. Read the full transcript here.
#ThankAnEducator this May and June
This Doodle kicks off our #ThankAnEducator effort. This May and June, StoryCorps wants to spark a moment of gratitude for the educators who have been working tirelessly to adapt to our collective new normal while supporting and teaching students of all ages and needs.
It hasn’t been easy, but educators have continued to change millions of lives every day in virtual and in-person classrooms. Honor an educator in your life with a StoryCorps interview and show them just how much they mean to you. You can record a conversation remotely using StoryCorps Connect, or record in person with the free StoryCorps App. Find out more about our Thank an Educator effort here.
To discover more stories featuring teachers and students, explore a collection of interviews from the 2021 State Teachers of the Year. You can also read reflections on recording by Tabatha Rosproy, 2020 National Teacher of the Year, and listen to her conversation with her best friend about one of their favorite teachers here.
Thank you to the participants for sharing your stories with us, and thank you to teachers across the country for the tireless work and support over the past year.
Thank you to our partners at Google for celebrating teachers during a time when their work and dedication has never been more important.
StoryCorps is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.