The StoryCorps App (and the $1 Million TED Prize)

Today I downloaded the free StoryCorps App, which has been made possible with the $1 million TED Prize. I spent 20 minutes recording a conversation with my mother-in-law Jane in my backyard, while she held her granddaughter Georgia in her lap. I asked questions about moving from England to Canada as a young bride, raising her children and what some of her happiest moments have been. I asked her if she had any advice for her great-great-grandchildren who can someday hear this recording. I listened to her speak in her beautiful voice. Then I took a photo of us and uploaded it all to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Just like that, easy-peasy, we joined the largest archive of oral history ever gathered.

You can listen to my interview with Jane here.

Let me shout this from the rooftops: Download the StoryCorps App. Go try it. Use it often. Have meaningful conversations with people you love. 

Below a link to Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps, giving his TED talk on winning the TED Prize. "Everyone Around You Has a Story the World Needs to Hear."

I highly recommend listening to the full TED talk, but here are a few key excerpts:
I'm going to tell you a secret about StoryCorps. It takes some courage to have these conversations.StoryCorps speaks to our mortality. Participants know this recording will be heard long after they're gone. There's a hospice doctor named Ira Byock who has worked closely with us on recording interviewswith people who are dying. He wrote a book called "The Four Things That Matter Most" about the four things you want to say to the most important people in your life before they or you die: thank you, I love you, forgive me, I forgive you. They're just about the most powerful words we can say to one another,and often that's what happens in a StoryCorps booth. It's a chance to have a sense of closure with someone you care about -- no regrets, nothing left unsaid. And it's hard and it takes courage, but that's why we're alive, right? 
So here is my wish: that you will help us take everything we've learned through StoryCorps and bring it to the world so that anyone anywhere can easily record a meaningful interview with another human being which will then be archived for history. 
Imagine, for example, a national homework assignment where every high school student studying U.S. history across the country records an interview with an elder over Thanksgiving, so that in one single weekend an entire generation of American lives and experiences are captured. Or imagine mothers on opposite sides of a conflict somewhere in the world sitting down not to talk about that conflict but to find out who they are as people, and in doing so, begin to build bonds of trust; or that someday it becomes a tradition all over the world that people are honored with a StoryCorps interview on their 75th birthday; or that people in your community go into retirement homes or hospitals or homeless shelters or even prisons armed with this app to honor the people least heard in our society and ask them who they are, what they've learned in life, and how they want to be remembered.  
Every day, people come up to me and say, "I wish I had interviewed my father or my grandmother or my brother, but I waited too long. Now, no one has to wait anymore. At this moment, when so much of how we communicate is fleeting and inconsequential, join us in creating this digital archive of conversations that are enduring and important. Help us create this gift to our children, this testament to who we are as human beings. I hope you'll help us make this wish come true. Interview a family member, a friend or even a stranger. Together, we can create an archive of the wisdom of humanity, and maybe in doing so,we'll learn to listen a little more and shout a little less. Maybe these conversations will remind us what's really important. And maybe, just maybe, it will help us recognize that simple truth that every life, every single life, matters equally and infinitely. 

No comments:

Post a Comment