If you've been downtown lately, you may have noticed an airstream stationed on the south end of Market Square. That, my friends, is the StoryCorps recording studio; and it's pretty awesome that it's here in Knoxville.
Most people who are familiar with StoryCorps are so because of NPR, which features a StoryCorps segment every Friday morning during Morning Edition. While it's awesome that NPR features the segment, StoryCorps is actually its own entity. From its mission:
StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 30,000 interviews from more than 60,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind.
StoryCorps tag line is, "Every story matters," and I think that's such a sweet sentiment but also one that's often overlooked. In the ever transforming media age, I think we're beginning to overlook ourselves; and we forget about what a joy it is to sit down and just listen, just connect. Oral history is somewhat lost, and that's a shame.
I've been a fan of StoryCorps for a long time; and when I found out the traveling recording studio (The MobileBooth) was coming to Knoxville, I was hoping I could snag an appointment...and I did. So last Sunday, Halloween, my dearest and headed to Market Square to tell our story.
The process is simple. You think of the person you most want to talk to and then think of the story you want to tell. You need to go online to the StoryCorps site to reserve your slot. And then you just show up and...talk. A producer is there to guide you through the process and to take notes during the conversation, but for the most part it's just this really cool opportunity to sit back and talk to someone you love.
I talk to Scott every day and, yes, there was a producer in the booth listening to our conversation; but I found this to be an extremely intimate and personal experience. We talked about things that we haven't talked about in a while. We had a chance to review our personal history. And I will cherish it always. At the end of the session, we received a free CD of our conversation, and our story will be archived with the thousands of others at the Library of Congress. Forever. That's really, really cool. We were told that only about 1% of the stories are chosen for radio or podcast, but that doesn't even matter to me. This was one of the most valuable things I have done.
As I mentioned, you can talk about anything. But StoryCorps does have a few special initiatives to ensure certain stories are being told...and heard. I linked to the full list, but among them are September 11 stories, stories about Memory Loss and stories by and for the LGBTQ community.
It is completely free to tell your story, but of course the program survives on donations. Totally a worthwhile investment in my book. StoryCorps has already been here in Knoxville since the beginning of October, but the good news is that they'll be here for another week. If you'd like to participate, get online to see if any appointments are still available. Go archive a part of who you are.