StoryCorps: A New Form of Storytelling

Imagine being able to share your wisdom through stories with your future great-grandchildren. StoryCorps is bringing storytelling back to preserve oral histories and could be found on campus in the distant future.

According to its website, StoryCorps’ mission is “to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of our lives.”

“Stories have the potential to allow us to experience the world through others’ eyes. Not just know about what has happened to them, but actually experience it,” said Shelley Aronoff, Glendale College social science professor.

“This can be a powerful tool for building empathy and forming deep connections. We are more likely to stand in solidarity with others, rather than pass judgment on them, if we truly understand the complexity of their experiences and struggles.”

One of the ways that StoryCorps records these stories is through StoryBooths. These booths are like small recording studios with a soundboard, two microphones and couches for the interviewees to feel comfortable.

The process includes an interview with a friend or loved one and a facilitator that can take about an hour.

After they’ve been edited, copies of the stories are given to the interviewees and another is sent to the archives at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

Some stories are turned into animations that can be found on Stories also air on NPR’s Morning Edition which on some occasions have caused the stories to go viral.

They have StoryBooths in Atlanta, Chicago and San Francisco. A mobile StoryBooth was also created to travel the country and door-to-door services are available for those who are not able to visit a StoryBooth.

There is also a StoryCorps app that is available . On this app you are able to do it yourself. The app offers helpful hints and gives you steps on how to conduct a successful interview, including a reference table with interview questions on particular categories.

It also comes with a timer and of course a voice recorder. There is also an option to share your finished interview.

GCC’s eclectic campus would be a fitting place to host a StoryBooth, but it can be very expensive.

In order to do the stories justice, StoryCorps makes sure the sound, interviews, and content are kept at a professional level, and this comes with a price.

According to StoryCorps’ website, “we treat participants with the utmost respect, care, and dignity. StoryCorps maintains a relentless focus on serving a wide diversity of participants.”

The costs of hosting a StoryCorps booth can cost up to $3,500 and a $50 dollar donation is suggested at the time of interview.

Bringing StoryCorps to our campus is a far stretch, but it may be possible.

“Look around campus and you’ll see people of all ages from all over the  world. Each one of these people has a unique and important story to share,” Aronoff said.

“Bringing StoryCorps to GCC has the potential to shine light on our stories, which in return may build a stronger sense of connectedness and unity among the GCC community.”