By Jan Worth-Nelson
“Listen. Honor. Share.”
Those are the basic tenets of grassroots story telling built into StoryCorps, the nationally-known project coming back to Flint for a month beginning Aug. 6.
“Listening is an act of love and generosity,” the StoryCorps brochure continues–and organizers from Michigan Radio and the Flint Institute of Arts, co-hosts of the visit, hope there will lots of all that in the StoryCorp mobile booth.
The renowned Airstream trailer, a fully tricked out recording studio, will be parked at the FIA through Sept. 6, ready to receive Flint community members and invite their stories.
Reservations required starting July 23
The non-profit StoryCorps team, devoted to celebrating the stories of everyday Americans, will begin recruiting guests who’d like to be part of the Flint project July 23. Reservations, free and open to the public, are required and can be booked online at storycorps.org.
Local residents can bring a friend or loved one for a recorded conversation (no more than three people total) in the booth. Chene Koppitz, FIA communications coordinator, explained the StoryCorps team will facilitate the 45-minute conversations, and copies of the interviews will be available afterward.
In a meeting with community representatives last month, StoryCorps representative Danielle Anderson said the team are coming to Flint, at least in part, to solicit and capture “stories of the area that are not part of the assumed ideas of Flint, whether those be connected to the water crisis, the Flint Town narrative, or the crisis in American manufacturing,” Koppitz said.
Michigan Radio to feature some Flint excerpts
Koppitz said later this year Michigan Radio plans to air a selection of the Flint interviews, and also host several events in the city in connection with the MobileBooth visit.
She added edited versions of some of the stories might find their way into weekly StoryCorps broadcasts on National Public Radio’s Morning Editions or on StoryCorps’ digital platforms.
The recordings also will be preserved in the StoryCorps archives at the American Folklore Center at the Library of Congress.
The Flint stop is part of the 2019 MobileBooth tour stopping in 10 cities. It started Jan. 5 in Orlando, FL and will conclude Dec. 21 in Yuma AZ. Other cities visited will be Birmingham AL, Chattanooga TN, Silver Spring MD/Washington DC, Philadelphia PA, Columbus OH, Memphis TN, and Dallas TX.
A StoryCorps team visited Flint several years ago–though not in the mobile booth–and the evidence of those encounters is documented in several dozen portraits on the walls of the Flint Public Library.
StoryCorps was founded in 2003 by documentary producer and MacArthur Fellow Dave Isay “to give people of various backgrounds the opportunity to sit down and listen to one another and have that experience recorded into collective American memory,” Koppitz wrote in a press release announcing the visit.
More than 500,000 people have participated since its founding, making it “the largest single collection of human voices ever gathered.”
EVM Editor Jan Worth-Nelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.