“The essence of America lies not in the headlined heroes…but in the everyday folks who live and die unknown, yet leave their dreams as legacies.”
Alan Lomax, folklorist and ethnomusicologist
I hope so, because a week from today is National Day of Listening, a new national holiday started by StoryCorps in 2008. On the day after Thanksgiving, StoryCorps asks all Americans to take an hour to record an interview with a loved one…”
It’s an extension of the mission of StoryCorps, an independent non-profit that has recorded over 35,000 interviews conducted by over 70,000 participants since the organization was founded in 2003.
David Isay, the organization’s founder, explained in Introduction to his book of Story Corps recordings titled Listening is an Act of Love that StoryCorps is built on a few basic ideas:
- That our stories – the stories of everyday people – are as interesting and important as the celebrity stories we’re bombarded with by the media every minute of the day.
- That if we take time to listen, we’ll find wisdom, wonder, and poetry in the lives and stories of people all around us.
- That we all want to know that our lives have mattered and we won’t ever be forgotten.
- That listening is an act of love.
What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than to participate in that act by interviewing a loved one?
The National Day of Listening website offers a Downloadable Do It Yourself Instruction Guide for participants.
The Regional Oral History Project at the University of California, Berkeley, offers more extensive Tips on Interviewing.
As a special part of this year’s National Day of Listening StoryCorps is asking everyone to take a few minutes to say thanks to a favorite teacher on the day after Thanksgiving.