12 December 2007

everyone has a story to tell

Have you all heard of StoryCorps?

StoryCorps was founded by Dave Isay, a familiar voice to NPR listeners. StoryCorps began with the simple idea that everyone has an important story to tell. With that in mind, Dave Isay and his StoryCorps teams traveled the country to small towns and large cities with mobile recording booths collecting the stories of everyday Americans from a variety of generations, backgrounds, and walks of life.

The Listening is an Act of Love Deluxe Gift Collection (which includes a hardback book, an audio CD with ten selected stories, and a companion book with few ideas on how to collect stories of your own) caught my eye at Starbucks the other day. I perused the description on the back of the box. Hmm. It made me think of Christianne and her work collecting the stories of hospice patients. I turned it over in my hands, intrigued, but left without purchasing it. This morning that I went back and purchased my own copy.

I listened to the CD when I got to work, barely able to contain my tears. These people are your friends, your grandparents, your neighbors; they are in line with you at the grocery store, they sit in the row behind you at church. And they all have remarkable stories to tell if only someone will ask and listen. There are stories from the Great Depression, from the ER, from military wives, from teenagers, from young couples, and from those who have enjoyed years beyond their golden anniversaries. There are stories of loss and of separation, stories of first loves, the deaths of parents, the loss of children. There are stories from Hurricane Katrina, from 9/11, from the trenches in the Middle East. A common thread of love runs through them all. You don’t need to know the people to be moved by the stories they tell.

It made me think of blogging and how those of us in this sphere are essentially writing our own stories as we move through our lives. It made me think of how our stories connect, and how that connection is a seed from which community grows. We all have stories. And I think we all want our stories to be validated somehow; we want to share them, we want them not to be forgotten. We use them to connect with one another in this virtual blogging space.

Especially at this time of year, I’m mindful of how I can be most generous with those I love. It has nothing to do with how much I spend, how big the box is, or how long I spent in line waiting to purchase it. I think the gift of listening to the stories of the lives around me is a gift. Validating their stories and our stories together. I think of the stories my grandparents have told, and how sad it would be if they were lost. I think of my parents’ stories, of my siblings’ stories. I’m inspired to collect their stories, to really listen, to record them, to write them down. To ask the thoughtful questions. After hearing some of these stories, I cannot think of a better gift.

So this is what I’m going to do to spread the love (thanks to Blue Mountain Mama for this wonderful idea): I’m purchasing an extra copy of this book/CD set. I'm going to send the extra set to one lucky reader. Leave a comment here by Saturday the 15th. I’ll drop all the names into a bowl and pull one out on Sunday. I’ll send it to you (most likely after the holiday mailing rush has passed), and then you can enjoy it too.

Merry Christmas, all! May the gift of Love be yours.

** If interested, you can purchase a copy of the book or the audio CD from Amazon.com.

For a sampling of stories, you can go directly to the StoryCorps website and click on “Listen to Stories” to hear 2-3 minute snippets of StoryCorps’ work. If you're anything like me, you'll get addicted to these moving first-hand narratives!

P.S. Check it out! Click here and scroll down to "On the Blogs". Too cool!


  1. Oh, me, me! Please pick me!! =) I'm so excited! Lately I have been reading blogs from my Google Reader and try to remember which blogs I want to comment on. . . but then Caleb gets into something andI forget to comment. When I saw this post, I decided nothing would stop me from commenting today.

    By the way (this is belated but since I'm here. . . ), I'm so excited that you get to go visit Christianne. Actually, jealous is more the word but it is an excited sort of jealous. Maybe you can even visit that cool coffee shop she and Kirk discovered recently. And then, when you finish with your trip to FL, you can swing on by Singapore =)

  2. Oh, that sounds exactly like the kind of thing that I would love! Add my name to the list, please...

  3. Cool. Count me in. I almost bought it the other day, maybe this is why I did not!

    Always good to hear from you, even if you are not giving things away!

  4. yes, we DO all have a story to tell... i loved this post, kirsten! definitely count me in! sounds wonderful....

  5. Please count me in, too! What a generous way to spread the love in bloggy land, Kirsten!

    Okay, so first of all thank you for the link love. But also, you will not believe how much this hits me right in the place that matters most to me. I should share probably share with you now, finally, that my business idea is entirely centered around sharing the stories of our lives in community and safety and making some sense of God's work in us through those stories. (Of course, you will get the ENTIRE scoop on this notion when you COME . . . VISIT . . . ME . . . next month!!!) So that is why this post especially made me jump for joy, not just that such a product exists but that you get it, girl. :)

    Love to you this day.

  6. Hi Becca! I will definitely add your name to the list. It is good to see a comment from you (and Caleb) here again. :o)

    I am SOOOOO excited about visiting Christianne! Sorry if that previous sentence makes me sound valley-girlish. ;o) And I definitely want to haunt that coffee shop. That looks like my kind of place.

    Hi Stephanie! I will certainly add your name to the list. I think you would really treasure these stories, also!

    Hello again, Carl! I'm glad to hear others are finding it & being drawn to it as well. I listened to the CD at work, but didn't even get to look at the book since my sis was busy pouring through the stories. It is so good! I love the little clips on the website, but it's just not enough! I think Mr. Isay really tapped into something wonderful here.

    Hi Blue! Of course I will add your name to the list. The giveaway idea was too good a one NOT to copy and when this came up, I knew I had to share. I wish I could send one to everybody!!

    Hello, lovely Christianne! Before I even thought of how I might enjoy this set myself, I thought of you, your hopsice work, and just your love for tapping into others' stories in general. After listening to the CD (haven't gotten to the book yet since Kaari has it right now), I knew it is something that would be SO up your alley! I'm so EXCITED to hear about how SC is developing and taking shape.

    Um ... 47 days and counting, anyone?? ;o)

  7. Ha ha -- you're so funny, Kirst. (I'm referring to your countdown reference.) Oh, and I meant to mention in my initial comment that I have SO already been planning to take you to Cup o' Soul when you come. I got ya covered, girl. :)

    And congratulations on the link love, girlie!! That is so cool!!

    Thanks for thinking of me with the book. I look forward to checking more into this.

  8. C - Yeah! I look forward to enjoying my own Cup o' Soul experience! I was looking at their website and was starting to feel warmer already! Right now I can think of few things more enjoyable than sitting in a hip coffeeshop with my friend, hands gripping a nice hot latte, with no particular place to go. Count me in!

    Bec - As for the "link love", StoryCorps found this post and linked back to it on their own website under a section called "What People Are Saying". How cool is that? I like to think of "link love" as directing people to another or more original source.

    You know what? "Link Love" is the web version of the "shout out"! I'm sure others could offer a better definition & are certainly welcome to do so here!

  9. Thanks for the explanation. Makes sense. One more question. . .Did you make up that term or am I just terribly blog-slang illiterate!?

  10. Pick me, pick me! That reminds me of a story from college, where a friend wanted to have a sign with "pick me" written on it, and hold it up in front of a particular boy. But i'm saying pick me for the drawing :)

  11. I'm pretty sure it's a term Christianne coined off the cuff. I linked to a post of hers, and I got a link to mine. Lots of linking love going on!

    Ilse - That's pretty creative about the idea of holding up a sign that says "Pick Me!" Maybe if I try the eHarmony thing again, I'll post a profile pic like that! :o)

  12. This is right up my alley so please count me in too. As you know, I’ve been trying to record my grandmother’s stories recently. I’ve had so many “driveway moments” listening to StoryCorps when I just couldn’t get out of the car because I had to wait for the ending. Now that I commute by public transport I don’t get to hear it any longer. A great gift idea too!

  13. What you may love to hear is that that steaming mug of latte yumminess that you will hold in your hand when you're sitting with me on the plush red couch . . . is going to be a cool handmade (meaning, very original) mug made by the owners and their teenage kids! They're really cool and fun to drink out of because you know they were handmade by them for that very shop. :)

    I got "link love" off some of the other girlie blogs I read . . . you know, the ones where I lurk more than I comment. :) I take it to mean passing on a link to something you love so that your readers can love it too, or receiving a link back from someone else who is letting their readers know something cool or lovely about you.

  14. Kirsten,

    I happened across your blog a while back through the THI blog list, then was referred back here by Christianne later. I read what you had to say the other day about the StoryCorps set and bought myself one from Starbucks this morning. It truly is amazing! It's actually right along the lines of a project I've been thinking about for some time now, so it was cool to find. Thanks for sharing about it, and I enjoy reading your blog.
    Sarah (was Pletcher, now is Winfrey...and I blog at http://sarahgracewinfrey.com, if you're interested!)

  15. Hey girlie . . . just wanted to let you know that Kirk and I picked up our Starbucks box set today (and a couple extra for gifts!) and absolutely LOVE IT. I cried my way through the first track on the CD, and cried on many of the others, too. We read aloud the introduction in the book in the car, as well as some of the synopses from the companion book. This is such an amazing force to be happening in our country. It blesses us both to no end. We want to explore how to get more involved!! Thanks so much for posting about it so that all the rest of us could know about it, too. Can't wait to read through the book!!

  16. Oh Christianne, I am SOOO glad you got a copy. I mean it when I said I wanted to send EVERYONE I know a copy. Especially since I first thought of you when I purchased it, I am so thankful that you now have your very own copy.

    That first track on the CD made me WEEP also; such a sincere and honest expression of a deep, deep love!! I haven't had a chance to dig into the book yet, but I have no doubt that the reading there will be enriching also.

    I too am interested in getting involved -- the idea of capturing the stories of real, everyday people is both simple and revolutionary in our celebrity-obsessed culture. So glad I could help you find this little inspiring piece for you!!