Everyone Has a Story

By on May 9, 2018

StoryCorps tour asks Jacksonites to cozy up to the mic

JACKSON HOLE, WY – History is so much more than important dates and events that change the world. It is more than facts and figures and outcomes of wars, said Emy diGrappa, of Wyoming Humanities, and producer and host of think WY radio.

“History is yesterday,” diGrappa said. “History is last week. History is decades ago.”

History includes the lives of everyday people, their stories of living through depressions, or even just surviving with black and white TVs and before the internet, she said.

“When you bring people and faces and real-life happenings, then you bring history to life,” diGrappa said. “History doesn’t have to be boring facts, figures and old pictures.”

The StoryCorps Mobile Tour collects stories from around the country by offering recording sessions to people in different communities. Now Jackson will have its turn. It will record stories May 24 to June 22. Registration for recording times opens at 10 a.m. Thursday.

StoryCorps began in October 2003 with a story booth in Grand Central Terminal in New York City. Its mission is “to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.”

In doing so, StoryCorps hopes to remind people of their “shared humanity, to strengthen and build the connections between people, to teach the value of listening, and to weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that everyone’s story matters.”

The result is also “an invaluable archive for future generations.”

The booth will be set up near the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum on 225 N. Cache St.

StoryCorps will host an opening reception on May 24, the time had not been set as of press time, to show people the booth and answer questions about the process.

ThinkWy/Wyoming Humanities is partnering with StoryCorps.

“The humanities is a natural partner with them,” diGrappa said. “That’s kind of what we do, we tell the human story.” Wyoming Public Media is also a partner for the event.

People are encouraged to sign up for sessions in pairs, so they can engage in meaningful conversations that are archived. The recordings are archived at the Library of Congress. Recording sessions usually take about 40 minutes. Participants are invited to record in the language of their choice and discuss topics that matter most to them.

“This is a way for people to tell their favorite stories, share their lives and archive it in history,” diGrappa said.

Coming in pairs usually allows people to feel more comfortable during recordings. StoryCorps also provides a list of questions to get the conservation started. diGrappa said she hoped young people interview their grandparents, or a mother or father talks with their child. She’d love to hear two people who have lived in Jackson decades talk about when and why they arrived in town, what has made them stay and how town has changed.

“I just want a diverse collection of voices and ages,” diGrappa said.

The entire process takes about an hour, although the actual recording is only about 40 minutes. A facilitator will answer questions and sit in during the recording and interview participants who come without a partner. Facilitators will monitor the audio and keep track of time. They might ask a question during the recording, but are not there to interview.

Participants should bring questions with them—there are guides and suggestions on the StoryCorps website like: Who has been the most important person in your life? What was the happiest moment of our life? The saddest? Who has been the biggest influence in your life? What lessons did they teach you? The questions are suggestions to get the conversation started, but people are encouraged to go where the conversation leads them.

Some of the recordings might be featured on NPR. All of the recordings will eventually publish online, diGrappa said. Participants will also receive a digital copy of the interview they can download once it’s been archived.

To sign up, people can visit storycorps.org. Participants are asked to supply a $25 donation.

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