They say listening is an act of love.
Morgan Feigal-Stickles saw it firsthand when he recorded an interview with his grandmother, Marmie in 2013.
She was 94 at the time.
He said he learned things about her he had never known before — like how Marmie’s mother knew she was pregnant with her first child even before she did.
Marmie died about a year after the interview. But her words and stories were enshrined in an archive in the Library of Congress.
Feigal-Stickles recorded Marmie through StoryCorps, an oral history project through National Public Radio and where he works as the mobile tour site manager.
A few months after Marmie’s death, Feigal-Stickles visited Washington D.C. He walked past the towering marble columns and the volumes of history in the Library of Congress to a computer where he pulled up Marmie’s interview.
“Listening to Marmie’s voice and realizing that she’s going to be there for generations was amazing,” he said. “It really struck home the power of this project.”
StoryCorps collects recordings of conversations between two people to show what life is like in the United States today. So far, the project has collected about 70,000 interviews from people around the country, all of which have been archived at the Library of Congress.
The project operates a mobile recording studio that travels from city to city to help people record their stories.
This month’s stop: Bloomington.
The trailer rolled into town this week and has officially begun recording interviews and conversations between Bloomington residents.
Angelo Pizzo, director of the movie “Hoosiers”, and former congressman Lee Hamilton were the first two interviews May 25.
For the next month, the booth will be recording the conversations of residents who have registered for the program online. The first round of appointments opened May 11 and within six hours, more than 70 slots had been claimed.
The second round of appointment registrations opened at 10 a.m. May 26. Registrations for Bloomington’s slots are closed, but residents can sign up for the waitlist at storycorps.org/reservations. If someone cancels their slot, StoryCorps will use the waitlist to fill it.
“We’ve been staggered by how excited people have been to become a part of this project,” WFIU Station Manager John Bailey said. “This will ensure that the voices of dozens of Hoosiers alive during this time will be preserved in a safe space and be able to be heard by their loved ones and the general public for generations to come.”
In every city they visit, StoryCorps partners with organizations that represent people of all races, backgrounds and ages.
The goal is to gather a clear representation of the town and all of the people who call it home.
“We believe strongly in helping people in communities who have been underrepresented or misrepresented in the media to tell their story, to amplify their story, to preserve their story,” Feigal-Stickles said.
That’s also the goal of the StoryCorps broadcast on NPR’s Morning Edition, where recordings collected from the project are shared with listeners around the country.
Feigal-Stickles said the broadcast helps people understand those who are different from them. It’s a chance to see that people around the country have similar fears, beliefs, ideas and concerns.
Recordings created in Bloomington have the chance to appear on NPR Morning Edition, but even if none from Bloomington are chosen, it’s the act of listening to one another that’s important, Feigal-Stickles said.
“Our lives are so hectic these days,” he said. “It’s rare to have this time to sit down, 40 minutes, turn off your cell phones, ignore the outside world and really just connect.”
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