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StoryCorps Makes Month-Long Stop in Santa Monica

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By Jorge Casuso

January 6, 2020 -- Santa Monicans have a chance to add their oral stories to one of the largest single collections of human voices ever recorded during StoryCorps month-long visit to the beach city.

StoryCorps’ "MobileBooth" -- an Airstream trailer outfitted with a recording studio -- will be stationed on the Third Street Promenade at Wilshire Boulevard through February 7.

The renowned nonprofit has traveled the nation recording "meaningful conversations" between two persons "about who they are, what they’ve learned in life, and how they want to be remembered," organizers said.

It has collected more than 65,000 interviews -- which are guided by a trained StoryCorps facilitator -- from Americans in all 50 states, according to the non profit.

At the end of each 40-minute recording session, participants receive a downloadable link to their conversation, organizers said.

With permission from the participant, a second copy is archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress "for future generations to hear."

“StoryCorps tells the true American story -- that we are a people defined by small acts of courage, kindness and heroism," said Dave Isay, the award-winning documentary producer and MacArthur Fellow who founded StoryCorps in 2003.

“By strengthening connections between people and building an archive that reflects the rich diversity of American voices, we hope to build StoryCorps into an enduring institution that will touch the lives of every American family.

"Each interview reminds people that their lives matter and will not be forgotten,” said Isay.

The project's goal is to "create a world where we listen closely to each other and recognize the beauty, grace, and poetry in the lives and stories we find all around us."

Santa Monica's “stop” is made possible by a first-of-its-kind partnership between Santa Monica College (SMC) and its Emeritus Program, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; SMC’s NPR station KCRW (89.9 FM) and Downtown Santa Monica, Inc., organizers said.

KCRW will air a selection of the local interviews recorded in the StoryCorps MobileBooth and create special programs around the project, they said.

StoryCorps may also "share excerpts of these stories with the world through the project’s popular weekly NPR broadcasts, animated shorts, digital platforms, and best-selling books," organizers said.

"Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (DTSM) strives to provide moments that spark conversation and connection," said Kathleen Rawson, CEO of DTSM, the agency that runs the city's central business district.

"StoryCorps offers a unique opportunity for individuals to share their stories and to create an enduring picture of what life was like in our community for generations to come,” she said.

Said Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery, SMC Superintendent/President, “The ethos behind this project -- that every individual life matters -- dovetails in a singular way with the mission of our college, which is to inspire and guide human beings towards fulfilling their greatest potential through higher education.”

Sponsorship is provided by The Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows Santa Monica.

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