StoryCorps collects Vineyard tales
Since its arrival last week, the StoryCorps trailer has attracted attention outside Cronig's Market. Photos by Susan Safford
Grocery shoppers whose curiosity was piqued by the sight of a sleek silver trailer parked in front of Cronig's Market in Vineyard Haven last week got their questions answered at a festive reception Thursday. Neither space capsule nor milk tanker, the trailer is a rolling studio for StoryCorps, a project of National Public Radio (NPR), which gathers interviews with everyday citizens across the United States. Beginning last Thursday morning and continuing until May 19, every day except Sunday, Vineyarders are coming to the compact recording facility to tell their personal stories. By the time the trailer heads to Orleans for its next recording stint, May 24 through June 8, more than 50 Island interviews will be completed. Along with being archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, if the subjects agree, copies will also be kept at the Oral History Center of the Martha's Vineyard Museum in Edgartown and be made available for educational and non-commercial use. Each participant will receive a copy of the recording session to take home and excerpts from many of the interviews will be aired on NPR and/or on WCAI, the Cape and Islands public radio station.
Facilitator Elaine Davenport answers questions at the reception.
Instead of a having a professional interviewer question the subject, StoryCorps solicits friends or relatives to conduct the conversations. These interview partners are scheduled to work together. The intention is that interviews will focus on the subject's personal life, and be spontaneous and unrehearsed.
Facilitator Sarah Geis in the recording booth where interviews take place.
Mark Alan Lovewell strolled in the sunshine in front of the trailer, singing sea chanties and urging the small crowd to join in. Pastry and coffee was set up on a table nearby along with information about Story Corps, WCAI, and a small display from the Martha's Vineyard Museum's oral history center in Edgartown.
Eliza Bettinger, senior coordinator for StoryCorps, inside the trailer.
This Vineyard visitor is one of three StoryCorps trailers; a second one travels West of the Mississippi and the third, dedicated to specially themed projects, is currently collecting stories from African Americans as part of a program titled The Griot Initiative. The trailers generally spend one month in a given community but in this case the time is split between the Vineyard and Cape Cod where operations will be set up in Orleans. Staff members also said there may be a single day set aside for interviews with Nantucket residents.
For more information about StoryCorps on the Vineyard, contact Linsey Lee, 508-627-4441, ext. 113 or firstname.lastname@example.org or, for general information, visit storycorps.net.