There is something new greeting visitors to the Flint Institute of Arts. Beginning this week and running until September 4th, a shiny airstream trailer is outside the museum. It’s StoryCorps all set up in Flint and hoping to gather stories in its mobile booth for the next month.
Danielle Anderson, the associate director of the StoryCorps Mobile Tour says they chose to add Flint as a stop on their tour in part because the mobile booth had never been there before. It was also a natural fit for StoryCorps because of the strong relationships they have connected to the city, including an on-going project with the Flint Public Library and the support of Michigan Radio.
Participating in the mobile booth tour is a free public service, and anyone can sign up. Anderson says the one requirement is to register ahead of time. When participants arrive, they're guided by trained StoryCorps interview facilitators to help the conversation along. But the experience is very simple Anderson says, "it's forty minutes of recording time for you to sit down with somebody you care about or somebody you're curious to learn more about and you take some time to ask some questions and do some listening, thinkgs that we often don't have time to do in the midst of our busy lives."
She explains that StoryCorps doesn't look for any particular kinds of stories, saying, "We want people to use this space in a way that's going to be meaningful for them." Guests are encouraged to talk about family histories, community stories, and more. The mobile tour hopes to collect stories that are important to the people that come to sit in the booth.
Flint residents have had journalists coming in from all corners of the world to tell their stories, but Anderson explains that this effort is different. "We don't want to be one of those media organizations that's just dropping in to pull stories out and leaving." She says that is why their project is focusing on making the mobile booth a space that lets Flint residents talk about what's really important to them rather than seeking out a particular narrative.
"How people choose to tell their stories is entirely up to them," she said. "My goal is to just make people aware that the opportunity is there for them, and if they want to tell their stories, we want them to come in."
This post was written by Crissy Zamarron.