Bethel Community organizers want to train Y-K Delta youths to gather stories and traditional knowledge using the latest technology available on cell phones. Adrian Wagner with 4-H Cooperative Extension and Grady Deaton with the Kuskokwim Consortium Library have teamed up to train young people on how to use the StoryCorps smartphone app in Bethel. KYUK’s Education Reporter Christine Trudeau sat down with the pair after their first of three workshops with local youth at the Bethel Library. StoryCorps was formed years ago by public radio producer David Isay. Wagner and Deaton tell us more.
Christine Trudeau: What is StoryCorps?
Grady Deaton: So, Dave Isay tells a story about recording on a tape recorder, when he was young, four of his grandparents, and then later losing the tape and for years searching for that tape, and that being the impetus for his StoryCorps project. He’s – I want to say five or 10 years now – StoryCorps been setting up booths for people to record on the street, in the train station, their stories amongst themselves. And they’re very simple, very straightforward questions to just explore our human connections. StoryCorps is [also] a podcast that publishes those stories that are aggregated from those StoryCorps booths around the country, and also now stories that are aggregated through their Story Crops App, and all of the Story Corps admissions are entered into the Library of Congress [in Washington D.C.] which is why I think it’s quite interesting too.”
Trudeau: Who would be involved? You mentioned working with – in various capacities of both your jobs respectively – the teen center, so youth would be involved in conducting these interviews, is that correct?
Adrian Wagner: So yeah, the youth component is the most important component to me, making sure to empower youth to do these interviews and actually go out and obtain cultural knowledge themselves instead of having it thrust on them. That being said, we want everybody to participate. We think that talking to elders is a good thing. We think elders going out and interviewing youth is a good thing. But we’re most focused on youth going out and interviewing people in the community. We’re hoping that people’s parents and guardians will help them in doing that.
Trudeau: When will this project start? When will these interviews begin to be collected and how would they then be connected to StoryCorps?
Deaton: So, actually we can start immediately. The StoryCorps App allows you to tag uploads and we want everyone to tag their upload with hash tag “Bethel snapshot.”
Trudeau: So, they would be recording these themselves on what devices?
Deaton: Matter of fact, the impetus started us talking about this in talking about how to do an oral history project and where we were going to get the equipment, and what we were going to record on, and that’s when StoryCorps came up into our minds because we can leverage the StoryCorps App available from the Google Play and IOS App Store, and leverage everyone else’s devices – as opposed to trying to put devices that we get and then put them into hands of kids. So anybody right now can download the StoryCorps App.
Trudeau: So that’s why you’re asking people to hashtag their uploads? So that they’ll have one place to go to find all of those Bethel stories?
Deaton: Right, and that probably is the key takeaway for anyone out there who hears a story and says ‘oh, they’re doing this and I want to take advantage and be a part of it,’ the key is make sure it’s tagged “Bethel Snapshot.” One word, hashtag, B-E-T-H-E-L S-N-A-P-S-H-O-T, “Bethel Snapshot,” that’ll keep all of the interviews together and we’ll actually be able to use one of the community features of StoryCorps website to aggregate those too.
Trudeau: So, what other events are coming up that are going to be geared toward getting more youth involvement and activity with this project?
Deaton: They can join us on the seventh of February, the twenty-first of February, for informational workshops relative to the App, and our application of the App, and then in the second week in March there is going to be a younger cohort at the 4-H, who are going to be working through it during their Culture Camp. Adults can get involved immediately, [and] anyone can call the library at anytime for one on one instruction.
Trudeau: Well, thank you so much.
Deaton: Thanks a lot!
Wagner: Thank you.