Ode to story-telling, home for the holidays

Bim Willow, named after his talent for transforming willow trees into unique furniture, has hosted the Michigan Peace Fest on his ranch in Locota for the past 18 years. (June, 2007)

It’s been a month since my dSLR camera broke. The holiday season has been kind in granting me the time and resources (I’m a broke AmeriCorps volunteer after all) to slow down and fix what needs fixing. Now with my camera ready to go, I’m motivated to hit the ground running when I get back to San Francisco. There is an endless supply of people and projects to write and photograph about, especially a community garden I, some folks from the SF Society of St. Vincent de Paul and a couple of  experienced permaculture designers are launching in the Richmond district this January.

In the meantime, I’ve been spending my time at home in Illinois rejuvenating from a chaotic, challenging, yet empowering, last five months as a caseworker in Oakland, CA. The broken reality of the hundreds of job-less individuals that walk-in each month struggling to keep stable housing, care for sick relatives or expunge rehabilitating criminal charges have compelled me to be more diligent about taking a closer look at the intricate mosaics of personal stories. Committing myself to a year  as a underpaid caseworker in a financially struggling social service agency is exactly where I belong right now. It’s been an invaluable opportunity to be immersed in the real failings of a system that does not give able and willing employees a chance to work and support themselves and their families.

I’ve been inspired in learning about techniques in documenting the everyday stories of people I work with. In addition to the videos from Media Storm, I’ve been plugging into audio narratives and  am excited to try recording a couple of my clients (with their and the Society’s consent) for this blog’s purposes. I really admire and respect what these media production groups and how they are appealing to National Public Radio.

StoryCorps… an independent nonprofit project whose mission is to honor and celebrate one another’s lives through listening.

By recording the stories of our lives with the people we care about, we experience our history, hopes, and humanity. Since 2003, tens of thousands of everyday people have interviewed family and friends through StoryCorps. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to take home and share, and is archived for generations to come at the Library of Congress. Millions listen to our award-winning broadcasts on public radio and the Internet. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, creating a growing portrait of who we really are as Americans.”

Long Haul Productions….documents stories of everyday lives, stories of people and communities in transition, and stories of ordinary people accomplishing extraordinary things.

When we choose a story, we’re really in it for the long haul: we spend months, sometimes years, getting to know our characters. These are documentaries that mark the course of human life: they’re inherently dramatic, immediate, and true. As such, they yield some of the most memorable programming in American media today, stories a thousand times more compelling than the sensational programs and news features that crowd television and radio, far removed from our everyday.”


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Filed under Journalism, San Francisco, St. Vincent DePaul Center, Urban Agriculture

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