Making Conservation Personal with StoryCorps
Two people are talking on the radio. Their heartfelt conversation is so real that you pause to listen and realize . . . it’s a StoryCorps interview.
StoryCorps is a non-profit organization that preserves and shares stories that “build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.” People interview people they know: parents, kids, spouses, friends, co-workers, and the vibe is gentle, supportive, and genuine.
StoryCorps began in New York City, but now travels the country in an Airstream trailer equipped with a mobile recording studio. This past summer, they came to Kalamazoo and offered recording sessions to selected non-profit organizations and SWMLC was one of those they chose!
We were delighted and surprised by this opportunity to talk about conservation on a personal level!
But slots were limited and choosing who to interview was tough. Knowing that history has a way of fading if it’s not actively engaged, we decided to focus on SWMLC’s early days.
(To the many friends and supporters that we didn’t contact, please accept our sincere apologies! Your stories are valuable to us and even though the StoryCorps opportunity has passed, we plan on doing future interviews with the people who are part of SWMLC’s history. So, we may still contact you!)
SWMLC Media Specialist Amelia Hansen and Stewardship Director Mitch Lettow conducted the interviews, pairing people with shared experiences in hopes of sparking stories. Questions were sent ahead, then Amelia and Mitch met the interviewees at the Kalamazoo Public Library, which generously provided recording space after StoryCorps’ equipment was stolen from the Airstream. A StoryCorps technician helped folks get started, regulated the sound, and signaled when they reached the 40-minute limit.
The interviewees did an amazing job!
Sharing microphones in the tight, stuffy recording room, they all dug in deep to offer gently humorous tales and thoughtful, positive, inspiring reflections on the past and future of conservation in southwest Michigan. We’ve received three recordings so far – here are some highlights:
“Nature is what brings us all back together.”
“For me, to love the land is to be the best person I can be.”
“There’s a conservation movement and it’s been coming for a long time . . . and I’m proud to be part of that.”
“Conservation reminds me of how important the long view is.”
“A sense of curiosity helps, and don’t give up hope.”
“This (conservation) part of my life would not have been fulfilled . . . without the vehicle of a land trust and the community it created.”