You never know what you might hear until you listen.

I’m spending a huge amount of my time right now putting together trying to put together a well-planned, almost choreographed short film. And that’s fine, there’s a place for that style of production. However the more time I spend doing it the more aware I become of the value of simply recording the natural conversations that we have day-to-day.

Civilisations such as Native Americans and Australian Aborigines have a storytelling culture that in our society to a certain extent seems to be missing these days. Yet I believe strongly that everyone (everyone!) in the world has a story to tell, and that we can learn a huge amount from each other by listening to those stories.

Which brings me on to StoryCorps (in the USA) and The Listening Project (in the UK – archived at the British Library) which are both projects which do just that. They give real people going about their everyday lives the chance to record a conversation that others can listen to. The conversations are then archived for future generations to access, preserving the stories and legacies that we all have to offer.

I would positively encourage everyone of you to go and explore what these two wonderful collections have to offer. But in the meantime, here are two of my favourites:

“Have you ever lied to me?”

A boy wearing glasses and his mom, hugging.
Joshua & his mom | Copyright StoryCorps

Twelve-year-old Joshua Littman was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome — a form of autism — when he was five. Soon after, his family moved from their home in England to the U.S. Joshua is now a seventh-grade honor student, but he has a tough time socially.

“Conversation between friends, Charlie and Ben, about their families and their pets.”

Two boys with their arms over each others shoulders.
Photo of Charlie & Ben | Copyright British LIbrary

Charlie, aged 8, and Ben, aged 9, are schoolmates who’ve known each other since reception. They discuss their pets, the ones they have now and the ones that have “passed away”. Charlie describes losing three pet goldfish through poisoning, being bitten and old age. Ben says he lost a guinea pig after it died and now he has another. Both discuss how it’s not fair that God lets innocent creatures die. They talk about loving Christmas and how no one can say no to Christmas. They discuss presents and how they both like them but don’t want to be spoilt and can feel guilty about their parents spending money on them. Overall they think Christmas is a good day during which you can spend time with your family and do what you want.

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