November 1, 2012

Want to preserve a life story?

Everybody has a story worth telling.  Here's a great local resource to help you get that life story going . . .

Whitehall group focuses on life story writing

By Stephanie Hacke
Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 

The story could be one about the years spent fighting in World War II or an account of the holidays and family vacations.

Each person has a story to tell, and people across the region are gathering at libraries to record the stories to share with future generations through life story writing groups.

“It’s fun to be able to review your life and review all of the important events in it and to leave a legacy for your family,” said Debby Rampolla, Whitehall Public Library adult service coordinator.
The Whitehall library life story writing group, in existence for more than a year with about half a dozen members, is trying to expand, Rampolla said.

Sharon Lippincott, author of “The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing” and facilitator of the Monroeville Public Library life story writing group, will be at Whitehall Public Library, 100 Borough Park Drive, on Saturday at 10 a.m. to share techniques with participants.

Life story writing — not to be confused with memoirs or autobiographies — typically are short stories or “snapshots of life,” that allow people to write in their own style about an event or time that interests them.

“There’s no right way to do it,” Lippincott said.

Read more of this article:

October 16, 2012

National Day of Listening 2012

This November, the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Transmedia Oral History Initiative will be joining The Social Voice Project to promote story telling ---and listening.  The Social Voice Project is an official state partner of the acclaimed oral history project—StoryCorps—which is celebrating the third annual National Day of Listening on Friday, November 23, 2012.

"Each year on the day after Thanksgiving," said Kevin Farkas, founder of The Social Voice Project and managing partner of Veteran Voices, "we are asking all Americans to start a new holiday tradition.  Set aside an hour to interview a friend, a loved one, or someone in their community about his or her life."

"Too often we wait until it is too late," said Todd DePastino of Veteran Voices.  "Once these stories are gone they can never be heard again--unless we take the time to preserve them.  That's why we encourage everyone to spend a little time on November 23rd to talk, listen, and record the stories of a loved one, family member, friend, or neighbor."

The Social Voice Project and Veteran Voices will be taking part in the 2012 National Day of Listening by recording several interviews with veterans throughout the Pittsburgh area.
For more information about this year's National Day of Listening, visit the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh website.

August 28, 2012

Prompts & Topics for Your LifeStory

Check out this new resource from our friend and lifestory expert, Ian Kath.  It's one of the most inspirational and practical guides you'll ever need to help you capture and record lifestories!

Prompts & Topics for Your LifeStory

"A LifeStory, memoir, biography or autobiography is agreed by everyone as a great idea but a moment later when someone starts to make it happen they’re challenged with where to start and, “What would I talk about?”

"I constantly hear requests for Prompts and Topics on  the survey associated to the download of your free copy of Recording Life Stories, so I’ve created a new approach to an old problem.

"The traditional method of long lists of questions to prompt the conversations was both boring and generic and simply didn’t work. It missed the personal and didn’t promote the real passions someone has in their life. Over the years I had been using a different method when I connected with people which I knew had real power but I had to get it across in a way for you to understand."

Click here to listen to Ian discussing his new book.

July 23, 2012

Sonic Essay: Batman Colorado

By our readiness to allow arms to be purchased at will and fired at whim… we have created an atmosphere in which violence and hatred have become popular pastimes. 
                                                 Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Creative Commons License
Sonic Essay: Batman Colorado by The Social Voice Project is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

April 22, 2012

For Uncle Bill...

From our good friend, Ian Kath at Create Your Life Story . . . God's speed, Uncle Bill.

It Started with Bill, Now for Him it’s Over

by Ian on Sunday, 22 April, 2012

Today my favourite uncle passed away.

It started with Bill, …this site I’m talking about.

It was after sitting with him for a week recording his humble but (for his family), interesting Life Story that motivated me to want to share these techniques with you. What his six hours of audio has given my family is immeasurable but also, as often happens, what I gave him in asking to hear his story was to show how much I cared and how much those who love him cared about who is was. One of the world’s great Gentle Men.

We all have loss in our lives, now is my families turn again. Here’s a little of what he was like and for us will always be. Travel well Billy :)

I’m incredibly glad I took the time to capture his Life Story.

Please don’t procrastinate!

Please don't procrastinate!
Record your loved ones' voices and stories before they are gone. 

March 15, 2012

New Full Length Audio Stories

The Social Voice Project has just released two new Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh audio stories in their full length versions.

Every veteran's story is preserved in its entirety for historical and archival purposes.  An edited version is then made public with the permission of each veteran so that current and future generations can learn from these eyewitnesses to history.  

The interviews below were produced as part of the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh transmedia oral history initiative and recorded at the Father Ryan Arts Center, McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, January 27, 2012. Interviewer: Dr. Todd DePastino.

Howard Pfeifer of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania talks about his experiences as a Quartermaster in the United States Merchant Marine Service during WWII, including trips to arctic Soviet Russia, Australia, Iran, and Iraq. He was the last to crew the SS Exford, an American cargo steamer that was scuttled on 26 August 1944 as a breakwater or blockship at Gooseberry position No.2 Omaha Beach, Normandy.

Howard Pfeifer, United States Maritime Marine Service, WWII
(Andy Marchese Photography)

Thomas Wiley of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania talks about his experiences as a B-17 pilot in the United States Army Air Corps during WWII, including raids against some of the most heavily fortified Allied targets in Europe.
Tom Wiley, US Army Air Corps, WWII
(Andy marchese photography)


Let's thank our veterans by giving them a chance
to tell their stories for future generations. 

We can't do this alone.  We need volunteers and support to capture, preserve, and share the stories of Pittsburgh area veterans (including all of southwestern PA).  Your support to the nonprofit Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh transmedia oral history initiative may be tax deductible.

To help, contact: Todd DePastino at or call 412-623-9029.  To make a secure online donation by credit card, please click here
© Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh. Creative Commons. Attribution required. Non-commercial. No derivative works.

March 7, 2012

Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh Tuskegee Airman Wendell Freeland

Mr. Freeland holds the Tuskegee Airmen Medal of Honor
bestowed by Congress and President Bush.
Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh Tuskegee Airman Wendell Freeland: On march 5, 2011, the Veteran Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh transmedia oral history project captured the stories of WWII veteran Wendell Freeland.

Read the blog post and to view more photographs by VVoP associate photographer Andy Marchese.

The Social Voices Project is a founding partner of the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh transmedia oral history initiative.

March 1, 2012

Ed's Story

If you found out that you were dying, what would you do with the time you have left?  How would you write (and read) the last chapter of your life?

Ed's Story is our story. Diagnosed with ALS and given a short time to live, Ed wrestles with issues suffering raises: worry, identity, forgiveness, gratitude, and healing. Emerging from it all is his discovery that there is always hope.

In It Ain't Over, the first film in the Ed's Story series, Ed Dobson reminds us that life isn't over yet and that we don't have to feel overwhelmed by the struggles we're facing today. Difficult news can sometimes make us feel like our lives are over. Ed shows us that we don't know the future, and that things may turn out quite differently from what we expect.

Ed Dobson is pastor emeritus of Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and serves as a consulting editor for Leadership magazine. He holds an earned doctorate from the University of Virginia, and is author of numerous books, including The Year of Living Like Jesus and Prayers and Promises When Facing a Life-Threatening Illness. He moved to the United States from Northern Ireland in 1964 and now lives with his family in Grand Rapids.

Please visit Ed's Story website for more about Ed Dobson, the film series, and to learn how you can help complete the film series.

February 27, 2012

New Life Story Minute: In Between Edinboro and Aberdeen

Life Story Minute: In Between Edinboro and Aberdeen: Scott and his brother were born in the United States, but they grew up in Dundee, Scotland. Listen above or at the Internet Archive...