National organization stopping in Phoenix wants to know your story

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PHOENIX - No matter who you are, everyone has a story. Whether it's about your grandparents or a historical moment some Arizonans are getting a chance to share those experiences all thanks to a national organization that's rolled into town.

Christopher McPherson and Matt Hinrichs are getting ready to share their story in an airstream trailer parked at the Burton Barr Central Library. They're one of 120 Arizona residents expected to do so for a national nonprofit organization called StoryCorps.

“We travel around the country and stop in different communities for about a month at a time,” Liliana Sullivan said. “Our mission as an organization is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to share preserve and record the stories of their lives.”
 
Sullivan is the StoryCorps mobile site coordinator. The traveling recording studio was brought here with the help of Valley public radio station KJZZ.

“We try to make it casual and as easy as possible,” Sullivan said. “Sometimes people plan their conversation, but more of the time people kind of speak from the heart.”

With the help of a trained StoryCorps facilitator, two people like McPherson and Hinirichs get an opportunity to share a story that holds a special place in their hearts.

“We talked about how we met,” McPherson said. “We've been together over 16 years and the fact that in July of 2008, we went to California and got married. We thought it was important that we tell about the fact that people make this extraordinary effort to get something that so many people get and it's like no big deal to them. Well it's a big deal to some of us especially when you’re denied that right.”

While participants can take home a free CD of their conversation, it can also be heard by many others across the country.

“We partner really closely with National Public Radio,” Sullivan said. “So some of the conversations, a small percentage, go on to be public, but all of the conversations are archived for prosperity at the Library of Congress.”

The conversations can be heard at the American Folk life Center at the Library of Congress for future generations to come. A little piece of history, Hinrichs is proud to be a part of.

“I believe everyone has a story and it is intriguing even if you think it's pretty average or ordinary,” Hinrichs said. “I think there are a lot of extraordinary things you can get from ordinary people's stories.”

For more information on StoryCorps visit http://storycorps.org