StoryCorps: Every voice matters

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Director

This week, we will briefly touch on the idea and importance of preserving stories today for future generations. This is really the heart of what Houstory is all about: recording and preserving those often small, everyday — but very much unique and important — stories that make up our lives. By doing so, you can help ensure your legacy can be shared with those who follow.

While, naturally, we think the Home History Book archival journal is a great way to do this — specifically regarding all the interesting stories that happen at home — it is by no means the only way.

For example, I recently started recording interviews with family members — specifically asking my mom and dad, as well as a few of my married brothers and their wives — to reflect on how they first met and eventually got together. My goal is to eventually put these audio stories  into a nicely produced and edited podcast so the family will always have them on which to look back.

Today, in that style of conversational historical preservation, I wanted to share one of my favorite resources and examples for effectively recording and preserving unique life stories and legacy: StoryCorps. I’m guessing if you are reading my blog, there is a good chance you’ve heard of this group, as it is quite popular.

As its Web site states: “StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 40,000 interviews from nearly 80,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress…We do this to remind one another of our shared humanity, strengthen and build the connections between people, teach the value of listening, and weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that every life matters. At the same time, we will create an invaluable archive of American voices and wisdom for future generations.”

Yes, it is as fascinating as it sounds. In fact, I met a StoryCorps representative a few months ago in downtown Austin, Texas. She was was travelling around the country in the StoryCorps van, recording people in the different cities she visited. To say I was envious of her was an understatement. But I digress.

If you have not had a chance, head to the StoryCorps Web site and take a listen to a few of the great stories they have catalogued!

We’d love to know your thoughts! Let us know —what are your favorite resources for saving and sharing stories for future generations? Have you ever listened to StoryCorps, or participated with the group?

If you have knowledge in a topic our readers may be interested in — such as historical preservation, home genealogy or homes in general — and are interested in writing a guest column for us, please let us know! Contact us at info@homehistorybook.com.

Also please be sure to visit our Web site at www.homehistorybook.com

This week, a little less home history and a little more hamburger

By Dan Hiestand — Houstory Publishing Marketing Director

Like everyone else these days, I don’t seem to have  enough time. Which is why this week, I’m taking the ‘easy road’ when it comes to a blog post. Mike —  my brother and business partner — and I are preparing for our first trade shows next month, so I’m having to cut back a little on social media output. I will be back next week, but this week it’s a holiday from home history.

Yes -- I will do this again. Gotta love the jelly oozing out!

And what better way to take a break then with some good food? I recently moved to Austin, Texas to start Houstory operations down south  (although the company is still based in Ferndale, Wash., where Mike lives). It’s been a lot of fun. Last weekend, my parents came and visited me and my wife so of course we had to show them a good time, Texas style. And like any trip down to the Lone Star state, it included a lot of history (tours of the state capitol, a visit to the supposedly haunted and historic Driskill Hotel, etc.) and — perhaps more importantly — food excursions.  Go big, or go home, right?

I’m pretty sure I’ve gained about 10 pounds since moving down there — between all the Tex-Mex cuisine, barbecue and southern cooking I’ve enjoyed. Well, the debauchery continued last weekend with a stop at Smitty’s Cafe and Bakery in Brenham, Texas. With portions the size of human heads, there is plenty of food to go around. I’ve included images of two of their specialities: a hamburger featuring peanut butter and it’s good friend, strawberry jelly — as well as chicken fried steak covered in queso and salsa.

Hanging on the wall at Smitty's...

My parents split this masterpiece. This is just one half!

For good measure, I also included the  “Cowboy 10 Commandments” which was hanging in the restaurant.

Enjoy, and see you next week for more home history. 🙂

Houstory heading to Williamsburg & Philadelphia; Twitter time; baby, it’s cold outside

Before I begin this post, I first want to say I hope our readers in the Pacific Northwest are staying warm. My niece posted on Facebook that it was 17 degrees where she was in Ferndale, Wash. Ouch! Looks like I got out just in time.

It's always sunny...in Texas.

Until recently, I was living at the ‘Houstory World Headquarters’ in Ferndale with my brother Mike (the Houstory Publishing founder) and his lovely family — but in late December I moved back to Austin, Tex., to be with my beautiful wife and to start the ‘Lone Star’ division of our company.

As I look outside my office window (it’s a rather pleasant 76 degrees and sunny) I have to say I think I made a pretty good decision to skip winter. Sorry, that was just cruel. At least you folks up in Washington state don’t have to deal with ‘Cedar Fever‘ — a gem of an ailment I’m suffering from that strikes Texans during the middle of winter. I suppose that’s justice, though.

One more thing before I get to the news: If you are not following us on Twitter, I would recommend you do so. Lots of great info is being shared there by genealogy experts from across the world (stuff that you’re not seeing if you are only following us on Facebook or reading our blog).

Additionally, we will no longer be updating our Facebook page with tweets. As I’ve been learning, the two platforms are truly apples and oranges. Twitter will be a more ‘real-time’ resource — with a lot more conversational tone and a steadier stream of updates — while Facebook will include more substantial posts (but not as often).

You can find us at http://twitter.com/houstorypub

Tweet tweet.

Now the big news: We are very excited to announce that we will be attending our first two trade shows in March. The first one will be in Williamsburg, Va., at the Mid-Atlantic Innkeepers Trade Show and Conference (March 4-6). It should be a lot of fun, as relatively very few people have had a chance to see our books in-person. My wife Tasi will be joining me for that trip.

The following weekend, Mike and I shall be in Philadelphia at the Historic Home Show, sponsored by Old House Media Group. That show runs from March 10-11. If you are in the area, or know anyone who would like to see our offerings, please stop on by.

We have several more trade shows to attend throughout the year, so we will keep you guys aware of things. Well, thanks for reading, and hope ya’ll have a great week! (See, I’m becoming more and more Texan every day.)