The Living Stories Collective is an ongoing project started by Cynthia Carbone Ward and Lori Henning for the gathering and archiving of stories through personal interviews. Our intent is to document observations and experiences that might otherwise be forgotten and record the wisdom and lessons life yields. We want to provide an opportunity for individuals to share their memories and add their voices to a living historical record.

A few of the interviews posted on the site are older ones conducted with middle school students during Cynthia's teaching days, when she led an oral history project that was the precursor to this one. There are also shorter stories and profiles in the "Glimpses" section, which is presented more like a blog. 

Our approach is to meet with each interviewee in a setting in which he or she feels comfortable and draw from a basic list of questions that serve as prompts but not a rigid framework. In theory, we try to limit each session to about thirty minutes, but we always go over. And we listen, recording it all for later transcription. 

We believe there's something sacred about listening, and not enough time is spent in daily life doing it. We genuinely want to know how others navigate their lives and what lessons experience has taught them. We find it especially delicious that we are using modern technology to facilitate something so old-fashioned and fundamental. We'd like this website to be an enduring space and a sheltering place where visitors can linger for a while, quietly connect with other souls, then venture out again feeling fortified and less alone.  

We know there are other oral history projects similar to ours, and we gratefully acknowledge StoryCorps in particular as a source of inspiration.  But every voice is unique, and we hope to give many others a chance to become part of this pool of stories,  within our own little rural community of Gaviota and as far beyond as its ripples extend.

We welcome your thoughts, suggestions, and questions. If you have someone in mind you think we should interview or want advice for starting a project of your own, please let us know. The Living Stories Collective is a reminder of our shared humanity and a way for us to learn from one another. It's a labor of love.

Thanks to interviewers Rebecca August and Lori Henning, and to Xander Cansell, Carey Harrington, and Steve Walters for technical website support.