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A Chance for Bayview Residents to Tell Their Stories

| December 7, 2013
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Bayview native Andrea Gooden and her brother prepare to talk about growing up in the Bayview in a makeshift recording booth. (Mina Kim/KQED)

Bayview native Andrea Gooden and her brother prepare to talk about growing up in the Bayview in a makeshift recording booth. (Mina Kim/KQED)

If you’ve ever gotten choked up listening to public radio, chances are you were listening to a StoryCorps segment. StoryCorps records testimonies of everyday Americans, often in booths and makeshift studios. The oral histories are broadcast weekly on NPR’s Morning Edition.

This weekend, a recording booth is in San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood. But the booth is not a typical StoryCorps structure.

“It’s a modified shipping container,” said Douglas Burnham, founder and principal of Envelope, a San Francisco architecture firm that designed the space. “It’s what’s called a sidewinder container, and that’s a special container that has doors where one whole side can open up.”

The inside of the industrial gray container has been outfitted to look like a living room, complete with wallpaper, two armchairs, and a rug. A big picture window cut out of one wall offers a view of the bay.

“It’s really a place to try to bring a home-like atmosphere, so people feel comfortable telling their stories,” Burnham said.

Bayview native Andrea Gooden came with her younger brother to tell the story of their parents.

“Growing up here for me was a lot of love, neighbors looking after neighbors. But a lot of the men who were going off to the war never came back, or ended up in jail. So my dad was the guy that all the kids who didn’t have fathers would knock on the door and say, ‘Can Dad come out and play?’” Gooden said. “Dad died this year. So we’re going to talk a little bit about that. What was it like growing up, feeling loved, being poor, but not knowing it because we were so rich with love.”

Gooden works for PG&E in environmental remediation. The utility helped fund the recording project, which is on the site of a former PG&E power plant.

These stories will help preserve the history of the Bayview, said Jacqueline Flin, who runs A. Philip Randolph Institute San Francisco, a longtime workers’ rights and civil rights organization that also helped bring the recording project to the neighborhood.

“Data show that the community is changing, there is a significantly smaller black population.” Flin said. “Our goal and our effort is to say to the remaining families, come and speak on your history and tell us your story and let’s capture that history for the legacy that will remain after we’re all gone.”

Some recording slots remain on Sunday for Bayview residents, and more recording events are planned for early next year. If you’re interested in participating, call 415-265-0228.

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  • sylvia kronstadt

    It’s important for people to realize that the consent form does not merely allow
    copies of their interview to be archived at the libraries. It gives StoryCorps
    sweeping, exclusive rights to their stories and pictures. “permanently and
    irrevocably”:
    Here are just two of eight stipulations in the release form:

    “TRANSFER OF RIGHTS: In consideration of the recording and preservation of the
    Interview, conducted on or about the date set forth below, I hereby relinquish
    and transfer to StoryCorps all title and literary property rights that I
    have or may be deemed to have in the Interview. I understand that these rights
    include all rights, title and interest in any copyright, pursuant to United
    States copyright laws. I understand that my conveyance of copyright encompasses
    the exclusive rights of reproduction, distribution, and preparation of
    derivative works, as well as all renewals and extensions.

    “I understand that StoryCorps and its licensees may, without further approval on
    my part, exhibit, distribute, edit, reproduce, publish, publicly perform,
    publicly display and broadcast the Interview, or any portion thereof, in all
    media, including but not limited to: radio, television, compact disc, in print,
    and on the Internet, as well as any successor technologies, whether now
    existing or hereafter developed.”

    You also agree that StoryCorps “may use my name, voice, photographic likeness
    and life story in connection with the exhibition, reproduction,
    distribution, publication, public performance, public display, broadcast, and
    promotion of StoryCorps, without further approval on my part.”

    StoryCorps, in other words, will OWN your story and picture, in perpetuity. You become “content” and “raw material” for an ever-expanding array of media projects.