"Empathy is the connective tissue of our community." - Lisa Kagan

The Peace of Wild Things
By Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Life Story Project Ideas and Services, An Antidote to Isolation

As I continue to work on my clients’ life story projects amidst this difficult time, I find wisdom and important insight in their reflections. How to make more out of less, not give up in the face of uncertainty, allow life’s difficulties to make you stronger and more compassionate, become the best part of yourself when facing the greatest odds, and how to show up when the world needs you the most. Stories are one of the greatest refuges we have, whether we are reading, writing, listening or telling stories, stories enable us to connect more deeply with ourselves and each other. If you have been wanting to start on a life story project, or are in the midst of one, this is a powerful time to tap into your own inner wisdom and tell your story.

A Writing Prompt to Get Started:
• What does it mean to you to live with grace right now?

Here are a list of resources and services that we offer through Family Heirloom Arts that can support you in your storytelling process in the comfort of your own home:

A piece of art celebrating multiple generations of a family, black and white photos of people seated on a the front steps to the family house.

Family Heirloom Arts Illustration for the Pieretti Family, by Lisa Kagan

We conduct oral history interviews for individuals and families. Carefully crafting a set of questions to guide the process, we utilize active listening techniques to help the narrator share their stories with comfort and ease. A high-quality digital voice recorder is used to record the interviews. The interviews can be conducted over the phone or through Facetime. The audio files are provided to the client at the completion of the project. We also provide transcription services for those who would like a written transcription of their oral history interviews.

The art of storytelling is brought to life through the creation of a finely crafted written narrative, preserving the voice and perspective of the storyteller through the pages. Using transcriptions of oral history interviews as a guide, we craft the narrative to engage the senses, evoke emotions and transport the reader in time and place. Voices from multiple narrators can be woven together to share different perspectives within the framework of a story. Social, historical and cultural context can be included to support and enhance the story.

Every great story needs a great editor. We help you revise, edit, and organize the life stories that you have written to create a cohesive narrative. Clarity of ideas, punctuation, and grammar are refined as needed to create a finished narrative that will stand the test of time. The completed manuscript is ready for inclusion in an illustrated book, or can be shared with family members as a stand-alone document.

Learn more about our additional services including project organization and management, digital photo restoration, and book layout and design. Consulting services (by phone or through Facetime) are also available if you are already working on your own personal history project and seeking assistance throughout the process.

Please contact us if you would like to set-up a free phone consultation to discuss your project ideas. Gifting a few hours of oral history interviews or writing coaching sessions to a parent or grandparent in your life can also be a meaningful way to honor them and counteract some of the negative effects of isolation, even if you are not able to spend face-to-face time with them right now.

Highlights from The BOX Sessions, Storytelling & Creativity

This winter I had the chance to attend The BOX Sessions, A Creative Gathering hosted by Laura Holson at 1440 Multiversity outside of Santa Cruz, California. I participated in a storytelling workshop with The Moth, and learned from inspiring storytellers from throughout the country including authors, television and movie producers, and world-class artists. I came home ready to infuse my Family Heirloom Arts clients and students with new ideas and inspiration. You can learn more about the BOX Sessions here.

A few highlights that might bring you some inspiration on your own storytelling journeys:
• Check out The Moth radio show and podcast
• Watch the movie: The Last Black Man in San Francisco based on Jimmie Fail’s real life, tracing his experience of his childhood home, his neighborhood, and the effects of the gentrification of San Francisco, while exploring themes of community, home, family, belonging, race, and class. Jimmie was a presenter at the BOX Sessions.
• Check out Samin Nosrat’s cookbook Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking, which was adapted into a popular documentary series on Netflix. Through her talk at the BOX Sessions, she explored the intersection between writing, cooking, and personal storytelling.

Oral History Interviews
Writing & Editing
Book Layout & Design