StoryCorps 2017

The conversation of a lifetime
Credit Photo: Tony Rinaldo

StoryCorps, a renowned nonprofit organization celebrating the stories of everyday Americans, partnered with Iowa Public Radio to record interviews in Des Moines during September 2017 as part of its cross-country MobileBooth tour.

Having collected more than 65,000 interviews from Americans in all 50 states, StoryCorps has gathered one of the largest single collection of human voices ever recorded. Find some of the edited conversations collected from Iowans on this page. 

Courtesy of StoryCorps

Many Iowans are familiar with detasseling, the process of pulling the tops off corn plants to achieve cross pollination. For Jamie Christie Christensen and her daughter, Jenna Simpson Davidson, detasseling was an annual lesson in persistence and gratitude.

Jamie and Jenna stopped by the StoryCorps booth in Des Moines to talk about the connection they see between those summers in the fields and their time in the classroom.

Tony Rinaldo

Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected interviews with more than 400-thousand Americans.  Their goals are to preserve and share stories, build connections between people, and create a more just and compassionate world.

"At StoryCorps we like to say listening is an act of love," says StoryCorps mobile tour site manager Morgan Feigal-Stickles. "It's this idea of coming together with somebody you care about and just sitting down with them and paying attention to them and only them for forty minutes."

Courtesy of StoryCorps

Des Moines resident Gurwinder Singh Kapur moved to the United States in 1987 to study at the University of Kansas. Gurwinder had originally planned to return home to Singapore after finishing his degree, but he fell in love with America and decided to stay.

Courtesy of StoryCorps

Mary Madsen and Nancy Muhs are sisters, but they call themselves best friends. Together they faced the deaths of three of their six brothers due to Hunter Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that only affects boys. The life expectancy of those with Hunter Syndrome is about 10 to 15 years.

Mary and Nancy stopped by the StoryCorps booth in Des Moines recently to share remembrances of their brothers, and to talk about how they dealt with the knowledge that they could have passed Hunter Syndrome on to their own children.

Courtesy of StoryCorps

Mary Campos is a longtime Des Moines community activist. She was the first Latina to serve on the Iowa Civil Rights Commission and to be inducted in the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame.

Mary came to the StoryCorps mobile booth in Des Moines to talk with her cousin, Dawn Martinez Oropeza, who spoke with Mary about her childhood and the incident that led to her longtime involvement in civic engagement and civil rights. 

Story Corps is a national initiative to record and collect stories of everyday people.

Reflections on Resiliency

Aug 25, 2017
Courtesy of StoryCorps

Joann Ray has lived a life of struggle. After growing up on a farm in Temple Hill, Iowa, she went on to face multiple marriages and divorces. She worked three jobs while raising eight children and found time to go back to school and earn a nursing degree.

Earlier this month she stopped by the StoryCorps mobile booth in Des Moines with her son Steve Riley to talk about Steve’s childhood and Joann’s career path.

Story Corps is a national initiative to record and collect stories of everyday people.

Courtesy of StoryCorps

Anders Haglund is not your average 12-year-old. He’s observant, insightful, and, according to his mom Jenna, unfazed by the pressures of middle school.

Anders and Jenna stopped by the StoryCorps mobile booth in Des Moines to talk about personal integrity, the social hierarchy of middle school, and what they each hope his future holds.

Story Corps is a national initiative to record and collect stories of everyday people.

Finding Joy After the Loss of a Child

Aug 18, 2017
Dr. Richard Deming, Chuck Cutler, and Diane Cutler / Courtesy of StoryCorps

Charlie Cutler of West Des Moines is remembered by friends and family for his infectious smile and cheery disposition. In 2016, Charlie died after a three year battle with cancer. He was 26 years old.

His parents, Diane and Chuck, and his oncologist, Dr. Richard Deming, medical director of Mercy Cancer Center in Des Moines and founder of Above and Beyond Cancer, came to the StoryCorps mobile booth in Des Moines to describe how they honor Charlie's legacy after his death.