Written by Alison Rogers, Living Stories

Whenever I find myself at an SA Woman Gathering or just a casual coffee and chat, the question always comes “What’s Living Stories about?” Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy telling people because I love doing what I do. I have seen the difference it makes to people’s lives.

Living Stories’ purpose is to work with families and individuals to create timeless character portraits of people they love. We interview people about their lives and create films or podcasts about their lives.

As a journalist I’ve always been curious about people, I find them fascinating.

I’ve interviewed Prime Ministers, Premiers and performers, but I’ve found the most fascinating stories don’t come from high profile people. Quite the opposite. And very often, people think their own story isn’t interesting. But believe me they are, and others, particularly grandchildren find them intriguing.

These real-life stories are about a world that no longer exists, a time before mobile phones and the internet. And they provide clues to the young ones about their own history and character.

We ask people about their key influences. The events that shaped them. What are their life lessons? We create a Living Story of their life to share with loved ones.

But how do these films or podcasts change people’s lives?

Some years ago, I interviewed a man who was 80. He told me all about his childhood and career, but I wondered if there was anything he wished he’d done differently.

He mentioned a mid-life crisis. You know the one, where the middle-aged man leaves his wife for another woman. He said he had regrets, but that he didn’t want to talk about it really. All the while the camera was rolling.

When we edited the film, I decided to leave the bit about the midlife crisis in the film, because it showed a different side to him. This wasn’t a “gotcha” moment. All our interviewees have complete editorial control over their films, they are shown the film before it’s finished and if there’s anything they don’t like, it is removed.

When I played him the film, he said he was happy with it. “What about the mid-life crisis story?” I asked. He told me to leave it in – he thought it was fine. We finished the film and delivered it to him. Three months later I got a phone call from him. He told me his grandson (who was in his early 20s) had watched the film about his grandpa’s life five times.

“Alison, I want you to know that film has completely changed our relationship. My grandson no longer sees me as the old fart sitting in the corner. We are having conversations that I never thought we would have. He knows my back story and now he gets me.”

I love that Living Stories can help to create conversations and enhance relationships across the generations.

There’s another thing I’ve noticed in the 14 years we’ve been doing this. Most of the people we interview are in their 70s, 80s, 90s. This is a humble generation, they often don’t believe that their story is of much interest. But as they go through the process of being asked about their lives and recalling what they’ve done, I see them starting to walk a little taller. There’s some pride and a sense of achievement as they reflect on their life. And the studies back this up.

“Research has found that engaging in storytelling can lead to higher mental stimulation, improved memory, deeper social connections and increased activeness in older adults. Participants in life story research also generally report higher levels of life satisfaction and greater overall satisfaction with the care they receive.” Sierpina, M., & Cole, T. R. (2004). Stimulating creativity in all elders: A continuum of interventions. Care Management Journals, 5(3), 175-182

These are just a couple of reasons why I love what I do.

Almost every time someone hears about Living Stories they say, “If only I had known of your service before I lost my Mum/Dad/Grandma/Grandpa. I would have loved to capture their story.” I’m on a mission to let people know what we do, because I know the value of recording stories.

Please spread the word, I’m always happy to have a no obligation chat about what we could do particularly with Christmas around the corner

Get in touch with Alison

Alison established Living Stories, to pursue her passion for telling stories. Alison’s experience has given her a deep understanding of communications and the media from many perspectives.

Alison started her journalistic career as a cadet journalist with the ABC in 1989. She worked in NSW, Victoria and South Australia as a journalist and broadcaster for 12 years, on regional and metropolitan radio.

Alison worked as media adviser to Natasha Stott Despoja from November 2000 becoming her chief media adviser when Natasha was elected leader of the Australian Democrats in April 2001. She wrote a book about the experience called “The Natasha Factor: Politics, Media and Betrayal”.

Before establishing Living Stories, she worked with leading Adelaide PR and Marketing Agency communikate et al as PR Manager and Director (2002-2010).

Alison believes that some of the most intriguing stories may never be heard because sometimes the right questions aren’t asked. She uses her experience as a journalist to collaborate with the interviewee to tell their story.

Website: www.livingstories.net.au
Facebook: Living Stories
Instagram: @LivingStoriesAust
LinkedIn: Alison Rogers

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