Here's the Thing

An experiment in making every day matter

Barbara Becker

Barbara Becker
New York, New York,
April 01
By day I run a small organization working on big issues - like international human rights and women's health care. By night I teach mid-career professionals at Columbia University. And in all the spaces in between - the most valuable of them all - I'm a mom to two amazing, if rambunctious, boys, and a partner to one pretty fantastic guy. Twitter:

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NOVEMBER 24, 2011 10:00AM

How to Add Meaning to Black Friday

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Studs Terkel


 Listen to Studs Terkel talk about what has been lost in modern life and where he saw hope for our future


Ah, Black Friday.  The most ironic holiday of the year!

Shopping list in hand, sharp elbows at the ready -- this is the day we beat back our fellow man in the quest for that perfect holiday gift for our loved ones.  Coming at the heels of Thanksgiving, it's hard to imagine a faster way to snuff out the warm glow of friendship and family that the season symbolizes for so many.

A few years ago I was part of an amazing team at StoryCorps, one of the largest oral history projects in the world, as we launched the National Day of Listening, an alternative (or additional!) activity for Black Friday.

We encouraged everyone who would listen to start a new tradition by interviewing someone they loved about their lives that day.  An elderly relative.  A returned service man or woman.  A teacher or the person who sells you your morning coffee.  At its heart was the most meaningful gift we could give another person --  telling them that their life matters and that we care.

There are some great tips and potential interview questions available for free. Questions like:

  • Who has been the kindest to you in your life?
  • What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?
  • What is your earliest memory?

If you can't find the time or muster up the energy for the project (we're only talking about a few minutes here), at least watch these beautiful animations from actual StoryCorps interviews.  They're my holiday gift to you, sans all the pushing and shoving!

Happy National Day of Listening to you all!


  Miss Devine

Remembering Miss Devine


Joshua and Sarah



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