Beginning Thanksgiving night, PBS will air Listening Is an Act of Love, a new TV special (the first in cartoon form!) from StoryCorps, an organization that asks “everyday people to share their conversations with family and friends”. The animation was done by the Rauch Brothers, Mike and Tim (designer on The Wonder Pets!, a favorite of my niece).
The half-hour animated show presents six oral histories demonstrating the “transformative power of listening” as part of POV (Point of View), the documentary series. Two of them, “Miss Devine” and “No More Questions!”, have already aired, so you can watch them on the website. Check local listings for specific times where Listening Is an Act of Love will be airing in your area.
StoryCorps also has created the “holiday” the National Day of Listening, taking place on the Friday after Thanksgiving, to “encourage people to take the time to record conversations with loved ones”. Here are the descriptions of the six Listening Is an Act of Love segments:
“Making It”: Noe Rueda grew up poor on Chicago’s West Side. At the young age of 8, he already relied on his entrepreneurial talents to help his mom and three siblings make ends meet; even $20 would make his mother cry with gratitude. Noe tells his high school teacher Alex Fernandez about his childhood, and Alex shares his dreams for Noe’s future.
“Marking the Distance”: When Gweneviere Mann, a San Francisco native living in New York, lost her short-term memory following surgery to remove a brain tumor, she was forced to navigate life in a new way. But she wasn’t alone. With the support of her boyfriend, Yasir Salem, she found she could tackle the challenges her condition threw her way—and a few more.
“The Road Home”: Eddie Lanier ignored his father’s warning about the family’s disposition to alcoholism and struggled for over 40 years, until his 28th stint in rehab finally led to sobriety. Homeless and hungry, he roamed the streets of his native Chapel Hill, NC, and found a friend in David Wright, a passerby whose frequent donations stood out. The two friends discuss Eddie’s remarkable journey.
“Me & You”: In New York, 73-year-old Jackie Miller talks to her adopted son, Scott, revealing something about her early life that puts his adoption in a new and dramatic light. As they express their profound love for one another, Scott touchingly recalls how he came out to her and expresses his trepidation about the future.
“Miss Devine”: In Bradenton, Florida, cousins James Ransom and Cherie Johnson hilariously recall their fearsome Sunday school teacher, Miss Lizzie Devine, the only woman who scared them more than their grandmother. There was no earthly excuse to miss Sunday school, even if it meant arriving in your pajamas and tennis shoes.
“No More Questions!”: Kay Wang was a strong-willed grandmother who was reluctantly taken to a StoryCorps booth in San Francisco by her son Cheng and granddaughter Chen. Though Kay resisted, she still had stories to tell — from disobeying her mother and rebuffing suitors in China to her adventures as a Bloomingdale’s store detective. Kay passed away just weeks later.