Past Event On January 18, 2020

Dave Isay, Catherine Burns & Brandon Stanton with John Donvan

How Our Stories Connect Us

Dave Isay, Catherine Burns & Brandon Stanton with John Donvan

“We are surrounded by so much phoniness that when you hear something authentic it cuts to the heart.”

Dave Isay

How Our Stories Connect Us

Program Date: January 18, 2020

Dave Isay (StoryCorps), Catherine Burns (The Moth), and Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York) have each gained millions of followers by uncovering and sharing the authentic and powerful stories of ordinary people—around a microphone, in front of a live audience, or with a camera and a question. At The Richmond Forum, these three panelists shared samples of their work and explored what they’ve learned about how our stories can connect us in today’s increasingly divided and digital world, and the ways we can use the lessons of their work to connect more deeply with the people around us—whether they be across the dinner table, the street, the community, or the political divide.

Explore the program book.

“I went through every kind of emotion during this panel. I laughed and cried and had some pensive moments, too. The speakers showed a genuine interest in sharing their inspirations and even their own vulnerabilities. At the end of the night, I felt optimistic about the world because hopefully, more of us will remember that we are all humans.”

– Subscriber Comment

ABout Dave Isay

In 2003, Dave Isay placed a single microphone in a “Storybooth” in Grand Central Terminal in New York City and invited everyday people to come in and record an interview about their lives. Since then, more than half a million people have recorded StoryCorps interviews for inclusion in an archive in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress—the largest collection of human voices ever gathered. Tens of millions more have been moved by the powerful stories curated from these recordings and shared weekly on NPR and online.

“We do this to remind one another of our shared humanity, to strengthen and build the connections between people, to teach the value of listening, and to weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that everyone’s story matters.”

Dave Isay is the founder of StoryCorps and the recipient of numerous broadcasting honors, including six Peabody Awards and a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. He is the author/editor of numerous books that grew out of his public radio documentary work, including the New York Times bestsellers: Listening Is an Act of Love, Mom: A Celebration of Mothers from StoryCorps, All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps, and Ties That Bind: Stories of Love and Gratitude From the First Ten Years of StoryCorps.

In 2015, Dave was recognized with the TED Prize, awarded annually to one exceptional individual with a creative, bold vision to spark global change. In April 2016, the fifth StoryCorps book, Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work, was released.

About Catherine Burns

The Moth’s mission is “to promote the art and craft of storytelling and to honor and celebrate the diversity and commonality of human experience.” Since its launch in 1997, The Moth has presented thousands of stories, each told live and without notes.

Moth shows are renowned for the great range of human experiences they showcase. Each show starts with a theme, and the storytellers explore it, often in unexpected ways. Since each story is true and every voice authentic, the shows dance between documentary and theater, creating a unique, intimate, and often enlightening experience for the audience.

The Moth podcast is downloaded more than 50 million times a year, and each week, the Peabody Award-winning The Moth Radio Hour is heard on over 480 radio stations worldwide.

Catherine Burns is the longtime Artistic Director of The Moth and one of the hosts of The Moth Radio Hour. As a lead director on the Moth Main-stage since 2003, she has helped hundreds of people craft their stories, including a retired New York City detective, a jaguar tracker, and an exonerated prisoner. She is also the editor of the three bestselling books: The Moth: 50 True StoriesAll These Wonders, and Occasional Magic.

About Brandon Stanton

Brandon Stanton began Humans of New York (HONY) as a photography project in 2010. His initial goal was to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers on the street and create an exhaustive catalogue of the city’s inhabitants.

“Somewhere along the way, I began to interview my subjects in addition to photographing them. And alongside their portraits, I’d include quotes and short stories from their lives.”

Taken together, these portraits and captions became a worldwide Internet phenomenon. HONY now has over twenty million followers on social media, illustrating both the value of storytelling and our desire to remain connected with real people in a tech-driven world.

Brandon’s gift for storytelling has spawned two best-selling books, Humans of New York, which spent 45 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and Humans of New York: Stories.

Who Else has spoken at The Forum?

More than 240 distinguished speakers have participated in The Forum since its inception in 1987. Our list of alumni includes past U.S. presidents, sitting heads of state, and leaders from the sciences, arts, business, and more.

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Presenting powerful voices so Richmond can learn. Empowering local voices so Richmond can lead.

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