Day 28: Leave a Legacy

June 16th, 2015

My parents' wedding

This is a picture of my parents, Judith and Curt, at their shotgun wedding. I adore this picture for so many reasons: the terror in my dad’s eyes (I think he was 23), my mom’s demure body language (she was 19), and the highwater bell bottoms my dad is sporting, which my mom recently told me were not even remotely in style at the time.

 I’m taking part in a 30-day writing experiment. See Kale & Cigarettes for details and the Facebook Group to read stories by other 500-words-ers.

“I’m like the sun in a pre-Copernican world.”
— some genius quote I heard on a Moth podcast the other day

I have this idea for a new creative project, and since it’s kind of an involved idea, I figured why not expend 500 words on it and get the points.

I’ve been writing (and posting) a lot of family stories. In addition to the fact that they are fun stories to tell, I am motivated to record these stories so that my girls will be able to read them. I was 43 when I had my girls, and all of my grandparents passed away long ago. My parents are alive and well—but they will be in their 80s by the time my girls are grown up.

I want my girls to know their family history, and I’m not just talking about their nationality and tendency toward mental illness. Every family has enough stories to fill a book; I’m sure of it. Pictures are fantastic, and our kids will probably have access to thousands of them, thanks to the Internet and social media. But who takes the time to write down their stories in actual words?

What if there was a web site that you could join to record your stories for you? Not exactly sure how it could work, but here are some ideas:

  • You get a prompt every day or week, by email, asking you to write about some element of your family. For instance, a prompt might be: “Tell me everything you know about your paternal grandfather’s childhood” or “Was anyone in your family ever committed to an insane asylum?” You simply respond to the email with whatever you want to write—it could be a few sentences or many paragraphs!—and the system catalogs it all for you, using keywords like “mother,” “grandmother,” etc.
  • You can include pictures to go along with your stories, or, if you feel like it, you can just submit a picture with a caption. “This is my mother at her first communion. Later, she converted to Judaism for love.”
  • Maybe there’s an app that accesses the Voice Memo feature of your phone so you can record stories verbally, and upload them to the site.

But how would your kids, and their kids, and their kids, find this stuff? How would they even know it exists? Would they have to have your login information to access it? That seems impractical at best. And what if this company were to go out of business?

It would have to be some sort of publicly-searchable library that anyone can access ten, twenty, thirty, forty years from now. Like a Library of Congress, but for stories. Or perhaps, to keep it semi-private, you’d at least have to prove your relation to that lineage.

What if it was somehow connected to or another such heritage-based site?

If I was a good businessperson I would keep my ideas to myself so no one else would steal them. But honestly, I’m more interested in the creative idea than the business element (which is why I own about 25 domain names and yet am still strangely un-rich). I want this site to exist—either because I invented it or because someone else executed it.

What do you guys think?

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One Response to “Day 28: Leave a Legacy”

  1. Tom says:

    I think this is a fantastic idea. How much more meant full than linking pictures of that couch you are listing over on your Pinterest page.

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