Culture TED Prize

In the lead-up to the presidential election, StoryCorps celebrates #WhoWeAre

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If you head to today, you might notice something interesting underneath the search bar: an invitation to watch a series of animations called #WhoWeAre.

A collaboration between StoryCorps and Upworthy, with support from Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation and Delta Airlines, #WhoWeAre is designed to encourage people across the United States to reach out to others who’ve had vastly different experiences. It’s a call for connection in a deeply divided election season. From stories of people who got to know individuals who’d committed crimes against them, to stories of people who went above and beyond to help strangers, to stories of people who faced discrimination for their race, religion or gender and found ways to understand with those who persecuted them — the goal is to share stories that stress empathy and love.

As Dave Isay, the founder of StoryCorps and winner of the 2015 TED Prize, says in a short explainer video about the series, the animations are intended “to speak to our best selves.” He added over email that the idea for #WhoWeAre started shortly after he spoke at the TED2016 conference. “Steven Spielberg asked me to meet, and we came up with idea of trying to blanket the country with simple, animated StoryCorps stories,” he wrote. “We hope they’ll be a little ripple of hope in the midst of the madness.”

Enjoy the playlist above. Isay has one request as you watch and share: that you reach out to someone who thinks differently from you, and ask them meaningful questions about their life. For extra credit, record the conversation using the StoryCorps app — and upload it directly to The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.