The Moth catalogues and collects memories from volunteers
By Greg Waldock, Staff Writer
Storytelling is a deeply-rooted human instinct. Sharing experiences and memories is a huge part of what makes up a culture. The Moth aims to gather together these stories from around the world, and let anyone hear them for free. This website is a collection of podcasts, spoken word poems, open mics, stand-up routines, and childhood memories from people speaking at events organized by the site. It creates an opportunity for ordinary people to share major or minor events in their life in an open and community-focused environment.
The foundation of The Moth is the website, themoth.org. There, they host libraries of videos and audio recordings of participants. They also run “Pitchline,” a page where hopefuls record two-minute pitches of the stories they want to tell. This almost donation-style method of collecting stories is core to the way the organization operates: it’s about ordinary people and their ordinary memories.
Aside from the website, the organization also posts YouTube videos, uploads podcasts, has published a collection of popular and fan-favourite stories, and offers corporate programs for office communications. They also host an annual fundraising “Moth Ball.”
For those more experienced in public storytelling, they also have live events featured in 26 cities around the world. Included in these are the StorySLAMs, open mic competitions similar to poetry slams common here in Vancouver. Contestants are drawn from a “hat” at the beginning of the show and perform for judges from the audience. The winners of 10 different StorySLAMs perform against each other in a Grand Championship for prizes, though as with poetry slams, participating is more emphasized than winning. The Moth also has closed mic storytelling shows featuring regular guests, and holds sponsored high school competitions across America.
The organization started in Georgia, where the founder George Dawes Green often talked with friends in the evening. He brought that tradition with him when he moved to New York City in 1997, and it became a regular event, and eventually a company. Since then it has hosted 2,818 live shows, including an unofficial one in Antarctica, and has featured Nobel laureates, prison inmates, and world-famous poets, authors, and public speakers. The Moth has been growing rapidly since its release, and has been active as a community builder in coffee shops, venues, and high schools around the world, bringing the power of physical, human storytelling to anyone willing to listen.