True North: A Love Story In Five Maps recounts a couple’s courtship through their travels and adventures.
The Heart of interviewing
The journalist Isabel Wilkerson
once said the trick of getting ordinary people to open up about their lives is
to create what she calls “accelerated intimacy” between her and her sources.
Don’t ever lead the interview, she cautions, instead let it develop like a
I thought of that the other day
when I sat down to interview a young couple for a Short Take they’d
commissioned for their first wedding anniversary. They were easy-going and
eager to talk, but describing the ups and downs of a love affair can quiet the
most effusive among us. In their case, we were lucky, they’d come equipped with
props: five maps.
As they told the story of the
maps, connecting each to a moment in their courtship, they visibly relaxed into
the conversation. What started as a formal interview quietly shifted gears into
something less guarded. Of course letting a couple steer the narrative can feel
a bit like watching a game of street basketball — he starts to dribble, she
steals the ball, he recovers it, pauses, and passes back to her — but the
process brings out the best of both partners’ tale-telling abilities as they
pick up the thread of each other’s storylines and expand on the other’s
thoughts and memories. It’s a delight to record.
In the best of personal
interviews, what begins as a dry series of introductory questions quickly
morphs into a fun and often even funny narration. It can be irreverent,
intense, emotional and curious, but most often provides the makings of an
openhearted narrative — a love story to cherish. — Caitlin Randall
The Soul of Design
The basketball analogy is apt. The subjects of our book —
Jesse and Betsy — are athletes, and when they are in motion, they are at their
least self-conscious. And so I embraced their suggestion that they be
photographed while going for a run. Not only did that free them from worrying
about how they looked on camera, but it created an air of spontaneity that
resulted in images that pleased us all. Certainly their
dog, Banjo, helped lighten the mood.
only after the portrait session that I read Caitlin’s text for the Short Take and began designing Jesse and
Betsy’s book. Its subtitle, A Love Story In Five
Maps, was a given, but the concept didn’t come together until I actually saw
the maps that Jesse had drawn. His very literal interpretation of a compass
rose — complete with thorns — was as romantic as it was clever. I thought,
What does the rose point to? What is the heart’s desire? The answer was our
title: True North. — Peter Crabtree
Leap Year, that weird calendar oddity that only comes every four years, has inspired a slew of stories and superstitions. The most famous — February 29th is the day women can ask men to marry them — was conjured up in Ireland sometime back in the 5th century.
Legend has it that an Irish nun known as Saint Brigid of Kildare bitterly complained to Saint Patrick that too many women were waiting too long for men to propose marriage. The country’s patron saint agreed to give women one day in the calendar — conveniently one that falls only every four years — when they could ask their longtime suitors to wed. If the man said ‘no’ tradition demanded that he buy his spurned girlfriend a silk gown. I wonder how many rejected women felt they’d won the better end of that deal.
For a woman to propose on any other day among the 365/366 in the Gregorian calendar was and, to a certain extent, still is considered a major no-no. Astoundingly, society clings to the notion that a marriage proposal is a male responsibility. The idea is so culturally pervasive that a woman dropping down on one knee to propose is still a rarity. The image of a ‘desperate woman’ prevails.
So what do you think? Does it really matter who proposes to whom — or why, or how? And a shoutout to all the modern women out there: Would you or have you popped the question? We’d love to hear your stories!
Here are a few famous women who have done the proposing:
Actress Kristen Bell to Dax Shepard
Pop star Britney Spears to Kevin Federline on a flight back from Ireland (where else?)
Singer/songwriter Pink to Carey Hart
Fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg to Barry Diller
TV’s Judge Judy to Jerry Sheindlin
Elizabeth Taylor, married seven times, but only asked one man, Michael Wilding, to marry her
A moment of silence please for those among us who will sit
down this holiday season to awkward conversations, prickly interrogations and
unwelcome political jousting. Do we really need another round of Uncle Harry’s
latest conspiracy theory gleaned from Facebook? And how many times in one year
can Aunt Tilly ask when she’ll dance at your daughter’s wedding?
Despite the plethora of suggestions out there to guide us
through the political and social minefield that is 2019, The Story Project is
offering it’s own List. We begin by suggesting that everyone at the table or
around the fireplace turn inward. Make the season a true family event. Here are
five questions to help get you started:
• To Your Grandparents: How did you meet each other? Was it a long courtship? Did your parents pray for a wedding or beg you to break up?
• To Your Parents: What was the best-ever family vacation? What was the worst? How did you celebrate the holidays when you were young?
• To Your Siblings: What’s your favorite Christmas/Hanukkah/ holiday memory? And your funniest?
• To Your Kids: What traditions, favorite dishes included, do you most want our family to continue and to pass down to your children?
A few things to remember:
• Avoid yes or no answers by asking open-ended questions. For example, you met Grandpa in New York? How did that come about?
• A good interviewer gives the subject space and time to answer. Sit back, relax and let the stories wash over you.
• It’s about fun and tapping into family memories. If you ask heartfelt questions and listen deeply, you never know where the conversation will lead.
The Story Project team wishes you a holiday season full of
memories and wonderful stories to tell.
Robert Frost moved to Shaftsbury, Vermont, in 1920, intending to establish an apple orchard. During his nearly two decades there, he wrote some of his best-known poems, including the iconic “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”
his honor, the Bennington Museum will mount a major exhibition next year, Robert
Frost, At Present in Vermont, examining the poet’s life and work in the
context of the landscape and culture of Bennington County.
a prelude of sorts, the museum’s current exhibition, A Snowy Evening,
features 31 regional artists responding to the poet’s work. Among them is Story
Project co-founder Peter Crabtree, who contributed “After Frost: Do, Does,
artist’s statement follows:
Did I really watch him on TV that January day in 1961 when
John F. Kennedy was inaugurated, or was it later, in some grainy newsreel
footage, that I first became aware of Robert Frost — stooped and white-haired,
like some kindly grandfather — reciting from memory his poem “A Gift Outright”
to mark the occasion? Either way, the impression that he had always been an
even-keeled, mild old man would stick with me through high school and only be
shaded somewhat by the mandatory reading of “Stopping By Woods On A Snowy
But in fact, a closer examination of the poems Frost wrote
while living in South Shaftsbury reveals a person lashed by some dark inner
weather. Read “The Need of Being Versed in Country Things,” “Spring Pools,” and
“Acquainted with the Night” and you realize that impermanence was much on his
mind and that the darkness must have followed him throughout his life.
And so this piece, “After Robert Frost: Do, Does, Did,” pays tribute to that man and his method. No one photograph could do justice to the way his poems work — building image upon image — or the passage of time, or Frost’s clear-eyed, unsentimental observation of the way we live as part of, rather than apart from, nature.
— Peter Crabtree
A Snowy Evening runs through Dec. 30, although a closed-bid auction for the works in the exhibit ends Dec. 22 at 4 pm. (The winning bid will be split, with half the proceeds going to the artist and the remainder to the museum.) For more information about the event and to see the other works in the show, please visit http://bit.ly/snowyevening