storytelling booth

State of Opportunity needs YOU

Aug 7, 2015
Joe Shlabotnik / Flickr

State of Opportunity is committed to telling stories about some of life's tougher experiences in a way you can listen to, connect with, and talk about. 

We believe that every person has a story to tell and that everyone deserves the opportunity to share it.

Consider us that opportunity.

Feed us! Our story booth is hungry for your stories

Dec 2, 2014
Brendan Biele

It's been a while since the State of Opportunity storytelling booth has been on a trip out of the office. Frankly, it's time.

The story booth is a mobile recording setup that a State of Opportunity reporter can bring out to a small group of people who have stories or information to share. 

Living off tips and not the minimum wage

May 28, 2014
Curtis Perry / flickr

Governor Snyder signed legislation Tuesday night to raise the state minimum wage. The law boosts wages gradually, and tipped workers will still make 60 percent less than whatever the minimum wage is for other workers. Right now tipped workers make $2.65 an hour. Under the new law they'll move up to about $3.50 an hour four years from now. 

There is also a petition drive looking to put minimum wage legislation on the ballot. That proposal would raise the minimum wage to around  $10.00 an hour for all workers, including tipped workers. The new law replaced the old public act the ballot measure would change, which may make the effort pointless.  Organizers of the petition drive say they may go to court over the maneuver.

The majority of tipped workers are women. I took the State of Opportunity story booth to a recent gathering of women talking about economic security. The first woman to walk in to the room was Denise Gleich. She's 49 and a native Detroiter.

Gleich has been in the restaurant industry for 30 years, often relying on tips. She raised three daughters on that money, but as she gets older and the economy changes, things are getting tougher. All of her daughters work in the restaurant industry, but she wishes they didn't.

Gleich is now back in school, working towards a bachelor's degree. She hopes to become a substance abuse counselor and says she's getting a lot of help from a program for non-traditional students. Here's her story. 

Dispatches from the Storybooth: Girls Group

Jul 2, 2013

State of Opportunity's story booth has been busy the last few weeks. It has traveled to Lansing, Big Rapids, Grand Rapids, and around the corner in Ann Arbor. Plenty of these stories will be on the air throughout the summer. 

Almost all of the interactions start out the same. Someone sits or stands in front of the microphone, takes a deep breath and is forced to recount for me what they had for breakfast so I can sound check.

What does a truly diverse high school sound like?

Jun 5, 2013

A few weeks ago I took the State of Opportunity storytelling booth to J.W. Sexton High School in Lansing. 

The school is a sand-colored art deco masterpiece. There are three floors, intricate stone work inside and out, and an auditorium that could easily host a symphony from any of Michigan's large cities along with its audience.  

But declining enrollment means this glorious building was home to a senior class of fewer than 100 students. Those seniors graduated this past weekend. Before they did, they used our storytelling booth to reflect on their education thus far, their challenges, and their successes. There are stories of seeking asylum in America, learning how to control anger, what it feels like the moment a college acceptance letter comes in the mail, and wanting a second chance. 

If you'd like the storytelling booth to travel to your community, let us know here. 

Dilkhaz Mizori (center) / click to enlarge and hear audio

What do you get when you put a super-sturdy laptop, a faux vintage microphone, and J.W. Sexton High School students together?  Compelling perspectives from newly graduated seniors on their future plans. We took the State of Opportunity storytelling booth to Sexton a few weeks ago. Just like high school, each story is a rare and heady combination of typical teenage milestones and very tough adult lessons.

Scroll through the slide show to hear each student's individual story (best viewed in Google Chrome).