The Living History Project (Matt Giraud, Director and Photographer, Gyroscope Creative)

The Living History Project

Recently, I was honored to donate some of my time to a co-production of the Living History Project and The Immigrant Story, filming and interviewing a diverse cross-section of North Portland residents about their lives and communities.

I can say that everyone we talked to, young and old, had at least one insightful or beautiful thing to say, some a lot more than one. I knew it would be fun and rewarding, but it turned out to be an incredibly inspiring experience, too – talking to so many people, each with his or her own unique story and history and dreams, couldn’t help but bolster my faith in humanity.

Just one example: Lela Roberts, a retired school administrator active in the Portland chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, a national organization focused on community service and academic excellence in the African American community.

Maybe it was her bearing. Maybe it was her long history in education. Certainly it was her charm: a sense of reverence welled up inside me as we talked, the same feeling you get in the presence of a great teacher or mentor.

And at the end of our conversation, I understood why. She said: “To me, that’s what life is all about: how can you help somebody else make things better for all of us?”

For a moment, I was speechless. I’d never been able to put it so concisely (this is why great teachers are great), but in casually summing up her life philosophy, she’d summed up mine as well.

Once we’d collected 32 interviews, I did some color correction to the footage and handed it off for the organizations to use. Can’t wait to see what they do with it!