Collecting Life Stories at the Community Level: The Great Heritage Campaign Takes Root; Largest Global Heritage Outreach in History Begins with Families, Builds with Communities

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As the largest attempt ever to unite the heritage industry, the Great Heritage Campaign consists of building blocks - beginning with each family and finishing with the entire globe. But the most engaging and significant pieces of the Great Heritage Campaign fall into place at the community level. Now, the founders of the Great Heritage Campaign have developed a system to help communities actively engage families and build an enriching archive of community history.

As the largest attempt ever to unite the heritage industry, the Great Heritage Campaign consists of building blocks - beginning with each family and finishing with the entire globe. But the most engaging and significant pieces of the Great Heritage Campaign fall into place at the community level. Now, the founders of the Great Heritage Campaign have developed a system to help communities actively engage families and build an enriching archive of community history.

"Communities are rich in culture and tradition, but many lack an effective means for recording their histories," said Great Heritage Campaign co-founder Tom Cormier. "We're encouraging communities to take an active role in engaging their residents by conducting smaller campaigns as part of the more universal Great Heritage Campaign."

As the roots of the campaign, communities are encouraged to involve organizations like local schools, businesses, boy/girl scouts, service groups, church congregations, foundations, historical societies and media to participate in spreading the word and collecting life stories from their own family members. Every story collected can be stored in the Treasury of Family Heritage at no cost (http://www.treasuryofheritage.com), an online repository and archival system developed by the International Association of StoryKeepers (I-ASK). While the Treasury's main purpose is to archive these stories into a disaster-proof database, it also functions as a social networking tool, allowing communities, friends and family to share content in an engaging, interactive way.

Planting the Seeds of the Great Heritage Campaign
To get started with the campaign, community organizers can contact the Treasury of Family Heritage. The community is encouraged to appoint its own Ambassador, who will be trained in the craft of collecting life stories, or the Treasury will assign its own Ambassador at no cost if one is unavailable to the community. Then, communities can define their campaigns and set goals for the number of stories they wish to collect.

"Once you've begun the process, get some community organizations - churches, businesses, service groups - involved," remarked Cormier. "Engage your campaign partners, then set up a gathering for StoryKeepers to organize and plan. Make sure to invite local media so you can do as much as possible to get the word out."

When a community has reached the goal it set for collected stories, the Treasury of Family Heritage will create an archival DVD for placement in the local library. The stories are also kept online, where individuals can designate privacy settings, form community pages and interact with other members.

Cormier adds, "Communities are part of the evolution of the process, eventually moving to counties, states, nations - and finally, the world. We already have campaigns underway or starting in Australia and five US states."

For more information or to download the Great Heritage Campaign manual, please visit: http://www.TreasuryofHeritage.com.

About The Great Heritage Campaign
Developed by the founders of the International Association of StoryKeepers (I-ASK), the Great Heritage Campaign is the largest effort to date for preserving family heritage through photos, audio and video recordings, journals and other media. By engaging all generations through an easy-to-utilize technological medium, the Great Heritage Campaign is working to unite families and all aspects of the heritage industry through kinship and social networking (The Treasury of Family Heritage).

For more information, please visit http://www.treasuryofheritage.com.

About the International Association of StoryKeepers (I-ASK)
I-ASK provides professional story capture and archiving services for families that enable them to preserve family history. I-ASK also provides StoryKeeper education to families with its Family StoryKeeper Program. I-ASK recognizes the difficult economic environment many worthy not-for-profit organizations face today and has developed programs to help them raise needed funds to keep their efforts going. I-ASK is privately held and based in Tennessee.

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Belinda Banks

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