The Commons, traditionally, is for community-building, where the action takes place. Here, it is the same, and where all the stories of all kinds are stored and can be searched, read, and commented on. Think of the Commons as where you come to engage with and learn from others, through the stories that are shared.

The Commons is like a tree of many branches, each with a different theme or topic from life’s possibilities. This is where the whole site becomes more interactive, vibrant, and alive, with people coming and going, spending time together in the Commons, and going much deeper into the meaning of stories in their lives. This is where we experience the human family as one, where we can search the stories, and hang out to interact with others around all things stories, through these formats and forums:

  • Commons Benches

    • A place to claim as your own in the Commons, your home page, or place to sit down, take it all in, and have all your stories in one place.

  • Commons Café

    • Where meaningful conversations about telling stories that matter take place; stop by, have a chat with others about the power and value of personal stories.

  • Commons Happenings

    • Events, meet-ups, and news about all things stories.

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Featured Stories

Canray Fontenot

Canray Fontenot, Black Creole Fiddler and National Heritage Fellow, was 76 years old when interviewed by Robert Atkinson in 1994. This is how he describes the interview: “After I had arranged to meet him, it took me a few tries to locate Canray’s cottage off the beaten path in St. Martin’s  Parish, the heart of Cajun country in southwestern Louisiana. […]

Arbie Williams

They say I was born in Mayfield, a cottage somewhere. I met my grandmother, Dad’s Mamma, I met her about twice in my whole life.  I was a little girl and I remember meeting her, and then about when I was 12, an’ my Daddy came back from East Texas, I remember going to see her.  I met her that […]

Inez Catalon

I don’t remember my grandfather.  All I know is what my mother told me.   She never had too much to tell, because I don’t think that she really remembered much about him either.  One thing she told me, she said, “You see that picture? That’s exactly him, everyday. He would stay dressed up every day.  And that hat he’s wearing, […]

Natividad Cano Natividad Cano, Mexican American Mariachi Musician and National Heritage Fellow, was 61 years old when interviewed by Robert Atkinson in 1994.     My birth, the delivery was normal, other than being very poor, in my hometown.  There were no stories about when I was born, except that my grandfather and my father used to work in the fields, […]

Eppie Archuleta Eppie Archuleta, Hispanic Weaver and National Heritage Fellow, was 72 years old when interviewed by Robert Atkinson in 1994.     My Grandpa was a great weaver. He was one of the first weavers in Chimyon.  They were all weavers there and all his kids were weavers and contractors.  They were great weavers, my Dad was great weaver too.  […]

Marie McDonald

  Marie McDonald, Hawaiian Lei Maker and National Heritage Fellow, was 68 years old when interviewed by Robert Atkinson in 1994.     I was born in Hawaii.  I am half Hawaiian.  The other half consists of Scotch, Irish and Dutch.  My father is from Pennsylvania, but early in his life, his family moved from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania, and he is […]

Vanessa Paukeigope Morgan Jennings   Vanessa Paukeigope Morgan, Kiowa Regalia Maker and National Heritage Fellow, was 42 years old when interviewed by Robert Atkinson in 1994. This is his background to the interview: “As I arrived at her home, on the highest spot of the plains surrounding Anadarko, Oklahoma, I knew that with such a commanding view for so far in so […]

Sister Mildred Barker

  Sister Mildred, Shaker elder and National Heritage Fellow, was 92 years old when interviewed by Ann Waldren in 1989. This is Ann’s background to the interview: “Sister Mildred Barker is the oldest member of the oldest Surviving Shaker communityin the world. The Shakers call it Chosen Land at Sabbathday Lake, New Gloucester, Maine. Sister Mildred’s life span covers over […]

Recent Stories

To Be A Writer

When I was a little boy, before I had siblings, before I was two, I had no one to play with except my mother. Often, she wanted to do other things, such as read the newspaper. I knew stories were in the words, so I wanted to make stories and be important too. With my mental disabilities, and her demands […]


CAROL KARL, a friend at work: Carol didn’t come in today, I see. BEATRICE: Hope it’s for the better. KARL: That marriage – it’s beyond words. BEATRICE: My osteopath, he told me my god-given knee was down to bone-on-bone. That’s their marriage — no cartilage left — time to replace it.

Personal Essay about Hearing Stories of Helping

This story will be like a fable where neither exact times nor exact locations are known in detail. The events that I use have come to me through my mother and my grandmother and both of them were not very specific about the exact times or places. However, I know that my grandfather, Tilemachos, was born in 1901 at the […]


The mother screamed into the room, overwhelmed in her own pain, spewing it onto her little children who had no clue. They almost became used to it, but still jumped when she screamed. Nothing they did was “right,” not the way they shut their lips, swallowed, walked. Everything about them was wrong, yet they never knew until her voice rose. […]

A Writer Now

Forbidden to write, as a boy who struggled to read, the man wrote, wrote and wrote. Now his words have readers all around the globe.

Why Did You?

You gave up your church salvation for what? Baha’i Faith.


If I’m not here tomorrow to hear the latest news Or apprehend your sorrows the trials you are going through In silence feel my presence during troubles old or new Whenever I am not around my love will still ring true Eternally my hearts enchantment beats for only you Adieu

Our Yellowstone Greeter

A mystical, swirling mist greeted us at Yellowstone one morn. Out of the mist loomed a magnificent bull moose. Our family and traveling companion were awestruck and agreed to stop the car. The bull sauntered onto the road. Bulls can be aggressive, charge, knock people down and stomp on them! We wondered if the car would stimulate him into aggression. […]


I’m a poet but more My modulation opens many doors


The scars from his accident did not extinguish his spirit


Humans they refused to believe how their future would end

Seeing is believing

I saw the future but no one would believe me.

What have I tried to repair?

Here is a short piece a wrote at an online writer’s retreat last Spring in response to the prompt : “What have you tried to repair? I have tried to repair the cracks in the foundation of unity. Cracks born of ego, propelled by judgement, comparison, self-interest. Dark forces fueled by materialism, individualism, competition. Forces that present themselves as logical, […]

Messy but Colorful

When I saw my room redecorated with my favorite—and expensive—paint, the word compassion was not on my vocabulary. Yet, when I saw you covered in paint and excitedly mom how you were painting just like your older sister was—and the same materials—I told mom it was my fault for leaving my paints where your little hands could reach, which honestly […]

Bucked Off

If you get bucked off in life, get back on.

The pain of love

He stares at the waves as they crash into the rocky beach. With a kind of violence that is unique and quite in sync with his emotions. Today would forever remain a very dark spot in his memory. The day that she left him, high and dry in a pool of emotion, the love that he held for her bearing […]

Brother Come Lately

The alarm goes off now i’m awake. I check the new notification on my phone. It reads “Amazon package arrives in 20 min. “The day is here”! “It’s 10:00 am, and the delivery of the package is imminent.” I spring leap off the mattress and rush for my clothes in the closet. “Now i’m ready. *Laughs* I sit outside on […]

On my mind.

Ask, and it is given, or be silent and lost.

Unpredictable Darkness

A dancing butterfly confined between dust and death, tussle the idea of loss.

My Inspiration

Sweat rains from my body as I near the end of my run. I keep myself going by remembering that I am my father’s legacy.

A New Companion

It was sunny outside; I was taking my morning walk. It was a humid day, and I was sweating more than normal. I came to the realization of how happy and complete I feel when I walk near the ocean. I just need a little companion. I’ll get a dog.

Daysy The Girl of My Life

It was a sunny day in San Diego, just recently divorced with his Ex Wife Rob was just recently stationed at the base in Southern California. Rob decided to adopt a German Sheppard named Daysy, It was love at first sight. She was the best companion he found and still is.

Old love

“Hey, my love, about to depart. see you soon” Here I am, reading his message over again, Two years have passed but he never came.


The fertility lab mix up created mayhem on two continents.


When Suzette got DNA results, her world turned upside down.

Stage Debut

At six I made my stage debut as a dancing bear, paired up with a science bear, the smartest boy in class. The only problem was that my underwear showed beneath my tutu, and whenever I spun around I felt an excruciating embarrassment along with the utter thrill of performing.

Slice of Life

My fingers dance on the computer keyboard as I birth a short story. The phone rings; jolted out of my fictional world, I hear my neighbor’s voice. “It’s Karina,” she sobs. “Joe cut off his finger—hospital. . . .” “I’m coming.” I run out, leaving the door unlocked, grateful I am dressed. My heartbeat accelerates. Their Trailblazer awaits. “Come!” Karina […]

Island people are friendly and helpful, yes they are!

Saturday was a sunny day with gorgeous clouds and warm breezes. Bob and I decided to take our bikes on a ferry to Chebeague Island, a 1 1/2 hour ferry ride each way. We brought a yummy picnic for our time on the water. Biking was exquisite on this 3×1 mile island. It was peaceful, uncrowded, and a place where […]

Kevin Locke

On my Dad’s side, his Dad died when he was little. I think his Mom lived to be quite elderly and used to visit here occasionally. On my Mom’s side, I do remember my Mom’s Mom, but not too well. My Mom’s Dad passed away probably when I was five years old. I did not have much contact with my […]

Genevieve Mougin

I started to work in a factory when I was about fourteen years old.  Well, I quit school about fourteen.  I worked on my lace just off and on.  I didn’t thing it was going to be that important because when I was working on small pieces at Bendix, I thought to myself, “it’s a lost art.”  I didn’t think […]


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