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Amazing stories can come from anywhere

As a writer, I’m always looking for great stories—to read, to tell, to share.

This decade, the arms race for great storytelling has reached a new level. Just look at the production values of promotions like Dove Real Beauty Sketches or Google Search: Reunion.

Sometimes I feel like there needs to be quite a bit of production value for a story to really stand out. But during my recent work for one of our clients, Cameron Village, we discovered an incredible story—one involving family, bravery, race issues—and one I certainly wasn’t expecting.

That experience helped remind me that amazing stories can from just about anywhere.

The “living history” of Cameron Village

For those of you who may not know, Cameron Village is one of the oldest shopping centers in the Southeast and the first one ever between DC and Atlanta. As such, it has a tremendous amount of history and deep roots in the community.

While conducting research for Cameron Village, we discovered an incredible number of important memories that people had of the shopping center. We learned about people meeting their future spouses, marriage proposals, fun trips with friends, surprise parties, childhood memories, and many others.

It was only natural that we make these stories a part of the site we were designing. Thus we created the Cameron Village Living History—a page designed to chronicle the stories of the shopping center.

From heartwarming to tearjerking, the stories poured in and we were only scratching the surface. However, there was one story however that stood out from the rest, the story of Barbara Geiger and her mother Eleanor Upton.

Eleanor Upton and Barbara Geiger

When Barbara was a young girl, she, her mother, and their housekeeper Sarah went to Cameron Village to shop at Boylan Pierce and JCPenney. While they were there, Sarah took Barbara to the nearby Woolworths to buy Coca-Colas for the two of them. However, because Sarah was African American, the Woolworths employee would not serve them. Eleanor would have none of it and marched them down to Woolworths to demand service.

That description doesn’t quite do it justice. You can listen to them tell the story here:

The story gained quite a bit of attention. It even ended up on WRAL.

I’ll be the first one to admit it. When we decided to do this promotion, I did not think I was going to hear a story like that. One that dealt with racial inequality and the people who seek to make it right–especially back then and especially in the South.

It’s moments like these that remind me that amazing stories can come from anywhere.

Are you having trouble finding great stories in your company? We’ve got a guide that can help.



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