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  • Writer's pictureBrandJRNY

The Art of Conversation

My experiences in Point Pleasant have been wholesome; it felt like I lived there my whole life. Growing up in the small community of Moundsville, WV, it was interesting to see the similarities between the two cities. Most notably, people in both cities are very warm and welcoming. Everyone I met on the trip was so friendly; it truly reminded me of what makes this state so great.

Logan Kinney conducting a “Share Your Story” interview. Source | Seth Seebaugh

At the Point Pleasant High School basketball game against Wahama, I was handing out fliers for our “Share Your Story” event that was taking place the following day. This was interesting for me as I’d never really been the person handing out fliers before. I talked with people on their way into the game and invited them to attend the event.

After the game started, I passed out as many fliers as I could then found a seat in the stands to watch the game for a bit. This is where I met Becky Turner and Jared Billings. I sat in front of them in the stands with my other team member, Hunter Bennett, and it wasn’t long before they asked if we were with BrandJRNY. We explained what our mission was and what we were doing, and from there, the conversation took off. Within a minute, all four of us were laughing together and having a great time. I later learned that they’re members of the Mason County Board of Education.

In all honesty, I was kind of surprised by this and thought for a second that I should maybe dial back my knee-slappers and talk about BrandJRNY a little more formally. What reaffirmed my approach was when Mr. Billings said, “You’ve always got to have fun; it’s so important.” To me, that small interaction speaks volumes — no matter how serious your goals are, you always need to be authentic and real. In other words, you can’t get caught up in the formalities and forget to be yourself.

The next day at the “Share Your Story” event, I got to interview members of the community and hear about their experiences in Point Pleasant. This gave me insight into their community that also helped me appreciate the beauty and welcoming nature of its people. While interviewing, I learned to dial back my usual conversation methods. I was talking way too much, which can be distracting when you’re recording someone speaking. After a while I learned to focus more on non-verbal interaction by nodding adamantly in agreement, giving them a welcoming smile, and maintaining eye contact that kept them comfortable. To me, this was the final test of my conversational skills as you had to decide when exactly to interrupt with another question or when to let them flow naturally.

So far, my time in this course has been extremely helpful in sharpening my interview skills. I’ve also had a great time working with Point Pleasant and found it to be truly fulfilling. They constantly reminded me how similar we all really are, no matter how divided the world tries to make us feel. It felt great to stand in solidarity with my classmates as well as the townspeople as we tried to stir real change for the community and hopefully cause a ripple effect that will one day resonate within the state of West Virginia as a whole. My name is Logan Kinney and I’m a part of the Community Storytelling and AR/VR team for BrandJRNY. They say my middle name should be Danger as I don’t use crosswalks often. You can usually find me grinding at the library or at my house hogging my roommate's cat.— @call_me_kinney_

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