Larry’s currently in Alabama leading workshops through his not-for-profit Community Celebration of Place and its program Elder’s Wisdom, Children’s Song. The organization goes into schools across the United States, bringing with it elders from the community-at-large who then share their life stories and life lessons with the students. The students then take what they’ve learned and create a song for their elder, which they sing during an honor ceremony for the elders.
It’s often a very powerful experience for everyone involved, and EWCS gets a number of emails every year from students who have been through the process and are still affected by it years later. This is one email that came in a few days ago, and Larry asked that we post it (with kind permission).
There is little to no chance that you remember me, as I was all of 9 years old when we met (I was the rowdy kid who played the piano). That year marked the inaugural year of EWCS in Spearfish, and you worked with my 4th grade class to pen a song in tribute to an effervescent and unforgettable Ms. Louise Smock. Now twelve years afterward, I remember that experience as one of incredible joy and significance, not only for the kids involved but for the entire community. I am so happy to see that this program not only continues to be a part of my old school, but has also expanded to other Black Hills communities.
As reports of recalcitrant youth across the globe fill the nightly news, it’s reassuring to know that we in the Black Hills are still teaching our kids to be good people, to appreciate the value of hard work, and perhaps most importantly, to afford our elders the adoration and respect they so deserve. Although I may not have understood the significance at the time, those few weeks we spent hearing stories from Ms. Smock and the subsequent songwriting we did with you were exceptionally memorable and will stay with me throughout my life. In short, as an alumnus of your first year program, I wanted to reach out and say thank you for doing this and for continuing to invest in our community. It means more than you could ever know.
[…] Music remains a huge part of my life and have picked up a number of new instruments and playing styles. Should you find yourself in Boston this year, or China/Singapore next year, bring a guitar and let’s play some music! I hope that someday, I can help carry on the EWCS tradition. You and Hank Fridell (If you speak with him or know how to get in touch with him, please send my best to him and his wife) created something great with this program, and I hope that I can be a part at some point. Would be a great honor. Until then, hope all is well. Drop me a note if you get a chance. Keep up the great work!