Paula's Sitka, Alaska Residency
The objective of The Honor Path was to bring people together and
facilitate understanding, healing and a
new appreciation for our diversity. This project took place in
Sitka, a town of 8900 on a remote island in Alaska. It was an
extremely successful experience. The town is definitely "abuzz"
with teachings and inspired moments provided by Paula Larke.
The biggest challenge was protecting Paula from the throngs of people
that wanted to spend time with her. She has an incredible
magnetism and intuition. Her presence stirs people intimately and
her care instantly impacts those around her. She performed seven
shows in the public schools in town. Many people stopped me on the
street to let me know their child learned a lot from Paula and they were
grateful for her time here. Many students began research on the
civil rights movement directly after her show.
teachers called to tell me that the rest of their class time was spent
talking about what Paula had taught. One woman left a message on
my home machine to tell me that her adolescent boy (who never tells Mom
what happens in school) came home and told her about this really cool
woman who "tells it like it is" and taught him a lot about bullying.
After her standing ovation on the final concert night, many people
stayed after to talk to each other and Paula in the native community
house. Some of the native elders shared that they had never seen
that many native people come out for a concert. She reminded the
crowd of the indigenous people's customs and the power that they hold by
beginning the night with a humble entrance on the drum and receiving a
native Tlingit welcome ceremony from the stage. The integration
was powerful and we all left feeling much more bonded. She brought
people together in a magical way. Her time with the elderly at the
Pioneer Home brought joy, smiles, laughter, song, and dancing to the
staff and residents.
She invited two "homeschooled" boys to play piano and drums with her.
The integration of age, culture and ethnicity was brilliant. She
spoke to the Gajaan Heen dancers and encouraged great pride in their
Tlingit culture. The elders thanked her for reminding them of
their ancestors and the strength of their roots. She impacted a
wide diversity of people and brought them all together on her final
Financially, Paula's concert raised $2330 for the Sitkans Against
Family Violence shelter. Artistically, her top quality talent was
a true gift to this rugged town. More than that, her humility and
love poured upon everyone she met. The morning she left even the
hotel staff was very sad to see her leave and they thanked me for having
her stay with them. A fisherman came to the airport at 5 in the
morning to bring her a bag of his smoked salmon. There is already
a group of social services trying to figure out how to get Paula back up
here. She brought out the best in everyone and built safe bridges
between people that will surely continue to flourish and thrive.
"I went to the concert feeling tired & empty. She was the healing
food that I needed" - Radio Host
"She taught us stuff without lecturing us. I liked how she wasn't
afraid of bullies." - 6th Grade Student
"I wasn't going to the concert because I was so depressed Saturday
night, but something made me go. I left so happy and woke up the
next day feeling great." - Native Elder
"Paula Larke was the best concert I've ever been to." - Adult Sitkan
"I've never seen that many native people at a concert. Performers
try to bring folks together, but she's the best". - Local Fishermen
I thought Paula's assembly was wonderful. She had the
kids eating out of her hand. Even though I was
concerned because I was missing part of my science class
with my B 1/2 class, as the assembly, went on, I wanted it
to last longer! I felt like it ended too abruptly and
we should have been able to give her an ovation and had her
sing at least one more song. So much of what she did
was very appropriate for this age group and she has a way of
making everyone feel included.
Paula receiving "Honorary
students at Pacific High School
There was a lot of history in
what she did and a lot of encouragement to do the right thing that
got through to our kids. I thought she loved kids and it came
through to them and they felt like she was a wise woman that they
needed to listen to and at the same time a cool person that they
could "get down" with. Her reference about bullies was a great
enforcer to what we did with the beginning of school. There
weren't a lot of students who raised their hand I think because we
have put the bullies on notice. And her having the kids point
them out was good in my opinion along with her comments about how
they were cowards. Her comments helped the bullies and it
helped those suffering from the bullies!
She was so good that I made a
special trip off Galankin on Saturday to see her performance for the
SAFV people. She was dynamic. She had the whole place
singing and moving and feeling good about being who they were.
I think I went to a performance once with Don McClean back in the
early 70's where I connected with a performer like that, but not
anyone since then. She came in the building and asked for
permission to enter from the Kiks.adi and it was very powerful.
She is a powerful lady and it was all good in my opinion. I
bought one of her CDs so that I could play the "Take Time" song when
I need it!
:-) Thanks for asking,