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Voices in the Treetops programs


The Big Mash-Up (For community organizer trainings, conferences, retreats)

This 5-day holistic workshop for adults includes singing, drumming, meditation, drawing, writing, art-making, quilting, basket making or chair bottoming, cooking, window box gardening, nutrition discussions, history, anthropology, language arts, story circles, yoga or Tai Chi dance, and theatre exercises.  This is done with a team composed of wordsmiths, visual artist, dancer, culinary artist and Paula Larke as curator, discussion leader and director of final group presentation.
(One week – 90 day collaborative residency with available artist practitioners)

Cross-stitch: County Lines

Produce original, company-written plays by members of the community!  Children and adults of all ages learn choreography, write their own pieces and perform them.  Participants use traditions from their ancestral and contemporary cultures and sub-cultures to create music, stories, dance and poetry.  The local nature of this process usually brings capacity crowds to presentations of the production.  Cast members learn to work with other races, other generations, other economic backgrounds to tell individual and family histories of the community.

Community Elders Song Sharing

We facilitate and encourage sharing of songs in neighborhood senior residences to stimulate conversation and activity with tenants suffering from Alzheimer’s and/or stroke-related disabilities. Songs revive memory, give patients or residents a sense of grounding and stability.  (Among the noted benefits is increased interaction between residents at mealtimes after song leading. )  Sharing meals with them facilitates conversation about common interests such as food, grandchildren, childhood games, and memories from their young adulthood.  In establishments with multicultural resident housing, music from each culture represented is brought in and residents are encouraged to record their suggestions for inclusion in future song sharings.


The following programs are music, drumming and games-infused, and are designed to encourage

• creativity
• improvisation / innovation
• the collaborative process

in those who are developing their writing, speaking, or other performing skills.  They provide a bonding experience for those who are often at odds during conferences, in classrooms, workshops and/or discussion/planning groups.  These programs aim to foster inter-cultural dialogue and acceptance of diversity.

Up the Miff Tree

Discussion groups of 9-12 year olds on effects of grudge - holding and bullying.  Discussions are held on impact of lyrics in popular music in order to engage and involve reticent or recalcitrant participants. Children form support partnerships and experiment with alternatives to anger-based behavior during the school day.  Inclusion of adult assistant teachers in circle brings about noticeable changes in their behavior toward children as workshops progress.  A general easing of tensions between rivals develops quickly.  Reluctant students open up and share aspirations with group.
Schools and community Centers, ages 8-12, 9-18

MamaSays, DaddySays, GrandmaSays, GrandpaSays (Story or Spoken Word Circle)

What are the values of different adults in your life?  How do you follow or represent them?  How does your life reflect their values?  How does it reflect your own different, or evolving values? 

College students through elder adults

Unity in the Community
(Story Circles based on recorded music by)

PAULA LARKE AND KIM NIMOY / Voices in the Treetops
How do we define community – exclusive, inclusive, or both?

WISDOM TREE (Story Circle – Intergenerational)

We lead the listener to circle up with us, at the roots of our collective ancestral tree, planted by the rivers of life that run to the sea.  We witness a wisdom seeker channel the COLLECTIVE wisdom of our COLLECTIVE ancestral voices.  The chorus of all our elders and ancestors are asking ONE QUESTION – “What have you done with your freedom?” and whispering a warning: “Keep your eyes on the prize”. The Native drum challenges us - What IS our true prize as American citizens?  We are on a quest to find unity in our new community.
Third through fifth grades, ESOL students, practitioners of gerontology, anthropology, folklore aficionados, family ancestry researchers

(Intergenerational Story Circle - Conversation around recorded story of Spruce Pine, NC)

The recording: A single voice calls us to together to listen.  One city full of laid-off factory workers looks to its own to recover sustainability and whatever spirit of resiliency their ancestors had used to build and develop the town a century ago.  Listening to the story is our engineer, P'Thi Htoo, a recent Christian refugee from Karen State in Burma who proudly shared the song he led other refugees in singing at his citizenship ceremony - "MY Country 'tis of Thee".  We asked him to sing that song on this track - to ADD to the Spruce Pine story of American ingenuity and resilience – to celebrate his own masteries like English and professional music recording.  He pleads, “Let freedom ring".  Chief Percussionist, Kim Nimoy, then celebrates her Chinese mother's ancestors’ struggle to make it to America, after fleeing Communist China, by ringing THEIR freedom bell !

CITIZENSHIPS II - Remedial and Refresher Level Civic Awareness
( Intergenerational Spoken Word Workshop for Positively Hip Hop Boomers. X’-ers, and Millenials)

Democracy or Republic?  It’s SUPPOSED TO BE the “United States” of America!
A critical thinking musical journey for older children, teens and/or young adults, this format involves questioning the values in society which compromise the principles found in the Declaration of Human Rights, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution of the United States.  The participants write their ideas which are then turned into rap, song and spoken word performances by the group with collaborative composition and instrumentation.
For students or practitioners in the fields of social studies, local government

NEW BUILDING I (Story and Percussion Circle)

Conversation: The functions of democratic principles - demonstrated by the Iroquois Confederacy - applied to our documents of democracy.

Musical Representation from the formation era of our country’s establishing principles.

The participants, reflecting on their ancestry, tune in to an insistent, confident, steady, strong call from the djun djun.  The ancestral resonances gather from sand or swamp, mountain, mud, savannah - wherever, ready to teach THEIR WAYS to this new generation.  Coming to loggerheads on methods, tools cadences, they eventually are coaxed into effective, inclusive rhythmic cooperation, representing good sense and consensus, by the beat of two sticks – representing  (1.) the Constitution and (2.) The Bill of Rights.  They are working with that djun djun toward a steady HEARTBEAT OF HUMAN KIND.
American History / World History or Social Studies classes

NEW BUILDING II (drum and percussion circle)

Simple rhythm exchange and blending workshop - participants take turns sharing rhythms from their home culture or of their own invention.
Group homes, shelters, domestic/family violence survivors, community recreation centers, and classrooms (2nd-6th grades)

MORE THAN A BEAUTY MARK (Stories and Conversation Circle)

Vanity is disposable.  Heart heals.  Heart is forever.  WE can help heal each other with our goodness, our mercy, our compassion.  "I'm music from a wind that whistles sweetly 'cause the spirit of goodness tuned it".  A “Stories and Conversation”.
Classrooms, libraries, group homes, churches, juvenile facilities

FIELD AND HOUSE (Stories, Song and Conversation Research Circle)

An “I Wonder If” meditation on class, culture, morality, and the attributes of true holistic intelligence : “If W.E.B. and BOOKER T had started a university, they’d have graduated a “talented tenth” (W.E.B.) that could “cast down their buckets” (BOOKER T.) wherever they went!

A pause to ponder: does a contradiction between “field” consciousness and “house” consciousness exist?  What blurs the lines between the two?  What’s in the house that’s not in the field, and vice versa?
For students and practitioners of African-American history and social construction - We research and share songs from the century that birthed our academic and business leaders

All workshops are designed for groups of 20-40 participants and last from 1½ to 5 hours, depending on the size and goals of the group (research, writing, performance or archiving)

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