Music is such important parts of culture. From Bach to the Beatles, folk music to rock n’ roll, even from Madonna and Lady Gaga – music can reflect who we are as a culture and capture more than just the words and notes. Music can bring generations together. Today’s organization uses music to bring generations together by turning stories into music through their Elder’s Wisdom, Children’s Song program.
Community Celebration of Place (CCP) is a 501(c)3 non-profit that works to strengthen community spirit and pride by using music and art to honor the dignity, hard work and resiliency of people from communities across the United States and beyond. They do this through many different programs including Elders’ Wisdom, Children’s Song (EWCS) and Teaching Tolerance. CCP is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but works around Minnesota, the United States, and even around the world with their programs.
CCP was founded in 1999 by Larry Long and a national group of education leaders. The organization was created in order to formalize the multicultural and multigenerational model of learning and community building that Long, CCP Executive Director, had developed over 20 years of work in communities across the world as a troubadour, activist, and educator.
The EWCS program began in the 1980s in Oklahoma when Long was asked to bring the tradition of Woody Guthrie into the schools of Woody’s home state. That experience led to a project in Alabama, where Long worked with children and elders in 27 rural Alabama communities. Long went on to work with other communities in the Dakotas, California, Georgia, Tennessee, Minnesota, Canada, South Africa, Brazil, Russia, and Scotland. After operating in hundreds of schools, EWCS has now evolved into a transferable process that can be incorporated into the daily curriculum of schools to meet the educational standards required of schools today, while restoring community and building connections with community elders through multigenerational, multicultural learning.
In the EWCS program, community elders are brought into a school to share their stories. The children listen, ask questions, and learn about the stories of these elders. Then the children put together songs that tell those stories. In the videos on the Community Celebration of Place website, you can see portions of previous programs. In one program, the elders were a holocaust survivor, a woman raised in the segregated south, a war veteran, and an African storyteller together. You could tell from the remarks of those involved that the program was a moving experience. CCP has honored hundreds of elders in recitation and song from across the United States, and worked directly with thousands of young people, hundreds of teachers, and performed before over one hundred thousand community members. You can learn more about the EWCS program and watch videos of previous performances at the CCP website.
Another program CCP offers is Teaching Tolerance. This recording and songbook is a musical journey through Native American chant, African American poetry, songs of friendship and belonging from immigrant communities across the United States, and classics from our nation’s proud tradition of singing for social change. This program is being sent for free to over 200,000 elementary schools, community centers, and organizations serving young children. For more information on this program, please visit the CCP website.
Volunteers help make the CCP programs successful. Some opportunities include:
- CCP is seeking individuals with archival and organization background to assist with an archive project.
- They are in need of individuals to help setup and take down equipment (microphones, speakers, etc) at their EWCS Celebrations.
- They are also are always looking for individuals who can help with marketing and promotions.
- CCP also supports the Minneapolis Monarch Festival that occurs each September. There is a great need for volunteers to assist with setup, take down, manning booths, helping with the arts areas, and more.
You can learn more about Community Celebration of Place and their programs at their website, www.communitycelebration.org.