Our new project, Songs & Stories of East Lawrence, celebrates the vibrant mosaic of this neighborhood’s diverse communities, histories, flora and fauna, and stories. Funded by a grant from Rebuilding East Ninth Street, our project encompasses writing and singing workshops, plus a Wild East Lawrence walk, collaborative song-writing, publication of an anthology of our stories, and a book launch concert.
About the Project
The Project: This project is two one-day workshops (10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Feb. 29 and Mar. 14) leading up to an anthology of our stories and poems about East Lawrence and a book release concert (May 10). There’s an optional Wild East Lawrence walk with Ken Lassman (April 11). Please note: no one has to sing alone or read their work aloud.
- What Happens at the Workshops: The workshops include writing and singing sessions focused on experiences we’ve had in the neighborhood. Caryn will lead us in short, innovative writing prompts to discover more of our neighborhood stories and find ways to write them. Kelley will lead us in group singing (no one has to sing alone) to help us strengthen our collective voices. We’ll also brainstorm ideas for songs about East Lawrence for a song that Caryn and Kelley will write at the Feb. 29 workshop, then rehearse singing back-up on this song at the Mar. 14 workshop. Kim Murphree will be on hand at Kelley and Caryn’s artist assistant, and Ken Lassman will be present to help you map your stories.
- Preparing for the Book Release Concert: After the workshops, Caryn will be in touch with participants to finish any pieces they wish to contribute to the book she’s editing of our writing. Kelley will invite participants to practice singing back-up on the original song (or two) based on what we brainstormed in the workshops.
- Wild East Lawrence Walk: Ken Lassman will also be leading a special walk to discover more aspects of the neighborhood.
- Our Book Release Concert: The project culminates in a public concert and reading during which time participants can read something they wrote, perform a song, sing along with Kelley when she debuts our new East Lawrence song, and celebration publication of the book.
Benefits: “Songs & Stories of East Lawrence” draws on creating and holding brave spaces for people to sing together, write their truths, and listen to one another, all geared toward greater unity without diminishing any individual voices. Writing and singing together can help people better hear themselves and witness each other’s most vital stories; such a process can begin to bridge polarized pockets of the community and to heal fractured community identities. Because humans and human settlements are part of ecosystems, our project also incorporates the watersheds of East Lawrence, which give us an ecological window into the land formations, waterways, and other environmental dimensions of this particular place. Participants can better contextualize their own turning points and experiences – in writing, discussions, and getting to know each other – through learning about this place’s ecosystem now and in the past.
Requirements for Participating: This project is free and open to up to 25 people age 10 and up regardless of writing and musical experience. Preference will be given to current East Lawrence residents or people with strong ties to the neighborhood. We strongly encourage everyone to attend the Feb. 29 and Mar. 14 workshops and the May 10 performance. Please pre-register here.
How to Participate
- Workshop, Part 1, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Feb. 29, Cider Gallery
- Workshop, Part 2, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Mar. 14, Cider Gallery
- Wild East Lawrence Walk (optional and open to the public) with Ken Lassman, 2-3:30 p.m., April 11, meet by gazebo at South Park. People needing a shorter walk may meet us at the entrance to Burroughs Creek Park.
- Concert, reading & book launch 2-4 p.m., May 10, Cider Gallery
While the workshops are free, pre-registration is required. Please sign up on Eventbrite here. Your free ticket is for both workshops.
Additionally, the Rebuilding East Ninth Street resident specialists — the elders of the neighborhood, and other artists funded by the grant are invited to contribute their stories to the anthology. Please be in touch with Caryn at Carynmirriamgoldberg@gmail.com for more information.
While this project is led by Kelley Hunt and Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, we are happy to also include Kim Murphree, Al Berman, and Ken Lassman. Here’s a bit on each of us:
Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is the 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate, a long-time educator and community arts facilitator, and the author of over 20 books of fiction, poetry, and memoir. See more here.
Kelley Hunt is an international touring artist with six critically-acclaimed CDs. Both of us have substantial experience in community-based arts projects. See more here.
Kim Murphree, our project assistant, is helped with community outreach and marketing. A mainstay in the local entertainment industry, Kim is a music producer and performer (including being lead singer in The Quake), voice talent for local radio, and an experienced event planner and emcee.
Ken Lassman, who is leading the Wild East Lawrence walk and assisting with book production and mapping our stories, is the author of Wild Douglas County and Seasons & Cycles of the Kansas Area Watershed, and the weekly Kaw Valley Almanac, a website focused on what’s happening in the natural world each week.
We are immensely grateful to all the businesses and organizations that are making this possible:
- Rebuilding East Ninth Street, and its funding partners: ArtPlace, Lawrence Arts Center, and the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association.
- Cider Gallery and Jennifer Burkhead for donating the meeting space for our workshops and book launch concert.
- The Merc Coop for donating lunch and treats for our workshops.