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Now available on CD or cassette!

Grass Roots and Mountain Peaks

by Doug Lipman

You can order this item via my on-line order form!

Taking Charge of Our Future - Visions for the Storytelling Movement

"Engaging and informative! Prepare for a pleasant and useful hour of listening."

- Margaret Read MacDonald


When Doug was asked to give a keynote speech about connecting the past and future of storytelling, he decided to demonstrate his belief in storytelling - by using stories as his keynote!

The result, "Grass Roots and Mountain Peaks," was so requested that he released the live recording on cassette.

To set the stage for the heart of his presentation, Doug gave a capsule summary of the history of the recording industry, explaining how recording executives invented the "star system," and the sometimes chilling effect of their success on the field of music.

Next, Doug gave the histories of four successful movements: the public libraries movement and the Civil Rights movement in the U.S., the Hasidic movement in Eastern Europe, and the Hungarian music education movement spear headed by composer Zoltan Kodaly.

To show the similarities in the stages of growth of each movement, Doug intercut their stories, telling the beginning of each story, then going to the middle stages and finally their ends. He ended with a brief summary of the storytelling revival.

The result is entertaining and thought-provoking - a landmark exploration of how storytelling, as a movement, stands to succeed, fail, or be transformed.

Recorded live at the Sharing the Fire conference, Simmons College, Boston MA in March, 1993. Introduction by Amy Tighe.

Questions to Ponder

Here are some of the questions you'll ponder, with Doug's help:

  • Will storytelling, like other arts, be "strip-mined" by television?
  • Will we be able to thrive as an authentic movement?
  • What are the lessons we dare not ignore from the early history of the recording industry?
  • Why is the star system a threat to storytelling as a grass-roots movement?

Four Stories to Learn From

To shed light on these questions and the future of storytelling in general, I told four intercut stories about the growth and development of four other idealistic movements. You'll hear the stories of these movements - each sliced in three parts, so that the comparable "slices" can be appreciated together - that may shed light on our future possibilities.

You'll learn about the moments of inspiration for the four movements:

  • How Hasidism began with the work of a single storytelling rabbi.
  • How a national meeting of 82 people gave birth to the concept of a professional librarian.
  • How a series of Supreme Court decisions in the 1800's made it doubtful that people of African heritage could ever be accorded full rights under the U.S. constitution.
  • How, in a time when Hungary was under the cultural thumb of Austria, two young Hungarian composers had the ambitious vision of creating a Hungarian national art music. And the moment that Bela Bartok finally noticed his own country's folk music - and began his lifelong pursuit of collecting and understanding it.

Then you'll hear the next stage of growth for each:

  • How a bold rabbi turned Hasidism into a movement by training a generation of leaders and dispersing them across Eastern Europe.
  • How a visionary speech in 1876 inspired the public library movement.
  • How a young black man, moved to action by racism he experienced in the U.S. Army during WWI, resolved to change the law of the land. How, in order to do so, he went to law school, and then began training a generation of black civil rights leaders.
  • How Kodály and Bartok realized that it was hopeless to train college students to play their music: they had to start in the elementary schools. How they vowed to create a musically literate nation.

Next, you'll hear about the full blossoming of each movement:

  • The brilliant plan to complete the web of public libraries in the 1950's.
  • The legacy of the Hasidic movement for the wider world.
  • How Charles Houston's dream of overturning "separate but equal" was achieved—after his death—by one of his students.
  • A musical moment on a public bus in Budapest: could it ever happen here?

The Storytelling Story

The recording ends with one more story: a thumb-nail history of part of the storytelling movement:

  • How a chance hearing of a radio show inspired the National Storytelling Festival.
  • What we know about the story of storytelling - and a clue about its future.

In the end, you'll be in a position to think more clearly about the future of the storytelling movement and the role that might make sense for you to play in it.

"Provides inspiration to continue storytelling and to take charge of storytelling's future."

- School Library Journal



Price: $14.95 (casssette). $19.95 (CD). Packaged in a sturdy, vinyl library case.

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Doug Lipman

152 Wenonah Road, Longmeadow, MA 01106 U.S.A.
Phone: (781) 837-1940
Alternate Phone (rings the same line): (413) 754-6728
Fax (toll-free): (888) 300-6665

This page was last updated on August 15, 2005
Copyright©2003–2005 Doug Lipman