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The Origins of Elders' Wisdom, Children's Song

Bringing Woody Guthrie Home

For three years in the late 1980s, Larry Long lived and worked with the people of Okemah, OK (Woody Guthrie's hometown) helping students to learn and write about their history. Taking the stories they had uncovered, Larry and the kids used melodies that Guthrie had borrowed from other people for his music and wrote new words to them.

This grew into the very first hometown tribute for Woody Guthrie, which was held at the Crystal Theatre, December 1, 1988, on the very stage Woody performed as a child. The performance was recorded and released on an album entitled It Takes a Lot of People. The occasion garnered nationwide coverage, including a piece on NBC’s Today Show. It marked the first time the town of Okemah came together to celebrate Woody.

The celebration continues today with WoodyFest, a free festival that grew out of Larry's work in Okemah. 2009 marks the 20 year anniversary of WoodyFest and It Takes A Lot of People. Long will be returning to Okemah to reflect on the impact Bringing Woody Home had on both the community and those who participated in the process. You can learn more at www.bringingwoodyhome.org.

Rural Alabama

After working with the children of Okemah through collective songwriting, Larry decided to take this same process to other communities throughout the world.

His next stop was Alabama, where he worked with children and elders in rural communities throughout the state. This culminated in the recording Well May the World Go.

Larry went on to work with communities including Alabama, the Dakotas, California, Georgia, Tennessee, Minnesota, Canada, South Africa, Brazil, Russia, Scotland.

Elders Circle

In 2009 the first Elders Circle was convened, bringing together over forty elders from the recent celebrations that Community Celebration of Place held in partnership with WMEP (West Metro Education Program). The elders were able to learn more about the roots of EWCS as well as how Larry Long came to focus on working with community elders and children.

The elders were also asked to participate in a round table discussion of the future of the EWCS program. To commemorate the events, an illustrated timeline was created to show the history of the program.

Elders’ Wisdom, Children’s Song TimelineElders’ Wisdom, Children’s Song Timeline

News & Events

Cashton, WI - 8th Grade Leadership will host a Cashton Community Celebration in honor of Mrs. Marian Sullivan Schwarz’s 104th Birthday at the Cashton Community Hall on Wednesday, October 18, 2017, 5:00 PM - 9:00 PM.  

Community Celebration of Place is partnering with Little Free Library on Saturday, May 21, in Minneapolis, Minnesota for the first-ever Little Free Library Festival.

Join highly acclaimed author Kent Nerburn and Larry Long, Executive Director of Community Celebration of Palce for an evening of songs, stories and music.

Save Our History!

During 2017-2018, it is a primary program of Community Celebration of Place to transfer their collection into archives that will be open to the public for generations to come

We can not do this work without you.


My heartfelt thanks to Larry Long and all the voices from which our history continues to generate encouragement, enthusiasm and wisdom.

Arlo Guthrie, Songwriter, Son of Woody Guthrie

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