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September 2002
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Behind the scenes: Dueling Tale-spinners raise money for PABI

On August 3rd, some highly-regarded Beaver Island story-tellers joined forces with professionals from downstate to entertain a packed house at Peaine Township Hall. Conceived of by Doris Larson as a way to raise funds for PABI, no one knew what degree of attendance to expect, but every seat was taken and several people had to stand. Besides "professional" story-tellers Tammy Layman and Amy Wisner, who each told two tales, local masters Pinky Harmon and Phil Gregg took a turn with Doris on the stage. When the smoke cleared at the end of the evening, they all agreed that this audience had been the best, in terms of response and interest, any of them had ever had.

Some who came were surprised to learn that story-telling has reached the status of an independent Art, an experience Doris too had when she and her husband Lars moved to Grand Rapids eight years ago. Of course as a successful long-time elementary teacher she had picked up these skills without really knowing it, but it was only when she encountered Story Spinners that she discovered the world of story-telling contests (including the National in Nashville) and tours. Now her skills have been honed and recognized, and she has been asked to serve as an instructor of story-telling at both Acquinas and Grand Valley State.
This activity, which is so much in tune with our rich local tradition of feted story-tellers, only came to us through a lucky coincidence. Tammy and Amy performed at a Spring Lake concert benefit this spring, which Diane Scripps attended. "This would be perfect for Beaver Island," Diane suggested–and that was all Doris had to hear to put it together. As they left, the enthusiastic audience was heard to remark that it would be nice to incorporate story-telling in the BICS regimen, or to at least establish a few story-telling evenings as an annual event.

And almost as a by-product of this introduction to a burgeoning art, PABI took another step closer to its goal of building the Community House by raising another four hundred and ninety dollars.

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