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Vivian Gussin Paley

Last night, I went with two HER board members (Jacy and Sabina) to hear Vivian Gussin Paley at Lesley University. She is one of my heroes and it was wonderful to be in her presence. She is a tiny vigorous woman in her mid-70s with curly gray hair and warm chocolate eyes whose love for her work surrounded her like a halo around the full moon. She read in a clear calm voice from a ringed-notebook drawing us into a world of children making community through play and storytelling. She used a couple of great quotes from Virginia Woolfe to buttress the flying arches of the piece but the strength and the beauty of the presentation really lies in the voices of the children themselves. I loved particularly that, after decades of close observation and empathy, to Mrs. Paley, what drives our seemingly universal propensity to make stories remains a mystery. Maybe one day we'll find out that storytelling is hard-wired in our brains, as is thought about morality and language. Whether choice or consequence, I gladly give storytelling top spot among integral parts of what it means to be human.