Story Preservation Initiative®

Preserving the Stories of Our Lives by capturing the voices, words, and meanderings of artists, scientists, writers, poets, musicians, and eyewitnesses to history. Listen, learn, and be amazed! WEB:

Deepika Kurup

Deepika at the 2013 White House Science Fair

Deepika at the 2013 White House Science Fair

If you don’t already know the name Deepika Kurup, believe me, you will!

Here’s 17-year old Deepika’s story (so far)  ~

On family trips to India as a child, Deepika Kurup often saw kids like herself forced to drink dirty water — as a result, at age 14, she became determined to find to a way to ensure that everyone has access to safe drinking water. For an 8th grade project, the Nashua, New Hampshire teen invented a water purification system that uses a photocatalytic composite and sunlight to clean water — an invention which earned her recognition as America’s Top Young Scientist in 2012.  And that’s just the beginning.

Access to clean water is a global crisis. “One-ninth of the global population lacks access to clean water,” she explains “and 500,000 children die every year because of water related diseases.” On the trips to India, her immigrant parents’ native land, Deepika saw the struggle for clean water first hand: “[My parents] would have to boil the water before we drank it. I also saw children on the streets of India… take these little plastic bottles and they’re forced to fill it up with the dirty water they see on the street. And they’re forced to drink that water, because they don’t have another choice. And then I go back to America and I can instantly get tap water.”

Her early investigations into water purification methods found that many of them were expensive and potentially hazardous. “Traditionally, to purify waste water, they use chlorine, and chlorine can create harmful byproducts,” she points out. “Also, you have to keep replenishing the chlorine, you have to keep putting chlorine into the waste water to purify it.” She wanted to invent a new way to clean water that would be both cheap and sustainable.

Deepika came up with the idea of using a photocatalyst — a substance that reacts with water’s impurities when energized by the sun — that also filters the water. The combination of the reaction and the filtration can remove most contaminants for a fraction of the cost of chlorine purification. She determined that her system reduces the presence of coliform bacteria by 98% immediately after filtration and by 100% within 15 minutes. Another advantage is that her catalyst is reusable: “a catalyst doesn’t get used up in the reaction,” she says. “Theoretically you can keep using my composite forever.”

Deepika’s efforts have already by widely recognized — in addition to being named America’s Top Young Scientist in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, she was also the recipient of the 2013 President’s Environmental Youth Award and the 2014 U.S. Stockholm Junior Water Prize, she was named one of Forbes Magazine’s 2015 “30 Under 30 in Energy,” and was recently awarded the National Geographic Explorer Award.

Deepika is looking for forward to taking her research from the lab to real life: “It’s one thing to be working in a lab, doing this, and another thing to actually deploy it and see it working in the real world. So that’s one of my steps in the future.” ~ excerpted from A Mighty Girl

Story Preservation is looking forward to recording her for our collection this winter.

New Library Archive

13 October 2012, 20th Anniversary banners hang on the 14th street entrance to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

We’re pleased to announce that all of our current and future holocaust-related oral histories will be archived at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.  This in addition to the Library of Congress, New Hampshire State Library, select university collections, and directly into K-12 classrooms.

Cristina Dolan ⎥ Promoting Creativity, Diversity, and Literacy in Computer Science

Cristina Dolan will add her personal narrative to our collection this fall.  Hers is the first in our technology series – and we’re off to a great start!!  In fact, a perfect tech-start for Story Preservation Initiative’s Learning Lab where:

Primary Source Material + Project-Based Lesson Plans = BIG (fun) Learning

The copy that follows is taken from the TedX Stuyvesant website.  To listen to Cristina’s TedX Talk, go to:Cristina Dolan TedX Talk


In the early days of the Internet, MIT Media Lab alumna Cristina Dolan co-founded, which grew to be the tenth largest ISP after a successful IPO. In only five months, she conceived and built the OneMain cornerstone, Geographic Communities, into a profitable business. At its launch, the company’s IPO became the largest Internet public offering at its time, surpassing Amazon’s and eBay’s respective IPOs. Cristina has also held executive roles at Wordstream, IBM, and Oracle, among other organizations. 

As an engineer and self-described “solutionist”, Cristina appreciates the value of an engineering and computer science education. In October 2013, she launched Dream it. Code it. Win it., a non-profit organization to promote such instruction and celebrate the power of applied problem-solving. Finalists have launched more than six companies and the competition has attracted a diverse group of students from over forty countries.

Composer, Conductor, Theater Artist, Scholar, Performer ⎥ Lawrence Siegel

lawrencesiegel4This copy taken from Larry Siegel’s website.  Here’s the link:   Read on:

Lawrence Siegel is a composer, theater artist, traditional musician, and creator of a wide range of music through collaboration and innovation. For over 25 years, leading his own unique Verbatim Project, he has facilitated and empowered groups to create original music-theater performances with their own voice: from the quirks of life in small New England towns, to the painful telling of the Holocaust story through his acclaimed oratorio, Kaddish.

Larry’s Verbatim project began with simple conversations – snippets picked up at the Village Store in Westmoreland, New Hampshire.  There’s wisdom to be found in the everyday dialogs of people as they go about their lives. What fun it might be to put these conversations into a musical context, to create a theatrical experience which would enrich both the participants in the project, and the community they represented.

Village Store Verbatim turned out to be the beginning of a series of projects, each one unique, but each one based on a common process: using the words that people have spoken, the stories they have told, setting them to music, and presenting them to the public.

One of his most acclaimed works, Kaddish, is an oratorio with a libretto drawn from the testimonies of survivors of the Holocaust.  Kaddish was commissioned by the Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Keene State College in New Hampshire, where it debuted in 2008.  Following its world premiere by VocalEssence in Minnesota in 2008, Kaddish was performed by the Houston Symphony in 2010, and by the Jerusalem Symphony at Yad Vashem, on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem in 2011, as well as on college campuses nationally.  His musical works have won awards from the McKnight Foundation, the New England Foundation for the Arts, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, and many others. A three-time recipient of a Performing Arts Fellowship from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, he was inducted as a Lifetime Fellow in 2013.

Siegel was a fellow in composition at the Tanglewood Music Center and three times a fellow at the MacDowell Colony.  From 1999-2010, he was composer-in-residence at the Eugene O’Neill National Puppetry Conference in Waterford, Connecticut.  In 2000, he was Millennium Artist in the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation’s Artists and Communities Program, working with the community of Harts, West Virginia. A musician at heart, Larry has performed nationally with several traditional bands.

We’ll be recording Larry in late 2015.

Stories Matter

What a Plant Knows


Audio is up on this fascinating look into the inner life of plants.  On the last track, Danny makes an impassioned and educated argument for genetically modified food.  You may agree / you may disagree, but worth listening to!


This recording, like so many, has been a long time in coming – and worth the wait!

I first became aware of the work of plant biologist (and so much more, read on for his complete bio) Daniel Chamovitz in 2012 and contacted him then to try to arrange a meeting. Unfortunately, my timing was off as he was just leaving the States and returning to his home in Tel Aviv.

Fast-forward three years and – finally –  I will have the pleasure of meeting and recording Danny this summer.

And here is what we’ll be talking about:

Danny will share with us an intriguing and scrupulous look at how plants themselves experience the world–from the colors they see to the schedules they keep. Highlighting the latest research in genetics and more, he takes us into the inner lives of plants and draws parallels with the human senses to reveal that we have much more in common with sunflowers and oak trees than we may realize.

Chamovitz shows how plants know up from down, how they know when a neighbor has been infested by a group of hungry beetles, and whether they appreciate the Led Zeppelin you’ve been playing for them or if they’re more partial to the melodic riffs of Bach.

Covering touch, sound, smell, sight, and even memory, Chamovitz encourages us all to consider whether plants might even be aware of their surroundings.


He studied at both Columbia University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he received his Ph.D. in Genetics. From 1993 to 1996 he carried out postdoctoral research at Yale University before accepting a faculty position at Tel Aviv University where he recently served as Chair of the Department of Plant Sciences. In 2002, Prof. Chamovitz was a visiting scientist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. He is currently the Dean of the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences at Tel Aviv University.

Audio is a production of Story Preservation Initiative.  All rights reserved. 

Stories Matter

Preserving the Past to Protect the Future

SPI continues to add the stories of holocaust survivors to our collection.  Many who agree to be recorded travel widely, speaking at schools and public gatherings – so that we never forget.


This October Kathy Preston, who was involved with the establishment of NH’s Holocaust Awareness Month and is one of those who spends much of her time in classrooms, will add her story to our collection to create a permanent record of her holocaust experience. This recording, as with all in our collection, will be widely and freely shared vis-a-vis SPI’s Learning Lab, blog, and numerous library archives.

Kathy was born in 1939 in a small town in Transylvania. Her father was Jewish and her mother was Catholic. Her father’s parents were from a small Jewish village in Russia and had been murdered by Cossacks in a pogrom. Her mother, a Catholic, was a successful dressmaker and seamstress. At five years old, Kathy escaped the Nazi roundup of Jews in Hungary when a neighbor hid her under the hay in the attic of her barn. Her father was forced into a ghetto and was arrested by the Hungarian police when he snuck out to try to see his daughter. He would perish in Auschwitz along with 27 other members of his family. Kathy and her mother survived.

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” — Elie Wiesel

Story Preservation to Present at NH NEA Conference


We’ve been invited to present at the NH National Education Association Instructional Conference this October.  With upwards of 500++ educators expected to attend, it offers Story another great opportunity to introduce even more teachers to Story Preservation’s Learning Lab … where …

SPI Primary Source Audio + Project-Based Lesson Plans = BIG (fun) Learning

(Just ask one of the Learning Lab kids!)

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Here’s a quote from a 7th grader in an English Literacy class who we introduced to a Story recording of birdsong expert Don Kroodsma:

I think personally that this class is the greatest. I think this class is a wonderful idea and I don’t want to stop doing this. This has made me less bored during Intervention and Extension while learning things that inspire me to want to be a naturalist. I love this group and I don’t want it to end. I want to keep doing this and see how the bird sanctuary will turn out.

Here’s a link to Don’s recording: Don Kroodsma / The Singing Life of Birds

One of the World’s Most Unlikely Soliders


Audio in production!

A German Jew born in 1925, Stephan Lewy immigrated to the US to escape persecution. When war broke out, he served in the US military and was assigned to General Patton’s Army with the 6th Armored Division. He landed in France ten days after D-Day and was present when Buchenwald was liberated.


Stephan was a “Ritchie Boy,” one of the world’s most unlikely soldiers. As teenagers they had escaped the Nazis. They trained in intelligence work and psychological warfare, and returned to Europe as US soldiers – with the greatest motivation to fight this war: They were Jewish. They called themselves “The Ritchie Boys”.

It begins in Camp Ritchie, Maryland, the birthplace of modern psychological warfare, and it ends with the defeat of Germany in May of 1945. After D-Day the Ritchie Boys became a decisive force in the war. Nobody knew the enemy, his culture and his language better than they. Their mission: ascertain and break the enemy’s morale.

The surviving Ritchie Boys are in their eighties now. They never met for reunions, they did not join veteran associations. When the war was over, their German accents and unusual histories did not make them welcome in the usual veterans circles. In the end, the Ritchie Boys quietly left the war behind them and went on to enjoy quite remarkable careers – in arts and politics, in business and academia. They never forgot the war. They just never spoke about it.

11227902_1641491449397338_6117542500441936052_nThey had no idea what it would be like to see their homeland again, they did not know what had happened to the families and friends they had left behind. On the front lines from the beaches of Normandy onwards, the Ritchie Boys interrogated German prisoners, defectors and civilians, collected information of tactical and strategic importance: about troop size and movements, about the psychological situation of the enemy, and the inner workings of the Nazi-regime. They drafted leaflets, produced radio broadcasts and even published a German newspaper dropped behind enemy lines. In trucks equipped with amplifiers and loudspeakers, they went to the front lines and under heavy fire tried to persuade their German opponents to surrender.

The Ritchie Boys were in Paris even before its liberation. They fought in the Battle of the Bulge – in danger of being shot as spies by the Americans because of their accents, and by the Germans who might find out about their backgrounds. They were among those who liberated the concentration camps. They worked for the Nuremberg Trials and determined the policy for the de-nazification of Germany.

Ritchie Boy Fred Howard: ”felt rage at what had happened to Europe, I felt rage at what happened to Jews – Europe was raped, by a very powerful, very disciplined, well oiled military machine”. Victor Brombert, Professor Emeritus at Princeton adds: “Our teams were bright, available, not always courageous – not always expert warriors, but certainly our heart was in it.” Guy Stern, Distinguished Professor at Wayne State University in Detroit agrees: “We worked harder than anyone could have driven us. We were crusaders. This was our kind of war.” Fred Howard, again puts a different spin on it: “We were all basket cases – kids! But these friendships were very wonderful!”

Their stories are as much breathtaking, as they are funny and moving: How Fred and Guy invented the capture of Hitler´s latrine orderly, and the swift reaction of the Pentagon. How Werner Angress decided to parachute into enemy territory on the evening of D-Day – his first jump ever – just to stay with his buddies and to be like them. How Victor goes AWOL to be in Paris, his hometown, before its liberation, and how he loses his division in the wake of the celebration. How Philip is captured during the Battle of the Bulge and his life in a German camp for POWs. And how Morris is still haunted by his reaction to the survivors of a concentration camp.

Their effort shortened the war and saved many lives on both sides. However, the story of their heroism, their achievements and their long-term impact on military tactics has been largely forgotten.

We will be recording Stephan in September.

The Plot to Assassinate Hitler

Helmuth and Jutta Cords. Used with permission of the family.

Helmuth and Jutta Cords. Used with permission of the family.

Claudia Cords-Damon tells the captivating story of her parents, Helmuth and Jutta Cords.

Both German citizens, Jutta and Helmuth met during the Nazi era, fell in love, and eventually – wanting no part of Hitler’s Germany – joined the underground resistance movement and participated in Operation Valkyrie – the July 20, 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler.

Both Helmuth and Jutta were imprisoned, as were Jutta’s parents.  Somehow, miraculously, they all survived. A love story for the ages, theirs was the first wedding in post war Berlin.

Here’s a Wikipedia overview of Operation Valkyrie:

Audio up!  (Run time: 57:00)

Mary Evelyn Tucker ⎥ Religion and Ecology

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Image from Religion and Ecology, Island Press, 2014

Audio in production.

The relatively new alliance between religion and ecology is based on the belief that religions are a primary source of values in any culture and the environmental crisis that we face is fundamentally a crisis of values.

Mary Evelyn Tucker is a Senior Lecturer and Research Scholar at Yale University, where she teaches in a joint master’s degree program between the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and the Divinity School and the Department of Religious Studies.  She directs the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale with her husband, John Grim.

While environmental issues are most frequently viewed through the lens of science, policy, law, and economics, in recent years the moral and spiritual dimensions of this crisis are becoming more visible.

“Our current ecological challenges are such that they require the insights of the world’s religions to awaken moral passion and concern,” Tucker says. “And these voices are needed now.”

Her concern for the growing environmental crisis, especially in Asia, led her to organize with John Grim a series of ten conferences on World Religions and Ecology at the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard (1995-1998). Together they are series editors for the ten volumes from the conferences distributed by Harvard University Press. In this series she co-edited Buddhism and Ecology (Harvard, 1997), Confucianism and Ecology (Harvard, 1998), and Hinduism and Ecology (Harvard, 2000).

After the conference series she and Grim founded the Forum on Religion and Ecology at a culminating conference at the United Nations in 1998.

Books include: Ecology and Religion, John Grim and Mary Evelyn Tucker, Island Press, 2014 /  The Emerging Alliance of Religion and Ecology, University of Utah Press, 2014 / Worldly Wonder, Open Court, 2013

For Mary Evelyn’s full bio and additional information on projects and publications, go to:

Information for this post was taken from numerous sources, including the Emerging Earth Community website.

We will have the honor of recording Mary Evelyn in the fall of 2015.


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