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Meet Karen Golden

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karen Golden.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
After earning my MA in Communication Research from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel, I realized that I was not on the right path concerning my future. I didn’t want to study communication, I wanted to communicate! I returned to my hometown of Flint, Michigan and secured a 15-minute spot on a daily radio talk show. My format was to interview an interesting person every day about their work and their story. Kind of like what I am doing right now with this interview! One day I interviewed a storyteller and she invited me to a storytelling festival. I saw my first professional storyteller and it was as if the sky opened and a trumpet blasted out, “This is your calling.” I was hooked, and right then and there I decided that this would be my life’s mission. I wanted to empower my audiences with ideas and missions to make the world a better place. I knew storytelling would be my vehicle to bring this purpose to life. The next question was how?

Being the youngest of six children, the only way I could have any air time at our dinner table was if I had a great story to tell. I had always told stories and I am a magnet for listening to the stories of others. I decided to give professional storytelling a try. I moved to Los Angeles and hung out my sign, so to speak, “storyteller for hire.” My first “gig” was when I went to a class on dream interpretation and I told a story about a dream I had. The students sat in rapture, and they hung on to my every word. A woman invited me to tell stories to her women’s club and from this audience, my career began. Soon I was being invited to tell stories at other venues…schools, churches, synagogues, libraries, festivals, museums, private gatherings, etc. Thirty years later, I am still telling stories.

I specialize in folktales (especially Jewish), original, historical and true stories. My style is animated, musical (I sing and play the saxophone, recorder, ocarina, accordion and a variety of percussion and wind instruments from around the world), and most of all, fun. I tell stories as short as a minute, to performing full-length shows which last up to two hours. I tell for all ages of listeners, and I teach the art of storytelling for anyone who wishes to learn. I have brought my stories to international schools in China, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Peru; as well as traveling around the US. I have also published and recorded my stories. I love my work!!

Hat #2 Founder/ Director Creative Learning Place
Six years after I hung my “storyteller for hire” sign, I gave birth to my first daughter. Three years later came daughter #2. As my kids reached school age, I realized that the choices for their education were limited. I had such an interesting and flexible life, and my husband, being a self-employed graphic designer and artist, had the same. We loved being with our children and discovered that our flexibility allowed us to homeschool them. When skeptics asked us why we chose this lifestyle, we replied, “we homeschool because we can.” Which was true. Our daughters experienced the city of Los Angeles as a classroom filled with international experiences and the wonders of the natural world.

When out youngest daughter was in the fifth grade, she requested that I organize a few classes taught by experts in their fields, and thus Creative Learning Place Inc. was born…a learning center for homeschooled students. We are currently in our tenth year of operation and my daughters are now adults. One is a college graduate and hopes to go to law school in the near future and the other is a third-year student at UCLA. Homeschooling worked!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My road has not always been smooth. There have been a number of bumps, including an economy that does not support the arts. Many of my “bread and butter” storytelling venues, such as schools and libraries, have lost funding and I have had to reinvent myself to reach new audiences. My Creative Learning Place Inc. also ebbs and flows with the economy. The biggest struggle is the attrition of students returning to school due to a desire to be more mainstream, or parents needing to work additional hours to support their families, thus making homeschooling a difficult option. I lose about as many students as I gain every semester.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Karen Golden The Storyteller and Creative Learning Place Inc. – what should we know?
For my storytelling work, I tell stories and present one-woman shows to audiences ranging from small children to adults. I specialize in telling stories which promote peace, unity and cross-cultural understanding. I am passionate about helping others find their storyteller within, and my workshops are fun, safe and support a sense of community. I am also a published author and an award-winning recording artist. I love traveling the world as an ambassador for the English language and am proud to have been given the opportunity to share my stories with such a large international audience through the Buenos Aires-based company DreamOn Productions.

I have been commissioned by over thirty organizations and museums including The Getty Center, The Skirball Museum and Cultural Center, The Zimmer Museum, LACMA, The Lancaster Museum, and Art Gallery, and sometimes even cities, including Monterey, West Hollywood, and Lawndale. They have commissioned me to create one-person shows about historical subjects and individuals. My one-person multimedia shows have touched the hearts of audiences across the US and include “Love From Jewish Kitchens,” “Small Kindness: How My Mother Changed the World One Kindness At A Time,” and my most recent show, “Hot Pot: Savory Tales From China, South Korea and Hong Kong.” I am currently working on a new show which explores my Lithuanian Jewish heritage, which was inspired from my recent trip to my father’s village in Lithuania. I am proud of my work as a storyteller and especially proud when audiences tell me they want to learn more about their heritage and that my stories have moved them to action, including being more caring and understanding of the world around them. What has always set me apart from others is the honesty of my performance. I am a very down-to-earth performer and my audiences can relate to me, whether they are three or one hundred. I make every audience member feel as if I care about them, because the truth is, I do!

For my work at Creative Learning Place Inc., I specialize in customer service and meeting the needs of my families by providing an excellent education with teachers who are experts. Many students come to my program because they have fallen out of a school setting because of being bullied or not feeling successful. Many are turned off to learning. My teachers are very passionate about what they teach, and they allow their students to develop a new relationship with the learning process. They begin to love learning again. I am very proud of this. Our motto is “opening hearts and minds”. Students do not fall through the cracks in my program and every student is counted and has a voice. Creative Learning Place Inc. is a community of caring people and everyone is welcomed. I truly care about each person who walks through my door. Creative Learning Place Inc. currently offers 60 classes a week for students in grades K – 12 in both arts and academics and many of our students receive funding to attend our program through public funding of charter schools.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
The characteristic that is the most important for both of “my hats” is to care about others. I care about my audience and I care about my students.

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Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

2 Comments

  1. Gail Stevens

    June 11, 2019 at 20:59

    So very proud of you, Karen Golden! What a GIFT you have . . . and share with others to enable them to Discover Their Gifts!

    • Adrienne

      July 8, 2019 at 10:55

      Yeah Karen…. What a great article and true…you are a warm and compassionate leader…and amazing performer!
      We are grateful that you are in our lives.
      Adrienne Tiffe

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