The StoryCorps Airstream trailer sat in front of Town Hall in Burlington, Vt., last month so people could tape their stories.
The StoryCorps Airstream trailer sat in front of Town Hall in Burlington, Vt., last month so people could tape their stories. (Geoff Forester for the Boston Globe)

BURLINGTON, Vt. — Hugh Pittman crossed Lake Champlain by ferry to reach the shiny Airstream trailer parked in the heart of this small city. There, on a brilliant Saturday morning last month, he settled into a dimly lit recording studio in the cozy back room of the trailer.

He had come to tell the story of his father, a hard-working Southerner who was forced to take the helm of the family farm when he was still in grade school. The 40-minute recording will become part of an ambitious new national archive of oral history, one of thousands of interviews with ordinary Americans collected by the non-profit group StoryCorps.

Due to arrive in Boston on Thursday , after a stop in Portland, Maine, the silver StoryCorps trailer is the most eye-catching evidence of a rising interest in recording history. As development diminishes the distinctive character of New England — extending its reach into ever more remote and scenic enclaves — some observers say changes in the landscape have highlighted vanishing traditions and sparked increasing efforts to preserve uniqueness in the face of homogenization.

The StoryCorps project, with its embrace of common experience, reflects a shift in public interest in the past, from a fixation on well-known events and public figures to “a recognition of the importance of the everyday and the local,” said Jo Radner, a Maine storyteller and past president of the American Folklore Society.

In Maine, the state humanities council has seen strong demand for classes, taught by Radner and offered since last year, that teach local historians how to record interviews. A new book of essays about the history of the Monadnock region of New Hampshire, compiled at Franklin Pierce College, is poised to serve as a model for other collections of regional history. The StoryCorps tour, sponsored by National Public Radio, has generated much enthusiasm in New England. In Vermont, two weeks of interview slots made available online were snapped up in six minutes, organizers said.

“There is such a sense of changing times in New England, and people want to try and capture what’s disappearing or what’s been lost,” said Erik Jorgensen, assistant director of the Maine Humanities Council.

Pittman, who traveled from Vermontville, N.Y., to visit the StoryCorps trailer in Burlington, said increasing urban sprawl in his native North Carolina helped him realize that his father’s way of life was disappearing. A few years ago, he visited the old family farm with his father and asked him to talk about his life there. Now, his father is in failing health, adding urgency to Pittman’s quest to record his story.

“To the day I die, I’ll never forget driving down that road with him, talking about the farm,” Pittman said. “A lot of people don’t understand the struggle that went on before them.”

In Madawaska, on Maine’s far northern border, a coalition of cultural groups is recording a CD that will trace 400 years of culture and history in the St. John Valley. In the valley, where many residents still speak both French and English, geographic isolation has been a double-edged sword: The remoteness has helped preserve traditions, like the 17th-century French ballads still sung there, but it has also driven industry from the region, in turn driving away younger people.

“It’s an oral culture here, so a lot of the heritage is passed down through families,” said project director Sheila Jans. “Most of the job is left to women, and it’s so vulnerable. It can stop in a generation, and it has.”

Social change also prompts reflection on the past. Five years after Vermont legalized civil unions for gay couples, the gay and lesbian community center in Burlington interviewed 14 of the state’s gay elders and commissioned artists to interpret their stories. “The Dialogue Project” is now on tour.

Increasingly, explorations of local history are seen as tools for solving problems. Besides preserving a rich culture, the Madawaska project has another purpose: boosting awareness of the region and its distinctive flavor, in hopes of fueling a new economy based on cultural tourism.

In Alexander, Maine, an oral history project also functioned on two levels. In recent years, the tiny Down East town saw an influx of newcomers, but natives and new arrivals failed to mingle, said Radner. The town’s history project, titled “Meet Your Neighbor,” tapped members of both groups for interviews and photographs last year, preserving memories while starting conversations.

A similar goal inspired the New Hampshire anthology, titled “Where the Mountain Stands Alone.” The 350-page book, published last month, includes essays on Monadnock regional history, from the native Abenaki to sheep farms and long-lost ski areas.

The stories offer newcomers a way to connect with longtime residents, said John Harris, director of the Monadnock Institute of Nature, Place & Culture at Franklin Pierce College. To help spark connections, the institute has scheduled a series of “story circles” around the state next month and also set up a website,, where users click on an interactive map to find history from their own towns. A daylong field trip last month to three of the historic sites featured in the book sold out.

“People [today] feel less comfortable connecting, yet there’s enormous hunger underneath to connect with each other,” said Harris.

Jenna Russell can be reached at  

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THE organisers are calling it the ‘return of the prodigal… poker son’.
Most people here would not have heard of 65-year-old Singapore-born Willie Tann – one of world poker’s famous faces – simply because there have been no legal card game events here before.

Mr Tann has been in the restaurant business, the hot towel business and a bookmaker, but he has made a better living as a poker player

But this could soon change with the first Asian Poker Tour here from 12-17 Nov.

Singapore’s first legal high-stakes poker tournament will be held at the Meritus Mandarin Singapore, with a guaranteed prize pool of at least US$1 million (S$1.6m), to be shared by the final six players..

It is organised by a local company, Capital Events, in conjunction with Betfair (a London-based registered bookmaker and betting exchange) and the Singapore Tourism Board. (See report on facing page.)

For Mr Tann, who’s based in England but still visits Singapore once in a while, it will be a chance to finally showcase the skill and stone-cold ‘poker face’ he has honed over 46 years of playing the game to a Singaporean audience.

Last year, in poker’s version of football’s World Cup – the World Series of Poker – he won US$188,335 and an 18-carat gold bracelet from a one-day event with a buy-in of US$1,000 (the fee players have to pay to enter the main event).

A professional, now sponsored by Betfair, he couldn’t be contacted last night.

But in an interview with UK betting magazine Inside Edge last month, he talked about his life.

He was born in Singapore in 1941, and gambling was not in his parents’ plans for him.

They had high hopes when they sent him to London in 1960 to study law.

But law wasn’t exactly on his mind as he gambled often, and then tried becoming a bookmaker.

He owned a Chinese restaurant in Soho for a couple of years in the 1970s and ran a company supplying hot towels to Chinese restaurants all over London.

But poker was his calling.


With a total career earnings of almost US$1 million from poker, he lives comfortably some distance out of London in a small village in Hertfordshire called Bovingdon.

There, tudor houses, churches and greenery are more common than casinos.

It’s a world away from London, and definitely from Singapore.

He also has a family away from poker.

As the former law school dropout told Betfair Poker’s website: ‘I’ve been married for almost 30 years now. I have one son who went through Westminster and Oxford, and is now a lawyer himself.’

Well, at least he fulfilled his parents’ dream… through his son.

Mr Tann told the same website: ‘I started playing poker with my fellow students in house games.

‘I was winning a lot of money and so I stopped playing with them, and started playing in ‘spielers’ (casinos) all over London.

‘I thought I could make a better living playing poker. I’ve been in a few other businesses, the restaurant business, the hot towel business, and I’ve been a bookmaker at the race tracks.

‘But poker had always kept me going.’

But it also ‘broke’ him many times as he would spend his ‘earnings’ to enter tournaments and lose.

Once known as the Dice Man, then The Governor, the former No 1 European poker player in 2004 now prefers the nickname Mr Miyagi.

Mr Miyagi, from the 1980s movie The Karate Kid, was the wise old trainer and mentor of young Daniel-san, who spoke philosophically while maintaining a humble profile.

Mr Tann banks on his experience to offer advice on Betfair’s poker website.

Mr Oliver Bowen, 23, Betfair Games’ press officer, said: ‘Willie Tann is famous and respected here in the UK gaming scene. So I guess many Singaporeans will now start to hear more about him and recognise him as the face of the Asian Poker Tour, since he was born in Singapore.’

Mr Joseph Wong, 39, a businessman and director of Capital Events, was the prime mover behind the idea for Singapore’s first legal poker tournament.

He told The New Paper last night: ‘This has nothing to do with the upcoming integrated resort plans for Singapore. This poker tournament will be independent, an annual event.

‘I travel overseas often, and I realise poker’s exploded in the West. Gone is the seedy image associated with it as there’s more emphasis on the skill and psychology of pitting a player against another, as opposed to you playing against the house, which almost always wins.

‘And it’s great that Willie Tann will be returning to Singapore to play the game he could never play here legally all those years.

‘The return of the prodigal poker son after 46 years, I guess…’



12:51 PM CDT on Thursday, September 28, 2006

By Chau Nguyen / 11 News Click to watch video
Southern California’s large Hispanic community is seeing a language shift.

A study finds that the Spanish language is dying out as English becomes the dominant one.

Now, it appears to be happening in Houston, where one immigrant community’s next generation could be losing their language.

At a one deli, Vietnamese food is served and, by in large, ordered in the Vietnamese language.

Young Vietnamese Americans like Le Vu might prefer speaking English, but, “it’s easier to speak to them in Vietnamese that way they don’t get confused if I speak to them in English,” he said.

And it’s a language dilemma that goes beyond this deli.

With the first wave of immigrants being replaced by a second generation comes this question: Are the children of these immigrants losing their language?

You might consider Dr. Rick Ngo in that category.

At work, he rarely speaks Vietnamese.

“I would say 99 percent English,” he said.

And what about at home, with his Vietnamese-American wife?

“We speak English,” Dr. Ngo said.

Now it appears there’s a return to their roots.

Truong Ngon teachers a Vietnamese language class for those of the second generation who were asked for it.

“I prefer myself a one-and-half generation,” student Jack Phan said. “Not really a second generation, but one-and-a-half or 1.8.”

Phan speaks Vietnamese, but articulating it well and reading and writing, he doesn’t.

“I know Vietnamese,” he said. “I don’t know it deeply.”

“And the second generation, they try to consolidate what they achieve,” Ngon said.

Ngon said his classes are getting bigger and bigger as Vietnamese-Americans are seeing the need to bridge their language gap.

“And as an educator I love to teach those who rally really want to learn,” he said.

Dr. Ngo hopes private lessons from Ngon will mean he and his wife will soon speak Vietnamese not to just each other but to their two children

“We don’t want them to forget who they are and where they came from,” he said.

Vietnamese might very well be the only language spoken at the deli, and perhaps some of the younger generation would like to keep it that way.



09:27′ 27/09/2006 (GMT+7)

Soạn: HA 907149 gi đến 996 để nhn ảnh này

VietNamNet Bridge – The Law on Intellectual Property (IP) took effect on July 1, 2006. Ten days later, the Madrid agreement on international registration of brands took effect in Vietnam. However, many Vietnamese companies are still not fully aware of the significance of brand protection.


The danger is that Vietnamese enterprises may have to pursue overseas lawsuits to claim their brands if disputes occur.


How to avoid brand-related lawsuits?


The result of a survey of famous brands in Vietnam in 2006 has surprised many people: 50% of the total of 500 most popular brands in Vietnam is owned by Vietnamese companies. However, many of the 500 surveyed brands are not registered for protection.


“If this situation goes on, there will surely be expensive lessons like the cases of the Vietnam Post and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) and the Vietnam Tobacco Corporation (Vinataba) when they had to pursue lawsuits abroad to take back their brands,” said an expert.


According to this expert, if disputes occur, Vietnamese companies will face many troubles and have to spend a lot of money. The issuance of the Law in IP and Vietnam’s participation in the Madrid agreement on international registration of brands has partly helped raise the awareness of Vietnamese businesses of IP.


Pham Thanh Long, Director of the Pham Lawyer & Associates Company, said that along with economic development and fiercer competition, brands are extremely important to enterprises. A brand is the symbol of a business and the way it promotes itself in local and foreign markets.


Many famous brand names have become valuable invisible assets like Coca Cola ($79 billion), Microsoft ($64 billion), IBM ($51.2 billion), GE, Intel, and Nokia ($30 billion). Thus, Vietnamese businesses can’t ignore brand registration.


Along with the development of the Vietnamese economy and the country’s accession to the WTO, the number of Vietnamese companies registering their brands abroad is on the rise. This is a precondition for the promotion of exports and protection of the overseas markets of Vietnamese companies.


The Madrid agreement on international registration of brands went into effect in Vietnam in July 2006, and it has enabled local companies to register their brand names abroad and to avoid disputes.


They attach important to brand registration but…


The number of brand registration forms submitted to relevant departments increased from 5,882 in 2000 to 18,018 in 2005. The statistics show that awareness of brand registration and protection has improved. However, awareness of the role and value of brands in Vietnam is still poor as many local companies are not interested in developing Vietnamese brand names.


A survey by the Saigon Tiep Thi (Saigon Marketing) newspaper of 500 companies reveals that 49% of the work related to brands is directly monitored by the directorate. Only 16% of the surveyed companies have divisions specialising in this field. Nearly 80% of companies don’t have staff in charge of brand management.


Investing in brand name development is also a problem: The surey discloses that more than 20% of businesses don’t invest in brand names and more than 74% invest less than 5% of their turnover in this task.


Some lawyers said that business leaders have some knowledge of brand protection but their understanding of how to prevent brand violations is still poor. 

(Source: Tien Phong)

The Urbanite and her ao dai

September 28, 2006

funny when asked about if she has anything traditional. all she had was the ao dai. sweeto.

Dorothy Ho cuts an international figure.

By Molly Lori

harley soltes

Extra Info

Find out where Dorothy shops.

Dorothy Ho doesn’t think she’s stylish, but we’re not sure who she’s comparing herself to. Carrie Bradshaw? Coco Chanel? With her internationally acquired wardrobe and fantastic shoes and handbags, the 32-year-old writer and photo editor stands out in Seattle. When not compiling documentary photography for her Web site,, Ho teaches writing classes and pens articles for publications such as Where magazine and newspapers in Singapore, her native city. She’s also lived in New York (where she met her husband, a designer) and San Francisco. Though Seattle isn’t her favorite metropolis—yet—she says she’s really gotten into the art scene here, attending First Thursdays and mixing with other creative types. She shared her thoughts over tea in the Fairmont Hotel.


Where do you shop for shoes? Far East Plaza in Singapore; Nordstrom and Edie’s in Seattle.

Where do you shop for clothing? I try to do all my shopping when I go home to Singapore; there’s a very different fashion aesthetic there that I identify with. I buy clothes from Singaporean designers I love such as WOMB and Song + Kelly. And many labels from Japan or Hong Kong that are not available here. In Seattle, the one store I frequent is Anthropologie. I also like Fancy because [owner] Sally Brock brings in great T-shirts.

When did you find your style? I think I’m still looking! I take a little bit from each city that I’ve lived in, and my present look is an amalgamation of my life. If there’s one constant, though, it has to be comfort. I walk everywhere, so heels or ill-fitting clothes are not an option. I know I’m lucky to have that ability to look outside of Seattle for fashion. My style is really me putting together my favorite items from different cities.

Did you ever go through any horrible fashion phases? I permed my fringe in the ’80s.

What do you hate about Seattle style? Comfort without style. Buying an entire getup from one store. People wearing “work clothes” with running shoes, which I gather they change out of when they reach work. Why?

What’s your opinion on East Coast vs. West Coast style? I can only compare this with New York City, since I’ve lived there. I love the New York style because it makes no apologies for what it is. People wear whatever they want, and everyone tells a story with their clothes. In Seattle, people prefer to let the brands talk for them. There is less experimentation and mixing and matching. The trends and styles are taken wholesale without any tweaking. To truly be a trendsetter, I think people need to be unafraid to take an “old” trend, pair it with something new, perhaps, and then throw on a fabulous accessory.

What are your clothing staples? Comfortable tees. Yes, there are uncomfortable tees!

Who’s your style icon? Hello Kitty. She rocks that red bow every time.

Is there a piece of clothing you bought on a whim that languishes in your closet? I bought a traditional Vietnamese ao dai [an outfit consisting of a long tunic, usually with a high collar, worn over loose pants] on a trip to Ho Chi Minh, thinking I could wear it for some formal event. Yeah, right. First I need to be invited somewhere.

What object in your home or apartment says a lot about you? My Apple computer. No fuss, easy-to-use operating system, awesome packaging and design aesthetic, clean lines, simplicity.

What are a few of your favorite hang-outs? My LoveSac at home. It’s like a giant beanbag, right in front of the telly. Yes, I won’t apologize for watching television. People make it out to be such a crime here. Also: Shiro’s when I can afford it. Best damn sushi in the world.