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  • 14 Jul 2021 8:44 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This summer, the FEAA is pleased to bring you a new look that better represents our direction as an organization along with the meaningful folk school news and articles you can count on from us. Have feedback or an article you'd like to see or contribute? Contact us anytime.

    In this issue:

    • The Folk School Fairbanks: Diversity Working Group 2021 Summary
    • Doing Folk Education: A Place for Exploring Human Longing - Land Alliance Folk School
    • Opening "Olive's Porch"
    • Intro to Grundtvig e Freire collection
    View Issue


  • 5 Jul 2021 5:20 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    John C. Campbell is excited to announce plans for Olive's Porch, a new Folk School community gathering place in downtown Murphy. The location at 27 Peachtree Street will feature a large classroom, a retail shop showcasing the work of Appalachian artists, and a studio maker space for an artist in residence program. Olive's Porch workshops will feature Appalachian topics such as broom making, chair caning, basketry, woodcarving, quilting, knitting, spinning, weaving, music, and dance. Special exhibits, demonstrations, and events will also be held throughout the year.

    Named after the school's co-founder Olive Dame Campbell, Olive's Porch will invite locals and visitors to learn about and participate in traditional Appalachian crafts, music, and dance. The idea for Olive's Porch originated from recent community listening sessions, where locals asked for enhanced community outreach and accessible program offerings for local youth and adults. In 2020, a generous grant was awarded to the Folk School in support of this project. We look forward to announcing the opening date later this summer. Stay tuned!


  • 5 Jul 2021 1:41 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Folk School Fairbanks
    Diversity Working Group 2021: Summary

    By Jessica Austin & Kerri Hamos

    In March and April 2021, the Folk School Fairbanks (FS) formed a Diversity Working Group and held weekly sessions for six weeks. The group included a diverse sampling of members of the local Fairbanks community. Each week, a different member of the group led a discussion on a specific topic. This working group was part of the Leading From the Roots project supported by the FEAA and the Folk School Alliance.

    Building diversity in an organization can often feel like a chicken-and-egg problem. This working group was successful in breaking out of that cycle because it was formed from members of the community who do not typically participate in FS planning, and these members were allowed to lead the discussions, and encouraged to share their honest opinions. With this structure, the sessions offered a fresh perspective to old problems, and resulted in a wealth of possible avenues the FS can pursue over the next year and more.

    Session summaries:

    Session #1: Introduction. How is the Folk School viewed in the community, with respect to inclusivity? The primary issues brought up here were: the FS feels like a social clique, that is predominantly white due to the word-of-mouth nature of our growth, and does not feel welcoming to people of color, and the cost of attending events is a barrier to inclusivity. With this feedback, we came up with a list of session topics to dig into possible solutions to these problems.

    Session #2: Class topics. How can diversifying the types of classes lead to student and leadership diversity? During this session we brainstormed possible class topics, and instructors, to involve members of the Fairbanks community that don't typically attend FS events. Examples included: events to celebrate Juneteenth and Black History Month, beading or kuspuks for the Alaska Native community, and spoken word events for Pride Month. 

    Session #3: Marketing. During this interactive session, we developed a marketing plan that would encourage a greater diversity of participants in FS activities. This plan includes: our target audiences, our communication objectives, barriers to action, benefit promise, tone, and execution. This session generated a wealth of ideas too numerous to include here, but some specific campaign ideas were: targeted outreach beyond typical FS advertising channels, a focus on introductory events where someone new to the FS could attend for free, and partnership with local organizations to introduce the FS to new audiences. 

    Session #4: Leadership. How can leadership at the FS be more inclusive in their decision making? We also acknowledged that being a board member is a big commitment, and there are other avenues to be part of FS decision making. For example, the board should form more community working groups to get fresh perspectives. One idea was to form a youth working group to develop a set of classes and events during a summer. The board should also lower the barriers to entry for leadership by: making the board's activities more transparent through social media posts and member profiles, developing a mentorship program, and sharing "job descriptions" for specific board member roles.

    Session #5: Financial equity. How can we make participation more affordable, and thus more inclusive? How can we encourage more people to use the FS scholarship fund, which is historically under-utilized? We acknowledged that asking for scholarships can be socially awkward, so we explored the idea of introducing a pay-what-you-can structure for some classes, and use the fund to make up the difference if needed. Other ideas included: regularly offering free classes, especially for target groups and first-time attendees, and conducting outreach to specific groups that may need financial assistance but don't know that it's available.

    Session #6: In this final session, the group summarized the key takeaways and possible action items, which could then be shared with the FS board to implement.

    Even while the sessions were ongoing, the Folk School began making changes based on feedback, for example ensuring more diversity in website photos and posters. The board integrated many of these action items into their strategic plan during their May retreat, and are following up during each monthly meeting. The FS also plans to check in with the working group members periodically to ask, "How are we doing?", to make sure we stay on track.

    For a small organization, taking on the pressing issues of diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion can seem like a monumental task, but by being honest about the current situation and open to new ideas from a diverse group of supporters, The Folk School in Fairbanks was able to start taking steps in the right direction. In keeping with the tradition and history of folk education, we relish the opportunity to better support our community, break free from past mistakes, and diversify both our leadership and student body, and we hope to see other schools diving into this work as well.

  • 5 Jul 2021 1:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A Brief Introduction to S. Haddad (Ed.), Grundtvig e Freire: escolas populares na Dinamarca e no Brasil (Grundtvig and Freire: Folkhighschools in Denmark and in Brazil): São Paulo, Brazil: Acão Educativa, 2020)                                        

    By Clay Warren

    Connections between the educational philosophy of Denmark’s N.F.S. Grundtvig (1783-1872) and Brazil’s Paulo Freire (1921 – 1997) have been made from time to time; however, these interrelationships have never been the subject of a major treatise nor has a book detailing Grundtvigian ideas been published in Portuguese until now.  In late 2020, such a book became available to people who would like to learn more about these major advocates for the classroom as an agency of social change:  Grundtvig e Freire: escolas populares na Dinamarca e no Brasil.  The book is comprised of eight chapters (not counting the introduction), six of which (those that are English-language-based) are provided in both Portuguese and English.  

    Freire’s best-known work is Pedagogy of the Oppressed (published in English in 1970).  In it we learn that students should not be passive “piggy banks” in which knowledge is deposited (“banker education”), but active agents facilitating their own learning process. 

    Grundtvig’s educational ideas finally were consolidated and published in English in 2011 as The School for Life.  A corresponding idea to Freire’s banker education is Grundtvig’s  “school for death” in which students are crushed into conformity by externally derived ideals; instead, they should be involved in reciprocal teaching engaged through the living word.

    These ideas were examined in Grundtvig and Freire.  It was found that both Grundtvig and Freire believed that the ultimate reason for learning is enlightenment of life (as Grundtvig put it) or in raising awareness (conscientização, as Freire put it).  With appropriate enlightenment and awareness, a person is then able to knowledgeably engage in social participation to help run a government by the people for the people (as Americans put it).

    In addition to exploration of these philosophers’ educational principles, a case study was done to collect data about how two longstanding Danish folkhighschools have been organized over the past 175 years.  A Brazilian team made two academic visits in 2018 and 2019 to Brænderup FHS and the International People’s College in Helsingør.  Why was this deemed necessary?  As the team put it, the “Scandinavian experience” is hardly well known in Brazil and studying it would help close the gap between the Danish and Brazilian knowledge reservoirs.

    Sergio Haddad, the editor, graduated with a Doctorate in History and Philosophy of Education at the University of São Paulo. Until his retirement this past year, he was a researcher and coordinator at NGO Ação Educativa, professor at the Post- Graduate Programme in Education of the University of Caxias do Sul, and Senior Researcher at CNPq.  He has been a champion of Brazilian youth and adult education for most of his career, defending the process of education as a human right for all people.

    Sergio decided to buttress his Brazilian-based team with selected authors representing other countries known for Grundvigian-based studies, with 6 scholars from Brazil and 6 scholars from an international pool.  The list of contributors includes:  Sérgio Haddad, Gabriela Zeppone, Janaina Uemura, Maria Clara Di Perro, Angélica Kuhn, and Roberto Cattelli Jr. – Brazil;  Ove Korsgaard – Denmark;  Clay Warren and Carrie Ann Welsh - U.S.A.;  Asoke Bhattacharya - India & Bangladesh;  Marcella Milana - Italy & England;  Tore Sørensen – Belgium.


  • 1 Feb 2021 9:01 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    In this Issue -

    • Greetings & Notes
    • Introducing our Newest Board Members
    • Doing Folk Education: Nurturing Flow and the "Cathartic Response" at the Michigan Folk School
    • "Leading from the Roots" Featured Projects
    • Grundtvig News - Winter 2020
    Read the Full Issue


  • 30 Jan 2021 7:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Winlock Community Garden cultivates more than just produce

    By Elizabeth white

    After Dr. Alicia Spalding graduated with her doctorate in naturopathic medicine from Bastyr University in 2016, she knew she wanted to make naturopathic medicine more accessible to people in her community. Naturopathic medicine is a form of alternative medicine that uses natural remedies like herbal medicine, hydrotherapy, acupuncture, nutritional counseling, and more to treat the root cause of an illness and help the body heal itself.

    “Basically, we're licensed healthcare providers that we practice medicine from a stance of disease prevention and removing obstacles to cure,” Spalding explained.

    She founded Nature Nurture Farmacy in 2018 to bring naturopathic medicine, specifically hydrotherapy and herbal medicine, to Lewis County in Western Washington.

    “So, although in Washington state we’re licensed primary care providers, it’s still really hard, [because] not all insurances accept naturopath as primary care providers,” Spalding explained. “And so, a lot of folks, even if they want to access natural medicine, have a difficult time doing it.”

    After moving home to start Nature Nurture Farmacy, she heard that Winlock High School, her alma mater, wanted to start a garden club. “And so, because one of our big things is that food is medicine and empowering sustainable food cultivation, I just went to the teacher who was starting the garden and was like, ‘Oh my gosh, how can I support you?’” Spalding said.

    And the Winlock Community Garden was born. Spalding took over the garden in spring 2019 after the teacher she was working with moved.

    “We grew this beautiful garden last spring, and we follow a permaculture model,” Spalding said. “So, the idea is permanent agriculture. So, putting in trees, putting in lots of perennial herbs, things to stay every year, and then you grow your annual crops, like all your vegetables and things like that.” The garden produces approximately 100 pounds of food a week and is available for anyone to harvest. The remaining food is donated to a local food bank.

    “And then this year when spring hit and COVID happened, we were super worried that none of the kids were going to get to come to the garden,” Spalding said. “So that's when we actually created Project: Food is Medicine.”

    Spalding explained that they pivoted to the new project in May 2020 as Washington State entered lockdown and classes at the high school were moved online for the rest of the year. “Now, more than ever, we need to be educating folks about food,” Spalding said. “And so, this year we focused on mass production of food and just trying to get as much food to the community.”

    With the help of volunteers, they put together 500 garden kits for families in the community. Each kit contained a garden manual, a dozen different seeds, and a bag of soil. The manual also contained nutritional information and the best way to prepare the fruits and vegetables they grew. Spalding explained that the kit wasn’t enough to feed a family, but it was a good starting point.

    “We had really amazing feedback from the people who had never grown anything before in their life,” Spalding said. “Some people went really big and started growing good-sized gardens. People were really inspired.” Spalding said that the state eventually lifted the ban on agriculture practices, and they continued to grow the garden into the spring and summer.

    Spalding joined Leading from the Roots in June and used the funding to hire a permaculture design consultant and garden coordinator, Mary Lewin, to schedule work, help implement garden plans, and organize community members to safely work in the garden. “I live here in Winlock and it’s really important to me to have this source of food sustainability and security for me and for my neighbors,” Lewin said.

    Spalding hopes to expand the garden’s reach next year and also provide supplies and resources for the community. “Being in the garden is more than just growing food. Like you get your exercise, you get your connection with nature, you get your fresh air,” Spalding said. “The whole goal is maybe not everybody will be growing their own food, but if everybody understands how much work it takes to grow food and how much effort and energy goes into it, I think people will be more mindful of where they buy their food and not waste it.”


  • 30 Jan 2021 7:33 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Old Growth Mountain Dulcimer Club brings the community together with music
    By Elizabeth White

    “Mountain dulcimers are the potato chips of the musical world. It's easy to start and hard to stop,” is how Old Growth Mountain Dulcimer Club’s website describes playing the all-American string instrument.

    The club was formed about five years ago when the founder, Ellen Rice, bought a mountain dulcimer but didn’t know how to play. She put up a sign on a bulletin board in a local store looking for other players, and when a few community members came to the local fire station with their dulcimers to play some music, the Old Growth Mountain Dulcimer Club was born.

    The mountain dulcimer can be traced back to the Appalachian mountains of Virginia, where Irish and Scottish immigrants first invented them. They were the first major instrument to be created in America.

    Shelly Spalding, a member of the Old Growth Dulcimer Club, brought the Leading from the Roots grant and the club together. Leading from the Roots funded the Lessons & Loaner project, which provided two dulcimers made by Mason County-based woodworker Ron Kunkle and are available to loan. People interested in learning how to play but aren’t sure if they want to commit to buying one can borrow a loaner dulcimer. The funding also helped dulcimer instructor Dean Robinson record and produce 6 lessons, which live on the Old Growth Mountain Dulcimer club’s website.

    “They are just amazingly beautiful instruments,” Spalding said. “And one of them is out on loan right now. And I know once we get out of the COVID thing, we start meeting in person again, we will likely end up with some newbies who we can loan dulcimers to.”

    Spalding explained that the club sends out a playlist several weeks before the meeting so that the players can practice the music. Most of the meeting is dedicated to playing together, but it also includes a teaching component.

    In pre-pandemic times, the club met in-person weekly to play some tunes together. Since COVID-19 started, they meet once a month on Zoom. “In this time of COVID, for me, it's all about connecting without being in the same space. That's important,” Spalding said.

    Before the pandemic, the group had plans to play in a small music festival in Tenino and an assisted living home in Shelton. These events are on hold for now.

    Spalding bought her first mountain dulcimer from a music shop in Seattle. She was intrigued by how much smaller it was than the other dulcimers she owned and how it only had 3 or 4 strings. “And so, I bought it and it hung on my wall for probably 10 years because I didn't know anyone who played the instruments and I had never even seen one played,” Spalding said.

    Spalding explained that a year or so after dealing with some health issues, she saw that an adult education class was being offered in a town nearby on how to play the mountain dulcimer. The class was ending, but luckily Spalding connected with the instructor who told her about the Old Growth Mountain Dulcimer Club. She has been a member ever since.

    “I always would go, and we would always jam some. For me, that was really valuable to be able to play with other people,” Spalding said. “Because when you play at home alone, you can get sloppy and not even know it, with the timing and different aspects of the music. So, when you play with other people, you have to be on the same page that they are so that you all work well together.”


  • 29 Jan 2021 4:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We're excited to introduce the newest members of our board who have doubled both its size and capacity in a short time. They are Bryan French of Duluth Folk School, Kerri Hamos of Folk School Fairbanks, Scott Hayden of Adirondack Folk School, Ryan Sartor, the new Treasurer of the board, Kirsten Skoglund of Marine Mills Folk School, and Terri Van Orman of Folklore Village.

    Bryan French

    Bryan French is the Director and Co-Founder of the Duluth Folk School. He brings a diverse skill set to the table, from sustainability in higher education, to musical theater, to human resources management. Bryan has been a professional photographer, an adventure guide and a naturalist.

    The Duluth Folk School, founded in 2016, offers a wide range of classes, including traditional skills, arts, and a variety of craft disciplines. Located at the western tip of Lake Superior, the Duluth Folk School is located in the middle of the city, and is on the edge of the great North Woods.

    Kerri Hamos

    I am the Program Director at The Folk School in Fairbanks, AK, and I have held this position for almost 4 years. I have three kids, ages 13-19, and have spent most of two decades as a homeschool parent. We have lived in Alaska since 2010, and in between raising kids and working for The Folk School, I enjoy camping and hiking, knitting, reading, and hanging out with our dogs. 

    The Folk School in Fairbanks had its beginnings in 2007, and slowly grew from one summer program into a year-round school. We offer classes and programs for all ages in a variety of disciplines, including art and craft, outdoor skills, woodworking, sciences, cooking and DIY. We value the utilization of materials that are readily available in the local boreal forest, and seek to promote stewardship of our surroundings through education and connection to the interior Alaska landscape. We strive to cultivate creativity and sense of accomplishment while developing skills in a community of lifelong learners.

    Scott Hayden

    I’m the Executive Director of the Adirondack Folk School. I am an Eagle Scout who grew up in the Bangor, Maine area. I enlisted in the US Army upon graduating high school and went to college on the GI Bill. Prior to 2016 when I joined the Adirondack Folk School, I served as an executive for the Boy Scouts Upstate New York area for over 13 years. My wife Cristina and I have 2 amazing kids, Lucas and Olivia, a 3rd Grader and a Kindergartner who keep us on our toes with their many activities and sports. Besides spending time with my family, I enjoy hiking, reading, cooking and volunteering in causes I believe in deeply.

    The Adirondack Folk School, (AFS) was founded in 2010 by Jim Mandle in conjunction with a dedicated group of community leaders and volunteers to bring something special to the Lake Luzerne community. Our school is nestled in the lower foothills of the Southern Adirondacks along the Hudson River. The Adirondack Folk School celebrates and preserves the culture and heritage of the Adirondacks and promotes creativity and self-reliance by teaching the arts, crafts and traditions that define our legendary region. AFS is made up of local artisans, crafts people, and volunteers, offering a non-competitive education experience, focusing on the student. The beauty and natural abundance of this environment influenced the skilled artisans that created the pack basket, twig furniture, birch bark containers, the Adirondack chair, the guide boat, and the Adirondack lean-to. These are the home furnishings, boats, and decor still found in cabins, lodges, and homes today throughout the region which have helped create the unique “Adirondack Style.”

    My goal in joining the FEAA board is to help to promote and publicize our wonderful folk school movement. I want to help connect as many people with the thousands of unique classes being carried out every year in our 90+ schools throughout the country. We offer a unique opportunity for anyone who wants to learn something or make something for the pure joy of learning with expert artisans in dozens of craft areas. It is my belief that there are hundreds of thousands of people throughout the country who would benefit from our programs and that something special our schools have to offer.

    Ryan Sartor

    After growing up in Chapel Hill, NC, Ryan used the combination of volunteering, school and travel to see more than 30 countries, work with small groups all over the world, and then live and work in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Since 2011, Ryan has been a bookkeeper and stay-at-home dad in Berea, KY, a place strongly connected to the Folk School movement. He's been actively involved on numerous boards at local levels and an active member of the Wilderness Education Association in the past, and he looks forward to the good that this movement can, and will, do in the midst of many local communities across the globe.

    Kirsten Skoglund

    Kirsten lives in Minnesota with her dog Joy and cat Buddy and LOVES TO KNIT!  “I LOVE people.  I love to learn their story, learn about their dreams, and meet them where they are.   I love to work hard to help them meet or surpass their goals.  I love problem solving and thinking outside the box.  I love helping people become the best version of themselves.”

    Kirsten has been a lifelong learner, focusing on everything fiber arts. After a career in Community Mental Health, and Human Resources, in 2009 she started a successful retail shop selling yarn, fiber and gifts with her sister.  The shop was open for 10 years. She taught many different classes while working within the fiber community.  She was responsible for all aspects of her business, marketing, staffing and finances.

    Kirsten has served in many volunteer roles in her community.  Past roles include local School Board Member for 10 years, Allina Health System Board Member for 13 years, Community Environmental Committee, 5 years.  Kirsten was the founder of the Mahtomedi Area Farmers Market, creating a gathering place for farmers, nonprofits and community members.

    Building community is extremely important to her, in both professional and volunteer positions. Now her involvement is Marine Mills Folk School continues to extend her love of community building while being encouraged to learn new things every day.

    Terri Van Orman

    My name is Terri Van Orman, and I am the Executive Director of Folklore Village. We conduct a variety of folk educational events throughout the year, including weekend-long, themed learning experiences, and six sessions of our new Folk School. I have been involved in folk education since the 1990's when I started my own grass-roots weaving workshops at the Ozark Folk Center. Thinking it would be so much more fun to have other folk artist workshops going on at the same time, I helped institute the "Ozark Folk School" which flowered into 20+ folk arts workshops in music and crafts. After becoming the Director of Crafts Programming there, I expanded the original week-long experience into an all-year extension. Moving on from the Folk Center, in 2009, I became Executive Director of the Arkansas Craft School, again managing folk arts education experiences year-round. I have served on the boards of the Arkansas Craft Guild, and the Arkansas Arts Council, and as a panelist for the Wisconsin Arts Board. I contracted for consultation work on a proposal for a Maryland Folklife Center, and have taught about craft at the college-level. My writing about craft has been published by both Ceramics Monthly and Handwoven magazines; and my master's thesis focused on the craft and music traditions of Mountain View, Arkansas.

    Folklore Village, an arts and culture organization preparing to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2021, has actually been in existence since 1947, when our founder, Jane Farwell instituted the Festival of Christmas and Midwinter Traditions, now in its 73rd year - which will be presented virtually for the first time this year due to the pandemic. Our mission statement is "to provide opportunities for individuals and communities to honor, experience, and support ethnic and traditional folklife." We do that through concerts, barn dances, special "socials" such as a Maypole dance or a Sankta Lucia day, children's field trip programming, and primarily through adult educational experiences in folk dance, folk music, foodways, and craft, including our latest folk school initiative. We are located on 94 acres - our founder's original family farm, in the beautiful Driftless region of Southwestern Wisconsin. Our infrastructure is composed of our main activity center, Farwell Hall, the late 1800's Farwell family farmhouse, the 1882 Plum Grove Chapel, the 1893 Wakefield Schoolhouse, a couple of rustic bunkhouses for student lodging, various outbuildings, and surrounding gardens and grounds. We also manage about 65 acres of restored prairie land. We serve communities extending from the hyper-local, to the regional, national, and even international. Our website is www.folklorevillage org. 

  • 29 Sep 2020 8:57 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    In this Issue -

    • Doing Folk Education: Life.School.House
    • "Dear World" from Happiness Hills
    • "Leading from the Roots" Featured Projects
    • Board Notes
    Read the Full Issue
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