For many years now, visitors to the Folk Education Association of America’s homepage have been greeted with the above statement. The FEAA commitment to this statement over the years has remained strong; however, associated action has waxed and waned as the organization’s capacities have also ridden the waves of our times and places. From 2002 to 2013, the FEAA experienced a period of dormancy. Beginning in 2014, however, collaborative efforts brought the organization back into a state of active contribution. Today, we as a volunteer-run 501(c)(3) continue our work in identifying, supporting, and facilitating folk education. In 2014, the FEAA launched the Folk School Alliance project, identifying and promoting a new wave of folk school founding and development through an online folk school network listing and eNewsletter. In 2017, through grant funding, the FEAA partnered in the implementation of “The Folk School Alliance Community of Practice: Creating Spaces for Social Transformation” project. In 2018, the FEAA engaged in a grant-funded Community-Based Participatory Action Research project based in southwestern Washington State, “Leading from the Roots,” which brought an interethnic, multiracial group of community craftspeople and university researchers together to seek solutions to regional crises. All of these activities continue today, and in the 2020-2021 year, the FEAA will have the opportunity to expand the Leading from the Roots project to many folk schools across the United States. We celebrate these accomplishments and the impact we are having within the folk school community.
As our capacity has grown, so has our reach and our ability to impact social change; however, we do not believe we have done enough, particularly concerning inclusion and promotion of BIPOC voices within the folk education movement. The FEAA and its projects have been and continue to be primarily made up of Euro-American folk. North America today is characterized by communities of immense diversity, and folk education tenets charge educators to dig deeply into the culture, history, language, and temporal lives of the communities where they serve. Black Lives Matter! We can and will do better! As we move into the next phase of our work through the Leading from the Roots project and other FEAA projects, we challenge ourselves and those we currently support to expand the reach of our work, include all those that reside and work within our communities, and to make our centers of folk schooling and folk education ones where interethnic anti-racist allegiances may be cultivated and sustained.
More about the 2020-2021 Leading from the Roots Participatory Action Research project…
The purpose of the proposed Participatory Action Research study is to explore the stories and impacts of U.S. based folk schools as they navigate school and community responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and to explore the relationship between folk school values, civic engagement, and civic health.
- To explore the motivations, experiences and impact of U.S. based folk schools
- To develop a deeper understanding of U.S. based folk school values and their contribution to civic health from the perspective of those in leadership roles at folk schools.
- To leverage Participatory Action Research to ascertain relationships between folk school values, civic health contributions, and civic engagement.
Research objectives will be assessed through the following questions…
- What motivated the creation of U.S. based folk schools?
- What narratives do folk school leaders/founders construct around school identity, values, and purpose?
- What are the experiences and impacts of folk schools within their communities?
- What can Participatory Action Research contribute to understanding the relationship between folk school values, civic health, and civic engagement?
- How can Participatory Action Research contribute to the knowledge and promotion of civic health and engagement through folk schools?