FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 21st, 2023
$360K Grant Funds Creation of the Folk Education Network
Fielding Graduate University and Folk Education Association of America Looks at Cooperative Action of Folk Educators
Folk Education Network - Strengthening a distributed network through participatory approaches
Olympia, WA: Fielding Graduate University, in partnership with the Folk Education Association of America (FEAA), has received a three-year, $360,000 federal research grant through AmeriCorps Office of Research and Evaluation.
The Folk Education Network partners are:
Fielding Graduate University
Folk Education Association of America
Smithsonian African American Craft Initiative
John C Campbell Folk School
Center for Belonging Folk School
Life School House
This study will work with a distributed national network of Folk Schools and Folk Educators, examining how participatory research approaches may support social cohesion and collaboration between these independent local organizations. This research seeks to strengthen what is, at present, a somewhat decentralized Folk Education Network comprising over 90 organizations that support the craft economy and community participation across the US.
“Folk schools have a long history of inspiring social change by awakening, enlivening, and sustaining the communities in which they are located,” Dawn Murphy, VP of FEAA said. “For folk educators, to be a human being is to accept and take pride in one’s community connection and cultural identity. Individual identity cannot be separated from community, and the wholeness of the individual happens in the connection with community. Folk education means placing our human identity at the core of education.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Mariana Sanborn | email@example.com | www.folkschoolalliance.org
About FEAA: The mission of the Folk Education Association of America is to identify, support, and facilitate community-based, learner-led education as a strategic tool for community organizing.
This material is based upon work funded by the Office of Research and Evaluation at AmeriCorps under Grant No. 22REACA001 through the National Service and Civic Engagement research grant competition. Opinions or points of view expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of, or a position that is endorsed by, AmeriCorps.
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.
Stephen Middleton and Dean Robinson, instructors and members in Old Growth Mountain Dulcimer Club.
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 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.
“I have a spot in the corner where I have my dulcimer and my music books. And I look right out the window at my bird feeder and I'm close to the warm stove. It's my very special dulcimer corner. It has meant so much to me.” Shelley Spalding, member of the Old Growth Mountain Dulcimer Club.
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.”
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.
Aerial view of Winlock Community Garden.
“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.
Produce from the Winlock Community Garden that was donated.
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.”
The folk school is preparing to open a learning center in Murphy, NC and the positions below will support programming in this center.
Resident Artist in Weaving, Rugs, Thread Art, Lace & Beading
Studio Coordinator in Wood
Community Programs Manager
Special Programs Manager
Click here for more information
Online: Creating & Improving Cell Phone Videos with Maggie Werning!
Marine Mills Folk School in Marine of St. Croix, MN Invites you to join us Saturday Oct 11 online!
This class is designed for beginner smart phone filmmakers. Learn simple techniques to improve the quality of your cell phone videos.
These days, creating a lasting memory can be as easy as pulling a cell phone out of your pocket. Using the video recording function on your cell phones, it has never been easier to make great home movies right in your own backyard. And, by learning a few simple filmmaking tricks like choosing camera angles and frame sizing, and how to utilize natural light, you can learn how to make the most of those captured memories.
This online, 90-minute course will offer hands-on instruction on how to create your own cell phone video utilizing natural light.
This is Part 1 of a 2-part series on filmmaking using a cell phone. This class will teach you how to take the videos for all types of video content: educational films, vlogs, short films, documentaries, you tube videos, and other videos. Part 2 of this series is a separate class and will focus on “post production” or what to do with the video footage now that you have it. Using iMovie, you will be taught the basic editing skills and techniques. We will further discuss how to upload a video to the internet and share the link with your friends.
To find out more follow click here and sign up. We can't wait to have you join us.
In this Issue -
*Please note - some of the links within this issue are no longer active. Active links have been added to the list above.*
Read the Full Issue
A Letter from the FEAA Board
No one has been exempt from the ramifications of COVID-19 and the decisions that have been made in the effort to lessen its impact to public health. The Folk Education Association of America recognizes that our network schools in the Folk School Alliance community are under distress, both due to the virus itself and to the shutdowns and quarantines that have been imposed. Many folk schools have had to cancel all spring classes, many have already canceled their summer classes, and many are wondering if they will survive at all. Some have chosen to pivot their instruction to online formats and others have chosen not to. Regardless of the situation our network schools find themselves in, our mission for the FEAA has not changed, and we continue to do all we can to provide support and connection to the people and organizations that make up the Folk School community. Through our mutual support, we are committed to combating the discouragement and fear that so naturally accompanies situations like the pandemic we are all experiencing. Whether you have stayed open, closed temporarily, pivoted to online instruction, or any combination of those solutions, we want you to know that we are with you and we support you. Please stay connected with us through Facebook and any other forum that works for you.
Read the Full Statement
In this Issue - Coronavirus Chronicles
Folk Schools are the masters of hands on learning and the Smithsonian Magazine has recognized that.
Families are looking for ways to enriched their experiences during stay-safe-at-home quarantine. Folk schools could help! Check out the article from the May 4, 2020 Smithsonian Magazine, "The Best Places for Your Kids to Learn Real-Life Skills Online."
In this Issue - The Environmental Issue 2020
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The Folk Education Association of America is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.