Friday, May 23, 2008


As the ideas for the first folkshop present themselves along with new folks and situations, there is a growing sense that we could support something like a Yellow Springs Village living history movement. With a brief glance online to see who's doing what, where - I found fascinating references to all kinds of reenactment groups, specialists and workshop leaders. It's fun to imagine the wealth of deepening that can occur in the Village as these folkshops progress through various periods and re-living of our history. Not the least of the many positive effects might be opportunities for gaining healing insights concerning the character of the village itself, and what sorts of conflicts and gifts it tends to produce. Also, since humanity is speeding along leaving our un-processed past in our wake at super high speed nowadays, it might just be that the occasional living history village folkshop could provide vital opportunities for reconnection with lost or dropped cultural "threads" which may prove essential to personal and community future. Three of these threads are:
1. The Shawnee people whose tribal lands and sacred sites were taken by European settlers
2. The Conway Colony, a group of freed slaves
3. The visionaries - artists, healers, inventors, scientists, educators, religious, communal life and others - who are consistently drawn to the Village of Yellow Springs and its surrounding area.

We're getting hints of what the first folkshop will hold: an evening dance event featuring the kinds of dances popular during the period when the Village was beginning, for one thing. String band music to accompany the dancing. Weaving, quilting, woodworking - firebuilding - horses - and children's chores and games as well. Woodscraft - tracking, forest awareness. Hambone-rhythm singing after meals. Perhaps a story-theater historical play with plenty of audience involvement for another evening's entertainment.

It's as if the folkschool is quite alive, and calling together all those who are to build it and make it work now and down the years. Indeed - that Heart-of-Joy is thumping in our dreams.



My first experience with the idea of the folk school came years ago, in the early seventies, when I was a young married woman/artist living in Minneapolis - and then Granite Falls MN. I was involved with musicians, painters, writers - and I attended a Southwest Minnesota Arts And Humanities Council [SMAHC] workshop at a wonderful place called Danebod. It had been founded by Scandinavian immigrants, patterened after their beloved folk schools and adhering to the principles of the Scandinavian FOLK SCHOOL movement. Danebod's history so inspired me that I never forgot it. That's been 30-odd years ago, and there's been a lot of water under the bridge since then.

Looking up folk schools online, I came across the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina. Everyone I've met who's had experience with John C. Campbell has great things to say about it. Another good model. Each village, each folk school, should grow its own culture from the ground on which it stands - but should also adhere to tried-and-true principles that support the truth embodied in all folk schools everywhere. I believe in the folk of the world - the simple, good-hearted ordinary people, who are the majority of humanity. These are the people who will feel truly supported by folk schools, and these are the people who carry that great gift for humanity and the planet: common sense. Common sense, good will, stick-to-itiveness, all done with practical down-to-earth love. Folk School!