Continuing Education and TAI

Table of contents:
Community Specialist training
Introduction to field schools
The 2000 field school
The 2001 field school

Useful links:
Educators Web Bibliography
Ideas for Educators compiled by TAI

Downloads for fieldworkers:
Audio log blank
Photo log blank
Personal information sheet blank
Consent form
TAI letterhead

Community Specialist Training

Monday, April 24, 2006 at Fort Wayne Museum of Art
Monday, May 1, 2006 at Minnetrista Cultural Center, or
Friday, May 5, 2006 at Conner Prairie

Community Specialist training
Patria Smith talking to community specialists about her gourd art and the hidden Miami community in Fort Wayne, Indiana.   Photo by Jon Kay.
In collaboration with the Hamilton County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Indiana Arts commission, NEA, and Indiana University, TAI offered free training for those who wish to become "Community Specialists." They attended a free day-long workshop that hones skills for developing better heritage festivals, sites and other related heritage activities. They learned presentation techniques, how to document local traditions for presentation and how to get an overview of community heritage traditions found along 1-69 corridor.

The workshops focused on the traditional arts of the I-69 corridor. So, what are traditional arts and folklife and why are they important to communities along I-69? In this workshop, TAI director Jon Kay described the community traditions found along the Heritage Corridor and discussed why these practices are so important in sustaining a sense of place for the region and developing place-based tourism opportunities.

We can learn a lot from talking with other people, participating in public events and observing the environment around us. Documenting folklife uses all these skills. The workshop focused on methods of recording folklife through field notes, tape-recorded interviews, and photography. The workshop looked at folklife documentation projects done by grassroots and professional groups around the country to consider what others have done with this kind of material to creatively build their communities.

One of the key factors to developing a strategic folklife initiative is to cultivate trained presenters. The workshops explored the techniques and critiques in presenting. Participants learned how to direct narrative stages, the secrets of good signage, and what every presenter should know to make their participants and audience enjoy themselves while they are learning about unfamiliar and familiar traditions. While the focus is on traditional arts, these presentational models work with any event or public presentation.

TAI plans on offering these workshops again in the future. Call (812) 855-0418 for more information.

Documenting Local Culture: An Introductory Field School

Students practice interview session
From left, students ReaAnn Trotter, Lynne Schuetz, Collette Lemmon and Ron Stephens in a practice interview session. Photo by Inta Carpenter.
Traditional Arts Indiana, in collaboration with the Indiana University Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, the Evergreen Institute in Bloomington and the Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, has hosted two summer field schools, designed to teach techniques for cultural documentation.

The intensive, three-week-long field schools offer hands-on training for beginners in interviewing, still photography, ethnographic writing, project planning, research ethics, computer applications, organizing materials, and developing community-building participation programs.

Experienced specialists provide lectures, workshops, discussions, curriculum materials, and guidance. David A. Taylor, folklife specialist at the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress; Inta Carpenter, associate research scholar at the Indiana University Folklore Institute, and Phil Stafford, director of the Center on Aging and Community at Indiana University, directed both field schools and served as the principal faculty. Other faculty members included Catherine Kerst (2000) and Michael Taft (2001), archiving specialists from the Folklife Center. Pat Glushko (2000) and Rich Remsberg (2001) came on board to teach photography. Teaching assistance and administrative support were provided by a number of others. Both field schools took place in Bloomington, Indiana, one in the summer of 2000, another in 2001.

The 2000 field school, entitled "On the Square" focused attention on the businesses, people, and memories that centered on the heart of Bloomington - its historic downtown

The 2001 field school, entitled "Community and Disability," concentrated on experiences, attitudes, and opportunities connected with disability in Bloomington.

Field School 2000 - "On the Square"

Field school student Delia Alexander
2000 Field school student Delia Alexander. Photo by Inta Carpenter.

"It was wonderful and challenging to conduct fieldwork and analyze data in a group. The parts became greater than the whole. In our group, when one member tired, there were two others to help out. Tasks could be shared and ideas built upon. I found it incredibly intellectually and emotionally stimulating," said Chris Tobar-Dupress, who arrived from Oregon to join fourteen others from many parts of the U.S. as well as Canada.

Traditional Arts Indiana, along with the IU Folklore Institute, the Evergreen Institute on Elder Environments, and the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, jointly organized this three-week long intensive field school that offered training in the professional techniques of cultural documentation.

Field school student Maria del Pilar Muriel
2000 Field school student Maria del Pilár Muriel becoming familiar with her camera. Photo by Inta Carpenter.

During the time of the field school, from June 11 to July 12, Bloomington's town square was probably the most closely examined town square in the nation. Modeled after the American Folklife Center's previous field schools (in Ohio and New Mexico). The Bloomington field school proved to be an experience that brought strangers into community, both among themselves and with residents in the initially unfamiliar locale.

Calling upon the lessons learned in the classroom during the first week, participants spent the second week exploring the history, uses, and meanings of Bloomington's town square. Teams of three selected a focus (the varied symbolic meanings of the square, the role of arts, foodways, youth, and stories) and then talked to people, took photos, recorded interviews, observed events, wrote up field notes. In the final week, they put it all together for a public presentation at the Monroe County Historical Society and Museum.

Afterwards, all the participants had definite ideas about how they would apply their training when they returned home--from reevaluating how projects are planned and presented to sharing information with work colleagues, training and mobilizing constituencies to do cultural documentation, and incorporating field schools into professional development.

Locally, the results of the field school still reverberate. The documentary materials include many hours of tape-recorded interviews, hundreds of color slides and pages of field notes, valuable interview summaries and photo logs. Selections from these materials are being incorporated into a newly formed Internet site and will soon be available to the public at the Monroe County Historical Society/Museum.

Field School 2001 - "Community and Disability"

View a collage of participants and staff of the field school 2001.

Field school faculty member Rich Remsberg
2001 field school faculty member Rich Remsberg critiques Jorge Ibarra's (far left) photos. Photo by Inta Carpenter.

Field school student Jorge Ibarra
Jorge Ibarra smiles for fellow student Ilze Akerbergs during a photography exercise. Photo by Ilze Akerbergs.

"Who I am is somewhat affected by being in a wheelchair, but being in a wheelchair is not who I am." These words, uttered by David Carter, a Bloomington resident advocating the rights of the disabled in his community, echoed in the minds of the participants of the 2001 field school as they documented the life stories and personal experiences of Bloomington residents touched by disability.

Traditional Arts Indiana, along with the IU Folklore Institute, the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, and the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, jointly organized this three-week long intensive field school that offered training in the professional techniques of cultural documentation.

The nine participants, a mix of students and professionals, came from as close by as the Bloomington community and as far away as Mexico and the Sudan. The field school provided a lesson not only in the practical side of documentation, but also in teamwork and collaboration with participants of different generations and cultural backgrounds.

Field school students Tracy Chen and Karen Rader prepare for an interview
Tracy Chen and Karen Rader check the recorder's counter function as they prepare for an interview. Photo by Inta Carpenter.

Participant researchers produced several hundred slides, a couple dozen interviews, a five-minute video, pages of field notes, and clearly organized summaries of interviews and slides. They formed new friendships. They heightened their own consciousness about the experience of disability, but they also raised many unanswered and troublesome questions for the Bloomington community to ponder. The final presentation, at the Adult American Center, explored themes on disability and everyday creativity, criminal justice, and issues of mobility.

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