Cultural Documentation Field School: Foodways

Registration is now open for the Center for Washington Cultural Traditions (CWCT) Fall 2021 Cultural Documentation Field School. The theme of this year’s field school is foodways. Field school participants will learn the art, practice, and ethics of fieldwork and conduct a foodways-related documentation project over the course of eight virtual sessions.  

The CWCT conducts research and programming to support and advance understanding of the living cultural traditions of Washington State. Cultural traditions—from basket weaving to hip hop—help to tell people’s stories, and are expressions of communities’ identity and heritage. They are rooted in the past and evolve over time, reflecting the evolution of a place or a people. Cultural traditions can tell us is what matters most to people and what’s worth protecting. We are committed to sharing our skills so that communities across the state have the tools necessary to effectively and ethically document their own communities.

Students will learn cultural documentation skills, such as interviewing, audio, video, and photography, as well as how to activate their stories within their communities through community exhibits, gatherings, and events. Fieldwork ethics and accountability to the communities we document will be emphasized and woven throughout.

What are foodways? 

Foodways are the creative expressions of the complex webs of relationships generated by communities as they traverse new and old worlds. They can tell us about a community’s identity, vitality, and resilience. They express community histories, migratory patterns, political engagement, economics, labor relations, and more.

Field school participants will gain skills in project design, oral history interviewing, audio recording, visual documentation, and fieldwork ethics. They will invite someone to participate in an interview, conduct an audio recorded interview, and edit the interview into a narrative. They can submit the narrative, along with other documentation materials, such as still images and a recipe(s), for inclusion in Rites of Green, the CWCT’s online publication. Participants are invited to share their learning and reflect on the process at a virtual public event at the conclusion of the workshop series.

Who should participate?

The Cultural Documentation Field school should appeal to anyone interested in preserving the cultural heritage of their communities. This can include those engaged in grassroots-based community history, journalism, archiving, genealogy and more. It should also appeal to those working in cultural museums, archives, libraries, historical societies and other heritage-related institutions. We hope that the Cultural Documentation Field School will support your ongoing efforts and possibly inspire new initiatives.


Click HERE to learn more about our Cultural Documentation Field School: Foodways Instructors

Sessions + Schedule 

The cohort will meet twice a month on Saturdays via Zoom from 10AM-12PM, beginning September 11 and ending December 4, with an additional zoom event at a TBD date and time to celebrate and share our work together. Each session will be led by experts in the field and will be presented in conjunction with suggested supplemental reading. Participants will have access to a recording of each class, as well as a private Facebook group for connecting with each other and other resources. 

Session 1, Sept 11: Introduction to folklore, cultural documentation, and foodways 

The first hour of this session will provide an overview of the field of folklore and cultural documentation, with an emphasis on the relationship between food to cultural identity. The second hour we will visit with a panel who will share their work in the field of foodways and food justice. 

Session Leader: Dr. Langston Collin Wilkins, Director, Center for Washington Cultural Traditions (

Session 2, Sept 25 | Principals of Project Design

In this interactive, hands-on workshop we will explore the practical and ethical key decisions necessary for building and maintaining a successful community-centered project, and creating a plan with a deep consideration for collaboration and reciprocity. We will also spend some time applying these ideas to our foodways documentation project.  

Session Leader: Laura Lo Forti, Vanport Mosaic (

Session 3, Oct 9 | The Art of the Interview

This session focuses on planning for and conducting interviews. The first hour will cover basic audio recording techniques, as well as strategies for getting the most out of your interviews. During the second hour, participants will have the opportunity to practice, brainstorm who to interview, and get familiar with their recording device. 

Session Leader: Rob Smith, Welcome to Olympia ( and Keepsake Audio (

Session 4, Oct 23 | Visual Documentation

This interactive workshop includes a brief history of photographic documentation and the technical and social considerations. We will explore these ideas and apply them to our own projects documenting food traditions.

Session Leader: Michael Maine (

Session 5, Nov 6 | Interview Debrief and Transcription

By session 5, participants will have interviewed someone for the project. During the session, we will reflect on the interview process. What worked? What didn’t? What themes emerged from your interview? What more do you want to know? We learn the software to transcribe your interview and discuss how to conduct follow-up interviews to further expand the story. 

Session Leader: Elaine Vradenburgh, Window Seat Media (

Session 6, Nov 20 | Transcribing, Editing, Proofing 

In this session we will discuss how to edit a transcript into a short, cohesive narrative. We will work in teams to discover gaps in our story and create potential follow up questions to expand the story if needed. We will also revisit the ideas of ongoing consent and discuss the process of reviewing the transcript and narrative with your narrator. 

Session Leader: Elaine Vradenburgh, Window Seat Media

Session 7, Dec 4 | Feedback

This session will offer participants the opportunity to share their stories in small groups for feedback and finalizing for publication. 

Session Leader: Elaine Vradenburgh, Window Seat Media  

Session 8, Dec 18 | Group Sharing and Reflection

Participants and their narrators will have the opportunity to take part in a zoom event to reflect on the process and share learning from the stories they gathered. 

Facilitated by Langston Wilkins and Elaine Vradenburgh

Registration + Information 

CWCT is offering the virtual field school free of charge. Click here to register. Space is limited. For more information, visit or contact CWCT Director, Langston Wilkins at