The Center for Washington Cultural Traditions is a new arts and heritage program set up to survey, study, and support cultural traditions, tradition bearers, and traditional communities throughout Washington State. This innovative program is a statewide, go-to source for learning about Washington’s rich, diverse cultural heritage. The Center is housed at the state’s nonprofit humanities council, Humanities Washington, and presented in partnership with ArtsWA/the Washington State Arts Commission.
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.
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.
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
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 (https://waculture.org/)
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 (https://www.vanportmosaic.org/)
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.
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 (http://michaelbmaine.com/)
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 (https://www.windowseatmedia.org/)
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
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
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