Folklore: A Tapestry of Life

Article excerpt

CyberBee

[Editor's note: URLs mentioned in this article appear in the chart that follows on page 34.]

This summer I had the opportunity to attend a workshop presented by Paddy Bowman from the National Network for Folk Arts in Education. Paddy is a leading authority on folklife and culture. The title of the workshop was "Finding the Invisible: Folklore in Sense of Place." Her inspiration to learn about one's sense of place in the community through traditions, music, food, and crafts was the catalyst for this article. Sometimes everyday life becomes invisible until you begin to analyze and categorize your experiences. You have to see, hear, smell, taste, and touch daily life in such a way that you begin to feel a sense of person in the place where you live. Connecting students with community can open doorways to the cultural legacies of many diverse groups of people. It will certainly enlighten minds.

Folklore

American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress

In 1976, the U.S. Congress created the American Folklife Center to preserve and present American folklife. The Center has 11 collections online as part of the American Memory project. They range from fiddle tunes of the old frontier to Omaha Indian music to the landscapes of Southern West Virginia to blues and gospel songs from the Fort Valley Music Festivals in Georgia. These collections are a rich combination of sound recordings, photographs, field notes, artifacts, and manuscripts that serve as living histories for a new generation. Be sure to read Folklife and Fieldwork: A Layman's Introduction to Field Techniques before venturing into ethnographic studies with your students. It is an essential guide for preparing and conducting research. In addition to the field guide, there are finding aids to the folk archives with many states represented, information about the local legacies project, andA Teacher's Guide to Folklife Resources for K-12 Classrooms that provides an annotated list of books related to folklore and addresses for state and community-based programs.

American Folklore Society

The purpose of the American Folklore Society, founded in 1888, is to stimulate interest and research in folklore. The Web site is mainly a resource with information about the organization.

Citylore

Citylore's mission is to foster New York and America's cultural heritage. Projects supported are the People's Poetry Gathering, a biennial poetry festival [http://www. peoplespoetry.org]; Place Matters, an initiative that celebrates places and traditions in New York communities [http./www.placematters.org]; and CARTS: Cultural Arts Resources for Teachers and Students, a cultural resource center for K-12 education [http://www.carts.org]. The site also honors grassroots contributions to New York's cultural life through the annual People's Hall of Fame Awards.

Montana Heritage Project

The Montana Heritage Project demonstrates how students have preserved cultural heritage through authentic research and serves as a model for other schools to follow. Browse the site to find articles, examples of forms for fieldwork, worksheets, rubrics, and descriptions of school projects. One of the most helpful tools is the step-by-step process for writing an "essay of place" developed by Michael Umphrey. The steps include choosing a place to write about, listening to your place, exploring the history of your place, exploring nature at your place, exploring the folklife of your place, reflecting on your writings, and transforming your reflections into a story. This is a great short-term or longterm project that will engage students in thinking about the sense of place in a local community.

New York Folklore Society

What are folklore, folklife, and folk arts? Find a variety of interesting definitions gathered from several perspectives. Print out a fieldwork data sheet to use with students when gathering data. …