In the days following Hurricane Irene, the Vermont Folklife Center was approached by many people looking to gather stories about the experience of the tropical storm and identify ways to distribute and collect these experiences in a meaningful way. “Where do we begin?” “What questions do we ask?” were common queries that ultimately led to this guide.
“We believe that even more than a historical record, the stories and the collective experience of this disaster can serve Vermont’s communities at this very moment,” Baker says. “As Vermonters begin the process of reconstruction, the stories of collaboration and generosity, solidarity and mutual aid that sprang out of this event can be shared, amplified and help to fortify our civil society.”
“The Vermont Folklife Center believes listening is just as important as asking questions,” says Greg Sharrow, Director of Education, “and that if the interviewer can establish his/her role primarily as a listener with the intent of bearing witness to someone’s testimony, a safe space is created.”
The guide gives an overview of the VFC’s interview process and provides guiding questions that can be used to conduct ethnographic interviews about the experience and significance of the storm.
This guide is available for browsing and for download as a pdf at the following website: http://www.vermontfolklifecenter.org/archive/irene.html. The Vermont Folklife Center is offering itself as a resource to individuals and communities and can be reached by calling (802) 388-4964. Director of Education Greg Sharrow and Vermont Folklife Center Fellow Aylie Baker can be reached via email at gsharrow and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Much of the power inherent in digital audio resides in the ease with which one can build compelling aural narratives from collections of field audio recordings. Inexpensive—even free—audio editing tools allow individuals and communities to create rich audio documentaries that communicate cultural knowledge and practices, perspectives and values. The World Wide Web increasingly serves as platform for distribution of these materials to an international audience.
Intended for students, community members, staff members of non-profit cultural, community and social-service agencies, as well as professional researchers interested in learning more about digital audio editing, this two-session workshop will guide attendees thought the basics of editing audio recordings to create audio documentaries, podcasts and shorts. Basic computer skills are required, but no editing experience is necessary for this course.
The workshop combines hands on exercises with classroom discussion to address fundamental technical and conceptual concerns in the creation of audio documentaries. Attendees will receive instruction in the use of audio recording equipment and then head out to sites in the village Middlebury to conduct coordinated “man-on-the-street” interviews. Using these recordings as raw material, attendees then work with the instructor to create shorted edited pieces. Although the course is taught using Apple Macintosh computers and software, the fundamental skills developed will be transferable to any audio editing platform. By the conclusion of this two day class, attendees will have enough editing know-how to start working with their own sound at home.
September 14, 2011 7:30 pm John Dewey Lounge, 2nd Floor, Old Mill Building, UVM
Stories of farming and the sense of place derived from this experience have historically been the predominant Vermont narrative. For the last fifty years, however, Vermont farms have dwindled from roughly 11,000 to currently a little over 1,000. For many, this is Vermont’s gravest crisis. The Vermont Department of Tourism has for many years been attempting to address this environmental, financial and identity disaster by revitalizing the tourism industry by creating a Vermont “brand.” This branding of state imagery and story captures the desires most sought after by people from elsewhere: bucolic landscapes and recreational activities. But what other stories exist in the agriculture and tourism narrative? Who else is a character, albeit silent, in this four season recreational theme park? Not everyone who comes to “brand” Vermont has chosen to be here for farms and fields and forests. Not everyone who travels the highways does so with notions of relaxation: In a bus station in White River Junction, veterans wait hours to travel back to their homes after their twice a month visit to the VA Hospital; From the Burlington Airport, a father flies to Chicago nearly four times a month to manage a company but live near family in Montreal. To be rooted, a man drives 45 minutes from Montpelier to Lyndonville for work each day. To be rooted, a mother drives her children from the Islands to Burlington High School. To keep entire families rooted, nearly 2,500 Mexican farm workers live in Vermont. To be rooted, a Fairfield farmer drives to New York City to sell his maple syrup. In this collection of essays, movement, migration and travel become the threads that redefine and reexamine what it means and what it takes to be rooted in Vermont.
On August 27, 2011 from 10am - 1pm join VFC folklorists Brent Björkman and Andy Kolovos in Middlebury to record your thoughts and memories. If you choose, your recording will become a part of the VFC Archive.
To schedule an interview slot, please contact the Vermont Folklife Center at (802) 388-4964.
Wind Energy in Vermont: Its History and Its Future.
On Thursday, August 25th at 7:00 pm David Blittersdorf will speak on Wind Energy in Vermont: Its History and Its Future. This is the final program in the Vermont Folklife Center’s summer series that highlights past experience as a platform for future action. This series has been organized in conjunction with the exhibition Visions of Place: The Photography of John Miller, Peter Miller, and Richard Brown. Blittersdorf will speak at the Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society on Duane Court in Middlebury. This event is free and open to the public.
David Blittersdorf grew up in Pittsford, Vermont, within sight of Grandpa’s Knob where in 1941 engineer Palmer Putnam erected the world’s first large-scale utility connected wind turbine. David took inspiration from the stories he heard about Putnam and his turbine, and this childhood fascination with wind energy became the foundation for his life’s work to further the viability of wind energy as a practical alternative to fossil and nuclear fuels.
In 1982, when the wind energy industry was in its infancy, David founded NRG Systems, a pioneering manufacturer of wind measurement systems. David later founded Earth Turbines to pursue his passion for designing a reliable, durable, small-scale wind turbine. More recently Earth Turbines introduced the AllSun Tracker and added solar energy systems to the company’s product portfolio, from which a new company emerged called AllEarth Renewables.
In his talk David will survey the history of wind energy in the US, with a particular emphasis on the leadership role that Vermont has played—and continues to play—in the development of this industry. David will also offer an overview of the status of the industry today and his vision for its future direction.
For more information about this program contact the Vermont Folklife Center at (802) 388-4964 or visit our Web site at www.vermontfolklifecenter.org.
Sunday August 21, 2001 at 4:00pm Deb Flanders presents her 13th Annual Calais Concert at the Old West Church in Calais, VT. The Calais Concerts, organized by singer Deb Flanders, have highlighted traditional music of New England for the past decade, in honor of Deb’s great-aunt Helen Hartness Flanders, one of the pioneers of folk music history in the U.S.
This year features a Boston-based band Long Time Courting performing rich vocal arrangements and high energy dance tunes with Sarah Blair on fiddle/vocals, Liz Simmons on guitar/vocals and Shannon Heaton on flute/vocal. The Nashua Telegraph says, “Long Time Courting infuses traditional ballads, jigs, and reels with fresh life and energy and vocal harmonies that are nothing short of sublime.”
A portion of the proceeds will benifit the Vermont Folklife Center. Tickets are $15.00 and can be purchased at the door or in advance from the Flynn Ticket box office at www.flynntix.org or call 802-863-5966.
Join us Saturday, August 13, 2011 at 12:00 at the Isley Public Library in Middlebury, VT for the first New England screening of the new documentary film, Grounds for Resistance. The filmmaker, Lisa Gilman—a folklorist and professor at the University of Oregon—will introduce the film and lead the discussion that follows. This presentation is free and open to the public.
Inspired by the Vietnam-era G.I. coffeehouse movement, in 2008 a group of young American veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars opened Coffee Strong 300 meters from Joint Lewis-McChord military base in Washington state. This non-profit café is a space where soldiers, veterans, and military families discuss politics and the impact of war. It also provides G.I. counseling, as well as resources for those struggling with combat stress, military sexual trauma, difficulties with veteran benefits, or legal mazes. At the center of this documentary are the veterans who run Coffee Strong. The film explores their decisions to join the military, memories of deployment, relationships with one another, and how their efforts to make a more peaceful and just world help them cope with their own experiences of war.
New Vision and Voice Podcast available for download! Vermont photographers Richard Brown, John Miller and Peter Miller discuss their work and their relationships to the landscape and people of the state.
Friday, August 5th, 9 am to 4 pm - Come to a workshop led by Kethleen Mendell, Director of Cultural Resources – Helping Communities Discover Their Cultural Wealth(http://www.cultural-resources.org/). Discovery Research is a cultural inventory process by which community members are identified and interviewed for information on local culture. Through Discovery Research training, workshop participants will learn how to find out more about their communities’ cultural assets as well as develop strategies for sustainability.
This workshop is intended for students, community members, staff members of non-profit cultural, community, economic development, planning and social-service agencies, as well as professional researchers interested in learning about the cultural inventory process and developing place-based public programs.
Using Place: A Workbook, the workshop will begin by focusing on the basics of Discovery Research including exercises in observation, information gathering and community organizing. Next, we will look at what follows the Discovery Research process, exploring ways to develop local cultural initiatives and public programs that reflect a community’s sense of place and tradition.
Draw Out the Keepers of Your Community’s Knowledge and Capture Their Stories - Ethnography and Cultural Sustainability
Friday July 22, 2011 9am-4pm.
Instructors: Gregory L. Sharrow, VFC Director of Education and folklorist and Andy Kolovos, VFC Archivist and folklorist.
Ethnography — in particular participant observation and interviewing — offers a means to explore the ways in which people understand and experience the world, and brings into view the multiple perspectives that define community. In the context of cultural sustainability, ethnographic research methods provide important tools for working with communities to understand what people most value about the places in which they live, and to identify and explore the key cultural practices that define who they are.
In this day-long class we outline the ethnographic method for drawing out the keepers of community knowledge and capturing the important stories of everyday life. The class is structured around discussion, viewing and listening to ethnographic documentaries, and hands-on experience visiting pre-arranged field observation sites in the village of Middlebury. The class concludes with time for additional discussion and reflection.
This workshop is intended for students, community members, staff members of non-profit cultural, community and social-service agencies interested in exploring the inner workings of communities and organizations.
The final installment of Madeleine Winterfalcon’s “Voices of the Vermont Freedom to Marry Movement” features Beth Robinson, an attorney in Middlebury and a founding member of the Vermont Freedom to Marry Taskforce.
The full, edited interviews from this project are available to researchers at the Vermont Folklife Center Archive. They are edited for listenability only. The raw interviews are available by contacting Madeleine Winterfalcon (802) 453-6338 or email@example.com.
Audio is a powerful medium for capturing human experience and human expression. In the context of cultural sustainability efforts, audio is an extremely useful tool for documenting local knowledge, exploring values and perceptions, and building resources for understanding and supporting cultural practices. Just take a few moments to listen to some of the audio clips on our blog and you’ll see what’s possible.
Intended for students, community members, staff members of non-profit cultural, community and social-service agencies, as well as professional researchers interested in learning more about audio recording options, this class will provide a basic introduction to the use of contemporary digital audio recording equipment in the context of ethnographic and oral history interviews.
Attendees will receive a thorough introduction to the fundamentals of digital audio, types of common field-recording microphones, and the use of flash-memory based audio recorders. The workshop includes hands-on exercises with equipment in an actual interview setting. We will use the Marantz PMD660 for these exercises, but the fundamental skills demonstrated will be applicable to most currently available digital audio recorders. In addition to the use of this equipment, we will also cover the selection and purchase of professional digital audio recording gear.
AWARD-WINNING FILMMAKER LEADS WORKSHOP ON SOCIAL DOCUMENTARIES
On Friday, June 17th, and Saturday, June 18th, the Vermont Folklife Center will host Conceiving and Planning a Social Documentary Film taught by filmmaker Mira Niagolova. The workshop will run from 9 am to 4 pm and will be held at the Vermont Folklife Center’s headquarters building in Middlebury. Social documentary films give insight and build awareness of issues of local and global concern through engaging and compelling narratives. With the advent of digital filmmaking, the Internet, and social media, the potential to make films that can work toward community engagement and social change has become vastly accessible. This two-day workshop will introduce attendees to the unique nature of social documentary films and guide them through fundamental questions in creating a documentary— including project conception, scriptwriting, production, distribution, and community outreach. As a part of the workshop attendees will review and critique selective excerpts from documentaries relating to various social, political, cultural, and historical issues and themes. The workshop will conclude with a “pitching session” where each participant will present his/her project to the class. Bulgarian born, Mira Niagolova is an internationally recognized, award-winning documentary filmmaker committed to telling socially conscious stories portrayed with sensitivity and compassion. Mira has more than 25 years of experience in both the film/TV industry and the nonprofit film sector. She has worked as a Film Producer/ Programmer with Bulgarian National Television, Distribution Manager with the National Film Board of Canada, and Executive Director of the Vermont International Film Festival. Conceiving and Planning a Social Documentary Film is a part of the Vermont Folklife Center’s new Cultural Sustainability Institute workshop series (http://www.vermontfolklifecenter.org/education/cultural-sustainability/). Cultural Sustainability provides a framework for examining human experience in present with an awareness of the past and a view toward the future. This workshop is limited to 14 participants and the registration deadline is June 13. Registration forms and tuition information are available on line or by calling (802) 388-4964. All classes are held in the Vermont Folklife Center building at 88 Main Street in downtown Middlebury.