y we would like to recognize the passing of our friend and WWII veteran, Cliff Austin of Vergennes, VT. Cliff, along with fellow veterans Harry Burney, Robert Norton and Bill Busier are featured in the VFC audio documentary, Prisoners of War: A Story of Four American Soldiers.
Prisoners of War: A Story of Four American Veterans can be streamed online here:
An Easter audio tidbit from the VFC Archive. Bonnie Stewart, Pittsford, VT village librarian, recounts the incident that caused her son Liam to reconsider the Easter Bunny. Warning: Contains Easter Bunny Spoiler.
[Editor’s Note: Guest Blogger Madeleine Winterfalcon describes her project, Voices of the Vermont Freedom to Marry Movement]
Voices of the Vermont Freedom to Marry Movement
By Madeleine Winterfalcon
I have always been interested in recording and documenting the culture and events of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered communities. From the early 1980s, when I first came out as a lesbian, I attended concerts, workshops and lectures with my camera and recorded lesbian culture. In the beginning, it was to combat the invisibility imposed on us – to show that we were making an impact on our world. It was also my goal to show how much we had to offer the larger community and that people who said we were irrelevant and had nothing to offer the world were wrong. It then grew to become a way to create images of our lives that would remain after we were gone.
As my passion for documenting the history of the lesbian and gay communities of which I have been a part continued to evolve, I added oral historian to my repertoire. In my master’s program in American and New England Studies at the University of Southern Maine, I focused on lesbian and gay history and developed my interviewing skills. As part of my desire to share different parts of our culture with both the LGBT community and with the wider community, I produced and was the host of a talk show called Queertalk on radio station WMPG for three years. This eclectic program addressed issues of interest to the LGBT community.
After graduation, my first major oral history project began with interviews of people who had been active in the gay rights movements in Maine in the 1970s. At that time there was a radical, vibrant and very active LGBT presence all over the state, but particularly in the Portland area. There were dances; Maine Lesbian/Feminist, a group created by lesbians that met all over the state; Mainely Gay, a newsletter published by and for the community; the first gay bar in Maine, Roland’s Tavern and later the Phoenix; and the first of 25 annual symposia that addressed issues and topics for the LGBT community. These interviews are now housed at the Jean Beyer Sampson Center for Diversity at the University of Southern Maine.
I was very involved in helping to pass the LGBT civil rights law in Maine. When it finally passed after 28 years, there was a lot of energy to work toward marriage. I became involved in this work until I moved to Vermont where I have continued to work on this issue, because I have come to believe that this institution doesn’t need to replicate patriarchal forms but can be used for our own purposes and in our own ways. The most important aspect, however, as I am aging, are the legal protections offered to my spouse and me by marriage. I, along with many other people, spent time at local organizing meetings and went to the State House in Montpelier a number of times to talk with legislators concerning a cause about which I had become quite passionate. When the marriage equality bill was passed and the governor’s veto was overridden, I was totally thrilled and amazed. My next thought was that the many personal stories I had heard during the campaign shouldn’t be lost.
In order to identify participants for this project, the Vermont Freedom to Marry folks were good enough to post my call for interviewees on their listserv. I also asked some of my co-workers at Middlebury College if they would be willing to be interviewed and they are included in this project. Respondents covered the gamut from pro-marriage to anti-marriage, gay and lesbian singles and couples and allies.
Everyone had important and interesting things to say about their experiences inside or outside of the marriage movement. I invite you to listen to the interviewees tell you their stories in their own words.
April 7, 2011 marks the second-year anniversary of the passage into law of the Marriage Equity Act legalizing same-sex marriage in the state of Vermont. In collaboration with researcher Madeleine Winterfalcon, each Thursday for the next 15 weeks the Vermont Folklife Center will present audio segments from her project, Voices of the Vermont Freedom to Marry Movement on our Tumblr blog. The first segment will be available on Thursday April 7, 2011. Stay tuned for details.
Today at Noon, Fulwiler Conference Room in the Writing in the Disciplines Center, 3rd floor, Bailey Howe Library.
Andrea Voyer, post-doctoral fellow from the Center for Cultural Sociology, Yale University will present a talk titled “Being Somali, Earning Welcome.”
Andrea notes: “I’ll be sharing a draft paper in which I analyze ethnographic data concerned with the fraught nature of Somali group identity and the public definition of Somali-ness which emerged in Lewiston, Maine, in the early years of Somali immigrant settlement in the city. In demonstrating that Somali inclusion in the broader community hinged upon the ability to construct and embody a morally-acceptable group identity, this research corroborates Povinelli’s (2002) observation that multicultural requirements exercise a particular form of domination over indigenous and minority citizens. Those who would count as diverse are required to perform their diversity and, yet, to do it authentically.”
WE ARE OPENING THE DOORS TO CULTURAL SUSTAINABILITY
The Vermont Folklife Center is excited to announce our new educational initiative, the Cultural Sustainability Institute. We are launching the Cultural Sustainability Institute this spring with a workshop series that explores the concept of cultural sustainability, and provides participants practical training in ethnography and oral history, the use of audio, video and photography documentation in cultural sustainability projects, and the creation of community cultural inventories. These workshops are open to the general public, students, educators, scholars, staff of non-profit organizations, policy makers, and others interested in better understanding their communities and the larger world around them. The first workshop, “An Introduction to Cultural Sustainability” will be held on Friday April 8, 2011 from 10:00am-3:00pm. The workshop series runs through November 2011.
For more information on the Cultural Sustainability Institute, including detailed descriptions of workshops, please visit online at:
VPR’s Steve Zind talks to VFC Archvist, Andy Kolovos about our GRAMMY Foundation-funded archival preservation project. They chat about legendary VT big band leader, Sterling Weed, Franco-American music, and audio preservation (among other things) and play some great musical excerpts from the VFC Archive. Check it out!
This semester the VFC is very fortunate to have Frank Riley and Katie McAuley, both anthropology majors at Green Mountain College. They’re busy doing work for us including logging interviews our folklorists have conducted with Lost Boys from Sudan who have been settled here in Vermont. But they’re also working on their own projects, and being mentored by Greg Sharrow, Director of Education and Andy Kolovos, Archivist. Frank is developing his ethnographic and digital media skills while listening to Vermont potters tell their story and Katie is doing the same with Vermont vintners. We’re thrilled to have them!
Maybe you’ve been touched by our Discovering Community education program at a local school, or a recent exhibit like After Attica or The Golden Cage, or an interview you heard in one of our series like Deer Stories, Prisoners of War, Under the Golden Dome. Please consider sharing your thoughts. We would love to hear them no matter what the outcome of the Arts Campaign.
This week we present our final installment of Deer Stories—Episode 12, “Cleo Johnson and Lady.” Late game warden and life-long hunter, Cleo Johnson talks about his special relationship with an orphaned doe he raised from birth, and the five-year friendship they shared. For a transcript of this program and photographs of Cleo and Lady, please see: http://www.vermontfolklifecenter.org/multimedia/radio/deer-stories/prog12/.
Episode 11: Dogs and Deer. In this program, retired game warden Stan Holmquist tells a story about two dogs that attacked and killed deer, and what his responsibilities as a game warden required him to do. He also describes his own personal journey from being a hunter to a protector of deer. For more information on Deer Stories, including transcripts and information about the hunters featured, see here.
In December of 1944 with the Allies closing in on the German heartland, Hitler had a desperate plan to save the Third Reich. He believed a massive assault on Canadian, British and American forces advancing from the west would prove so demoralizing the Allies would seek a separate peace, leaving only the Russian army on the eastern front. On December 16 the Germans unleashed an offensive that would become the most brutal battle of the European war, known then and ever after as the Battle of the Bulge. This is the story of four men—Cliff Austin, Harrison Burney, Bill Busier and Robert Norton—who survived that terrible battle and were captured and imprisoned for the remainder of the war.
Prisoners of War: A Story of Four American Soldiers will be available for free online streaming from December 16, 2010 through January 25, 2011.
Prisoners of War was produced in 2004 by Erica Heilman and Gregory Sharrow for Vermont Folklife Center Media. For additional information on the program, including a transcript, photographs, and biographical information the four men featured, please visit the Prisoners of War website: http://www.vermontfolklifecenter.org/multimedia/radio/pow/
To commemorate the 66th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, the Vermont Folklife Center will stream our audio documentary, Prisoners of War: A Story of Four American Soldiers online from December 16, 2010 – January 25, 2011. The audio stream will be available at no cost.
Recorded and produced in 2004 by the Folklife Center as a part of the Veterans History Project of the Library of Congress, Prisoners of War presents the stories of four Vermont veterans, Cliff Austin, Harrison Burney, Bill Busier and Robert Norton who survived the initial days of that terrible battle and were captured and held in German prisoner of war camps for the remainder of the war. These men, whose average age was twenty-two at the time of capture, describe their experiences in battle, lives as prisoners of war, memories of being liberated, and the lasting impact of their imprisonment on their lives.
Prisoners of War will be available for free online streaming beginning at 10:00am EST December 16, 2010 at the VFC Prisoners of War site, our Facebook page and here on our Tumblr blog, and will remain available through 10:00pm EST January 25, 2011.