As we reflect upon 2022, I want to offer a few numbers to introduce this Annual Report.
17 articles were published in the Journal of Folklore and Education (pg 3). We have been hearing from teachers and our colleagues that this year has been the hardest in the schools because of the ongoing trauma and disruption caused by death and loss over the past number of years. Paying attention to this topic through the lens of folklife education offers an approach that is often asset-based and strengthens community and a personal sense of cultural connection.
PEN America released a report in Fall 2022 noting an increase in educational gag orders of 250% over 2021. They found these increasingly punitive bills targeted teaching, for example, about race and LGTBQ+ identities, affecting higher ed. as well as K-12 education. The Local Learning network offers one antidote to this censorship. Using inquiry grounded in the methods of ethnography, Local Learning resources offered 300+ students agency to engage and document narratives that matter to them. Sherry Gupta’s reflection after our workshop underscores why inquiry matters more than ever (pg 4). Partnering with artists and tradition bearers, Local Learning’s 14 CCC residencies in 2022 mean that students see elders and community knowledge that reflect their unique communities. And with professional development and activities for teaching with primary sources, Local Learning provides access to narratives and counternarratives that may not be in a textbook, alongside tools for critical analysis to see and hear multiple perspectives. Understanding ourselves and our cultural communities contributes to our growth as learners, educators, and artists (pg 5).
37% of our budget went directly to artists, teachers, culture workers, and folklorists who co-facilitated, co-created, and co-invested in the deep, sustaining work that happens through Local Learning engagements (pg 6). We are supporting the mentorship and growth of practitioners throughout the folk arts education networks of the nation. The financial health of Local Learning is strong, and our expenses align with our mission to transform learning and strengthen communities. Our Board also undertook a big step in authorizing the first reserve fund as an investment for Local Learning’s future. They will meet in early 2023 to do 5-year strategic planning, paying attention to the complex challenges within our educational and cultural landscapes. All of the individuals and members identified on the non-hierarchical organizational chart of Local Learning will support the goals of this planning (pg 7).
Since 1993 Local Learning has offered a cultural lens for complex subjects. Today, as we start our 30th year of supporting folk arts education, I do believe that Local Learning matters more than ever. I’m so grateful for all of our partners and funders (pg 8) who are a part of this vibrant network as we continue learning, building and connecting.