In 2019 the Local Learning board and staff met in Baltimore, MD, to think, work, and dream together as a part of a strategic planning process. We drafted a three-year plan that shaped the dynamic ways that Local Learning could strategically continue to nurture and build our network, yet remain nimble to organically engage opportunities as they came.
This nimbleness proved particularly significant as a factor in our ability to weather and address the dire need for infrastructure, support, and resources in 2020 as education and our many communities were wracked by the pandemic and the justice reckoning of that spring and beyond. We intentionally created and participated in spaces for community and connection virtually, published the seminal “Teaching for Equity” Journal of Folklore and Education, and offered professional development and learning opportunities for educators and artists across the nation that were sensitive to their needs. Importantly, we also held steadfast and courageous in our knowledge that paying attention to culture in our classrooms could offer new ways for learning that would not be content with going “back to normal.”
We emerged from the pandemic at an inflection point as an organization and in a time of complexity and destabilizing changes for education and the cultural sectors. It was time to assess what we learned about ourselves as an organization and network, as well as to be intentional in naming our vision and our “true north” that would guide us over the coming years.
I am writing now to announce that the Local Learning Board and staff have completed a dynamic five-year strategic plan with the help of the creative facilitator Jess Hutchinson. During our January 2023 retreat in Chicago we went into the process hungry to chart a clear and energizing course for the years ahead. We emerged with a deep sense of purpose and a renewed commitment to ensuring the health of the larger arts, culture, and education ecosystems in which we participate. As I now share it with our Networks, I also share with these intentions:
- I hope that you take a minute to skim our plan and to see if there is any section where you feel seen or where you might feel compelled to reach out about potential partnerships or to share strategies and resources that you find compelling.
- I hope that you play with our interactive fortune teller and remember that playful spaces can contribute to creativity, community building, and healing, as well as to the serious pursuits of naming a vision and intention.
- I hope that you reach out to any of our Board members or staff named in this document to tell us what you hope to see in these next five years and how folklife, the traditional arts, and education can be a part of it.
Thank you for your support of this work.