Local Learning Report for AFS

Oct 12, 2021

As the national arts service organization for folk arts, we share to the field our activities. Given the hybrid nature of the meeting of the American Folklore Society, we are sharing in this news post the full report.


New Look. Expanded Search Capabilities. Two Websites.
The new Local Learning website offers all the content of our old site with enhanced organization, accessibility, and user-focused design. We invite you to explore the site, with sections that highlight why folklore should be included in all learning spaces, advocacy tools that share the value of folk arts in education, and resources that include learning activities and research that are searchable by theme, topic, and subject. We have also continued to maintain and update our national and regional folklife map–pointing visitors to organizations and individuals near them. We also invite all our visitors to learn more about why they might want to bring Local Learning staff and consultants into their school, museum, or community to build resources, learning activities, and deeper understanding of shared assets. Have feedback or updates you want to see on our website? Contact us.

We have invested in the Journal of Folklore and Education (JFE) as the flagship journal of Local Learning and for the field of Folklore and Education. Housed in the new website JFEpublications.org, you will be able to more easily search by author, find full citations for the articles, browse by theme and issue, and more easily sort by subject, theme, and topic.

Announcing publication of Creative Texts | Creative Traditions, Sandy LaBry, Guest Editor.
Featuring case studies, lesson plans, and research, this issue engages folklore’s values of context, candor, use, imagination, and love to help students to craft text with authentic purpose and consequences. The strategies offer readers opportunities to consider how the merely personal can contain the universal, how to make genuine connections, how to work toward equity, or how to strengthen social bonds. Read it here.

Write for our upcoming issue on Death, Loss, and Remembrance.
This issue aims to gather the diverse practices, approaches, and examples of people learning about death, loss, and remembrance on behalf of educators. Along with guest editors Mark E. Helmsing and Bretton A. Varga, the JFE editors invite contributions demonstrating cultural practices such as how communities respond to death and loss, perform memorialization and remembrance, and refer to ghosts/hauntings to communicate what is lost but not forgotten. Access the full call here.

Have a text, website, film, or resource that you would like to be considered for review in the Journal of Folklore and Education? Please contact our Review Editor Rebecca Smith at beccasmith0616@gmail.com.

Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) is the Library of Congress premier educational program, focused on helping educators enhance students’ critical thinking and analysis skills and content knowledge using the Library’s collections of millions of digitized primary sources. Titled Counter(ing) Narratives to the American Story with Ethnographic and Oral History Collections, Local Learning will co-direct the curriculum and professional development project with the Vermont Folklife Center and our partners HistoryMiami Museum, Oklahoma State University Library and the OSU Writing Project, and the American Folklore Society.


  • We are continuing to invest in our New York Folklore and Education Network by announcing and hiring a shared position with New York Folklore. Mira Johnson started September 1, and has already been busy facilitating new connections and opportunities for network engagement. You can reach her at NYnetwork@locallearningnetwork.org.
  • The staff of Local Learning and New York Folklore are pleased to invite you to the inaugural activity of the NY Folk Arts Education Network, Monday, November 15, 2021 at the Marriott Downtown Syracuse from 9:00 – noon.  It will include a special session with Julia Gutierrez-Rivera, a teaching artist who has been an integral part of the educational programming of Los Pleneros de la 21, an ensemble in New York City that has pioneered educational programming based on Puerto Rican music and dance.  Julia will present examples from her own work and will lead a discussion on best practices.  There will also be opportunities that morning to talk in a Roundtable format about your own classroom experiences, and to talk generally about how a Folk Arts Education network can assist you in your work. Contact us to learn more….
  • Share your updates and new resources for the Regional Resources section https://locallearningnetwork.org/resources/regional-organizations/
  • If you have news for our quarterly e-bulletins with a national audience, send us a 100-word summary with a photo. Paddy (pbbowman@gmail.com) & Lisa (lisa@locallearningnetwork.org)

Local Learning at AFS

Local Learning staff will be at the American Folklore Society Meeting in Harrisburg, PA October 20-23. Specific events to highlight include:

Thursday, October 21: Lisa Rathje will be joined by Vermont Folklife Center staff at 3:45 to share information about the Teaching with Primary Sources grant our organizations will direct.
Friday, October 22: Join Local Learning staff at the annual Local Learning Happy Hour. We meet at 5:30 at the Bacco Pizzeria and Wine Bar across the street from the conference hotel.
Saturday, October 23: 10:30-12:30 we will host our annual Local Learning workshop, co-sponsored by the AFS Folklore and Education Section.
Among the changes and challenges that educators, students, and families have faced in the months of the pandemic are some blessings, lessons, and values that we will want to carry forward. The opportunity to host a statewide summer virtual workshop for Pennsylvania teachers and artists, Culture, Classroom, and the Community, presented expected and unexpected hurdles and some remarkable exchanges among guest facilitators, teachers, and artists. Today’s annual Local Learning workshop showcases some highlights of our three days together. We will begin by hearing from some of our facilitators, who will share with you a bit of the inspiration they gave us in July. Their participation was possible because we were in a virtual environment. And within and despite this virtual environment, their perspectives and messages resonated deeply. We will hear from traditional artists who were part of the project and end with a general discussion. Learn more here..


  • Local Learning has been an active partner in sharing with the Living Traditions Network website, a collaborative effort of traditional artists, organizations, and communities that sustain living traditions.
  • Local Learning Executive Director serves on the Arts Education Partnership (AEP) Equity Working Group. She also serves on the AEP Higher Education working group and helped facilitate the publication of a folk arts focused piece in their blog ArtsEd Amplified by authors Jeannine Osayande and Avalon Nemec. Titled “How to Sustain Cultural Art Forms in Arts Education Equitably,” their writing asked: “What can be learned by including experienced teaching artists in arts integration planning and inviting co-teaching into the classroom?” You can read the blog at https://www.aep-arts.org/how-to-sustain-cultural-art-forms-in-arts-education-equitably/ This blog extended some of the questions that the authors considered in their 2020 Journal of Folklore and Education (JFE) article AGO/AME.
  • Met with AEP ArtsEdSearch taskforce and joined working group one on “Examining the Research Gaps in ArtsEdSearch” facilitated by Amy Charleroy, Director of Pre-AP Arts Curriculum and Instruction at The College Board and Lynn Tuttle, Director of Public Policy, Research & Professional Development at the National Association for Music Education.


If you want to bring us to your community or organization for professional development or a project (large or small), let us know. Some examples of projects we have been engaged in for 2021 include:

  • Invited member of the Arts Education Partnership Arts and Literacy Thinker Group. (Summer 2021) This national think-tank offered insights and feedback on the topic of literacy for upcoming AEP special topic publication and initiative.
  • Professional Development for Teachers, Artists, and School Administrators in Santa Cruz County, Arizona. (March 2021) Titled Barrio Stories—Nogales, this workshop brought the research process of oral history, the role of teaching with primary sources, and the pedagogy of teaching through the art of storytelling to a diverse, regional group of educators.
  • HistoryMiami Museum. (Summer-Fall 2021) Education consultation for Miami Stories to advise and facilitate a learning and design process for sharing stories through culturally relevant and community co-created mechanisms.
  • Culture, Community, and the Classroom in Binghamton, NY and statewide in Pennsylvania (July workshops, Fall artist visits to classrooms)
    • Save the Date: The public is welcome to join teachers, artists, and folklorists at a gathering hosted by The Roberson Museum in Binghamton, NY on November 20 for our culminating event.
  • Advised and met with MSU Extension working group around Folkpatterns 4-H curriculum updates. (Jan-Aug)
  • The Acadian Brown Cotton Project (On-going through Fall 2020-Spring 2021)

Cross-disciplinary talks and presentations to increase visibility of folklore in relevant spaces

  • National Arts Education Association presentations for national convention (March)
  • AEP Virtual Conference. Local Learning is proud to be a partner of the Arts Education Partnership (AEP). Paddy Bowman presented with colleagues from the Greensboro History Museum on their award-winning exhibition “Pieces of Now,” featuring street art and artifacts from 2020 protests. AEP registered attendees can watch the recorded session. We invite everyone to read the Pieces of Now article in the latest JFE at https://jfepublications.org/article/pieces-of-now
  • Equitable Futures through Folklore Education. Invited international plenary co-speaker with Paddy Bowman. The Ethno-Didactics Conference: Transmitting Tradition Today – Intangible Cultural Heritage in Education/ Conferința Internațională de Etnodidactică Cum transmitem tradiția astăzi – patrimoniul cultural imaterial în educație, under the patronage of the Romanian Ministry of Culture – Intangible Cultural Heritage Unit, and in collaboration with In-Herit – National Centre for the Promotion and Information about Cultural Heritage – National Institute of Heritage, Romania. May 13, 2021.
  • Oklahoma Arts Conference Lisa Rathje has been invited as speaker and facilitator of the Pre-conference session “The Oklahoma Cultural Arts, Heritage, and Folk Art Forum.”
  • NY State Art Teachers Association workshop presentation will happen November 19.