A "Very Vermont" Summer Institute!

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“VFC's Discovering Community Institute is an amazing four day journey that introduced me to my own hometown through a new lens. The instructors and guest speakers are accomplished professionals in their field who frame their work in ways that make it accessible to Institute attendees.”

This year’s Discovering Community Summer Institute for Educators was held at The Fairbanks Museum in St. Johnsbury. Faculty included Discovering Community educators Trish Denton and Mary Wesley, VFC’s Associate Director and Archivist Andy Kolovos, and visiting scholar West Virginia State Folklorist Emily Hilliard. We were joined by 12 diverse participants: 10 educators, 1 independent folklorist, and 1 community-based artist. We welcome Chris Dussault of St. Johnsbury Academy, Thea Storz and Caitlin Wallingford from Brighton Elementary, Mary Lahar and Laurinda Maxwell from Charleston Elementary, Ted Godfrey from Tuttle Middle, Sandra Carillo from Roxbury Village School, Dave Praamsa from Otter Valley, Linda McCuen from Proctor High, Tony Snow from White River Junction, Camille Sleight-Price from Utah State University, and Corinne Yonce to the 2019 cohort!

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“Discovering community truly inspired me to work with audio, to discover my community, and to work with my students on interdisciplinary folklife projects. The visiting speakers were inspiring and the instructors were awesome!”

With the support of a handful of key community members, we were able to weave together a wonderful, place-based program to discover the unique community that is St. Johnsbury today. Special thanks to Anne Campbell, Heather Alger, and Jen D’Agostino for rising to meet our aspirations to host the institute in the county seat of Caledonia County. To support participation from all corners of the state, we also arranged “host homes” to accommodate participants coming from afar. Many thanks to Dakota Butterfield, Meg Anzalone, and Liela Nordmann for opening your home and welcoming us to the community! As we suspected St. Johnsbury was a rich incubator for fieldwork. Site visits included trips to Dog Mountain, St. Johnsbury Distillery, and Victrola Repair Services. Additionally, we hosted Institute attendees and community members at 142 Eastern for The Discovering Community Mixer. This evening event was an amazing fusion of local food, music, performing arts, speakers, artmaking, and mingling. Thank you 142 Eastern for an epic send off. Hosting the 2019 Summer Institute in St. Johnsbury was “Very Vermont”!

“The 2019 Vermont Folklife Discovering Community Summer Institute was everything I hoped it would be and more. I walked away with useful tools for my classroom, inspiration to share with my students, and a desire to pursue collaborative ethnography personally as well.”