Building Community Through Folk Arts
Culture Tools: Building Community Through Folk Arts is a website that celebrates and documents the work of artists, activists, elders and youth in our communities. It is a collbaoration between Asian Americans United, the Philadelphia Folklore Project and the Folk Arts – Cultural Treasures Charter School created as part of Scribe Video Center’s eSights eSounds program.
In the current context of globalization with its increasing pressures towards uniformity and the commercialization of culture, preserving and passing down local knowledge is a vital task – an act of resistance that is critical to building culturally healthy people and communities. At the core of FACTS’ vision is that we build students’ capacity to see, value, respect and sustain local peoples’ community heritage and cultural knowledge. We work to nurture students’ awareness of the taken-for-granted, the too-often-dismissed, the everyday: all that meaning around us which comes from people’s lives rather than from corporate media or larger structures. Through course work, after school programs, visiting artists, and project-based learning, FACTS gives students meaningful avenues for making sense of community-grounded ways of being, and the capacity to critically question those structures and practices that diminish local lifeways.
Culture Tools: Building Community Through Folk Arts will contribute to the fulfillment of this vision by helping students, teachers, parents and other community members become active culture makers while sharing their culture tools with others. Teachers, using project-based learning at FACTS, engage students in documenting the stories of family and community members, artists and artistic traditions, and community histories of struggle and perseverance. By putting these stories up on the web in forms that are appealing and accessible to people who speak varying languages and have a range of literacy levels, this project expands the power of the children’s work. It takes their work beyond their classrooms and puts it in the service of the larger project of strengthening the cultural health of our communities. The site will also feature ways that we defend and build our community through events like the Mid-Autumn Festival and the struggle to fight the opening of a casino in Chinatown.