See you in the New Year!

Dear Friends of Folkmoot,
Folkmoot will be closed from December 23rd through January 1, 2019 for the Christmas and New Years holidays to spend time with our loved ones.
Please feel free to leave a telephone message on the mainline, 828-452-2997 and we will get back to you at the first of the year or if you need immediate attention, please email Executive Director, Angeline Schwab, angie@folkmoot.org and will get back with you as soon as possible.


Thanks for your support and Happy New Year!
Folkmoot Staff

Materials left over from campus demolition, renovation projects are finding new uses

Written by: Marlon Morgan, Communications and Public Relations Staff at Western Carolina University

Ever wonder what happens to all of the materials from the buildings that have been recently torn down or renovated on Western Carolina University’s Cullowhee campus?

Thanks to the university’s Office of Sustainability and Energy Management, nearly all of the materials, from light fixtures and seating to the brick and mortar, are being recycled or repurposed as a means of preventing them from ending up in landfills, said Chief Sustainability Officer Lauren Bishop.

“We just wanted to reduce our footprint and minimize how much waste we send to the landfill,” Bishop said. “We are really trying hard to reduce what we send to the landfill.”

Those efforts begin internally. Bishop said her office reaches out to various shops across campus, such as housekeeping, to see if there are items they may need. For instance, housekeeping was able to utilize paper towel holders and soap dispensers during the demolition of Niggli Theatre. Facility management’s lock shop and HVAC shop were able to repurpose door hardware and a ceiling heater, while Residential Living was the beneficiary of some LED light fixtures.

Movable non-fixture items that aren’t surplused are donated to local organizations. Habitat for Humanity was the recipient of doors, light fixtures, filing cabinets, shelving and furniture from the demolition of Graham Building. They also received light fixtures, sinks, and some theater props from Niggli, and auditorium chairs and rails from the first-floor renovation in H.F. Robinson Administration Building.

As the Niggli demolition was taking place, a memory came back to Bishop from her May 2017 WCU Leadership Tour visit to the Folkmoot Friendship Center in Waynesville. She remembered that, after refinishing the floors in their auditorium, Folkmoot officials had been unable to retain most of their old seating.Bishop reached out to Folkmoot Executive Director Angie Schwab to see if she would be interested in receiving the theater seats from Niggli.

“Within a few days, they had people over here to look at them, and they took them,” Bishop said. “They get a lot of help from the Haywood County Sheriff’s Department, which sends their minor offense people to help them do setups and other work at Folkmoot. They brought them over, and one of their volunteer workers had a semi-truck, and we unbolted everything and got those seats into the semi-truck.”

Schwab was more than grateful.

“We’ve been looking for suitable chairs for some time, and were delighted to get a call from WCU’s sustainability program with an offer of theatre chairs from Niggli,” Schwab said. “As a nonprofit, we get a lot done with dedicated volunteers and make every dollar count. With the donation of 140 auditorium seats, WCU is saving Folkmoot thousands of dollars and helping us meet our goal of being a valued cultural entertainment venue for our region.

“We’re working on a plan to get the chairs installed and will work with WCU students in the spring to reach that milestone. We are grateful to WCU. The university makes it nicer to live in Western North Carolina.”

Even the building materials are finding their way into the recycling stream. WCU recycling coordinator Jeff White said outside contractors are required to fill out a form showing materials that are going to recyclers.

WCU is able to recapture a small profit from some metals, which are taken to Metal Wood Recycling in Sylva. Large quantities of materials are sent to Asheville’s Biltmore Iron and Metal Company, where the university has a state contract.

White said concrete and brick can be ground, with the metal separated from it, and used as aggregate for building materials for such things as a sub-base for new roadways.

Unfortunately, the university wasn’t able to recycle many materials from the current renovation of Moore building due to the discovery of asbestos, White said.

For every ton of materials WCU is able to pull out of the waste stream to recycle, the university saves $64. Since the fiscal year 2015-16, WCU has saved more than $40,000 in landfill costs, White added.

 

Original Story: https://news-prod.wcu.edu/2018/10/materials-from-campus-demolition-renovations-are-finding-new-uses/

#repost #WCU

Haywood County songwriters kick off ‘Art of Music’ festival in Waynesville

It all starts with a song! And there’s no better way to open the Balsam Range Art Of Music Festival than to gather some of Americana’s most impactful and influential songwriters for a special night of music, fellowship and fun in the historic Hazelwood School.

 

Join Milan Miller, John Wiggins, Mark Bumgarner and Aaron Bibelhauser with Balsam Range’s Buddy Melton and Darren Nicholson for an evening of original music made by masters of the craft of songwriting.

 

“Milan and John were students here and my mother was a teacher at the Hazelwood School, so we all spent alot of time in the building. We want to help build community around this space, and contribute to the vibrancy of Folkmoot with our music,” said Melton, currently the International Bluegrass Music Association’s reigning top male vocalist. “Y’all come.”

 

The event beings at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 29 at the Folkmoot Friendship Center and features a traditional Southern Appalachian barbeque included in the ticket price. Fresh beer will also be available, courtesy of BearWaters Brewery.

 

Tickets are $30 and can be purchased in advance at Folkmoot.org or by calling 828.452.2997. Ticket packages and other Balsam Range Art of Music Festival information can be found at  www.balsamrangeartofmusicfestival.com. Tickets sales and contributions support Folkmoot programs that sustain cultural arts for youth and families in Western North Carolina.

 

The Folkmoot Friendship Center is located in the Historic Hazelwood School, 112 Virginia Ave., Waynesville. Parking is available in the back of the Folkmoot building for all special events.

Folkmoot is a nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating many cultures in one community. Year-round programming initiatives have been made possible by the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina and the Cherokee Preservation Foundation. For more information on Folkmoot, call 828-452-2997 or email info@folkmoot.org.

Southern Storytellers Series Continues at Folkmoot

Author Ann Miller Woodford; photo by Sherry McCollum

In the final fall 2018 installment of the Southern Supper Series, Folkmoot, Blue Ridge Books, Haywood County Public Library and Smoky Mountain News will welcome Affrilachian author and artist, Ann Miller Woodford on Saturday, November 3, 2018, at 6:00pm at the Folkmoot Friendship Center in Waynesville.

Ann Miller Woodford will share her research, photographs and writings that lead to the book, When All God’s Children Get Together: A Celebration of the Lives and Music of African American People in Far Western North Carolina. The author’s intent is to tear down walls that divide people in our region and to build relationships between racial groups, religions and youth with regional elders. Woodford adds, “There are so many people who have played a role in developing our region, including folks who are not represented well in our history. This is work intended to make the invisible, visible.”

A soul food dinner will be catered by chef Clarence Robinson. The menu will include barbeque chicken, macaroni and cheese, greens, sweet potato pie and watermelon water. Musical inspiration will be provided by Canton Gospel Choir, The Voices of Pleasant Grove.

The Affrilachian Southern Supper is supported by WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center, whose exhibit will be on display at the Folkmoot Friendship Center Monday, October 15 – Friday, November 16, 2018, weekdays, from 10:00am to 5:00pm. The exhibit focuses on the history and musical traditions of African – American communities in far western North Carolina as manifested in their churches, schools, and workplaces.

Tickets for this supper event are $15 and can be purchased in advance at Folkmoot.org or by calling 828-452-2997. Tickets sales and contributions support Folkmoot programs that sustain cultural arts for youth and families in western North Carolina.

The Folkmoot Friendship Center is located at the Historic Hazelwood School at 112 Virginia Avenue in Waynesville. Parking is available in the back of the Folkmoot building for all special events. Folkmoot is a nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating many cultures in one community. Year-round programming initiatives have been made possible by the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina and the Cherokee Preservation Foundation. Staff can be reached by phone at 828-452-2997 or by email at info@folkmoot.org.

It’s a concert hall, a commercial kitchen and cafeteria, a dormitory, an event space – it’s the Folkmoot Center.

It's a concert hall, a commercial kitchen and cafeteria, a dormitory, an event space - it's the Folkmoot Center.

It’s a concert hall, a commercial kitchen and cafeteria, a dormitory, an event space – it’s the Folkmoot Center.

And it’s open for business – your event business

The Folkmoot Center is literally – or was for many years – a school house and today as Folkmoot Center it’s reborn as a 40,000-square-foot multi-faceted facility providing space for conferences, group retreats, weddings, educational seminars, concerts, banquets, holiday parties – just about any event one can imagine.

And, oh yea, it also serves as headquarters and home for 10 days each summer to North Carolina’s official international folk dance festival.

And be sure to attend our next Folkmoot event, our October 4 Southern Storyteller Suppers featuring the homespun mountain life of Ashley English and homesteading, living well off our mountain land, Appalachian nourishment of body and soul.

With 22 classrooms, a commercial kitchen, showers, laundry room, the Queen auditorium and a multipurpose room, Folkmoot has ample space for conferences, special event rentals and overnight accommodations for groups. Accommodations begin at $25/night. Minimum 10 overnight guests per group. Maximum 250 overnight guests.

Conference and event rentals are generally $50 – $70 an hour, but discount rates apply for full days and multi-day events.

Folkmoot can provide cafeteria services, entertainment, and transportation by request. To schedule a tour or to inquire about the availability of the Friendship Center, please call Laura Shepherd at 828-452-2997 ext 101.

For concert bookings in Queen Auditorium, please contact Angeline Schwab, 828-452-2997, ext 100.

See more details here!

 

In 2002, the Folkmoot Friendship Center leased the former Hazelwood Elementary School, thus giving it a home to expand its programming and activities.  In 2014, the Haywood County school system donated the school to the organization.  Now, this multi-faceted space has created an expanded opportunity for Folkmoot to move from a two week festival to a year-round cultural center, focusing on programs and events that celebrate diversity and differences, encourage cultural conversation and inclusion, and preserve and honor worldwide cultural heritages, especially using dance as a tool to achieve world peace.

When Waynesville surgeon, Dr. Clinton Border, returned home after seeing a dance team at an English folk festival, he thought such a festival would be perfect for Western North Carolina, which had its own rich history of preserving its traditional culture.  It took from 1973, when Border made his trip, to 1984 before the first Folkmoot USA event took place.  That year, symbolic as it was also the year that North Carolina celebrated its 400th birthday, welcomed performers from England, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Turkey, Mexico, Puerto Rico and India.

Since these humble yet visionary beginnings in 1984, more than 8,000 international performers from 200 countries have entertained and thrilled residents and guests of Western North Carolina.

Folkmoot travels to Russia for CIOFF World Congress

Folkmoot travels to Russia for CIOFF World Congress

Folkmoot travels to Russia for CIOFF World Congress later this week and will join hundreds of others from many of the world’s folklore, folkdance and folk arts festivals.

CIOFF – the International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts – is the global governing body for festivals like Folkmoot and provides incalculable assistance for ours and other affiliated festivals. Folkmoot has been a member of CIOFF for over three decades.

The CIOFF World Congress will allow the management and members of the CIOFF to get acquainted with Bashkortostan in Russia and partially test the infrastructure planned to be used in 2020 at the 6th World Folkloriada in Ufa, Bashkortostan.

The World Congress will last 11 days, from September 15 to September 25 and will bring together 200 representatives of the Executive Committee and national sections of the CIOFF from 60 countries — Azerbaijan, Switzerland, Croatia, Indonesia, Luxembourg, Canada, India, Finland, Costa Rica, France, Japan, Romania, Italy , USA, Slovenia, China, Hungary, Germany, Macedonia, Spain, Cameroon, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mexico and other countries will take part in it.

“This is an amazing opportunity to meet, get to know, share ideas with and learn new ideas from festival leaders the world over,” said Folkmoot Executive Director Angeline Schwab, who will be Folkmoot’s representative at the world congress.

“And it’s always thrilling and reassuring at CIOFF gatherings like this to realize just how much Folkmoot is well-regarded, held in high esteem by CIOFF and its members,” she said.

The world gathering will be held at several venues in city of Ufa: the State Assembly — the Kurultay RB, the Congress Hall, and the Sheraton Hotel.

Ufa is on the Belaya River in central Russia, just over 840 miles east of Moscow and northwest of the Kazakstan border.

As part of the cultural program, the guests will visit the M.V. Nesterov Bashkir State Art Museum, concerts of the F. Gaskarov State Academic Folk Dance Ensemble, the National Orchestra of Folk Instruments and the “Argymak” ethnic-rock band, the press service of the Congress Bureau RB informs.

It was a beautiful, sublime & golden evening

It was a beautiful, sublime & golden evening

It was a beautiful, sublime & golden evening with legendary Haywood County artists Buddy Melton & Milan Miller.

Two of Haywood County’s favorite sons, awarding winning vocalist and musician for the world-renowned Balsam Range band, Buddy Melton, teamed up with his favorite writing partner, award-winning and world-renown singer and writer, Milan Miller, to entertain and educate with stories and songs unique to our treasured valleys and mountains.

Renowned writer and educator Chris Cox, contributor to the Smoky Mountain News, served as moderator for the evening.

And, yes, the singing, song-writing duo also sang for us some of their magical tunes.

It was the first in our series of Southern Storyteller Suppers. We have videos below and more videos at our Folkmoot YouTube Channel.

Our next installment of Southern Storyteller Suppers, set for October 4, will feature the homespun mountain life of Ashley English and her Small Measure. Tickets are available here.

Southern Suppers continue on November 3  with Affrilachian author and artist, Ann Miller Woodford who will share her research, photographs and writings that lead to the book, When All God’s Children Get Together: A Celebration of the Lives and Music of African American People in Far Western North Carolina.

Folkmoot has teamed up with Blue Ridge Books and the Haywood County Public Library to create The Southern Storytellers Supper Series, which will bring southern culture and our region’s authors and musicians together with the community for wonderful and educational nights of food, fun, and discussion.

Nominated again for 2018 as male vocalist of the year by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) as male vocalist of the year, Melton sings and plays fiddle in Balsam Range, one of the most acclaimed bluegrass bands in the world. He won the IBMA Male Vocalist of the Year in 2014. Balsam Range and its individual members have won more IBMA awards than we have space to list here. 

Miller is not only an accomplished multi-instrumentalist and recording artist, but an incomparable songwriter whose list of achievements includes thirteen number one songs on the bluegrass charts, including songs he wrote for Balsam Range.

Buddy and Milan have been friends for many years and have collaborated on many projects and records, including Songs from Haywood County and Secrets, Dreams and Pretty Things in 2016.

Popular songs from Miller’s pen include, “Pretty Little Girl from Galax,” by Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out, “Carolina Any Day,” and “What’ll I Do,” by Terry Baucom. A long list of popular favorites from the Balsam Range catalog, including, “Caney Fork River,” “Papertown,” “Chasing Someone Else’s Dreams,” “Eldorado Blue,” and “Something ‘Bout That Suitcase.”

Miller wrote or co-wrote the top three most played songs of 2016 according to the year-end compilation of airplay data by Bluegrass Today: “Around the Corner,” by Terry Baucom’s Dukes of Drive, “Carolina Wind,” by Irene Kelley and “Adeline,” which he co-wrote with Melton to honor Melton’s daughter.

Southern Storyteller Suppers: the homespun mountain life of Ashley English

Southern Storyteller Suppers: the homespun mountain life of Ashley English

Southern Storyteller Suppers: the homespun mountain life of Ashley English is set for October 4 and will feature homesteading, living well off our mountain land and Appalachian nourishment of body and soul.

English’s presentation will be the second in our series of Southern Storyteller Suppers. Our premier event, set for Sept. 6 with music legends Buddy Melton and Milan Miller, is sold out.

Tickets, $15, for what is sure to be a lovely October evening are available here.

Folkmoot has teamed up with Blue Ridge Books and the Haywood County Public Library to create The Southern Storytellers Supper Series, which will bring southern culture and our region’s authors and musicians together with the community for wonderful and educational nights of food, fun, and discussion.

Southern Storyteller Suppers: the homespun mountain life of Ashley EnglishFour special evenings have been planned for this coming fall, come to one or come to all!

Each installment of the series will be held at the Folkmoot Friendship Center. Blue Ridge Books will be at all events to offer book sales.   

Ashley English is a homesteader, author and blogger who has crafted a “homespun” life with her husband and two sons near Candler in eastern Haywood County.

She is the author of the Homemade Living book series which showcases a variety of topics related to small-scale homesteading. A sampling of titles include: A Year of Pies: A Seasonal Tour of Homebaked Pies; A Year of Picnics: Recipes for Dining Well in the Great OutdoorsSouthern from Scratch: Pantry Essentials and Down-Home RecipesQuench: Handcrafted Beverages to Satisfy Every Taste and Occasion; and The Essential Book of Homesteading: The Ultimate Guide to Sustainable Living.

English holds degrees in holistic nutrition and sociology. She has worked over the years with a number of nonprofit organizations committed to social and agricultural issues, writes frequently at Small Measures with Ashley, is an ongoing contributor to the quarterly publication, Taproot, and regularly contributes to a number of regional publications, including Southern Living, FoodLife Magazine and others. She understands how food tells the story of culture and is a charming and engaging storyteller.

“Making an attempt to craft a good life with my husband and young son in a small Western North Carolina mountain community,” she says. “I find pleasure in the light at dusk, atlases, hard cider, cat antics, dog breath, baby giggles, homemade ice cream and snorty laughter. ”

The evening’s supper will feature recipes from Southern from Scratch so come hungry!

Ashley’s Books are also available at the Haywood County Library. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media channels.

Southern Suppers continue on November 3 with Affrilachian author and artist, Ann Miller Woodford who will share her research, photographs and writings that lead to the book, When All God’s Children Get Together: A Celebration of the Lives and Music of African American People in Far Western North Carolina.

In her book, Woodford tears down walls which divide people in our region and build up relationships between the racial groups, religions and youth with our regional elders.

“There are so many people who have played a role in developing our region, including many people who are not represented well in our history. This work is intended to make the invisible, visible,”  she explains.

The Affrilachian Southern Supper is co-sponsored by Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Center, whose exhibit will be on display at the Folkmoot Friendship Center Friday, October 5 – Friday November 16, 2018, weekdays, from 10am until 5pm. The exhibit focuses on the history and musical traditions of African-American communities in far western North Carolina as manifested in their churches, schools, and workplaces.

Folkmoot runs on volunteers!

Folkmoot runs on volunteers!

Folkmoot runs on volunteers!

That is true of any non-profit organization, of course, but volunteers are essential, indispensable, crucial, critical, cannot-exist-without when the non-profit organizations produces an annual 10-day international folk dance festival as well as year-round programs and events.

Oh yes, Folkmoot runs on volunteers!

The good news is Folkmoot is blessed with some of our glorious mountain region’s best volunteers and they were feted and appreciated earlier this week with our annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner.

Virginia Wall was named, “Volunteer of the Year,” for her undying loyalty and her contribution to the Folkmoot Festival of well over 100 hours.

Folkmoot runs on volunteers!
Volunteer of the Year,Virginia Wall (right) accepts her award from Volunteer Coordinator Catherine McCollum

Vivian Poppas, another volunteer who contributes well over 100 hours every year was also honored for all her hard works.

During the festival itself an invaluable and integral corps of volunteers are our Folkmoot Guides, high school and college students who serve our visiting international dance troupes as chief assistants, tour managers, house mom & dads and many other functions. It’s an extraordinary opportunities for our region’s young people and often grow deep bonds of friendship which last a lifetimes.

Tuscola High School student Andrea Castillo was named, “Folkmoot Guide of the Year,” and was given a nice gift package from Mast General Store, including a new backpack!

Many of our outstanding volunteers were given gift packages from Mast General Store and we very much appreciate its generosity.

Other outstanding volunteers singled out for significant contributions during the 2018 festival included long-time Folkmoot leader and inspiration, Rolf Kaufman, the entire Yazan family led by mom and dad, Christie and Murat, Michelle Romberger, Sandra Hermida, Alex Still, Jamie Gardner, Anne Melton, Barbara McNary, Jo Wooten and, most especially, Bill and Jane Cole. Bill is Folkmoot board president and Jane volunteers countless hours to Folkmoot as well.

It’s the best seat in the house when you get inside Folkmoot as a volunteer or guide!

We’re always applications now for Folkmoot volunteers and guides and if you’ve ever wanted to see the inner-Folkmoot: behind the scenes, backstage, traveling with the dance troupes, intense cultural education – this is the way!

To apply as a volunteer or a guide (small stipends are paid to guides), submit an application, which you can find here.

Volunteers all year long!

Many Folkmoot volunteers have come and gone over the years, each one valuable and each one treasured. The key volunteers – and volunteer leaders – who work all year long include:

Mayo Ferguson is one of Folkmoot’s longest standing volunteers.  He first began working with us in 1986, took a small break somewhere along the way to get a family going, came back and picked up where he left off.  Of all the things he enjoys about working with Folkmoot he most enjoys the interactions and conversations he can have with people from around the world.  The music, dance, art, and performances are enjoyable but it is what he can learn from someone with a different perspective that he values the most.

 

 

Vivian Poppas is another one of Folkmoot’s longest standing volunteers.  She has been actively working with us for over 29 years and her duties and positions have included a little bit of everything but her favorite position so far has been working as a Guide during the festival.  She also thoroughly enjoys the opportunity to make friends with people from all corners of the globe and to learn about their different cultures.

 

 

Natalie Ballard is studying Business Administration and Law at Western Carolina University with a minor in Political Science. She was captain of the color guard in high school and assistant choir director for the children’s choir at the church she attends. Natalie loves learning about different cultures and getting to experience new ideas. She hopes to one day live in another country.

 

 

 

Michelle Romberger is a another veteran volunteer for Folkmoot. She has volunteered countless hours cooking for friendship dinners, creating the menu for the upcoming festival and providing upkeep to the kitchen. Since her first connection with Folkmoot, Michelle fell in love with the mission of the organization. She calls it an opportunity of a lifetime.

 

 

 

Our Volunteer Spotlight shines on David BortleFolkmoot means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. To David Bortle, Folkmoot is a non-profit that establishes a platform for community building. He appreciates how the Folkmoot festival encourages diverse groups to put their differences aside for the universal love of dance and music. “(Folkmoot is) different people coming together to transcend the American existence,” he said. In the two years of working at Folkmoot, David undoubtedly enjoyed most working with last year’s Israeli performance group. He describes the Israeli group as incredible, hard-working, and cultured.

 

Cherokee has always been popular with visiting Folkmoot performers!

Cherokee has always been a big day for visiting Folkmoot performers!

Cherokee has always been popular with visiting Folkmoot performers!

The town of Cherokee and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians always draw the particular interest of international dance troupes visiting Western Carolina from around the globe for our annual Folkmoot Festival.

And for good reason, of course.

The story of the Cherokee people is both tragic and triumphant. Tsalagi history, heritage, legends and traditions are Smoky Mountain treasures more valuable than the gems once plentiful in these ancient peaks. It is rare, indeed, for international dancers to arrive without a thirst for more knowledge and understanding about First Nation people of America.

Cherokee has always been a big day for visiting Folkmoot performers!
Cherokee welcomed our performing troupe from Mexico. Our visiting Canadian/Italian/Metis group is pictured in our top photo.

Folkmoot Festival 2018 ended July 29 but activities and programs continue year-round. Be sure to visit our  Videos & Images Page, here on our website for images of Folkmoot Festival 2018. Our Facebook page is a pretty handy way to keeping up with the latest events.

In addition to those appearing on our Video & Images page, we also have links to larger collections by some of the areas best photographers and videographers. Our Instagram is a pretty active place, too!

At least 10 members of our Folkmoot 2018 visiting Le Ragazze Italiane dance troupe of Canada, as it turned out, are also members of the Canadian Métis (pronounced, “maytee”) First Nation people. 

To honor their visit to Cherokee the Métis members of Le Ragazze performed a, “thank you,” for Cherokee Principal Chief Richard Sneed and Vice Chief Alan B. Ensley. The dance, one of the most famous Métis dances is, “La Gigue de la Rivière-Rouge,” or as it is known in Michif, “oayache mannin,” or in English, “The Red River Jig.”

Cherokee has always been a big day for visiting Folkmoot performers!
Cherokee welcomed our visiting performers from the Czech Republic!

Its accompanying fiddle tune is considered an unofficial Métis anthem. The dance is a combination of Plains First Nations footwork with Scottish, Irish and French-Canadian dance forms. The basic jig step is danced in most Métis communities. Dancers often add their own solo dance steps during certain segments of the tune. Some dancers even use solo steps to identify their home community.

The Cherokee people strengthened ties with Folkmoot earlier this year through the award of a grant from the Cherokee Preservation Foundation.

The grant, announced May 7th, is part of a long-standing relationship between Folkmoot and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indian.

In addition to bringing to Western North Carolina folk dancing troupes and slices of culture from around the world, Folkmoot also strives to promote our own region’s  rich cultural heritage and no regional cultural heritage shines brighter – nor with more history or value – than that of the Cherokee people, the Tsalagi.

“Folkmoot is grateful for Cherokee community partnerships which lead to cultural understanding and for the technical assistance provided by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation which makes Folkmoot a stronger organization,” said Folkmoot Executive Director Angeline Schwab. “Cherokee heritage and history is vitally important in our region. We look forward to many years of partnership.”

Cherokee dancers are an integral and celebrated part of the Folkmoot Festival each July and always among the most popular dance troupes to perform each year. Folkmoot also participates in and hosts events throughout the remainder of the year celebrating Cherokee culture and history.

Step into the circle characterized by diversity

Step into the circle characterized by diversity

Step into the circle characterized by diversity.

“We inhabit a universe that is characterized by diversity,”  said human rights activist and Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

An essay by Nina Dove

(Editor’s Note: the author is a senior at Tuscola High School in Waynesville, NC, and served in the summer of 2018 as a Guide for international dance troupes participating in our Folkmoot Festival 2018. If you read nothing else today, please take the time to read this glorious testimony to the unfailing human spirit.)

Step into the circle characterized by diversity
Nina Dove

As a high school senior, I see increasing diversity everywhere around me.

Just as an example: chapters of the GSA (Gender and Sexuallity Alliance) and Girl Up were established last year at my school. Appreciating diversity has always been very important to me, so when I learned that I would have the opportunity to work specifically with cultural conversations during this year’s Folkmoot Festival, I was beyond excited.

Cultural Conversations is a discussion-based program that brings people together through commonalities while appreciating their differences. This year, Dr. Dana Patterson, Director of Intercultural Affairs at Western Carolina University, lead staff, guides, dancers, and even audiences through several Cultural Conversations workshops.

The guide workshop was more challenging than I thought it would be. I consider myself pretty inclusive, so I was prepared for a simple reiteration of the things I already knew. I was wrong.

One of the things we reviewed is a list of statements from Dr. Maura Cullen’s book, 35 Dumb Things Well Intended People Say.

“If you’re going to live in the country, learn to speak the language,” and, “ that’s so gay,” were easy to condemn as “dumb things well intended people say.” They are so obviously discriminatory the only remaining question should be, “they’re said by well-intentioned people?”

“I know exactly how you feel!” and “We’re all one race: the human race!” seemed more positive, maybe even helpful.

Once we discussed them, however, I started to see problems.

How could I know how someone feels if their experiences are vary different from mine? And if I really believe I know how that person feels am I, then, closed off to learning more about their experiences? 

Similarly, if I say, “we are all one race,” I undermine the past and present experiences of someone of another race or geographic heritage.  

Since that activity, I am more aware of the effect my best-intentioned words might have on others.

But what about the situations where the language was more obviously wrong?

In one of our Cultural Conversations we discussed different types of racism. Someone brought up the concept of “reverse racism.”

“Wow!” I thought “Don’t you know that’s just a way the dominant race excuses their own racism?

“Don’t you know you can’t say that, especially here?”

The discussion leader calmly explained that racism is characterized by laws and rules which uphold racial discrimination and, therefore, “reverse racism” would not actually be considered racism but prejudice based on race. If my fellow workshop participant had not been allowed to ask that question we all wouldn’t have learned about the power dynamics in systemic racism.

I came to understand everyone is on their own journey towards cultural understanding and acceptance and that part of walking down that road means putting ourselves in situations which are not always comfortable. If we don’t ask, how can we learn? I looked around at the other guides, most of us roughly the same age and from the same region, and realized how very different we are. We have a lot to learn from each other. How much more can we learn from the dancers and musicians coming to our region from vastly different part of the world and life experiences?

One of the most meaningful Cultural Conversation exercises was called “Step into the Circle. ”

Participants were directed to step from our larger group circle toward the center and a smaller circle when statements were read aloud which applied to us.

Some of the questions were lighthearted: “step forward if you have a best friend.” Others were more difficult.

At one point, the facilitator said, “step forward if your life has been affected by drug and/or alcohol use.”

That one was tough. I couldn’t explain my family history, so I figured people would assume the worst if I stepped inside the circle. On the other hand, what if someone needed me to step in so they could find the courage to do the same–regardless of their reasons? I stepped forward. I was not alone.

With Folkmoot 2018 behind us (and precious memories to last a lifetime), I vow to continue to step into the circle to share my experiences with others.

Additionally, I will help spread cultural understanding through Cultural Conversations, no matter the assumptions that stem from me doing so. These moments are powerful reminders to throw out my own assumptions about others and make room to learn from their experiences.