The Folk School Alliance Newsletter
A project of Folk Education Association of America
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Chris Hansen
Folk Education Association of America Board of Directors - 2016

Mary Cattani
Vicky Eiben
Marilyn Jackson
Dawn Murphy - *
New Member*
Kate Parsons
Steven Rubenstein

Christopher Spicer
Carol Voights - *New Member*
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Folk School Alliance

news | end of summer 2016

Welcome to the Folk School Alliance (FSA). We are excited by the sheer numbers of folk schools springing up across the USA, and by the fact that they are increasing rapidly. We have included 2 of the newest folk schools in this newsletter and currently have 46 schools on our list, which you will find on our website  under the heading “The Folk School Network”.

Please email us at if you have news to share through our newsletter or would like us to feature your organization!

In this issue:

Welcome to the Arbutus Folk School!
Click this photo to see, hear and learn about the Arbutus Folk School! Hope you will be inspired! You will be linked to a video on

Stacey Waterman Hooey, President of Arbutus Folk School had an idea;

a cooperative organization allowing crafts/skills people to have a space to promote their local and regionally oriented products; a space for people to support themselves outside of the traditional workforce track; a community of self-reliant people; a group of people able to live sustainably in the modern world while holding on to a more traditional, minimal, or low-tech way of doing things by sharing and teaching their skills.


Well, with a quick google search, Stacey discovered the term ‘folk school’ and realized that her ideas tapped into a historically founded movement of folk education, one that has also been revived in the US. So, she opened a folk school. It was the most direct way she felt she could make a difference in her home town of Olympia, Washington.

By providing a hub (a facility, course structure, and student base), Stacey began to see an opportunity for individuals to reclaim specific crafts and skills to make a living off of and to pass on to others. Stacey saw the potential for craft education in leading a shift toward local, sustainable, empowering economic development. How? Rather than going to the store to buy a factory-line produced cutting board or bowl, one could learn how to make one from a local woodworker. The instructor benefits because they receive income from teaching their craft. The student benefits because they learn how to make a household object and they gain the confidence and awareness that they can do things for themselves. The community benefits because these skills are preserved through teaching.

Could a local, craft-centered economy work? That’s a tough question. We do know that “the United entering an era of hyperspecialization. Huge numbers of middle-class people are now able to make a living specializing in something they enjoy, including creating niche products for other middle-class people who have enough money to indulge in buying things.” In a New York Times article called "Don’t Mock the Artisanal-Pickle Makers", Adam Davidson says that the US is transitioning to “craft-centered” economy. “The transition is a happy refinement of the excesses of our industrial era plus a return to the vision laid out by capitalism’s godfather, Adam Smith. One of his central insights in ‘The Wealth of Nations’ is the importance of specialization. When everyone does everything — sews their own clothes, harvests their own crops, bakes their own bread — each act becomes inefficient.” As more and more folk schools open up that prioritize and value craft as a profession rather than hobby, there seems to be an opportunity for people to teach their honed skill, make a living on it, and pass the trade on to future generations.

At Arbutus, the curriculum is divided into six areas: Wood Arts, Fiber Arts, Ceramic Arts, Metal Arts, Music, and Living Arts. The schools offers courses in everything from blacksmithing, wheel-throwing, wood turning, felting, weaving, music courses, knife making and more. These courses are enhanced by the fact that the three-year-old organization is already comprised of a wood-shop with eight work benches, a ceramics studio, a blacksmithing studio, and classroom spaces. Please read more here about their courses and teaching opportunities! It may be wise to look to the folk school movement as a marker for the progression of a craft-based economy.

Kate Parsons

Photos courtesy of Stacey Waterman Hooey

News from the Board:

Welcome our newest board members!

Carol Voigts

Carol is a veteran of FEAA. She was involved with the International FEAA Conference in the Netherlands in 1993, conferences at Grandview College, Goddard College and The Clearing Folk School. She has continued promoting community involvement in the arts since then. 

During Carol's working career, she was a preschool teacher, a music teacher, a special education teacher, community worker and biology teacher. In addition, she lived on a family homestead and played in a band with her family throughout Michigan during the 70's. One of her greatest passions was teaching people how to play music by ear.

In her early years you could find her carrying her youngest on her back while marching in peace and civil rights rallies while working with the American Friends Service. Her community work reaches far and wide: Co-director of the Pine Mountain Settlement School; participant and member of the Danish American Exchange for over 20 years; Founder the Albion and White Lake Children's Theaters, Montague Morris Team, Manistee Peace Group, Manistee Water Guardians, and Manistee Choral Society. She currently serves on the Arts and Culture Alliance of Manistee County focused on highlighting the contributions of migrant laborers in her community.


Dawn Murphy

Dawn is a doctoral student at Fielding Graduate University in the area of Human Development. Dawn’s studies focus on transformative learning experiences, specifically those that happen in non-formal learning environments like Folk Schools.

Earlier this year, Dawn contacted the FEAA with a proposal to connect her study to the efforts of the FEAA and the Folk School Alliance through a Graduate Assistantship.  Since this initial contact Dawn, has joined the FEAA board and she has been awarded the Assistantship through the Marie Fielder Center for Democracy, Leadership, and Education.  She will begin her assistantship shortly and we are looking forward to the energy and resources she will bring to our efforts.  If you’d like to check out her website, go to  

American Folk Schools

Take a peek and check out some Folk Schools in the news!

Waterford Heritage Crafts School

“It’s not a folk school because it might teach you folk craft, folk art, folk dance or folk music,” said Jan Davidson, director of the John C. Campbell Folk School. “It’s a folk school because it’s saying, ‘Hey folks, here’s your school.’ So no matter who you are, or what your prerequisites are, this is a school that should have something for you.

“The underlying principle is that it’s a school for folks, and to bring folks together,” Davidson said. “And its primary purpose . . . is to provide experiences in community and noncompetitive education." Read more about the new school opening!

"We kind of consider Ely Folk School to be digital detox camp for folks who have been too tied into cell phones and other electronics and really want to get back to their roots and do something with their hands and make stuff."

More here from MPR News

Northland residents will have a new place to learn a craft or hobby with the opening next month of the Duluth Folk School.

"The focus we're engaged in is giving people the opportunity to work with their hands, to build community and to have fun...To start out, the Duluth Folk School will be "nomadic" in its location. They're planning to save money as the folk school grows to eventually have enough to purchase or construct a permanent home...They'll be implementing a tiered system of 'learning instructor, journey instructor and master instructor' so students know the level of knowledge their teacher has."

Read more about the Duluth Folk School in the Duluth News Tribune.

Adirondack Folk School names a new leader, Scott Hayden. 

“I am honored and thrilled to be a part of such a special place, and I look forward to advancing AFS by bringing our message to as many people as possible," Hayden said. "Amazing things are happening here at the school, the more people hear about us.”

Read more here.

To see a working list of folk schools in the United States, visit the Folk School Alliance's website at

Copyright © 2016 Folk Education Association of America, All rights reserved.

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