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Jun 29, 2013

An oral history network for social change


Another inspirational network worth checking out: Groundswell

Groundswell’s mission is “to build the creativity and power of social justice movements by providing mutual support, training, and resources in the practice of grassroots oral history.”

If you are in the NYC area on July 18, you can meet and mingle with some oral historians, practitioners, and others interested and engaged in efforts of social change through narrative.

Here are the details, as shared by Groundswells’ Amy Starecheski:

Thurs. July 18, 6 – 8 pm

Washington Square Park, lawn in the southeast section of the park, which backs up on to the stage.

Rain location: Tamiment Archives, NYU. 10th Floor of Bobst Library, 70 Washington Square South. Note: You will need to check in at the security desk on the far right when you first enter the building and may be asked for an ID.
A chance to meet NYC-based oral historians and other practitioners using narrative/story methods to spur social change, learn about interesting local work, and socialize. We’ll spend some time hearing about each other’s stories and projects, and also discuss how Groundswellcan best support social justice oral history work in the NYC area.

Please bring some food or drink to share!
To connect with each other and build momentum for Groundswell, an emerging nationwide network of oral historians, activists, cultural workers, community organizers, and documentary artists that use oral history to further movement building and transformative social change. The mission of Groundswell is to build the creativity and power of social justice movements by providing mutual support, training, and resources in the practice of grassroots oral history. We think potlucks are key to that!

RSVP: On Facebook, if you can. Please feel free to share the event  and invite others:

May 31, 2013

Protection for those who protect our world’s unique treasures

Conservationist Jairo Mora dedicated his time to protecting endangered leatherback sea turtles from poachers on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.  On May 30th, he was kidnapped and killed while patrolling the beach.
In the wake of his murder, people worldwide are calling for Costa Rica to respond swiftly and send a clear message that conservationists and ecotourists will be supported and protected in their environmental efforts, and threats and acts of violence by poachers will not be tolerated.
To find out more about this call to action and how you can help, please visit the Justice for Jairo page.
May 20, 2013

The “power of culture” for sustainable development


The UNESCO International Congress of Hangzhou – attended by more than 400 delegates from 81 countries and 20 international organizations – released a declaration that recognizes the critical role of culture.  From poverty reduction and resource management to crisis response and sustainable development, the declaration puts culture at the center of the conversation – particularly where policy is concerned – insisting that culture be more than an afterthought or point of reference; it can and should be seen as a source of strength.

In the words of UNESCO Director General, Irina Bokova: “Culture is precisely what enables sustainability – as a source of strength, of values and social cohesion, self esteem and participation. Culture is our most powerful force for creativity and renewal.”
To learn more about the declaration, check out this related article on UNESCO’s website.
May 1, 2013

When worlds collide: Star Wars, the Navajo Nation, and langage revitalization


Advocates and speakers of indigenous and endangered languages use a variety of methods – from language immersion preschools to radio programs to social media – to perpetuate their mother tongues.  This weekend, the Navajo Nation will add another strategy to that list:  Dub a classic film in a native language.  Fluent speakers interested in becoming the voices of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and the like will gather this weekend in Window Rock, Arizona to audition.  Although the idea came to Manuelito Wheeler, the director of the Navajo Nation Museum, 13 years ago, work on the project began just recently with a team of five Navajo speakers translating the script in preparation for auditions.  Reuters reports that Wheeler and his team are not revealing the translations of popular quotes, but fans of the film and advocates of the language will have a chance to check out the finished product – complete with English subtitles – at the tribe’s Fourth of July celebration in Window Rock and at the Navajo Nation Fair in September.  May the force be with them as they take on this exciting project and continue to perpetuate their language and culture.

What do you think of this approach?  Wheeler mentions that, as one might expect, there are English words and phrases that do not directly translate to Navajo.  Do you think anything is lost in this process?  Does what is gained outweigh the loss?  Comment below or on our Cultural Sustainability Facebook page.

Apr 29, 2013

To combat climate change, we need to cultivate a conversation on culture


If you have landed on this blog, there is a strong possibility that you are well aware of the need for culture to be considered in the conversation about climate change.  Environmental Leader recently added the voice of author and philosophy professor, Kathleen Dean Moore, to the discussion.  Moore and Sara Gutterman, author of the article, “The Cultural Imperative of Sustainability,”  and co-founder and CEO of Green Builder Media, are calling for collaborative, “moral conversation” and conscientious action, adding to the assertion that addressing environmental issues from a scientific standpoint is not enough.  If we are to imagine and build a better, cleaner, safer, more just and healthy world, we must acknowledge the interconnectedness of our environment and our existence.

Moore insists it is our responsibility to the earth and future generations.  “Our children will have to live in whatever is left of world when we get done with our extractions and degradations…If we love them, then we can’t take away what they need to thrive. We need to love them in definite and active ways. Lack of action is a betrayal of our love and an abandonment of responsibility.”

In her article, Gutterman echoes these sentiments, stating, “Science and technology alone can’t produce the economic and social evolution that is required to combat climate change. Human action is required as well, and Moore advocates that we develop a moral conversation about our cultural values that is as robust as our current scientific dialogue.”

Do you agree with Gutterman and Moore?  If so, how can we participate in and facilitate this conversation?

Apr 26, 2013

Tonya Sweet discusses “Culturally Reflective Design”


On April 17, Tonya Sweet—artist, designer, and lecturer in the Department of Design at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand—gave her talk “Culturally Reflective Design: Strategies for the Development of Culture-Specific Products.” She has generously offered to share that presentation with us here.

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Guide to images:
0) Title slide
1) Injection-molded plastic chair
2) Conceptual research: collage
3) Conceptual research: collage
4) Conceptual research: collage
5) Material research
6) Material research (digital and analog tools)
7) Material research (weaving)
8) Bench inspired by weaving and rolling of prayer rug
9) Stools inspired by ritual entailing flower petals set into a pattern on the ground
10) Table inspired by ritual of drinking coffee, instilling a sense of community
11) Table inspired by the reading of coffee grounds in an upturned cup
12) Stools inspired by a tea made of flower petals
13) Table inspired by the baking of bread
14) Chair inspired by the audible sound made by a cookie mould
15) Lamp inspired by ritual of consumerism
16) Lamp inspired by protests and global participation
17) Questions
18) Thank you

Apr 1, 2013

Join the conversation: Indigenous language revizalization and community radio


Sign up for this free webinar, hosted by Cultural Survival, and join the conversation about the role of community radio in indigenous language revitalization.

The webinar is schedule for Monday, April 8, 2013, 1:00-2:00 pm EST.  Interested participants can register here.

Panelists will include:

Kaimana Barcarse, Program Director and Lead DJ of Alana I Kai Hikina on KWXX-FM in Hawaii, Director of the Honuakai Exploration Sciences and Voyaging Division of the ‘Aha Punana Leo, and instructor at Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke’elikolani Hawaiian Language College of the University of Hawai’i at Hilo.

Cara Dukepoo, a volunteer at Hopi station KUYI-FM in Keams Canyon, Arizona and the Producer of “Shooting Stars.”

Mark Camp, Cultural Survival’s Deputy Executive Director and director of Cultural Survival’s Community Radio Program.


To learn more about the role of community radio in Indigenous language revitalization, check out the latest issue of the Cultural Survival Quarterly.

Mar 21, 2013

Creativity for sustainability


“We should be using our most sustainable and renewable energy source – creativity – to accelerate the shift from our current unsustainable status quo to a future commensurate with the resources on our single planet.”

Alison Tickell, director of Julie’s Bicycle, a non profit organization working on sustainability within the creative industries


If you’ve ever had doubts about the potential for the arts community and the environment to benefit one another, check out Alison Tickell’s recent article in The Guardian.  Last year, the Arts Council England (ACE) became the first arts and cultural funding body in the world to require environmental reporting by organizations it funds.  Although this may mean a bit more work for the arts and cultural organizations in the short term, accountability for environmental impact is likely to lead to significant long term benefits for both planet and people.  For example, assessing energy efficiency and creating energy saving opportunities can minimize environmental impact and help save the arts organizations and funders money.  The article also highlights the undercurrent of collaboration within and amongst arts and cultural organizations, eager to share discounts and knowledge.  Here’s hoping we see more of this type of collaborative work, creativity, and environmental accountability in 2013 and beyond.

Feb 28, 2013

Call for papers: A Cultural Sustainability Symposium


In collaboration with the Vermont Folklife Center and Sterling College, Goucher College’s Masters of Arts in Cultural Sustainability program is sponsoring the upcoming symposium, “Sequestering Tradition?: A Cultural Sustainability Symposium.”  The gathering will take place August 15-18, 2013 at Sterling College, Vermont.

According to the event organizers, the goal of the symposium is to bring together scholars, students, and practitioners to:

– Examine the idea of cultural sustainability, outline key concepts and terms, and define a scope of professional practice.

– Develop models for the practical application of cultural sustainability methods and theories.

– Encourage networking among scholars and practitioners engaged with the work of cultural sustainability.

The symposium is inviting proposals for presentations and workshops that explore the role of culture in sustainability from two related perspectives:

– The introduction of the idea of culture into larger discussions of sustainability.

– The application of notions of sustainability to cultural practices and concerns.

Proposals should be submitted as a PDF or Microsoft Word attachment to the Cultural Sustainability Symposium Planning Committee at by May 3, 2013.


For more information, please visit


Feb 25, 2013

Call for proposals: The Association of American Cultures Open Dialogue


Our own MACS graduate, Deborah Spears Moorehead, is working with The Association of American Cultures (TAAC), the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, and the New England Foundation for the Arts to prepare for an upcoming Open Dialogue.  According to TAAC, this session of Open Dialogue will focus on “significant and pivotal people, places and policies impacting cultural democracy in America.”

Deb will be presenting on a panel with a focus on cultural policy, traditional knowledge, and partnerships.  The conference organizers are still accepting proposals that “focus on innovative strategies, tested tools, and best practices that relate to the frames of the Open Dialogue and TAAC’s foundational pillars of equity in policy making, funding, leadership and networks that impact cultural policy.”


Open Dialogue 13: People, Places, and Policy

August 2-4, 2013

Providence Biltmore Hotel

11 Dorrance Street · Providence, RI 02903 · 401-421-0700

For more information on this Open Dialogue and how to submit a proposal, please visit TAAC’s website.


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Goucher's MA in Cultural Sustainability provides students with the training to identify, protect, enhance and work effectively with communities around what makes them unique: their traditions, ways of life, cherished spaces, and vital relationships to each other and the world. Read More

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