Folklife Center to offer workshops in interviewing and storytelling

MIDDLEBURY — During October, the Vermont Folklife Center (VFC) will offer two day-long workshops: The Art of the Interview workshop on Friday, Oct. 6, and Storytelling for Social Change on Friday, Oct. 13. Both workshops run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 88 Main St. in Middlebury.
The Art of the Interview is for those interested in interview-based projects. From the ethnographic perspective, an interview offers a chance to see the world through the eyes of another person. The premise of VFC’s interview approach is that each person is the foremost authority on his or her own life. An interview offers the opportunity to capture a person’s experience in his/her own words and on his/her own terms.
The workshop combines discussion of the theories and methods behind oral history projects with practical, hands-on training in audio interview techniques. The class begins with a demonstration interview followed by discussion of the interview process. Attendees will then work as teams to conduct interviews using digital audio recording equipment provided by the Folklife Center. The day concludes with reflection on interviewing and a discussion of oral history and other interview-based project ideas.
Led by Vermont Folklife Center Executive Director Kathleen Haughey and Director of Education Mary Rizos, this workshop will help participants develop a plan for an oral history research project and will offer a forum for brainstorming public outreach ideas based on interview findings. Workshop attendees will have ongoing access to Folklife Center staff for consultation as they later undertake their own oral history, ethnographic, and qualitative research projects.
In Storytelling for Social Change, participants will tap into storytelling as a powerful tools for the documentation of voices, memories and histories. It can also be a catalyst for activism and social change.
Kathleen Haughey and Mary Rizos will guide participants as they explore the ethics and techniques of oral history, ethnography, and storytelling as activist research methodologies. Attendees will be introduced to these three merging methodologies through a combination of short media pieces and discussions, and will learn the basics of corresponding skills such as interviewing, story circle facilitation, and ethnographic observation. The technical aspects of storytelling for social change will also be covered, providing an introduction to minimal resource audio recording tools.
The workshop is intended for anyone interested in developing collaborative documentary or storytelling skills, including students, community members, and staff members of organizations doing cultural, community and social-service work. In addition to developing attendees’ collaborative research abilities, the workshop aims to expand participants’ listening skills — and by extension, interviewing skills — while also encouraging them to consider the challenges, possibilities, and ethics of representation. The workshop will conclude with a discussion of participants’ project ideas.
Both workshops are part of VFC’s Cultural Sustainability Institute workshop series (vermontfolklifecenter.org/education/cultural-sustainability/), which provides a framework for examining human experience in the present with an awareness of the past and a view toward the future.
Tuition for each 6-hour workshop is $95. Attendance is limited to 14 for The Art of the Interview, and the registration deadline is Oct. 4. The registration deadline for Storytelling for Social Change is Oct. 12. Register by calling 802-388-4964, or by accessing, printing, and mailing the registration form available on our website.

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