Independence Day Reflections

by Lisa Marie Ryder, Director of The Alabama Folk School

When I think back to the birth of our great country, I think of simpler living. Simpler, not easier! I am reminded of the inspiration behind the Alabama Folk School at Camp McDowell and how our workshops help preserve the knowledge and traditions of bygone days.

A Gee's Bend quilt in patriotic colors by Alabama Folk School instructor, Mary Ann Pettway. 

A Gee's Bend quilt in patriotic colors by Alabama Folk School instructor, Mary Ann Pettway. 

I can visualize the handknit, sewn, and woven clothes—the garments dyed with colors made from indigo, bark and berries. I can picture an early American supper table heartily set with corn, squash, beans, apples, jam, and syrup, accompanied by livestock, fresh game, or fish. There’s also cider and beer at the table. A family gathers around to enjoy time together after a hard day’s work. A pleasant evening is filled with music, song, or someone reading aloud from a book

A Gee's Bend quilt in patriotic colors by Alabama Folk School instructor, China Pettway. 

A Gee's Bend quilt in patriotic colors by Alabama Folk School instructor, China Pettway. 

During this time, Americans were originally from England, Germany, Ireland, Holland, Scotland, Sweden, and Africa. The traditions of these cultures were uniquely shaping the ways of life in America, and families took pride in passing down their skills and traditions though generations.

These folk traditions of early America not only represent our past, but are at the root of so much contemporary art and culture today.

As summer comes to a close, I invite you to join us at the Alabama Folk School where we strive to keep our early folk traditions alive by teaching those who want to learn. You can construct your own butcher block cutting board, repair your mother’s favorite caned chair, and more in the upcoming workshops:

· Acoustic Guitar & Crafts, September 9-11

· Old Time Music & Crafts, October 13-16

· Watercolor & Painting Workshop, October 23-28

· Traditional Arts & Crafts, November 3-6

Learn more and register by clicking on the workshop titles above.