May 2012

Dear Friends,

Ya’ll know that we do things a little differently at the Folk School. We’re strictly non-competitive. The best dang non-competitive school in the world. We joke about being non-competitive, and sometimes demonstrate it.

My favorite Folk School game for the kids is musical chairs. You remember musical chairs– music plays, kids walk around, music stops, a kid doesn’t get a chair, kid cries, music starts… My dear wife Nannette does musical chairs the Folk School way. Music plays, kids walk around, music stops, kids all sit down on chairs or each others laps, one chair is removed, music starts. All the kids stay in– only the chair gets kicked out. At the end, somehow, everyone is sitting, more or less, in one chair. As one of the musicians who plays for musical chairs,  I have to say I prefer it without crying.

We talk a lot about transformations at the Folk School. We’ve got these cool ads in magaizines that say “The Folk School Changes You.” Each ad features a before and after photo: a chunk of firewood to turned vessell; a ball of yarn to knitted hat; a cowpie of something to a clay bowl.

The major transformations take place within us. I see people every day who have been uplifted and strengthened by living and learning at the Folk School. In the 1920s, when our founders were asked for a quick slogan that captured the purpose of the Folk School, they answered with the Diane Grundtvig’s shorthand phrase, “Awaken, Enliven, Enlighten.” A walk through this place tells you that it is still happening today. With all that awakening, enlivening  and enlightening going on, obviously one is changed by the experience. You don’t come out of the blessed vale the same as you went in.

At lunch one day, a lady asked me what was the most satisfying part of working at the Folk School, and I said it was seeing people become what they want to be. “We’ve even turned lawyers into banjo players.”

She said, “That’s like kissing a frog and it turns into a toad!”

We have a pretty good time around here. It’s real education. People learn everything from how to upgrade a cupcake to how to imagine a new career. Like every educational institution, our tuition  and fees must be supplemented every year, so we ask you to contribute to our Annual Fund. Our school is different, but if that’s what you like, you ought to help out- nobody quite understands us like our friends.

With love from Brasstown,

Jan Davidson,

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