Tag Archives: Storytelling

MLK DAY, SELMA, + SONGS OF FREEDOM

MLK DAY, SELMA, + SONGS OF FREEDOM

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and we are honoring his legacy and observing the holiday through service to our community. In the past few weeks, the Civil Rights Movement along with the work of Dr. King has received much media attention, due in part to the film Selma. The film, directed by Ava DuVernay, tells the story of how the Voting Rights Act of 1965 came to be and chronicles the events leading up to its monumental passing.

There were three marches that took place in March of 1965—the first is referred to as “Bloody Sunday” due to brutal attacks on the marchers, and the second march was cut short, as Dr. King felt the marchers needed protection by a federal court to prevent further violence. On March 21, 1965 the third march began—this time with the protection of the Army, Alabama National Guard, FBI Agents, and Federal Marshalls. The marchers arrived in Montgomery, at the State Capitol building, on March 25. The route taken from Selma to Montgomery is now a U.S. National Historic Trail.

MLK DAY, SELMA, + SONGS OF FREEDOM

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WORN STORIES

WORN STORIES

During Makeshift 2012, we dedicated a portion of one event to “Worn Stories,” a concept defined and documented by Emily Spivack that explores the stories and emotional attachments surrounding our clothing. Jessamyn Hatcher introduced us to Emily and her work about the relationships we create with our garments and the rich memories we associate with our clothes. Those memories are certainly why we hold on to items long out of fashion, in sizes we will never wear again. The clothing is a physical representation of our emotional scrapbook.

Spivack’s recent book, also titled Worn Stories, is moving and relatable—and earned it’s way to the New York Times’ Bestseller List. In it, she collects over sixty clothing-inspired remembrances from famous faces and everyday people; each was asked to describe the most meaningful item of clothing in their closet—and the stories that surround them.

Worn Stories is meant not only to unearth memories through storytelling, but also to offer intimate glimpses into the lives, memories, and psyches of the tellers. It also prompts readers to delve into their own closets and consider the role clothing plays in their own lives. The book and website together amount to an extensive catalog of oral and written histories, all surrounding garments.

WORN STORIES

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2014: THE YEAR IN REVIEW

The Year in Review

With 2014 coming to a close and a brand new year upon us, it is time to reflect on all we’ve accomplished—slow in design, but rapid in growth—during the past year. But first and foremost, we want to thank each and every single one of our supporters, friends, collaborators, partners, and everyone who has made 2014 the success that it has been. Without you, none of this would be possible.

Organic Cotton

No feat was as challenging—or as rewarding—as our organic Alabama cotton adventure. From a seedling of an idea to the harvest of pillowcases full of beautiful, white cotton, the success of this project is one of our proudest achievements. Not only were we able to physically see the fruits of our labor, we were also able to see the rewards of sticking to our ideals: sustainability, community, education, open-source sharing, and transparency in method.

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GRAVY #53: INSCRIPTION FOR AIR

GRAVY #53: INSCRIPTION FOR AIR

Give the gift of membership to the Southern Foodways Alliance and give the gift of Gravy (plus so much more). And download the new Gravy podcast (for free) for your own weekly goodness.

INSCRIPTION FOR AIR by Jake Adam York
—excerpted from Gravy 53: Food and Social Justice, page 42 

John Earl Reese, shot while dancing in a café in Mayflower, Texas, October 2, 1955.

Not for the wound, not for the bullet,
++power’s pale cowardice, but
for you, for the three full syllables
++of your name we hold whole
as a newborn by the feet, and so
++for the cry, the first note, the key
So every word to follow, the timbre,
++The tone, the voice that could sing
Nat King Cole’s “If I May,” and slow
++dance the flip side, the blossoms
fallen like a verdict to the jury’s lips,
++not to the blood or the broken
glass or the spiders silking juke-box
++wires in a junkman’s shed,
but the fingers’ heat still on the dime
++when it slides to the switch,
the lamp on the platter, the groove
++that tells the needle what to say,
and the pine boards of the café floor
++once moved by the locusts’ moan
now warm as a guitar’s wood, revived
++with all the prayers of songs, Amens
that flame when a blues turns bright,
++not for what was lost, but what
was lived, what is written here,
++in the night, in vinyl, in the air,
for the bead of sweat at the hair’s deckle,
++the evening star in the trees,
soda-pop sugar wild on your tongue and
++for the tongue telling Saturday night
something of Sunday morning, fluent
++as a mockingbird, and for the hand
that opens as if in praise, as if in prayer,
++asking for another to fill it there,
for the smile and for the smile of skin
++behind the ear where love might lip its name,
for you, if we may, pull back the arm
++and start the music once again.

Jake Adam York (1972-2012) was a poet from Glencoe, Alabama, whose work often focused on the civil rights movement in the American South. “Inscription for Air” was originally published in Abide, copyright 2014 by the Estate of Jake Adam York. Reproduced by permission of Southern Illinois University Press. The SFA thanks Sarah Skeen, Joe York, and Southern Illinois University Press. PHOTO BY Mike Garofalo.

PHILLIP MARCH JONES | DEAR MOTHER

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Harald Stoffers has been writing letters every day for over twenty years. Long ones. Short ones. Tall ones. Skinny ones. Some of them measure over ten feet high; others are only a few inches tall. Occasionally, he tears them apart. Most of them are addressed to his mother with the loving words, “Liebe Mutti” (Dear Mother), though he rarely sends them to her.

The substance of the letters varies from the banal activities and formalities of daily life—like what he is planning to wear the next day or the price of a cup of coffee—to personal thoughts and reflections. Most of the text is legible, but Stoffer’s process of writing and line-making sometimes obliterates what he has already written. At times the individual letters might be written so closely together that they become clouds of black ink.

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A RECIPE FOR FIGGY PUDDING

A RECIPE FOR FIGGY PUDDING

Last year, when delving into the history of holiday carols, I found myself asking a question that I’ve wondered about since my youth: What exactly is figgy pudding?

The traditional English dessert is mentioned several times in the popular carol “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” (Now bring us some figgy pudding and bring it right here), referring to the caroling traditions of 16th century England where Christmas treats and drinks were given to carolers by wealthy well-wishers as a thank you for the songs. Often, these treats included puddings.

After a bit of research, I discovered that figgy pudding is actually more cake-like in form. It is similar to modern-day Christmas puddings and plum puddings, and—like it or not—is a cousin to the unjustly maligned fruitcake. But, don’t let that keep you from trying this delicious, boozy dessert. (Yes, classic figgy pudding includes a good dose of rum and brandy—perfect for warming chilly carolers.)

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GRAVY #53: FOOD & SOCIAL JUSTICE

“Gravy is the SFA’s collection of original stories—fresh, unexpected, and thought-provoking. Like all of the SFA’s work, Gravy shares stories of the changing American South through the foods we eat. Gravy showcases a South that is constantly evolving, accommodating new immigrants, adopting new traditions, and lovingly maintaining old ones. It uses food as a means to explore all of that, to dig into lesser-known corners of the region, complicate stereotypes, document new dynamics, and give voice to the unsung folk who grow, cook, and serve our daily meals. Gravy the print journal lands in the mailboxes of SFA members four times per year. Gravy the podcast releases a new episode every other week.” –Southern Foodways Alliance

Gravy: The Podcast is now available every second Thursday by iTunes subscription:

“Gravy, a biweekly podcast, doesn’t profile star chefs. We don’t pander to cookbook authors. We don’t narrate recipes. Gravy tells stories of people and place through food…”

Join this important conversation (and get your own copy of Gravy mailed to your door) with your Southern Foodways Alliance membership. (Membership also makes a great holiday gift—think #givingtuesday.)

The piece below, written by Catarina Passidomo, reflects this year’s Southern Foodways Alliance theme, “Who is Welcome at the Welcome Table?” and can be found on page 13 of Gravy #53. View the entire issue in digital form here.

FOOD JUSTICE

“WHY STUDY FOOD JUSTICE??
Lessons from A Post-Katrina New Orleans” by Catarina Passidomo

When I tell people that I study food, the response is usually one of curious interest. When I go on to explain that I study food justice—that is, the connections between food systems and race, class, gender, and other means of oppression—the look of curiosity changes slightly. Is that confusion? Agreement? Concern? People who experience one or multiple forms of oppression in their own lives generally nod with understanding. But for many of us, the connections between food and social justice are abstract. The interlocking systems that bring food from field or factory to fork, spoon, fingers, or chopsticks are mostly obscured from view. Or they are so familiar that we don’t notice them. But if we look closely and critically, we can begin to see through food to broader systems of oppression and dominance. This makes food a powerful tool for thinking and teaching about social justice. Continue reading

HEIRLOOM IN THE MAKING: MIKE’S CROSS

CROSS-1

Over the past months, we have been exploring heirlooms through ongoing Journal posts. Our intention is to look at the things we hold dear and examine how we find meaning in our personal heirlooms and mementos—even if those things don’t necessarily have great monetary value. The Heirloom series is meant to celebrate things that last and the things that we assign meaning to in our lives.

This week, we look at the process of creating something with intention – the act of making something designed to last and assigning a meaning to that object from its inception. Our friend and Journal contributor Sara shares stories of her late father-in-law, told from the perspective of some of his children:

A few months ago, my family suffered a loss with the passing of my father-in-law, who we all called Mike. It was a heartbreaking time but, as is often the case, the painful loss provided the opportunity to share memories, spend time together, grieve, and heal. The ironic part of the rituals surrounding a death—the preparations, family gatherings, storytelling—is that you constantly look at one another and think: He would have loved to be here… He would have loved this.

My husband, Kory, has six siblings. They rarely see one another. We don’t live terribly close to most of them and, though we might have great intentions of visiting one another (or at least calling more often), inevitably life happens. Days and weeks and months and seasons pass with only brief “hellos”, the occasional text message, or the rare visit.

When Mike passed away, we all found ourselves in the same room, thrust upon one another in the middle of life. We were brothers and sisters, spouses and children, nieces and mothers and aunts and uncles—together with one terrible agenda settling in over the room. But, as happens, there are things that must be done, plans to be made, decisions to ponder, meals to cook, and logistics to navigate. You begin the tricky balance of working, grieving, and healing. Your loss is personal and it is also communal. Continue reading

UNCONVENTIONAL & UNEXPECTED

UNCONVENTIONAL & UNEXPECTED

I’ve never met Roderick Kiracofe, but, I’ve known about his quilt collection for a long time. I believe that I heard his name shortly after I returned to Alabama over a decade ago. In those early days, I was working with quilters to create the garments that would make up my first collections. My neighbors supported my interest in quilts and quilting, happy that I was embracing a skill so highly valued in the community. Back then, it wasn’t uncommon for me to open my door in the morning and find a bag of quilts left by an anonymous soul. They were often “garbage quilts”, as they are called around here—quilts that had seen better days. Many were shedding handpicked cotton through feed-sack fabric, worn so thin that the strings left couldn’t contain the internal batting. They were quilts that had been used to cover animals or as seat padding for an old car. But someone knew that I would see their value and appreciate their history.

UNCONVENTIONAL & UNEXPECTED

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HEIRLOOM #5: PEGGY LOUISE’S CLOCK

HEIRLOOM #5: PEGGY LOUISE'S CLOCK

Through our Journal’s Heirloom series, we’ve been exploring the things we value and why we hold them dear. Each story reveals the value of tradition and honors possessions that were made to last. While these items may not be valuable to the world-at-large, to the owner they are priceless.

This week, Kasey, our Production Coordinator for the Alabama Chanin collection shares memories of the clock she inherited from her grandmother.

From Kasey:

My grandmother, Peggy Louise, was a mother of 6, grandmother of 14, and great-grandmother of 17 – and she somehow knew how to make each of us feel special. The time we spent together was filled with food, stories, and – above all – laughter.

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