Are Folk Schools Still Relevant?

The stress and uncertainty from Covid-19 has taken a toll on everyone, impacting our mental, physical and economic health. The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week brought to the forefront the ongoing issues of systematic racism within our society.

Photo Credit: Parker Yesko for MPR

What role could a small arts organization that promotes the teaching and preservation of traditional skills possibly have as our country works to recover from a pandemic and address the structural inequities raised by those protesting the death of Mr. Floyd? Are we foolish to work to re-open MMFS, given that additional hardships due to the pandemic will continue to dominate our daily lives? Does our focus on ‘old fashioned’ traditional skills make our organization too ‘old fashioned’ to have meaning as our society responds to the calls for change?

Photo Credit: Rudi Hargesheimer
These are questions our Board discussed this week. And we resoundingly answered ‘yes’ to the question of whether MMFS in particular, and folk schools in general, still have a role to play. From the beginning, our mission has been to support our community and strengthen connections. We believe the need to increase and strengthen connections is even more critical now, given the isolation and difficulties created by Covid-19 together with the fractures laid open in Minneapolis and around the country last week.

We are committed to re-opening MMFS, incorporating best practices to ensure that our instructors, students and volunteers have a safe learning experience. We won’t rush to open however, but instead will continue to thoughtfully analyze all of the information available and follow Minnesota and CDC guidelines. And when we do open, we will do our best to continue to carefully choose our classes and instructors to offer opportunities for all of us to increase and strengthen our connections – connections to people from different backgrounds and perspectives, connections to people from different generations, connections to people and traditions from different times. We believe the healing power of using your hands and creating craft will help all of us, together. We look forward to welcoming you back, or for the first time, to Marine Mills Folk School.

cover photo credit