ABOUT TARWEED FOLK SCHOOL
Our mission is to tend to the land, ourselves, and each other through the sharing of practical arts and place-based skills here in the heart of the Willamette Valley.
We are tenders. Tarweed Folk School stewards opportunities for community-based, hands-on learning to all ages. In 2023 we are hosting three summer weekends of half day, full day, and multi-day classes at Greenbelt Land Trust's Bald Hill Farm, Coyle Outside, and Highland Woodshop, taught by local educators, craftspeople, scientists, tradespeople, small business owners, and members of our Willamette Valley communities. Read below to learn more about our values, folk schools, tarweed (the plant), our steering committee, and our partnerships.
WHAT IS A FOLK SCHOOL?
The folk school idea blossomed in rural Denmark in the 19th century, inspired by the work of poet, philosopher, and educator Nikolai Frederik Severin (NFS) Grundtvig, who proposed the idea to help Denmark transition to a more grassroots model of social development. The idea then spread through Europe and the United States, seeding varied and diverse communities for lifelong, non-competitive, hands-on learning.
In Danish, Folkehøjskole simply means "folk high schools," but the idea revolved around what Grundtvig called "the living word"-- an approach that emphasized practical, hands-on knowledge, skills, and crafts, but also -- through individual and shared social experience -- connection, community, equity, and joy! Folk schooling gives people the space to gauge their own progress according to their own needs and desires, free of grades, certificates, and external measures.
Learn more about folk school history and find a directory of country-wide folk schools through the Folk Education Association of America.
WHAT IS A TARWEED PLANT?
Tarweed species found locally: Madia madioides (woodland tarweed), Madia elegans (common tarweed), Madia sativa (Chilean or Coast tarweed), Madia gracilis (slender tarweed)
Tarweed has grown in the Willamette Valley and greater Western region since time immemorial. It is found in the oak savanna, coastal, and woodland biomes of where we live. Indigenous peoples of this region relied on it heavily for food, harvesting after controlled burns and often using it in trade at Willamette Falls.
As part of the sunflower family, tarweed suggests resilience and resistance to destructive forces, and the power of life to survive and thrive.
We also love tarweed for the beauty of the flower, and the human story of reciprocity between the land and people, who used controlled burns in the oak savanna in order to be able to successfully harvest tiny seeds from sticky stems, and also encourage the oak trees and other wildflowers.
In November of 2019 a group of us began envisioning what a folk school could look like in our community. We met monthly for over three years to share food, stories, chores, and craft as we developed our vision for the school. We have a commitment to lifelong learning and work as educators, makers, parents, business owners, and more.
Chris practices eco printing and natural dyeing from her home base, Island Studios, working at the intersection of art, craft, ecology, and magic. Following a career in landscape architecture and environmental planning, her focus now is on exploring the vast store of historical knowledge
centered on bio-based dyes, combined with the fascinating, unpredictable art of eco printing. She’s mentoring, teaching, and steering Tarweed to help others find the satisfaction that accompanies creative making, living lightly on the earth, paying attention to natural systems and forms, and enriching our lives with the essence of nature's images.
Marta's own education was community-based and non-traditional, and she has had a life-long fascination with the many ways we learn as human beings. Marta first learned about folk schools while attending a work college in the Appalachian Mountains and has always been drawn to fellow makers, crafters, and community co-creators. After settling into the Willamette Valley, she has had the opportunity to learn and teach many place-based practical arts. Marta has been involved in Tarweed Folk School since its inception to make those same place-based practical arts accessible to more people.
In college, I read about Miles Horton, who founded the Highlander Center in Tennessee, a folkschool that was instrumental in the labor and civil rights movements. Years later, I got to work with Beverly Brown when she started up the Jefferson Center, a PNW folkschool that did ground-breaking work on forest and land management issues in the 90s. Since then, I’ve been inspired by primitive skills gatherings, which embody folkschool principles in a temporary, nature-based format. For me, Tarweed is an opportunity to bring home these seeds of inspiration, so we can propagate strength, beauty, health, and real human culture in our own backyard…
Katherine has been able to hone her craft in community learning, which allowed her to expand skills and connections beyond what she could even imagine. Katherine loves the creative energy exchanged in the folk school learning environment. She was so excited to have the opportunity to join the Tarweed Folk School steering committee, and to help bring community learning to her community here in Corvallis. As a Highland Woodshop partner, Katherine is helping create a community space for Tarweed classes. She is offering her technical expertise in web design and tech support.
In 2011, I visited North House Folk School on the shore of Lake Superior while on a Great Lakes bicycle trip. I met the people there and thought working at a folk school must be the best job ever—to harbor community spaces for people to be curious at any age, to teach with humility and kindness, to learn by doing and with praxis, and to sow a deep respect for the land around us and the people who tend to it. When I returned to Oregon, I wanted to help build a place like that for my home. For Tarweed, I program classes and get to meet every month with my friends who help our dream come alive.
Avie is an artist and educator, who works towards making art accessible to people as a way to help build healthier and better connected communities. Being involved with Tarweed Folk School allows Avie the opportunity to use her unique administrative skill-set to help build locally what she is most passionate about; community, education, and art.
Ashley learned woodworking in a community setting during her time traveling as a military family. Settling in Corvallis in 2017, she began to set up a community woodshop, Highland Woodshop, on her property, to help build community and offer the same wonderful opportunity she had herself. She runs this community woodshop with two other steering committee folks. Ashley is passionate about building community and creating a safe space for folks to learn and explore. As a Highland Woodshop partner she is helping create a community space for Tarweed classes. Ashley is a community building champion and excited about being part of helping create another cooperative learning environment.
Daniel Pono Takamori
Daniel Pono Takamori was born in Corvallis and considers the Willamette Valley his home. His hobbies are playing 'Go', biking, and weaving. With a day job at a non-profit dedicated to ethical technology, he hopes to bring some logistics and governance ideas to a more place-based endeavor.
Margot is our new 2024 intern! She is passionate about community-building, regenerative food systems and empowering folks to learn from their neighbors. She has lived across the U.S. and internationally, where she has attended schools and worked on regenerative farms. She comes to Tarweed with a strong interest in creating community-building tools that will help strengthen our bonds and bring about connection and growth.
Nat has built an eclectic set of creative skills and craft knowledge over the years. Learning carpentry during a tenure in set design, self taught metal working skills, and fine woodworking skills at LBCC. He loves teaching the skills he has learned in community himself. As a Highland Woodshop partner, Nat is helping create a community space for Tarweed classes. He is as passionate about making the tools to build things as he is about actually making the things themselves.
Nat is offering his graphic design and illustration expertise to Tarweed Folk School.
Greenbelt Land Trust, Highland Woodshop, and Coyle Outside are generously hosting all Tarweed Folk School classes in our 2023 season.
Tarweed Folk School is a project of Cascade Pacific Resource Conservation & Development (CPRCD), a 501(c)(3) non-profit based in Corvallis, Oregon. As our fiscal sponsor, Cascade Pacific RC&D enables Tarweed Folk School to effectively operate as a non-profit with all of the benefits thereof, so we are able to apply through CPRCD for grants, receive tax-deductible donations, and focus on realizing our mission and values in our inaugural season of growth.
We are fortunate to work with some amazing local and national organizations as our partners.