Rural Artists and Artisans Documentation Project

Applicant and/or teacher sponsor:
William Brazill, John Rugebregt

Student Groups /Teachers/ Community Members/Partnerships Involved:
High School students (Tuesday Non-Fiction Writing class, Advanced Photography class), local artisans, NCRCN teachers, Art Center Gallery, Dan Taylor of the Willits County Historical Museum, local photographers, editors and publishers, Bread Loaf Annenberg Rural Challenge Network.

Number of students affected:
20-30

Length of project:
Two semesters, beginning Spring 1998
Spring Semester 1998 for photography and writing
Fall Semester 1998 for exhibits and publication

1. Brief description of the project:
This project will involve a collaboration between the advanced photography class and the non-fiction writing class. The students will work together to produce a high quality hard cover book that highlights the life and work of local artisans and crafts people.
The purpose will be to document this ?endangered? lifestyle and to create a current version of a similar publication, Mendocino Rust, produced in the 1980s.
Through their work, students will gain exposure to the vibrant folks who continue the artistic tradition of this area. Students will also increase their skills in writing, photography and collaborative communication project, students will learn about publishing and quality issues related to working for a larger audience.


2. Connections
How does the project connect with our theme of people, history, and place? How does the project interact with the community?
How does the project connect with other NCRCN members/ sites?
How does the project invite student planning/student choice?

The Mendocino area has been a magnet for artists and crafts people since the founding of the Mendocino Art Center in the 1950s. The large rise in real estate values and the move toward a tourist economy has made it more difficult for people to continue to maintain the artistic lifestyle that was prevalent during the 60s-80s. There is less local visibility for people working with their hands. Involving students in documenting the creative process, products and lifestyle of the local artisans will help bring about a renewed appreciation for this way of life. By creating a high-quality publication, students will play a significant role in honoring and preserving an important human element in the area?s culture.
The publication will be offered for sale in local bookstores and profits will go to finance future student projects of this type.

The project features coast artisans and promotes interaction between them and our students. It will document a sense of community livelihood that will undoubtedly change in the coming years, thus serving as a historical record. It is doubtful that the coast community of artisans exists anywhere else, thus the project would be a record of the uniqueness of this place. At the same time, the project engages students in skills and activities which they could apply locally and publicly, both in visual and print media.

The subjects for the photo project are all artisans and crafters who are successfully pursuing their livelihood on the Mendocino Coast. This will be a documentation and celebration to preserve that aspect of our community.

Other participating NCRCN members will be informed of the project and asked for assistance in those areas where their expertise would be valuable. This may include interviewing techniques, technical assistance, photo critiques, editing of writing, design, and other practical expertise. Breadnet is a nation-wide consortium of Annenberg Rural Challenge Schools and other rural educational projects offering assistance and expertise.
While this project?s subject is perhaps unique to our community, the overall idea and execution of the project can be replicated in other member sites.

While the overall vision of the project is provided by the instructors, the students will be actively engaged in choosing subjects, producing the photographic images, designing the layout, organizing and conducting field questions, revising and editing writing, setting goals and time lines, organizing themselves into teams, determining deadlines, and arranging for outside experts to assist.

3. Student Learning
How will the project improve student learning?
How will you evaluate or assess what students have learned? What kind of data will you collect? Action Research question?
How will you evaluate or assess the community impact?
How will students share their project and learning with others at their own site, other sites or within the community? How will students be involved in the evaluation of the project?
Will your project have a service learning component? If so please describe.

Photography Component

This project would add anew and exciting dimension to our advanced photo class. Students now work to produce a photographic portfolio that is unique to their own interest and way of seeing. For this portfolio, most photographers use a small format (35mm) camera. All image making (film exposure) is completed outside of the school day without direct help of the teacher or other students. In this proposed project students would be introduced to the 8 x 10 view camera and students and teachers would work together photographing a common theme within the school day. All images would be attempted with the view camera.
The interaction with writing students and teacher also would be a new and unique learning experience for advanced photo students, as until this point we have worked in isolation.

Throughout the process of producing the images, students would evaluate their own work and encourage each other?s. Teachers will also provide feedback and evaluations on an on-going basis. Community evaluation for this project would be based on community reaction of an exhibition of student work at the school, in Mendocino at the Mendocino Art Center, and at the county level at the Mendocino County Museum in Willits. Evaluation would also come about in the form of professional reviews of the publication.

English Component

Students selecting the writing component of the project will be engaged in authentic, purposeful research and writing emanating from our rural community.
Students will learn to communicate their learning and insights in a significant and public manner.
Students will be involved in collaborative and team efforts to design and execute the project.
Publication is often the key to motivating students to write, and this project would enable students to write to a higher level than usually encountered in high school writing.
Students will apply and develop their interviewing and reporting skills and explore the various genres of reportorial writing.
Students will engage in interviewing fieldwork and data analysis.
Students will apply writing skills to professional publishing standards.
Students will have the support of professional editors in reviewing their writing.
Students will learn the intricacies of preparing a publication for submission and publication by a publishing company.

Students will keep working writing journals and develop a written portfolio of assignments, field notes, interviews, drafts, revisions and final pieces.
Evaluation will include peer, teacher and professional feedback.
The publication will be available for artistic and literary review by professional critics.
Data will primarily consist of student work, on-going documentation of the project, student self-reflections and evaluations, summative evaluations, attendance records, anecdotal evidence from students, participants and subjects, press clippings, gallery records, editing and professional reviews and the final publication.

Students and teachers will solicit anecdotal feedback. (interviews, gallery notes)
Students and teachers will keep and analyze feedback for work in progress. (editor?s notes)
Newspaper and other press accounts will provide critical evaluation.
Book sales will indicate public enthusiasm for the publication and the project.

Students in the writing component will publicize their project through various media (school and local papers, web pages, radio)
Students will be involved in documenting all aspects of the project, possibly with digital media such as digital cameras, a web site, and cd-rom documentation.
Students will produce the publicity releases for exhibitions and publication.
Students will develop an evaluation rubric, time line, and skills matrix early in the process.
Students will use the evaluation rubric, time line, and skills matrix to evaluate their own and their classmates learning. (These will be tied to the school?s ESLRs.)

The documentation of an endangered, perhaps vanishing, community resource and lifestyle constitutes service learning. The project?s service learning ?quadrant? (as defined by Seervice Learning 2000 Center) addresses an important community element, and is clearly integrated with the knowledge, skill and value goals of the school?s ESLRs. Additionally, the project emphasizes certain key elements in the California Council of Chief State School Officers service learning curriculum: it provides intellectual development and academic learning; it promotes personal growth and development; it promotes social growth and development; it transforms teacher/student relationships to one of coaching and collaboration; it uses the school as a resource to research and address community issues; it promotes understanding and appreciation for diversity across generations, cultures, perspectives and abilities.

The service learning component will be documented through journals, interim and final evaluations, and outside evaluations, including feedback from the photographic subjects.

4. Support
What kind of support would you like from the coordinator/TSA?
What kinds of funds will you need for the project? Please supply a general budget. (Staff development, release time for planning, transportation, materials.)
What other sources might provide additional funding for the project?


Coordination of funding. Scheduling and transportation. Coordination of volunteers. Liaison to publishing sources. Periodic evaluation.

Budget

NCRCN portion $1500

$500- Transportation to interviews
$300- film for 8 x 10 camera
$200- film holders for 8 x 10 camera
$250- tripod for 8 x 10 camera
$250- exhibition expenses.

Existing computer and page layout programs will be provided by the ROP Computer program.
Audio recording equipment will be provided by the ROP Audio program and NCRCN partners.
County ROP might provide initial ?seed? money for the publication.
NCRCN coordinator and TSA will pursue sources for publishing costs.