Joining Local Voices

It was announced this week that I will be joining community enterprise Local Voices as a co-director alongside founders and fellow ethnologists Steve Byrne and Chris Wright. Delighted!

Local Voices is an organisation with a mission to help communities across Scotland identify, collect and engage with their local heritage. We aim to celebrate the traditions and diversity of local communities in the global age, taking in language, song, story, music and memory. To that end, we deliver a variety of projects in schools and wider communities across Scotland, with special focuses on Scots language and traditional arts.

It is an absolute joy to join fellow ethnologists Chris and Steve on the Local Voices team; together they have a wealth of experience and knowledge and have really led the way with their approach to applied ethnology and place-based traditional arts education in Scotland. I jumped at the chance to work with them precisely because their approach is deeply and unapologetically informed by ethnological values: that is to say that they recognise and foreground the value of human experience, shunning short-term novelty or instrumental usefulness (that can be readily proven) in favour of sustained meaningful engagement and long-term vision. They create deeply thoughtful projects that encourage children and communities to connect with each other, with their place and with their past, modelling an educational approach that places relationship, culture and personal and community empowerment at the centre of learning.

Ecologically, human beings live in communities in specific places, where roots are put down and pulled up in the course of time, and memories make dreaming the future possible. 
— Ullrich Kockel

In an increasingly rootless, alienating and commercialised world, where so many are predisposed to looking out to mass media culture, the consciousness-raising work of organisations like Local Voices is vital. Our cultural memory and local traditions are important not as ‘relics of an imagined national past’ or ‘cultural products for export,’ but as a creative, vital and meaningful resource for the future. The Local Voices approach highlights the importance of seeing ‘tradition’ as rooted in place but not fixed in history, rather moving forward through time in a way that is inclusive of all those who live here. In this sense, the Local Voices approach offers the possibility of re-visioning local life. 

In a condition of cultural citizenship, everyone feels at home in their own community; everyone feels that their heritages are valued; that their contributions to community life and cultural fabric have equal weight and value for people. Everyone wants to know their neighbours, to be part of something together, a story that is bigger than all of our small stories together.
— Arlene Goldbard