MI Folk School Launches Crowdfunding Campaign: Seeks to Build Community Campus $40,000 Goal to Win Matching Grant Through MEDC's Public Spaces Community Places Initiative

The Michigan Folk School is putting down roots in Ann Arbor, Michigan. After hosting classes in various locations since 2011, the school will settle at Staebler Farm Park where it will offer courses in traditional skills like blacksmithing, woodworking, foraging, cheesemaking, canning and animal husbandry. Upon the successful completion of a $40,000 crowdfunding campaign, the non-profit will build a public campus and recreation space. The project’s first phase will include a blacksmithing and woodworking studio, with future planned growth including community garden spaces and multipurpose teaching building.

It is fitting that the Michigan Folk School will build its campus at Staebler Farm Park, the site of the Staebler homestead for over 100 years. The Michigan Folk School aims to create a community engaged in authentic, hands-on experiences through sharing of traditional folk arts, crafts, music and skills. By engaging visitors in an inspiring natural setting, the Folk School will honor the agricultural heritage and history of the Staebler land.

The endeavor is made possible through a partnership with Washtenaw Country Parks and Recreation Commission as well as a matching grant by the Michigan Economic Development Commission (MEDC). The partnership with Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission will allow Staebler Farm Park to be open to the public through hiking trails, fishing piers and other access points. Although course fees help the Folk School continue to operate, some courses will be available for free.

The campaign will run from Nov. 15-Dec. 15. Campaign donations will be matched by the MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places (PSCP) program contingent upon reaching the $40,000 goal through crowdfunding. Interested parties are encouraged to donate and learn more at http://www.patronicity.com/mifolkschool.

Jason Gold, founder and director, explained what impact the donations will have. “The Public Spaces Community Places program will enable us directly to repurpose a 1947 workshop into a modern handwork woodshop and blacksmithing studio. We will use these studios to offer folk courses and workshops taught by masters of craft, as well as studio space for the community to perfect their craft. But the grant will do more than just repurpose a building; it will initiate a community campus. Once we raise the $40,000, and PSCP matches this amount, Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission will install parking, septic and fields, wells and accessible sidewalks throughout the campus area. It will also trigger WCPRC to build a multi-purpose building to be used by the folk school for additional community and visitor programming and studio space.” The additional space will allow the folk school to host more hands-on courses such as stained glass, photography, cheesemaking and canning.

Public Spaces Community Places is a collaborative effort of the MEDC, the Michigan Municipal League and Patronicity, in which local residents can use crowdfunding to be part of the development of strategic projects in their communities and be backed with a matching grant from MEDC. Communities, nonprofits and other business entities can apply at https://patronicity.com/puremichigan.

The Public Spaces Community Places initiative started in 2014 with MEDC providing matched funding of up to $50,000 for community improvement projects throughout Michigan. As of June 15, 2017, MEDC has provided $3,766,500 in matching grants. Since the launch of the program, 125 projects have been successful in reaching their goal, with $4.5 million raised from 19,988 individual donors.

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community and talent development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit www.MichiganBusiness.org. For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at www.michigan.org. Visit Pure Michigan Talent Connect at www.mitalent.org for more information on Michigan’s online marketplace for connecting job seekers and employers. Join the conversation on: FacebookInstagramLinkedIn and Twitter.

About the Michigan Folk School (MFS)
The Michigan Folk School, a non-profit 501(c)(3), offers a cooperative education to be used to enlighten and educate a populous in subjects that remind us of our connections to our basic needs, our relationships with one another and to our environment. We seek to:

  • preserve our culture and history by providing access to the old ways of doing things;
  • preserving ourselves by putting down the screens and reconnecting with our abilities and other people; 
  • and, preserving, quite literally, the fruits and foods before us to take advantage of the good things that are growing around us.

As a school, we endeavor to offer robust programming that addresses your interests and priorities, and that also reflect the full spectrum of our local food system and artisan community. Programming will include the types of classes we have offered thus far like woodworking, cheesemaking and bushcraft, but will be expanded to include other topics, such as:

  • Animal Husbandry
  • Basketry
  • Blacksmithing and Toolmaking
  • Boatbuilding
  • Community Engagement and Stewardship
  • Fiber Art
  • Glass Craft
  • Land Restoration and Native Planting
  • Leather Craft
  • Music and Storytelling
  • Natural and Sustainable Building
  • Timber Framing
  • Woodturning

There has been a surge in the creation of folk schools around our nation, which are part of the grassroots movement to reclaim fundamental skills, opportunities for personal enrichment and ways to start cottage businesses as supplemental income or even replacement income by performing tasks for which we have a passion.

Media Contact:

Jason Gold 
Director - MI Folk School

Source: MI Folk School


Categories: School Funding, Education

Tags: crowdfunding, Education, Folk School, fundraiser, Public Spaces