Dear Friends and Supporters of the Driftless Folk School –
When the Driftless Folk School began almost a decade ago, in the winter of 2006, the founders were inspired by a vision of the Driftless Region as a place of special possibility for the development and spread of a vibrant culture of sustainability and authentic community life. Nurtured by a diverse natural and cultural landscape, a unique community of people interested in living consciously on the land and with each other has arisen here in the Driftless Region. The Driftless Folk School was created as a way to facilitate this process by acting as a locus for sharing key skills and ideas and as a catalyst for the development of resilient community life.
During the past 9 years, the Driftless Folk School has robustly realized this vision. Thousands of people have participated in classes, festivals, conferences, dances, and skill sharing circles, typically with a mixture of about 50% from the local community and 50% from elsewhere. In 2015 alone, over 600 people have taken part in classes. In the past two years, the Driftless Folk School has established the beginnings of a permanent campus, providing an evolving showcase of high quality craftsmanship and sustainable building and energy technologies, as well as becoming a center of community for volunteers, class participants, and visitors from out of the area.
Now, however, the Driftless Folk School faces a critical moment in its young life. All that has been accomplished so far has been made possible by the generous and joyful contributions of a corps of volunteers, a small part-time staff, the landowners of Bear Creek Farm, and a handful of key financial donors. Income from class fees continues to support our instructors and some of the overhead needed to offer classes. We have had strong success in supporting the gradual development of the campus via grants, volunteers, memberships and in-kind donations. To keep this all flowing smoothly, however, the Driftless Folk School needs to be able to support a small professional administrative staff who can devote their time and energy to this work.
After a careful analysis of our options, we have concluded that class income alone cannot support the current scope of the Folk School, much less the growth which we would like to see. Grants, likewise, can support the development of the campus and the creation of new programs, but are often not available to support basic operations. Indeed, it is clear that there is only one source of funding for these crucial functions: you, the loyal community of friends who have supported the birth and development of the Driftless Folk School all along.
This summer, DFS conducted a series of interviews and surveys which confirmed something that we already knew – namely, that there is broad support for the existence and work of the Driftless Folk School in the local community and beyond. Many people commented that they strongly value the cultivation of the skills and knowledge we offer in our classes and events, as well as the work DFS does in building community. Some have even told us that the mere existence of the Folk School was a key factor in their decision to settle in the area.
If any of this resonates with you and you would like to see the Driftless Folk School continue to thrive and grow, now is the time to step up and be counted by becoming a sustaining member of the Driftless Folk School. You can do this either by an annual membership donation or by joining our circle of Soil Builder Sustaining Members who have signed up to make a monthly automatic contribution via their credit card or bank account. Much like community radio, the Folk School provides broad benefits to a wide community and predictable, regular monthly or annual donations can have a huge impact on our ability to plan for the future with confidence. Without this support from our immediate community, the Driftless Folk School will inevitably be forced to scale back some of our ongoing activities.
Please join us in this work by becoming a Soil Builder Sustaining Member. Together, we can make it possible for the Driftless Folk School to continue to grow and thrive, building an ever more resilient community here in the Driftless Region.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT
The Trustees, Staff, and Volunteers of the Driftless Folk School