November 17 - 23, 2015
CDSS went to the Heartland!
Lawrence, KS, was the final stop on the Centennial Tour, just before the year end holidays, and what a stop it was! Staff included Anna Patton, Karen Axelrod, Shira Kammen, Andrew VanNorstrand, Kalia Kliban, and Sue Hulsether.
Lawrence, Kansas, is about as central as you can get. Nestled in the Kaw River Valley, an hour from Kansas City to the east and the gorgeous Flint Hills to the west, even the politics are centrist: it's a solidly red conservative state, but the town was founded by the New England Emigrant Aid Company, a group of passionate abolitionists from Massachusetts who relocated in 1854 to ensure that Kansas would enter the Union as a Free State. That history has left its imprimatur, from business names like Freestate Brewing Company (a must-not-miss for visitors to the city) to a general world view that leans far to the left of what you’re likely to find elsewhere in the state.
Lawrence Folk (the umbrella organization for the tour) is thrilled that the Tour had a positive effect on their local and regional communities — even before it began! Before completing the application, they surveyed communities in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska to get a sense of how best to benefit from a Tour stop. That exercise helped organizers get to know one another and see how they might better utilize the resources already available in their region. Recruitment (especially of young adults), board support, and expertise of sound technology are areas of particular interest throughout the region. They've taken several steps to meet these needs.
Some university students attended their first dance last fall, and they loved it so much that they’re starting a new student group and helping the tour stop organizers plan the day that the Tour staff will spend in Lawrence. They've also planned two days of in-service in elementary schools with local professionals to help prepare the students for a great experience with tour staff in November.
The weekend presented workshops just for organizers. Earlier in the week organizers from regional communities were free to observe daytime workshops with the youth, while in the evenings there were opportunities to talk to administrative staff from CDSS about the challenges they face.
Participants had the opportunity to learn from a professional sound technician how to get the most out of current systems and what improvements will be the most economical. There was hands-on experience, too.
The website http://www.lawrencefolk.org/cdss-tour has more details.