Posted by Myles David Jewell
The VFC's Discovering Community program teams up with The Walden Project quite a bit. We offer workshops on ethnographic approaches to media, we travel to Ethiopia with their staff (Walden head Matt Schlein went just this past February as part of a graduate education course led by Kathleen). But sometimes, our support comes in on a smaller level; one-on-one work to help students produce a project meaningful to them.
Last year, one of the Walden students, Grace Smart, worked as an intern at the VFC every Friday. I was able to visit her at Walden and help her video some of the daily activities of her classmates, and they even fed me a meal made on the fire that we read Walden around. The Walden Project, supported by the Willowell Foundation, allows students to go out into the community and, in the words of Thoreau, "confront the essential facts of life." The minimalist classroom also forces students to live deliberately, and in my scholarship, I've always thought that documentary filmmaking could also be a form of living deliberately. We have to understand why we hit "record," why we use some pieces in an edit and not others, and why we frame things the way we do.
These are some of the lessons I like to try and teach students, and last Friday I was able to sit with Grace and a fellow student of hers, Silas Goldman, and help them begin the editing process on their project. Their goal is to debunk some of the myths about alternative education. Below you can see a clip where they explain their process.