The BLC Field School is a nationally recognized award-winning project that combines immersive learning with civic engagement. This participatory action-research and public humanities project explores history and heritage of segregated and disenfranchised neighborhoods in Milwaukee. The Field School welcomes the participation of members of the community, and it is open to anyone who is interested and can make a full-time commitment (Mon-Fri 9am-4pm) over five weeks. This immersive learning experience provides fieldworkers a unique opportunity to learn basic skills, ethics, theories and methods within their academic disciplines and then apply such learning in real-life situation. This is a multi-disciplinary setting where students, faculty, scholars and community members explore ways to see and interpret the city by engaging multiple urban stakeholders in storytelling, ecological conservation, heritage preservation and civic engagement.
What will be the focus of the 2023 field school? Our goal is to write urban histories that reflect the lived realities of people in Milwaukee’s marginalized and segregated neighborhoods. In Summer 2023 we will examine community spaces such as streets, sidewalks, alleys, open spaces, gardens, empty lots, and parks in Milwaukee’s Midtown neighborhood. These are sites where community members sustain human relationships and practice mutual aid and self-care. Using methods such as material culture and architectural documentation, history harvests, short and long form oral histories, community led walks, asset mapping, and spatial ethnography, we will document the geography, layout, and stories of everyday life in these spaces.
During the 5-week period, we will learn the following:
• Current thinking on concepts such as “black ecologies” and “radical care.”
• We will learn how to interview people and will interview selected community residents.
• We will learn how to observe and map physical spaces.
• We will learn and practice other ethnographic methods such as community led walks and history harvests.
• We will search the archives in innovative ways to find underrepresented stories.
• We will examine how local community knowledge about place, environment, and ecology is produced, nurtured, and passed down to the next generation and how we as scholars can help archive and preserve these forms of knowledge.
• Finally, we will plan and stage a final event in August that will include a walk through the neighborhood with stations where we will present our findings.
Participant tasks: Field School team will attend the field school in person and participate in data collection, analysis, documentation, and final presentation. They will also create their own small research project from the experience.
Meeting times: M-F 9AM-4PM
Week 1; Understanding place and heritage
Week 2: Oral History and ethnographic data collection
Week 3: Archives and continue ethnographic data collection
Week 4: Analysis and dissemination
Week 5: Dissemination and Final events
August 11, 2023: Final exhibit and presentation