In her note at the front of The Foxfire Book of Simple Living, our past executive director Ann Moore writes from the porch of the Moore House in the midst of Living History Days (now Foxfire Heritage Day). She sits next to one of our oldest (and dearest, she notes) contacts, Max Woody, taking in the scene – the activity of the day. She writes beautifully of the sights and sounds around her – “the ping of the hammer as it hits the anvil in the blacksmith shop […] the church bell tolling […] the laughter of children as they play traditional games on the lawn.” She writes of Foxfire alive and breathing and full of the human spirit.

I love the images Ann paints with her words. I love these reminiscences of that moment. I love all the color and sound and the spring air. I love it all and I want more.

She writes of Foxfire alive and breathing and full of the human spirit.

Ann hits on something key to what I hope for this place. We’re two weeks past our Foxfire Heritage Day and I’m still intoxicated by the events of that day. It was so wonderful to see people from all walks of life moving up and down the mountain, engaging with demonstrators, taking part in everything they could – from beating laundry to spinning rope to breathing fire into straw. I want that everyday … well, maybe not 400 people on the grounds at once everyday, but certainly the life the event breathed into this place. It was wonderful.

Back in April, we started a new program that will help us get there. This is the “beta” version of a folk school of heritage skills and crafts. We are currently getting our feet wet with a series of classes on wool spinning and loom weaving taught by Sharon Grist, our village weaver. Sharon is a gracious and patient guinea pig and with her help we have started to give form to this sketch of an idea. In the coming months we will begin offering more classes in things such as broom making, wood stove cooking, blacksmithing, instrument making, and primitive/survival skills.

It will be through these programs that we hope to empower individuals to develop skills that may help them financially and that will also keep these skills alive in Appalachia. It is our hope that students of these programs may continue to work with us in studio spaces that we plan to develop here on site in some our museum buildings. This way, there will always be living artisans practicing many of the same skills that are the centerpieces of our magazines and books.

With any luck, the beautiful scene painted by Ann in the opening notes will be more commonplace here on the land. With any luck (and a lot of work), Foxfire will live and breathe with that same voracity of spirit.

~ T.J. Smith