Implementing Co-Creative Projects
In my last post I talked about projects co-created during the Fall Semester by students in my Museum Practices graduate seminar at the University of Memphis. This week I report on implementing those project in Peru.
This past January, my colleague and a student in the graduate seminar, Elizabeth Cruzado Carranza and I traveled to the Hualcayán, Peru to deliver several of the products from the student projects. Below is a report on some of the products discussed in last week’s post that we delivered during our January visit:
- SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis and Strategic Plan for cultural heritage development in the Hualcayán community – We delivered thirty copies of the document written byElizabethCruzado Carranza andClaudiaTullos-Leonard to community leaders and other interested residents oftheHualcayán community. The five goals in the strategic plan addressed the cultural heritage needs the community expressed over the past several years. The plan lists objectives under eachgoalto be accomplished in the first year or by the fifth year of the proposed Strategic Plan timeframe, set to
begin on July 1, of 2015. In delivering the documents, we suggested that the community discuss the content between now and the July 1 timeframe start date to refine and amend the Plan’s content. In this way, the Strategic Plan’s co-creation extends beyond the content but to include the implementation – an important step for the community’s ultimate role in administering a sustainable cultural heritage program in Hualcayán.
- Museum Timeline Banners – We mounted and installed the six banners requested by Hualcayán teachers that present a linked local, regional, and international timeline. U of M students Christian Roesler and Mariah Selitsch researched, designed, and printed the banners. The products are of a professional quality, address specific topics raised by the Hualcayán teachers – all for under $75.00 US, thanks to the Museum Practices students.
Oral History Project — A true highlight of Elizabeth and my visit was meeting with Hualcayán high school teacher Leodan Abanto Alejo Valerio whose class collected community oral histories over the Fall Semester of 2014 (Spring Semester in Peru). I posted before about the genesis of this oral history project. Leodan’s student interviews exceeded our expectations. We were somewhat concerned if the notoriously shy Hualcayán students and area residents would be able and agreeable to having their stories recorded. However, because of the co-creative nature of the project their hesitancy was for the most part avoided. Some interviewees preferred only to have their voice recorded, but overall the students collected nearly twenty individual 10 to 20 minute histories from community elders. Elizabeth will synthesize those histories into a book form that will report the founding and history of the village and discuss the natural and cultural resources of the Hualcayán community. By July of 2015, we will print 200 copies of the history for distribution to community families and for use in the school. By the end of 2015 we intend to produce a DVD of the recordings in Quechua and Spanish. At the suggestion of one community resident, the DVD will also contain published articles, written reports on the archaeology of the area, along with a copy of the virtual exhibit in the Hualcayán Museum opened in August of 2014. (If you would like to make a much-needed donation to this project, please visit the PIARA website.)
- In January, Elizabeth and I also met with the Women of Hualcayán artisans who are creating woven, sewn, and embroidered crafts that are currently sold at two locations in the United States. The project was launched in the summer of 2014. Alicia Anderson, one of the Museum Practices students, thoroughly researched fair-trade and other similar small start-up projects to determine best practices toward a sustainable operation for the women artisans. In January, we were able to discuss a range of options with the women on how they wished to move forward. The conversation assured that community expectations aligned with the actual possibilities for the project.
An important aspect of our trip to Hualcayán in January was for two archaeologists to make the trek to the rural community, located a 12-hour commute from Lima, for purposes other than those directly related to their archaeological research. The sole purpose of our January visit was to respond to the community’s expressed needs. We went to Hualcayán in response to John Cotton Dana’s (1917:38) prophetic co-creative call nearly one century ago to “Learn what aid the community needs: fit the museum to those needs.” I suggest the same call is applicable for outreach work in applied archaeology as well.