Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tucson Living Traditions and Cultures

More and more, American folk life festivals have become a way to share traditional expressive cultures across the United States. Since 1974 a festival called Tucson Meet Yourself has been a way to celebrate a wide range of creative familial and ethnic customs that are expressed thru art, dance storytelling, music, games, handicraft and food. This free community event takes place in our downtown during the second weekend of October. Many smaller communities that make up our diverse city participate by demonstrating the beauty of their culture which has been passed down through the generations.  Each year I so enjoy watching the folk traditions as practiced by small groups that share a common identity through their ethnic or religious background. Traditional storytelling, arts and crafts, costumes and recipes are a way to share folk culture, bind together neighborhoods and give individuals a sense of community.

In this weekend of celebration I can eat a handmade tamale, watch a master artisan craft some leatherwork, listen to a Tohono O’dham story and enjoy a folk dance all in one afternoon. This celebration of unique ritual help me feel part of varied traditions.  This is one memorable festival that communicates the sounds, arts, smells, visuals and experiences of community identity and cultural practice. I can share the diverse ways of life of various cultures in this Southwest town, and this makes me feel at home.

I have always placed high value on preserving group traditions and the way of life they represent for the following generations. Particularly in Arizona, where it has become critical for various cultures to live together and understand each other, tradition as a symbol remains important to successful, positive communities.
Note and Disclosure: This year I coordinated four Folk Arts areas in this important celebration of living tradition, a consulting assignment of great joy and value to me.

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