Wigginton Eliot - The Foxfire II

Author : Wigginton Eliot
Title : The Foxfire II
Year : 1968

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ghost stories, spring wild plant foods, spinning and weaving, midwifing, burial customs, corn shuckin's, wagon making and more affairs of plain living. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. Hundreds of people have helped us, and to those people—they all know who they are—we literally owe our survival. A list of them would encompass everyone from parents who have let us send their kids into the mountains alone, to school administrators who have let us take kids away from their normal routines, to journalists who have given us an immense amount of support through their publications, to people who have generously donated money, time, energy, advice, and expertise. But rather than detail those people, I'd like to dedicate this space to a man who, perhaps more than any other, drastically affected the future of our experiment. That man was the director of the National Endowment for the Humanities' Education Division—Herb McArthur. Foxfire was three years old, and I had spent the better part of a year seeking additional financial support. As testimony to that struggle, I refer you to a manila folder in my office packed with letters from foundations and organizations— most of which I had visited personally—saying, in essence, that they liked the idea but could see no way to help us. Herb listened to me one day in his Washington office, liked the Foxfire idea, and saw a way to help us out. The end result of that collaboration was two grants totaling nearly twenty thousand dollars that moved us about eight giant steps forward by allowing us, among other things, to purchase videotape equipment, darkroom equipment, send kids to New York on exchanges, and hire Suzy—our first paid employee. Herb has agreed to resign at the request of Ronald Berman, the newly appointed NEH head who, according to the September 4, 1972 issue of Time has vowed to return the NEH to a "strict constructionist" view of the humanities (supporting such things as a television series on Shakespeare's plays) and away from "Classic Comics—culture simplified and castrated." All well and good. But it frightens me to think that this might also mean that other stumbling experiments like ours will be passed over in favor of "professional studies professionally run." Herb's genius was that he could recognize and encourage highly experimental, often risky projects—but projects having the look of a winner about them—and urge that they be assisted. In a day when most of us find only financial rejection at the state and local level, the only place we have left to turn is to larger foundations with directors like Herb. I can only hope for all our sakes that somewhere there are more of them around. BEW ...

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