I stumbled onto this amazing project from Wisconsin Media Lab via a tweet from MediaStorm. The Ways is an educational video series about Native American cultures from the Central Great Lakes region, specifically designed to be used in the classroom.
The four videos released already are awesome. They are colorful and bold, beautifully shot and tell really interesting stories. My favorite is “Powwow Trail,” told by a college student from the Lake Superior Chippewa tribe who plays in a traditional drum band and is a powwow singer/dancer. Arriving in his UW-Madison gear like any other guy, he then transforms into costume blending contemporary style with customs. Young people carry on their culture by participating in traditional ceremonies, teaching even younger generations to appreciate their heritage, but also finding new ways to make it their own.
A similar project was developed previously by the same producer/photographer team of Finn Ryan and David Nevala called Climate Wisconsin. It also has beautifully done videos and a sleek interactive website designed to bring climate change education into schools. These pieces are more heavily done with still and stop motion photography with a great mix of sound that makes you feel like you’re right there. I really like the story about the need of the logging industry in Wisconsin for economic purposes as well as – what you wouldn’t think of – environmental.
The Ways still has many more stories to come and it looks like they’ll be rolling out as they are completed. I love the idea of bringing these really thoughtfully created videos and resources into the classroom – its a wonderful change of pace from the static content kids are used to and (hopefully) they won’t be able to look away.