Arkansas Garden. Photo by Saira Khan.

Arkansas Garden. Photo by Saira Khan.

“Folklore is the Boiled Down Juice of Human Living.” Zora Neale Hurston.

The Boiled Down Juice is a partnership project of the McElroy House: Organization for Folklife, Oral History and Community Action and is an interactive online publication for conversations at the intersection of community-based traditions and holistic, democratic, place-based community action.

We explore the art of creative living, how the past intersects with the present, and what it takes to build more just communities. Thrown into the mix you’ll find posts about music, folklore, cultural organizing, lesser-known local histories, alternative economies, food, growing things and ideas, and the beauties and struggles of what it means to call a place home. We strive to explore to big ideas on a local scale.

Drawing from Zora Neale Hurston’s observation that “folklore is the boiled down juice of human living,” we strive to explore the ways in which living traditions play a role in sustaining and building communities. Topics include (but are certainly not limited to) community traditions, grassroots action, social justice, concepts of home and sense of place, participatory research, the fluid roles of youth and elders within community, the arts of everyday life, regional food and gardening, immigration and small-town life, frugal green simple living, human rights education, radical innovation, the importance of storytelling, the power of music, community-based media, the intersection between small-town, rural, and urban communities, and any number of topics one might find popping up at the intersection of community tradition and social action.

We began in Arkansas and Kentucky,  but we’re slowly growing to include topics from around the United States. Even the biggest solutions and cultural movements start as small ideas, and we’d love to hear what’s happening where you are. If you’re interested in becoming a contributor or suggesting ideas for posts, please contact us at the link above! We’d love to hear from you.