Open Ground most closely identifies with Appalachians, Native North and South Americans, people of African descent, immigrants, women, youth, and people who are physically, mentally, or economically challenged. Events facilitated by or for them might happen at our home site, but just as frequently take us to schools, prisons, reservations, mountain tops, hollows, or estuaries, and keep us 'present' on the roads between. On-going programs include:.
DREAMS OF A MORE JUST WORLD: MARTIN LUTHER KING AND EXPRESSIVE NECESSITY
Multi-community exhibits and stage presentations of what "We, the people" wish our world to be. This program encourages our modeling the work of Dr. King, a master expressive artist who honed his dream, practiced his expressive skills, developed the courage to put himself on the line, and (because of that) created masterpieces that are still changing our world.
NIA'S SHADOW and APPALACHIAN/CHEROKEE JOURNEY
Following in the tire-tracks of Lexington's exemplary Nia Day Camp, we give our youth the histories – their histories – that are embarrassingly missing from classroom texts. So far, every trip has been a painful, necessary, deeply freeing experience:
For Black youth, a 5-state tour of African American heritage and Civil Rights history – with participation in culturally significant events; visits to historic sites, memorials, and museums; and fresh consideration of re-current issues.
For doubly "Native" mountain youth, a 6-state journey from their homes in Eastern Kentucky to the reservation in Cherokee, NC – with stops to learn from local elders at civic and judicial centers, removal forts and battle sites, petroglyphs and mounds, the homes of the spirit people...
We form volunteer work crews to aid people and places of need – such as New Orleans' Ninth Ward.
We've collected, made pottery of, and painted with Kentucky geological materials; visited indigenous peoples' mounds, pictographs, petroglyphs, reservations, and sweat lodges; studied wetlands, river systems, coastal waterways, and the bountiful edible and medicinal produce of school yards; painted and wrote about everything from local cedar trees to Florida sinkholes, New Mexican circles of mythical giants, Rocky Mountain's plethora of wildlife and berry bushes, and Appalachia's bio-diversity, hollows, water falls, community centers, big circle dances, deep mines, strip mines, and reclaimed mining sites with newly reintroduced elk.
At last count (2006) we'd brought to this rural, somewhat homogenous community representatives of nine Native North American nations, twenty-two international cultures, and six world religions. We also take whoever will go wherever social needs or curiosity might lead us – this year we're headed to Guatemala, and inviting Iran home.
OFF-SITE COMMUNITY PROGRAMS
Working with county agencies, we co-host and provide teachers, speakers, entertainers, or other kinds of facilitators for seasonal celebrations and festivals, monthly writers' workshops, folkdances, classroom artist residencies, organizational meetings, teacher in-services, and other public or self-contained community events.