2018 Annual Meeting – Decorah, Iowa

WARP’s 2018 Annual Meeting brought WARP members together for education, fellowship, food, an international marketplace, networking, and our 25th Birthday Celebration!  The meeting was held June 7th – 10th in at the very beautiful campus of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.  (Luther College was a fantastic venue.)  We heard from several speakers each morning, and enjoyed tours each afternoon, as well as evening programs.

WARP members in attendance were treated to exceptional speakers in Decorah, many of whom are well known to us, and also some new voices. There was an almost palpable poignancy, and sometimes, nary a dry eye in the room, as we listened to each speaker. The recurring ideas focused on family, community, elders, artists. and traditions both cultural and familial. When skills are learned, or regained, traditions can carry on with new awareness and pride, and empowerment to go further, to reach.

Mary Anne Wise (Cultural Cloth) heard common threads in the talks that preceded her own. These threads in particular resonated with her, and with the rest of us:
• Diane Nesselhuf & Susan Schafer Davis: When women earn money they gain value.
• Elisha Renne, Mary Hark & Diane: Identifying, involving and working with local leaders who become the cultural barometer from which key decisions flow (this is key.)
• Susan: Changing socio-economic conditions opens up opportunities for women that had previously been denied.
• Diane: Artisans. Not producers.
• Laurann Gilbertson: Building on tradition with innovative design and techniques.
• Elisha, Mary: High quality high-end hand work will find a reception in the marketplace.
• Jennifer: “Give voice to those who can’t speak.”
• Mary’s quote: “You do that work that finds you.”

While traditions and culture featured in those talks about artisans and textiles, new WARP member Aaron Burmeister spoke of traditions and preservation of our cultural heritage in terms of the foods, flowers, and other plants that we grow and use, that our grandparents grew. Aaron works with Seed Savers Exchange, whose mission is to keep heritage seeds where they belong, in our gardens and on our tables.  To our delight, Aaron handed out packets of Grandpa Ott’s Morning Glory seeds, and of Ausilio Thin Skin Italian bell peppers!

Be sure to see our blog entry from Hellen Ascoli, one of our wonderful scholarship recipients, who writes of her experience at the 2018 WARP Annual Meeting!

2018 Theme:  Sustaining Culture: Environment, Economy, Community

Norwegian Textiles
Lovely colorful Norwegian textiles, such as these striped pieces, are on display at the Vesterheim Museum in Decorah, Iowa.


Presentations and Discussions on Friday and Saturday Mornings:

  • Laurann Gilbertson is Textile curator at Vesterheim, the Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah.
    Mary Anne Wise is co-founder of Cultural Cloth, a social enterprise supporting textile practitioners from around the world.
  • Diane Nesselhuf is founder of Friends of Sharing the Dream in Guatemala which promotes fair trade.
  • Elisha Renne is co-founder of the non-profit women’s embroidery group, Queen Amina Embroidery.
  • Mary Hark is Associate Professor of Design Studies at University of Wisconsin- Madison and founder of the Ghana Paper Project, using invasive plant materials to create paper products and sustainable employment to the community of Kumasi.
  • Aaron Burmeister is a staff member at Seed Savers International, and a weaver.
  • WARP members Dorinda Dutcher and Teena Jennings will share tales from the recent Tinkuy in Peru.

Afternoon Tours: We visited Seed Savers Heritage Farm on Friday, and received a special behind the scenes tour and reception at the Vesterheim Museum on Saturday.




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