Steve HowePhoto by Deborah Payne

See you soon, Steve!

This fall, we celebrated the (semi-)retirement of Steve Howe, CDSS Director of Camp Programs. Steve has worked at CDSS for more than 30 years, and we are forever grateful for his enormous work building and growing our camp programs.

We’re also excited to introduce you to our new Camp Director at Pinewoods, Steve Howe! Although he is stepping back from his program directing duties, he will continue on in this capacity, making sure that everyone is housed, safe, and welcomed at CDSS weeks at Pinewoods.

CDSS Bylaws Revisions Approved

In September, the CDSS membership approved revisions to the CDSS bylaws. Three years in the making, these revisions fixed a small number of errors, harmonized language and processes, and made three more substantial changes:

  • Create a new succession pattern for officers (President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary).
  • Make the President and Executive Director non-voting members of the Nominating Committee.
  • Allow the Board to delegate to the CDSS office staff its power to set the rules for CDSS membership and group affiliation.

More information about these changes is available here, and the bylaws including all revisions are available here.

Common TimeHave you joined us for Common Time?

Common Time is a monthly online program highlighting different aspects of the CDSS community through interviews, panel discussions, and lectures. Common Time is on vacation in December, but stay tuned for an announcement of a great line-up of 2022 programs soon. The next Common Time will be Monday, January 17, 2022, at 7:30 p.m. ET (4:30 p.m. PT).

Missed our previous programs? All of the Common Time programs are posted here. Here are a few to check out:

  • Stepping Up to the Mic: Creating the Post-pandemic Dance Experience
  • Songs That Speak: Saro Lynch-Thomason
  • Contra Pulse: Mentors & Inspirations

2021 Affiliate Survey Report Available

This summer, we conducted our third annual Affiliate survey to learn about the work our Affiliates are doing and how we can best support them. This year we also asked about how groups have been doing through the pandemic, what kind of data they collect from their attendees, any cultural equity work they’ve taken on, and more. 63% of Affiliates responded—the most since the survey began in 2019. We’ve already started to put into action some of the findings from the 2021 survey. Read the full survey report.

Contra Pulse CallersMary WesleyPhoto by Maddie Freeman

We’re excited to announce a new CDSS podcast coming soon!

Based on the success of Contra Pulse with host Julie Vallimont interviewing contra dance musicians, we’re expanding to a new series of interviews with contra callers.

Contra Pulse: Callers, hosted by Mary Wesley, will feature conversations about callers’ crafts and personal histories, as well as looking at the history and living traditions embodied by our communities from the caller’s viewpoint. Look for monthly episodes starting in January!

An Update on CDSS's Cultural Equity Work

By Gaye Fifer, CDSS Board President

In February of this year, CDSS established a Cultural Equity Advisory Group. This group is composed of a facilitator, Dena Ross Jennings, and eight additional group members (who you can learn more about here). The group’s mandate is to meet regularly over the course of a year, analyze CDSS from an equity perspective, and provide recommendations for change. This advisory group meets separately from the CDSS Board, taking time to build their team and model equity in their activities. Throughout the year, they’ve reviewed CDSS’s communications and public content, considered member suggestions and concerns in relation to race and equity work, evaluated our program and operating models, and conducted interviews with CDSS staff and Board members. They will report their findings and recommendations to the Board in March 2022. We plan to share their report with the broader CDSS community when it is available.

As the Cultural Equity Advisory Group works to inform our long-term vision for equity initiatives, the CDSS Board and staff continue to work on addressing equity concerns. It is clear to us that we need to make changes, especially in the areas of transparency and “telling the whole story” about the history of song, music, and dance in our traditions and in budget priorities that will make our work more accessible and inclusive. We’re thinking through how we present the traditions that we love and identifying the barriers to equity that are present in “how we’ve always done things.” We continue to encourage Affiliate groups to work on these issues alongside us by providing CDSS grant funds for communities to hire facilitators to offer workshops and trainings on cultural appropriation, diversity, and equity.

The CDSS Board and staff knows that the work of meaningfully addressing issues of equity and inclusion is based in relationships and commitment to sustainable change. We appreciate your support as we move forward collectively on this path. If you have any questions about these initiatives, would like funding for a workshop in your community, or have ideas to share, please feel free to reach out to me.

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