Tapestry Institute

Past Projects and History

Workshops for Women, on Mythic Living (2005-2006)

These workshops were designed for small groups of women. Mythic learning was the theme of a curriculum that used all the ways of knowing to better understand this one. We ran test sessions of the workshop very successfully, and planned to gear the program into full swing starting in late summer of 2006. The wildfire, however, shelved plans for the workshops indefinitely, as workshop participants could not hike or ride horses in the burned canyon this past year. (Hiking and riding are essential components of the "physical experience" element of the workshop.)
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Land Project and Relocation to Sowbelly Ranch (2003-2004)

When we realized that all our events worked best when held on sacred land, we realized that we had to relocate to do our work. Specifically, we felt the Land called us to partner more fully with it in a particular Place, and that we needed to search for and find this place. We found Sowbelly Canyon, and the ranch there, in early December of 2003. We bought it and moved there in July of 2004.
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Digital Library of Earth Systems Education, Partnership and Participation (2003-present)

Between 2003 and 2005, Tapestry partnered with DLESE at the University of Colorado, in Boulder, Colorado, to help DLESE increase the diversity of both resources in and users of its digital library. Tapestry staff attended DLESE annual workshops and meetings in 2003 and 2004, and prepared several reports in committee. DLESE still supports Tapestry's Digital Library of Indigenous Science Resources (DLISR), although severe federal funding cuts to DLESE's work will force them to charge for catalog and search engine support in the near future. DLISR is listed as a "current project," although its future is somewhat uncertain because of continuing federal budget cuts in programs that support science education.
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AAAS and Native Science (2003-2004)

In 2003, faculty from Northwest Indian College organized a special session on Native Science at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which was held that year in Denver, Colorado. Tapestry was able to secure 20 registration scholarships to permit Native Scientists from around the country to attend the session and the AAAS meeting in general. Subsequently, an email discussion list was formed and Tapestry organized a 2004 AAAS session on the same subject.
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Research on Structural Aspects of Web-Based Learning (2002-2003)

In 2002 and 2003, Tapestry analyzed traffic patterns on the webpages of its primary domains at that time. These were www.tapestryweb.org and stormwind.com (neither of which still exists). Both domains had been developed almost exclusively as educational websites. The stormwind.com site specifically investigated the use of Story in learning, and did so through use of contemporary film and television. The research project of 2002-2003 analyzed the way information on those webpages was accessed to understand how people were learning from the materials. Although some questions we asked were as simple as "what location for a link seems to be most commonly accessed by users?" others were more complex. We had incorporated spatial design elements into the pages, for example, that were keyed to directions in a geo-spatial and spiritual sense, and wanted to see if those were effective. (For example, did users who adhered to the subtle structure remain in the site longer than those who "jumped" out of its design? This is a question about the impact of this attempt to allow users to participate in some aspect of "spiritual learning".) We did not violate user confidentiality in this study, but only analyzed the "source page" code for each page view to analyze traffic patterns statistically.
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Trailmaster Project: Palo Duro Canyon Event (2003)

We held a planning team meeting for a Native Science film in Palo Duro Canyon,Texas, in the early winter of 2003. At this meeting, Tapestry inaugurated the first of its research projects on the role of physical experience in the natural world on learning and knowing in a group setting. In particular, we chose to focus on how people related to the natural world when on horseback, although we were aware of the fact that some of the effects noted could also be due to the meeting setting. Despite very cold weather, the planning team spent a lot of time outdoors in this sacred natural setting of Palo Duro Canyon during the meeting. A brief survey was used to assess the impact of a trail ride on the meeting participants, and results of the survey were used to craft several other projects that eventually coalesced to form the The Voice of the Horse Project. The role of the land in this meeting as well as in the Tsaile meeting (Stories from the Circle; see below) was so significant in comparison with meetings we held in more traditional settings that we realized we needed to locate ranch property where we would be able to hold all such meetings in the future. We have relaunched the Trailmaster Program so that people can reconnect to nature while trail riding.
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Pre-Production for a Film on Native Science (2001-2003)

While planning the conference "Stories from the Circle," we also planned a film about Native (Indigenous) Science. Initial planning work was carried out at three meetings, one each in Waco, Texas (2001); Tsaile, Arizona (2002); and Palo Duro Canyon, Texas (2003). With the help of a seed grant from the National Science Foundation, we were able to craft a script and get the project ready for eventual production. However, we have never been able to secure production funding to complete the project.
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Stories from the Circle: Science and Native Wisdom

Funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, the conference was held on the Tsaile campus of Dine College (part of the Tribal College system) near Chinle, Arizona, in May of 2002. Indian and non-Indian scientists, artists, elders, authors, and many others attended and participated in this seminal conference, which was the first event at which Tapestry specifically included art as a way of learning and knowing. We had a major art show as part of the conference, and also had weaving presentations that developed into impromptu teaching sessions. We prepared a major book manuscript of the conference proceedings and artwork, but even university publishers found it too non-traditional to consider. We have not yet given up on seeing this important information in print, however. It needs to be shared with others. It may eventually be incorporated into the DLISR.
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Research on Identifying the Mythic Structures of Story in Television and Film (2000)

Tapestry's first work was on understanding mythic ways of knowing and learning through film. In 2000, we designed and carried out a research survey on Story, using a television program. The survey was put online at a major fan site for the program and garnered over 800 responses to a lengthy set of questions, many of which were short essay. Results were explored via contingency table analysis. The surprising but gratifying result was that it seemed possible to identify the type of universal myth being told in the program (story as well as characters, as two separate but related elements) by analyzing what fans responded to and how they responded. An in-house publication was prepared based on this work. A subsequent similar survey on a different program with only one major character and another of a movie (film) with only a single plot structure ("episode") were both unsuccessful, demonstrating the necessity of a matrix of both characters and episodes in order for the analytical system we'd developed to function.
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Southwest Regional Office, Templeton Science and Religion Course Program

Another area of Tapestry's early work was understanding spiritual ways of knowing and learning, and their relationships to intellectual ways of knowing and learning. In contemporary culture, this relationship is called "the science and religion issue." From 1999 to 2000, Dawn Adams (Tapestry's President and Founder) was the Southwest Regional Director of the then-burgeoning Science and Religion Course Program funded by Sir John Templeton and operated through the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences in Berkeley, California. In this capacity, Tapestry organized two major (national) conferences on the confluence of science and religion, one in Waco, Texas in 1999 and a second at Grand Canyon College in Phoenix, Arizona in 2000. In addition, Adams traveled extensively to CTNS events as a science-religion faculty member to offer instruction to professors of science, philosophy, and theology at various institutions. She did this in her capacity as both a scientist (doctorate from UCBerkeley) and Native American (Choctaw) who used non-Western approaches to integrating the two disciplines.
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The Stormwind Project: Web-Based Learning From Stories in Film and Television (1998-2004)

Research on the use of the the WorldWideWeb in informal adult learning was one of Tapestry's first projects, and we integrated it with research on how people learn through Story in contemporary film and television. Beginning in the spring of 1998, concurrent with the date of Tapestry's founding, we developed informational web pages based on a then-popular television show that had both intentionally mythic structure and a corpus of online fans (something much rarer then than it is today). The major fan site for the program mounted five learning units keyed to specific events in some of the episodes, which were used as springboards to information about subjects ranging from human physiology to cultural worldview. Fan discussions of the site were monitored on a related electronic discussion forum to assess how well the material was received and what sort of additional group learning it stimulated. The effort was so successful that within several months we established our own domain (www.stormwind.com, now sold to another corporation and no longer operating as it did) and added a number of additional educational webpages. The program's producer was interested enough in the project that he gave us permission to expand into feature-length films he had produced, to use those as the basis of learning units as well. By the time we ended this project (2004), we had over 100,000 words of information online about subjects in science, religion, philosophy, and culture, as well as materials for teachers on how to use the site in their classrooms (which several teachers did, with good results). This project gave rise to later research on web learning and to research on story in film. The Stormwind project gave rise to additional educational webpages that were mounted on both that site and the main Tapestry website (at that time, www.tapestryweb.org). At one time we maintained an extensive directory of annotated links on basic education in science, religion, philosophy, art, and culture, and we still maintain educational pages about Tornadoes that we developed near the end of the period, in about 2003.
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Tapestry's Earliest History

Even before Tapestry was founded, its founder (Dawn Adams) was developing educational methods related to different ways of knowing and learning. While on the faculty of Baylor University, she had received a major grant from the National Science Foundation to revise an introductory biology course for non-majors, and had created a multidisciplinary workgroup of over 20 faculty members from 11 different disciplines and 3 different universities to design the new course. It included art, literature, physical experience, philosophy, and readings from several different religious traditions to illustrate various relationships between religion and science historically. This work grew out of Adams' Native worldview and led to a number of projects that spanned the time of transition to founding Tapestry, including smaller projects such as making a presentation at the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) in 1998. This body of work grew throughout Tapestry's earliest years as a continuation of the theme that had dominated Adams' professional career in both research and teaching. It has culminated in our present projects.


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