News & Events

Vang … a drama featuring the stories of recent immigrant farmers

The Final Lap: Preparing your Memoir Manuscript for Submission. Online class with Mary Swander

The Final Lap, with Mary Swander, is a class for students writing their memoir, especially those who have a healthy chunk of their memoir in hand and need further guidance or motivation to head toward publication.

Fee for the five-session class is $200.

First, we’ll focus on the overall arc of the book to make certain the manuscript is engaging, cohesive, develops the speaker’s story to the fullest, and reaches a satisfying ending. We’ll fill any holes in the story, and at the same time, delete material that is no longer relevant. We’ll develop central ideas, arguments, metaphors or imagery that may have arisen. Then we’ll work chapter-to-chapter on making transitions, building momentum and reaching final insight. Finally, we’ll polish the mechanics of the prose.

Next, we’ll discuss publication possibilities and the process that an author goes through submitting a book to large or small presses. Guest speakers will include editors and writers who have decades of experience in publishing, from the major New York houses, to university presses, to self-publishing. 

This class is taught by Mary Swander, award-winning and nationally-acclaimed author.

To register, email Janine at touringSWP@gmail.com. Deadline is October 27, 2021.

Send $200 payment to AgArts, PO Box 516, Kalona IA 52247. Deadline is October 27, 2021.

The class is limited to 12 students.

Sponsored by AgArts, a non-profit designed to imagine and promote a healthy food system through the arts.

 

Vang … and Recent Immigrant Farmers

A Hmong family who fled Communist bullets and wild tigers through the jungle of Laos and across the Mekong River to the refugee camp in Thailand. A Sudanese man who was thrown into prison in Ethiopia for helping the Lost Boys and was left gasping for air through a crack under the door. A Mexican woman who taught herself English by looking up the meaning of the profane words that were hurled at her at her first job in a meat packing plant. A Dutch boy, dressed as a cowboy, who put the flag of the Netherlands through the paper shredder and declared, “I am an American.”

These are some of the characters brought to life in Vang, a drama about recent immigrant farmers.

Vang is a collaboration between Swander and Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Deni Chamberlin. Swander and Chamberlin documented interviews with the immigrant farmers to create Vang (meaning “garden” or “farm” in Hmong). Swander then wound their words together to form a verbatim play that captures their struggles, survival skills, and journeys to the U.S. While their experiences are unique—some escaping violence, others fleeing poverty, and others embarking on agri-business ventures—all of these immigrants grew up on farms and wanted to once again assume the livelihood that they had known in the past, the work that had formed the foundation of their cultural roots.

Vang will be performed by actors Rip Russell and Amy Johnson Schaefer and feature Chamberlin’s photographs. The event is sponsored by CRST International.

Performance Date: Sunday, October 24

Performance Time: 6:00-8:00pm

Location: National Czech and Slovak Museum, 1400 Inspiration Place SW, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Admission: The event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP here, phone 319-362-8500 x218 or email info@ncsml.org

In addition to serving as the Artistic Director of Swander Woman Productions, Swander is the Executive Director of AgArts, a nonprofit designed to imagine and promote healthy food systems through the arts.

For more information, please contact Touring Director Janine Calsbeek at touringSWP@gmail.com (712.707.2010).

 

 

AgArts Circle

AgArts Circle August 12: Learn about Turtle Farm’s CSA. And how to protect audiences from boring speeches!

Mary Swander has planned another AgArts Circle! Mark your calendars for Thursday, August 12 at 7:00pm Central Time.

Featured will be Tina Bakehouse and Angela Tedesco.

Tina Bakehouse, from Maple Edge Farm in Hastings, has a mission: to “protect audiences from boring speeches.” She inspires people to enhance their businesses with storytelling. She’ll tell about her work, and her upcoming events.

• Craft the Keynote You Want: Tuesday, Aug 24, noon-1pm CDT – free webinar

• Flow on the Farm: Friday, Sept 10, 1-5:30 pm at Maple Edge Farm

Angela Tedesco’s book is coming out soon, Finding Turtle Farm: My 20-Acre Adventure in Community Supported Agriculture.It’s about her farming experiences over the 17 years she owned and operated Turtle Farm, near Granger, Iowa. She is now a backyard gardener in Johnston.

Come with your insights, questions and news.

AgArts Circle was inspired by Mary Swander at the Practical Farmers of Iowa 2021 online conference. AgArts Circle connects people who mutually support each other in endeavors in the arts and agriculture.

Interested? For the link, email Mary at swandermary@gmail.com or Janine at touringSWP@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Vang … and Recent Immigrant Farmers

Featuring Mary Swander, author of the drama, Vang, and Joseph Deng Malual, one of the farmers featured in Vang

Join the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library for a virtual program about recent immigrant farmers, Thursday, July 22, 2021 at 7pm. Register to attend HERE.

Award-winning author Mary Swander will be joined by Joseph Deng Malual, who works for the University of Illinois as an Extension Specialist in Community and Economic Development. They will discuss various types of immigrant famers and why and how they come to the U.S., their importance to the U.S. food system, and the challenges these farmers face, from land access to discrimination. They will also speak to the revitalization of farmers’ markets, local restaurants and downtown businesses by immigrants.

The talk, with Q & A, will be in anticipation of the live performance of Vang on Sunday, October 24 at 6pm at the Czech and Slovak Museum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Vang is a drama featuring the stories of recent immigrant famers from four continents, written by Swander. Vang captures the struggles of families from Laos, Sudan, Mexico and the Netherlands, and describes their survival skills and intense desire to return to the land.

Photos, by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Deni Chamberlin, accompany the drama.

Malual’s experience is one of the stories told in the drama.

Register to attend HERE. 

Watch for information on attending the October 24 live performance of Vang.

 

 

The Best Food Preservation Techniques, featuring Mary Swander. Online workshop.

Mary Swander has grown almost all her own food for 35 years on the grounds of what was once an old Amish schoolhouse near Kalona. Long Iowa winters called for becoming adept at food preservation, and Swander has learned to put food by with expertise she gained from her neighbors and her own ingenuity. After too many long, hot summers canning tomatoes in August, Swander turned toward dehydrating.

In this workshop Swander will emphasize easy and inexpensive ways to dehydrate on small and large scales. She will also demonstrate a cheap and simple method of root cellaring, the preservation method that retains the most nutrients. 

The online workshop will be Saturday, July 24, 10-11:30am. Cost is $35. REGISTER HERE.

 

 

AgArts Circle

AgArts Circle was inspired by Mary Swander at the Practical Farmers of Iowa 2021 online conference. AgArts Circle connects people who mutually support each other in endeavors in the arts and agriculture.

The next online meeting will be Thursday, May 6 at 7:00pm CDT.

Interested? Email Janine at touringSWP@gmail.com.

Artwork by Jean Graham, 2019 AgArts resident artist at the Anna and Dave Geyer farm and Land Alliance Folk School.

 

Writing your Memoir: Sample Chapters. Online class with Mary Swander

Write your memoir, with author Mary Swander! Create a polished chapter,  from the opening paragraph and overarching idea to the final line.

It’s time to write a polished chapter of your memoir.

Participants will write at least one sample chapter of their memoirs, polishing the piece from the opening paragraph to the final line. They will create an alluring attack that raises dramatic questions and establishes the narrator’s voice, weaving together the theme and metaphor of the book. The sample chapters will balance scene and summary, and make smooth transitions, moving back and forth in space and time. Emphasis will be placed on the overarching idea of the chapter as well as the individual sentences themselves.

We will have four sessions in this Tuesday series, 10am to noon Central Standard Time.Each session will build upon the past class, to lead towards the writing of abook-length manuscript.

This class is taught by Mary Swander, award-winning and nationally-acclaimed author.

Session 1. Tuesday, January 5, 2021. 10am-noon CST.

Session 2. Tuesday, January 12, 10am-noon.

Session 3. Tuesday, January 19, 10am-noon.

Session 4. Tuesday, January 26, 10am-noon.

Sponsored by Land Alliance Folk School and by AgArts, a non-profit designed to imagine and promote a healthy food system through the arts. $138. REGISTER HERE.

 

Entrepreneurship for a New Era: The Economy of Enough: Online Course

The pulse of our nation is changing, and for business start-ups, that is both a challenge and an opportunity to think in new ways. 

The experience of a global pandemic has led many to reconsider priorities and reevaluate what success looks like. In this course, we’ll learn the steps of starting an enterprise that grows out of your values and redefines success.

Week 1:  Crafting a vision based on your values.  Jan. 9, 10 am – 12 pm. 

Week 2:  Building a container: Leveraging what you have with what you need.  Jan 16, 10 am – 12 pm.

Week 3:  Cultivating systems of simplicity and adaptability.  Jan 23, 10 am – 12 pm.

Week 4:  Navigating the inner landscape.  Jan 30, 10 am – 12 pm

Instructor Anna Geyer has 20 years of experience creating and operating several small businesses in rural Iowa.  Best known is her wood-fired pizza venue, Geyer’s Oven.  Most recently, she founded Land Alliance Folk School & Retreat Center, offering lodging, classes and retreats. 

Sponsored by Land Alliance Folk School and by AgArts, a non-profit designed to imagine and promote a healthy food system through the arts. $138. REGISTER FOR THIS CLASS

 

 

Color for the Winter: Natural Dyes at Home: Online Class

Brighten up your winter by learning natural dye techniques at home!

Join us to learn natural dyeing at home in this virtual four-week class presented by Lesley Darling. Over the first three weeks, we will cover beginner’s topics including shibori, how to make a dye bath, bundle dyeing, mordanting cotton, and more! Lesley will send out kits for each student. Students will create at least 3 projects, combining the provided kit with common household materials. Kit fees are covered in the cost of the class.

Projects may be completed at any time between classes, and during the last class we will share our results and continue discussion. Students are encouraged to start saving onion skins upon registration (red and yellow)! We will discuss other necessary materials during the first week of class, so don’t rush out to buy anything!

Week 1: Feb. 6, 10am-noon: Shibori techniques with madder.

Week 2: Feb. 13, 10am-noon: Bundle dyeing on silk.

Week 3: Feb. 20, 10am-noon: Mordanting cotton.

Week 4: Feb. 27, 10am-noon: Final discussion and follow-up.

Classes will be conducted via Zoom and recorded for those who need to miss a class. Kits are not available to ship internationally, but students located outside of the US are encouraged to get in touch with us and we can discuss local sourcing and other options!

Lesley will mail out kits 1 week prior to class beginning so early registration is recommended. Students who register by Jan. 29 should have their kits by the start of the class. Students who register later may not have their kits for the first class, but will be easily able to catch up. Please note that we are not responsible for pandemic-related shipping delays. All packages will ship USPS.

Instructor Lesley Darling is a Midwest-based fiber artist with international experience and 7+ years of textile practice.

Sponsored by Land Alliance Folk School and by AgArts, a non-profit designed to imagine and promote a healthy food system through the arts. $159. REGISTER FOR THIS CLASS

 

Swander Woman Productions

Online and in-person touring schedule. Very little in-person touring currently due to safety guidelines related to covid 19. For a presentation for your virtual event, contact touringSWP@gmail.com.

Map of my Kingdom

 

Vang

Farm-to-Fork Tales

 

 

AgArts Field Day: Drive-In Puppet Show at the Land Alliance Folk School

Imagine that you are an alligator, visiting a deserted mall!

The annual AgArts Field Day will be held Sunday, August 30 at the Land Alliance Folk School and Geyer farm at 1259 Rohret Rd SW, Oxford, Iowa, west of Iowa City. The program will begin promptly at 7:00pm.

Advance registration is required. The fee is $10 per car. REGISTER HERE.

The field day is a drive-in event this year, featuring Eulenspiegel Puppets performing Shenanigans: Animals in Charge! It’s a new show based on true stories of animal antics during a pandemic, “with a lot of imagination thrown in,” said Eulenspiegel director Monica Leo. The show will be entertaining for all ages.

Mary Swander will give a concise talk about AgArts, which imagines and promotes healthy food systems through the arts.

In addition, Anna Geyer will tell briefly about the Land Alliance Folk School, located on her family’s diverse farm which includes a food forest, cutting garden and wood-fired pizza oven.

Jean Graham, artist from Austin, Texas, participated in an AgArts Farm-to-Artist Residency at the Geyer farm last summer, and created a graphic zine about her experience. A few of Graham’s images will be shown before and after the puppet show.

Ice cream bars will be provided to all guests.

Sound will be available through FM car radios and through smart phones. Attendees are to remain in their vehicles and stay for the entire program, 7:00-8:15pm.

Attendees must register and pay $10 per car by August 29.

Rain date is Monday, August 31 at 7:00pm. Check AgArts or Land Alliance Folk School on Facebook for rain-related announcements.

The AgArts Field Day is a Friend-of-Practical-Farmers-of-Iowa event.

For more information, see AgArts.org, contact Mary Swander at 319.936.0187, swandermary@gmail.com or contact Anna Geyer at 319.325.6609, info@landalliancefolk.com.

Vang: a drama about recent immigrant farmers

A Hmong family who fled Communist bullets and wild tigers through the jungle of Laos to a refugee camp in Thailand. A Sudanese man who was thrown into prison in Ethiopia for helping the Lost Boys and left gasping for air through a crack under the door. A Mexican woman who taught herself English by looking up the profane words that were hurled at her during her first job while working in a meat packing plant. A Dutch boy who put the flag of the Netherlands through the paper shredder and declared, “I am an American.”

These are some of the characters brought to life in Vang, a drama about recent immigrant farmers to the Midwest.

Vang captures the stories of immigrants’ journeys to the U.S. and how they have made farming a sustainable way of life in America.

Vang (meaning “garden” or “farm” in Hmong) is written by award-winning author Mary Swander. It features photographs by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Deni Chamberlain.

Sign up to see Vang, Tuesday, March 30 at 4:00pm CDT, part of Cesar Chavez Week at South Dakota State University.

The event, featuring Vang plus a talkback/ Q & A with author Mary Swander, will be held at Jacks’ Place at SDSU, Brookings, SD. It’s online too. Sign up here!

Online Discussion with Mary Swander: The Maverick M.D. – Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez and His Fight for a New Cancer Treatment

Join a discussion with Mary Swander about her new book, The Maverick M.D.– Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez and His Fight for a New Cancer Treatment.

Author Mary Swander will make a Zoom appearance Thursday, May 6 at 10:00am CDT to discuss her book. The Maverick M.D. tells the fascinating story of a courageous M.D. who took on the conventional medical system to put his alternative cancer treatment to the test. Learn how Gonzalez developed his nutritional theory based on his knowledge of sustainable agriculture and the research of Weston Price, Francis M. Pottenger and William D. Kelley. Understand the many obstacles placed in Gonzalez’s path, and get a glimpse into the lives of the many patients he helped recover from devastating illnesses.

Special guest will be Mary Beth Pryor Gonzalez, the widow of Dr. Gonzalez, who spent hours with Swander, providing perspective and insight into the life of her husband. The editor of New Spring Press, she has worked tirelessly to assure a readership for her husband’s work, the protocol he developed, and its theoretical background.

Read the book and come prepared to ask questions and to share your insights with others.

Because of overwhelming interest, Swander is offering a fourth online discussion of the book.

Read more about The Maverick M.D. and Mary Swander’s other books here.

No charge but registration is necessary. REGISTER HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

Vang. Bicyclists. Climate change solutions. And a potluck!

A group of bicyclists are on a cross country journey from Seattle to Washington, D.C., raising awareness about climate change solutions and connecting with communities along the way.

They will see Vang at the Land Alliance Folk School and Dave and Anna Geyer farm in rural Oxford, Iowa on Wednesday, July 7.

The public is invited for a finger food potluck, and the viewing of the video of Vang, Mary Swander’s drama featuring the stories of recent immigrant farmers from Laos, Mexico, Sudan and the Netherlands. Vang captures the struggles of these families, along with their survival skills and intense desire to return to the land.

The potluck begins at 6pm July 7, and Vang at 7pm, followed by a discussion.

Bring your own table service for the potluck. Drinks will be provided.

Sponsors are Land Alliance Folk School and Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions of Eastern Mennonite University. Land Alliance Folk School is west of Iowa City, at 1259 Rohret Rd SW, Oxford.

 

 

 

 

Farm-to-Fork Tales: Farming in All Sorts of Weather

On Thursday, July 8, the Mt. Vernon Area Arts Council and Swander Woman Productions present Farm-to-Fork Tales, featuring original stories from area people involved in agriculture.

The program is titled Farming in All Sorts of Weather, and will be held outdoors at the First Street Community Center in Mt. Vernon, in conjunction with and immediately following the Mt. Vernon Farmer’s Market. The event will begin at 6:00pm.

Storytellers include Susan Eren, cofounder and executive director of the Sustainable Iowa Land Trust; Laura Krouse, 30-year farmer who grows vegetables for Abbe Hills Farm CSA; Allan Mallie, local row crop and livestock farmer and long-time member of the Lisbon school board; Kevin Woods, who farms an almost-century family farm; and David Miller, who loves to make people laugh.

And there will be music, featuring originals and classics by The Mississippi Band. Morning Glory vegetable farm will have food for sale at the event.

Award-winning author Mary Swander is coaching the storytellers. The First Street Community Center is located at 221 1st St NE, Mt. Vernon.

More information HERE.

The event is made possible through a grant from the Iowa Arts Council.