11th Annual Gathering Learning Journeys

The 11th Annual Gathering will feature three learning journeys offering the opportunity to see the work on the ground in eastern Tennessee. You must select your learning journey during the registration process. Simply select your ticket and you will be asked a series of supplemental questions prior to completing registration. You must choose only one learning journey.



Highlander Education and Research Center


Participants in this learning journey will travel to the nearby New Market and arrive at the Highlander Research and Education Center. Highlander is an educational and historic cornerstone for regional activism. During the visit, participants will tour the facility and learn about the history of Highlander and its founder, Myles Horton. Many Civil Rights leaders, such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, spent time at Highlander. Then Participants will learn about the new programs focused towards supporting Appalachian youth.

Through popular education, participatory research, and cultural work, we help create spaces — at Highlander and in local communities — where people gain knowledge, hope and courage, expanding their ideas of what is possible. We develop leadership and help create and support strong, democratic organizations that work for justice, equality and sustainability in their own communities and that join with others to build broad movements for social, economic and restorative environmental change.”

Participants will see and discuss what an equitable transition looks like in Appalachia during their educational visit.




Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Community

Participants on this learning journey will visit Gatlinburg and explore the arts community there with a curated tour led by a local guide. Participants will visit the Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Community then go to the Arrowmont School of Crafts.  Gatlinburg is home to a thriving arts and crafts scene. Participants will have time to purchase or explore local craft stands. Participants will get to learn the story behind how quality handcrafted products are created in a beautiful setting. Afterwards, participants will go to the Arrowmont School of Crafts, a school which trains many of the local artists.


The Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts is a nationally renowned center of contemporary arts and crafts education. Workshops are offered for one and two weeks in the spring and summer, as well as during single-week and weekend workshops in the fall. Areas of study include ceramics, fibers, metals/jewelry, painting, drawing, photography, warm glass, woodturning, woodworking, sculpture, and book and paper arts. Visitors are welcomed year-round to the school’s five galleries, resource center, and book and supply store. Artist residencies, assistantships, work-study, scholarships, community outreach, conferences and music programs each contribute to Arrowmont’s mission of “enriching lives through art.”



Image: Block Printing - 1st Summer Craft Workshop in 1945. Institute of Museum and Library Services. Via Flickr.





Dolly Parton's Imagination Library

Participants in this Learning Journey will visit the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a project of The Dollywood Foundation, and learn about the cornerstone philanthropic work of the Dollywood Foundation in Appalachia. Participants will enjoy a private screening of the new documentary film "The Library Dolly Built" and visit the Dolly Parton Museum to view the section on the Dollywood Foundation. Participants will learn about the history of the organization and discuss issues in rural education philanthropy more broadly. 

The Imagination Library started as a small program in Sevier County, Tennessee. The program quickly expanded across the US and, more recently, internationally. Participants will also learn about the process and distribution of books.