On April 25, 2023, Dr. Walt Wolfram accepted the Opal Mann Green Engagement Award on behalf of the Language & Life Project at NC State University (LLP). The award recognizes years of ongoing and impactful community engagement and effective collaboration with team members and community partners. The reception of this award is a testament to the LLP’s guiding adage: “if knowledge is with having, it is worth sharing.”
Since its inception in 1993, the LLP has partnered with a range of diverse communities and organizations that include several Outer Banks communities, Princeville, Lumbee Indians, Cherokee Indians, the North Carolina Hispanic population, and other diverse populations that include urban communities such as Raleigh and suburban communities such as Chatham County. Outreach to these communities is driven by the goal of demonstrating that language variation in North Carolina is an iconic reflection of the state’s robust, dynamic, and living cultural heritage.
The LLP has employed a number of modes and venues in working with communities and agencies to democratize language variation. These include 16 documentaries that have aired on national and regional television; 6 oral history CDs or web-based compilations; 9 exhibits; 5 trade books for public audiences; and the first state-endorsed text on language awareness for Social Studies students in Grade 8. The LLP has also created the largest YouTube channel in existence for language variation with over 20 million views. Currently, the LLP is working alongside the residents of Chatham County, NC to study language variation in a rural community that is experiencing rapid socioeconomic growth. This project includes an oral history website (Voices of Chatham) and an upcoming documentary that feature the stories of community members, from segregation to modern development.
The LLP joins eleven years worth of Opal Mann Green Engagement Award winners including, Northeast Leadership Academy, The Community Counseling, Education, and Research Center, and the North Carolina Food Youth Initiative. If you’d like more information about our latest projects, check out our website and our Youtube channel.