Equity Budgeting: A Manifesto

21 min readNov 26, 2020
Sloppy Joes at the Kirkpatrick Church of Christ Monthly Potluck — Kirkpatrick, Marion County, Ohio — January 2020. For more, see the MARION VOICES FOLKLIFE + ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM: marionvoices.org. Photo Credit: Jess Lamar Reece Holler, for Marion Voices.

The Marion Voices Folklife + Oral History Program has worked, over the past three years, to develop & cultivate a critical model for bringing together economic justice + racial justice organizing in the community-based cultural work sectors. We call this model “equity budgeting.” True to its name, equity budgeting holds that the chief space of praxis & ethics for any community-based cultural work project is its budget.

We’ve been talking about, presenting on, &, most of all, practicing equity budgeting for years now. We keep getting asked what’s been written on equity budgeting: Where does it come from? Who says? Where can I read more so I can figure out if I want to do this; if y’all are even legit? Bullshit expectations that practices aren’t legitimate or time-tested models if they’re practiced in community & arise from social movements unless they’re written up in peer-reviewed, usually-paywalled (!!!) publications aside, here it is. We wrote it down. We wrote about equity budgeting. It’s here! It’s in words not practices! So attention, all you academic types: yippee, you can (and will now be expected to!) cite this. So, now that you’re reading words on a page: what’s this “equity budgeting” fuss all about? Where does it come from, why does it matter, what is it for, what world does it imagine, how can you learn more?

Equity budgeting is a critical praxis & a movement for economic justice in social justice-focused cultural work. It arises out of the specific context of an experiment in community-based cultural organizing: a three-year-old folklife & social just program called the Marion Voices Folklife + Oral History Program, housed at our county’s local historical society, the Marion County Historical Society, & rooted in collaborative community racial & economic justice organizing work in North-Central Ohio’s Marion County.

The Marion Voices equity budgeting model holds that, if you’re truly walking the talk, your budget will show a radical redistribution of resources with an eye to repairing the damage of a fundamentally extractive nonprofit-industrial complex & cultural work sector, which has survived on the systemic underpayment (or non-payment) of community members of color & freelance cultural workers alike — resulting in a cultural work economy in which independently wealthy, white, or salaried practitioners hold unfair & unequal sway. Yet, in cultural work conferences & gatherings across the country, mostly-white, mostly-salaried cultural workers scratch their heads and ask how the field got this way. Equity budgeting proposes a simple, revolutionary answer: psst — it’s your budget, stupid!

If you (or your organization) says you value a form of labor or a service (especially a form of labor or service usually asked of BIPOC community members or precarious contract laborers); but you (or the field) routinely & systematically refuses to pay for that labor — and if you (or your organization, or the field) has a long list of reasons why doing so is impossible — it’s fair to say you’re getting close to the hidden, extractive economies that fuel cultural work in the non-profit sector today. At Marion Voices, we believe in challenging, exposing, & refusing to normalize those practices. Our solution: equity budgeting. Equity budgeting, in short, is the basic, radical commitment to pay everybody.

It’s not that hard. Or at least, it shouldn’t be. But with many hidden, extractive systems that are foundational to the U.S. cultural economy, there’s lots of money to be made in convincing yourself that stealing labor isn’t unethical. Old systems — ones that shore up the capitalist, colonialist, white-supremacist order — unsurprisingly die hard. So, equity budgeting requires a full-ecosystem approach: implementing equity budgeting in your own programs and budgets; educating funders, foundations, & grant-makers about the necessity of an equity budgeting approach, and organizing amongst cultural workers, and in our professional organizations & community networks, to do advocacy work to make extractive forms of budgeting unthinkable.

Like the abolition movement, and inspired by Black futurism, equity budgeting is a speculative project: one that seeks to *enact* new imaginations of a fundamentally different cultural work ecology & economy.

Equity budgeting has been a core Marion Voices principle, ethic, + praxis since our inception, and we are excited to share + teach our equity budgeting model with other organizations & practitioners to help transform other folklife, oral history, & allied community-based cultural arts programs to better support just, reparative, & less-extractive practices for both “professional” cultural workers & the community scholars, experts, narrators, & artists who are vital collaborators, co-curators, & co-creators of transformative community-based cultural work.


Equity budgeting is a praxis that centers economic justice in community-based cultural work; and further insists that economic justice is essential for racial justice. It is a two-systems approach: honoring the labor of & demanding living wage payment for cultural workers, who are often subject to nonprofit-industrial complex cycles that devastatingly undervalue the work of freelance cultural workers; and, simultaneously, honoring the labor of & demanding living wage payment for community collaborators, narrators, and documented cultural artists who are often the necessary partners in the success of community-based folklife, oral history, & documentary work; but who are even more rarely compensated for the labor of their storywork, performances, demonstrations, & expert knowledge helping projects succeed in & best serve their home communities.


The Marion Voices Equity Budgeting Model has roots in several places over half a decade, with homage to the long tradition of community-based, BIPOC-lead justice projects that have, for decades, demanded fair pay & recognition of cultural organizing & community collaboration in racial justice work as essential labor.

Specifically, our equity budgeting model grows out of five years of conversations convened by the Oral History Undercommons — a collective of radical anti-oral history practitioners, theorists, & activists including Shakti Castro, Danielle Dulken, Fanny Garcia, Sam Prendergast, Harrison Apple, and many others — in both online & offline spaces: including several prominent interventions at the site of the Oral History Association Annual conference. Danielle Dulken’s unpublished paper/provocation demanding that the oral history community fairly compensate oral history narrators in project budgets — and Marion Voices Program Director/Founder Jess Lamar Reece Holler’s subsequent organizing to include equity budgeting as a core tenant of Marion Voices grantwriting, planning, & organizing — have been cornerstones of this work to recognize, call out, & challenge this racist, colonizing, & highly extractive dimension of cultural documentation work that almost always goes unchallenged in oral history, public folklore, & allied cultural work fields.

Marion Voices’ equity budgeting model also pulls a second lineage from contemporaneous organizing of freelance, unsalaried, & precarious cultural workers in the oral history & public history communities: a central part of Jess Lamar Reece Holler’s organizing work since 2017. Our model’s calls for fair, living-wage payment of freelance & precarious community-based cultural workers responds to & seeks to make more just praxis out of conversations about the economic conditions of the field of public history practice discussed in collaborative research for an AALSH History News Emerging History Professionals Takeover special feature article on labor & economic justice in public history (with special thanks to editors Hannah Hethmon & Hope Shannon); and also draws from two years of conversations in the Public History & Economic Justice Working Group at the National Council for Public History. More recently, our model has been enriched by & in close conversation with the organizing & activities of the new (2020) Independent Oral Historians’ Task Force (now, in 2021, a Working Group) of the Oral History Association, convened by OHA Past President & Freelance Oral Historian Allison Tracy-Taylor, and co-chaired by independent oral historian Sarah Dziedzic & Marion Voices’ Folklife & Oral History Program Director, Jess Lamar Reece Holler, principal at North-Central Ohio cultural work, documentary arts & social justice consultancy Caledonia Northern Folk Studios.

Sarah Dziedzic’s fierce drive to connect oral historians & cultural workers with unionization & co-operative movements from across the wider freelance cultural labor sphere have, particularly, inflected Marion Voices’ insistence on equity budgeting as a dual-systems approach that refuses to compromise on fair pair for community collaborators/narrators or fair pay for cultural workers. In fact, our equity budgeting project model seeks to muddy distinctions between “professional” and “community” cultural workers, while insisting stridently on remuneration for social & racial justice cultural work as a fundamental condition of sustaining movement work.

Perhaps most importantly, the Marion Voices Equity Budgeting model has grown out of now three-plus years of sustained, on-the-ground conversations — sometimes, on a daily basis — in our wider Marion Voices community: emails, long Zoom meetings, chaotic/beautiful text threads (SO MANY TEXT THREADS), and, in the before-times: evening open houses with cheese trays in the basement of Heritage Hall, conversations in the wings at Black Heritage Council meetings or Peace & Freedom Foundation events, & real talk at buffet tables at Marion County’s churches and in MLK Park on the West Side. These conversations — including Marion Voices Program Director Jess Lamar Reece Holler, Marion Voices Community Coordinator // Marion City Schools Diversity & Equity Supervisor Johnnie Jackson, Marion County Historical Society Executive Director Brandi Wilson, Retired Educator/Community Activist Ms. Tara Dyer, Logos Christian Ministries’ Pastor Jackie Peterson, media artist & entrepeneur Anthony Marks, Jr. of Lion Hearted Entertainments, anti-racist educator & extension officer Whitney Gherman, journalist Micah Walker, and dozens of community-based cultural artists, tradition-bearers, & memory-keepers across Marion County — have shaped, test, & emergently co-designed (to follow adrienne maree brown’s famous dictum) the shape of our equity budgeting program.

Our equity budgeting process/model is an experiment which we hope, over time — as we pull more & more funders into our orbit, & educate about the necessities & possibilities of equity budgeting as transformative work — will slowly align more & more with our vision for just, creative livelihoods for cultural workers, cultural artists, tradition-bearers, & memory-keepers, not only in Marion County, but across the word.


There is no central, unified set of principles behind the work of equity budgeting. Equity budgeting is, at heart, an emergent, evolving praxis and process, which should be fundamentally localized and co-determined by the communities in with and with whom you organize. There’s no one-size fits all; but there are some common — and maybe underrecognized — core threads that unite or work: & which extend our consideration of repairing & radicalizing the political economy of cultural work beyond just budgets, too. So, here we go!

  • Equity budgeting means pay everyone. Full stop. Do the right thing. It’s really not that hard. Unless you, you know: make it hard. And there are lots of reasons organizations & institutions — especially — do make it hard, unfortunately. But it does not have to be this way, people! For more on that, see below.
  • Is there a type or mode of labor or a type or mode of worker who is routinely unpaid, or under-paid in your project budgets & reckonings? (Community members? Narrators? Contract workers? Documented cultural artist? That one BIPOC local community organizer that every single white-serving org in your community relies on to “vet” your project but never-ever compensates? Students? Interns? Volunteers?) This is where you should be focusing your reparative efforts as you begin the work of equity budgeting.
  • If you work in documentary cultural arts — oral history, public history, documentary filmmaking or soundscape work — are you compensating the people who are “documented” in the same way that you are compensating the people doing the documenting? If not, you’ve got an equity budgeting problem. There are lots of reasons cultural workers, organizations, & institutions are trained to not see the fundamentally extractive economics & ethics of this work; equity budgeting is about making those assumptions & ethics visible, and proposing alternative praxes to disrupt them & inaugurate different, more just cultural work worlds.

Equity budgeting starts with, well — budgeting; but it is not only about budgets. Equity budgeting is also a process of & a commitment to the work of education and advocacy: educating funders, your organizations/institutions, grant-makers, foundations, & the community you work with about why this work & praxis matters for more just futures and is critical for racial justice work in our communities; and pushing back on and divesting from academic/professional fields, practices, & disciplines that normalize and defend extractive cultural work as somehow necessary to the maintenance of … oh, surprise: the unjust world as we currently have it. Remember that equity budgeting tries hard not to be caught up in the shortcomings of the world as it currently exists: it is a revolutionary praxis seeking to actively enact new, better, & more liveable worlds.

In other words, equity budgeting is a movement.

Equity budgeting also involves revolutionizing a related set of less explicitly economic but still fundamental-to-the-political-economy-of-cultural work allied practices that often enforce extractive budgeting practices & continue to make cultural work precarious for BIPOC & freelance practitioners, including:

  • Questions of consent; for us, at Marion Voices, equity budgeting means striving, as much as possible, to enact a daily practice of iterative consent, which reflects the way that people, opinions, & relationships are constantly growing & changing
  • Questions about the ownership of community-based, collaborative project work: for documentarians, for documented individuals & communities, and for/against institutions. For us, at Marion Voices, documentarians & documented communities work together to co-protect & co-invest in their rights to own, circulate, & use co-created documentary materials, rather than relinquishing these materials to institutions to circulate & ventriloquize at will, without consent from or payment to cultural workers or documented communities.
  • Questions about commoning and the extractive, neo-liberal ends to which principles of commoning are sometimes grotesquely applied. At Marion Voices, we challenge the way that leftist, movement-born commoning principles like Creative Commons have become sinisterly co-opted by cultural work non-profits, institutions, and universities, to steal artistic & intellectual material from cultural workers & source communities alike.
  • Questions about the politics of citation, gratitude, debt, & recognition. At Marion Voices, we seek to enact a radical, reparative, generative politics of citation with each move we make — building more generous & equitable genealogies, acknowledging labor, and opening up opportunities for future livelihoods for those who have put in the work.
  • Questions about politics of archiving — with a nod to post-custodial community archiving practices that keep materials in the hands of source communities and/or documentary artists
  • Questions about rights to derivative project works and who gets to build cachet & cultural capital from collaborative projects — including the arenas of publication, public writing, and arts projects.

The Marion Voices Equity Budgeting Model holds that arenas like ownership, consent, citation, archiving, & derivative works are also central arenas of negotiation around labor and economic justice — we’re just dealing with forms of labor that have been fossilized into moveable, extractable products like photographs, documentaries, and audio recordings. Labor is still labor, even when it becomes a thing; and as such, the way you or your organization chooses to approach & build an ethics of documentary materials is never not a stand for or against economic justice in community-based cultural work.


In lieu of a FAQ, we have compiled some common excuses, hang-ups, & lies that organizations, institutions, & (especially!) universities like to tell to themselves — and to us — about why equity budgeting is inconvenient, unethical, unnecessary, or impossible. Unfortunately, everything on this list is a real thing someone has uttered to us. We’re listing these common myths about equity budgeting here with our best answers about why these excuses are, well: bullshit.*

* Unless you’re into, like: sustaining the white-supremacist, settler-colonialist, capitalist order as it currently stands. And if that’s your passion, uh: good luck, friend. And maybe you’re on the wrong website.


… does it? In what universe? We call (social science/hard sciences) bullshit. Could you imagine a boss saying that to a worker? (Actually, probably: it happens way too often.) At Marion Voices, we would counter that not paying working-class people who contribute time, labor, advising, critical outreach work, and storywork, to be a part of your project — knowing full well that they’re often juggling (multiple!) jobs, childcare or elder-care, & a thousand other responsibilities to pay the bills — actively corrupts the “research” (but also: end “research”) project: leaving “collaboration” or “participation” a possibility only to independently wealthy people. Moreover, when you/your organization (esp. for historically white-serving/white-lead organizations) actively mobilizes the documentation you co-produce with BIPOC/working class communities to promote your DEI narrative (“look! we’re not so white/bad!” — LOL, yes you are?!), and you’ve refused to compensate that labor … well, that’s what we call bona-fide extraction. If your praxes don’t match the values you preach on your website and/or your mission statement, like … what are you doing?

TL;DR: The Marion Voices Equity Budgeting model holds that it’s actually (duh) far more ethical to pay everyone who is a part of your community-based cultural work project, unless someone is in a position where they really don’t need or want the money … in which case, they’ll usually tell you. And hopefully will co-op it back!


At a recent Equity Budgeting workshop, a participant shared that they didn’t think narrators needed to be paid because they always worked to give narrators “thoughtful” gifts … “for example,” this cultural worker said, “ … a tangerine.” We assume we’re not the first ones to break it to you, but narrators & community collaborators & cultural workers cannot pay rent or buy groceries with a tangerine, nor with the “exposure” that many universities & “prestigious” cultural institutions assume that participation in a project affords someone.

The Marion Voices equity budgeting model acknowledges that capitalism is bunk, and we need to work beyond it — there are times & places where barter economies & time-banks can be transformative & visionary, and that’s the future we hope our practices work towards. At the same time, we’re living under late capitalism: and if a tangerine won’t pay someone’s rent or help them survive in ways that are self-determined & exchangeable, then probably it shouldn’t be a part of equity budgeting praxis at your organization, project, or institution.

That said, ask people. It’s true that time does equal money; and if any of your cultural workers, narrators, or collaborator desire time or a particular service: by all means. The problem comes when institutions assume this — often because non-profits (and universities are notoriously guilty of this) usually find it so unthinkable to imagine actually paying community members & freelancers for their time. Stop it.


Um, guys … *whispers* setting expectations that community, narrator, + cultural worker labor should always be compensated … that’s a good thing!!! If your concern about adopting a more just practice is that you’re setting other (extractive) organizations and institutions up to be under massive community pressure to also adopt more just practices … LOL: welcome to how organizing works. The goal is kind of massive, full-ecology change in the cultural work & non-profit sector. Equity budgeting is a movement, not an isolated set of practices. Maybe you/your organization can be the change — & help educate/advocate to other organizations & funders to step up. Make equity budgeting the expectation. Put the pressure on. Make the shady orgs run to catch up.


See above. Just because you/your organization/”things”/business as usual have been super-extractive for aeons in the past is literally no excuse or justification to resist more ethical, equitable, reparative practices when presented with the opportunity. No offense, but that’s the lamest thing we’ve ever heard. If all your dumb friends have been eating little jagged shards of glass for centuries and absolutely loving it, does that mean that you should eat glass? Well, does it?

The culture of “paying dues” & demanding/expecting unpaid work in the non-profit cultural work sector is just that — a culture. Culture shift starts with a critical massive of individual practitioners, organizations, & institutions taking a stand — and with professional organizations throwing their weight behind these movements, & recognizing/certifying which organizations & projects are doing the right thing & building more just worlds.


Marion Voices, as a project, opposes the outsized & highly extractive role that universities have played as vampires of the communities they depend on for prestige, money, and power. That said, as a program that is invested in helping divest universities from their funding & resources — following the undercommons model developed by Fred Moten + Stefano Harney — the Marion Voices equity budgeting model recognizes the normalization of unpaid or underpaid student labor as an especially insidious part of the culture of “paying dues” that haunts the nonprofit-industrial complex & the allied cultural work fields, in particular. Refuse it at all costs.

Recognize that unpaid student labor, when it is invoked, is almost always used to scab requests for just payment from students themselves, or, more often, from freelance cultural workers or community practitioners who are trying to make a livelihood from offering a service that they are highly qualified to perform.

Pitting students against community & career cultural workers is not only deeply unethical scabbing, but also sends a profound & horrifying message to people training to be the next generation of cultural workers: your labor does not matter; and to make it in this industry, you need to learn to work for free. Only certain sorts of people can afford to work for free: people who are wealthy; people with spouses or partners who can provide for them; people who have the luxury of living with families or guardians; people who are unburdened by care work and its economies; people without outstanding medical bills or student debt; and, overwhelmingly: people who are white.

Is this the field your organization wants to create when you pressure students to work for free, or suggest to your board that you shouldn’t pay a cultural worker or community member (rightly) demanding pay because “a student at the local university could just do this for free”?! Are these the ethics you talk about in your woke-ass classes? No? Then: don’t do it.

At Marion Voices, we believe that students, cultural workers, & community members stand in radical solidarity. Nonprofits & universities: We must rethink models of training & apprenticeship that don’t normalize non-payment or underpayment. Students with means: refuse to let your privilege work to scab practitioner labor or keep your field closed to those who cannot afford to work for free. Cultural workers running projects on tight budgets: refuse to let the acceptance of free or underpaid student labor as a “cheap” solution to “making your project sustainable” even be thinkable.

Equity budgeting means radically re-imagining community education and its economics outside extractive systems of “paying dues” and “work for exposure” that prey upon vulnerable people already saddled with student debt to scab out on obligations to pay practicing cultural workers (including those students) & community members a living wage for their labor. If your project depends on extracting // exploiting “free” student labor, and would be otherwise unsustainable, then you should not be doing that project at all. And refuse to collaborate with & actively challenge university programs & practitioners who require, foster, normalize, or support unpaid or underpaid student work.


This feels like a real dilemma for many of us who are independent/freelance/contract cultural workers — but it doesn’t have to be. When equity budgeting is done right and succeeds as a movement, it means everybody gets paid a living wage for the work they do. Stop imagining someone else’s fair payment as correlated to your underpayment. We can build better systems that can afford — can choose — to pay everyone. Don’t buy the lie that paying, for example, your oral history narrators, means money out of your paycheck. Get a bigger budget. Fight for that budget. Build a coalition to make it possible.


It is. You just have to write more grants, & get a better budget. And yes: that can be hard when funders & grantmakers are actively working against equity budgeting practices. That’s why equity budgeting is also a movement — and requires education, and advocacy. We have to change the world to make it understand — & reflect — that equity budgeting is actually the only sustaining sort of collaborative cultural work economy.


It is expensive. But it’s not too expensive. You just have to write more grants, & get a better budget. And yes: that can be hard when funders & grantmakers are actively working against equity budgeting practices. That’s why equity budgeting is also a movement — and requires education, and advocacy. We have to change the world to make it understand — & reflect — that equity budgeting is actually the only sustaining sort of collaborative cultural work economy.


We get asked alot how we can help other organizations, institutions, & practitioners learn equity budgeting. Can we make our statements & materials more widely available? Do a consult call or help oversee a budget revision? Suggest equitable pay for cultural workers and community members? Absolutely. At equity budgeting praxis is about walking the talk. So the answer, with love, is: we’d love to. Pay us for it.

Learning to unlearn the extractive political economic of non-profit & institutional cultural work means committing to & experimenting with new, reparative economies: and, we firmly say, starts with recognizing, honoring, & remunerating the labor that decades of unpaid & underpaid cultural workers have done to make economic justice in the cultural work industry thinkable. Respect that labor by contracting with, & paying — well — the cultural workers who spend countless hours of unpaid time to organize to bring about a different world. These are valuable services: and if you want something badly, you can find a way to pay for it.

Money has a way of moving when there is desire. Strangely, we’ve often found that a number of non-profits & institutions are interested in learning our equity budgeting model — right up until the point they realize it’ll cost them ;) ;) ;)

The Marion Voices Project Team is available to consult with you, your organization, or institution about our equity budgeting project model. We provide workshops, half-day & full-day training sessions, on-demand curricula, classes, & materials, or independent consultation time to help you develop an equity budgeting toolkit — including a budget audit of a recent or existing project budget, toolkits & principles to support the development of more just, collaborative, + reparative future project budgets, & training & templates to support you/your institution in development of your own equity budgeting statement which should accompany grant & foundation proposals in your budget narrative section.

Moreover, Marion Voices’ Jess Lamar Reece Holler & independent oral historian Sarah Dziedzic have developed a short-form and long-form equity budgeting workshop — Equity Budgeting: Budgets for Justice? — that debuted at the 2020 Oral History Association Online conference. They are happy to offer a customized version of this flagship equity budgeting workshop to individuals, non-profits, or educational institutions, with sliding-scale rates available for movement-based, grassroots, social-justice-focused & BIPOC-led efforts. Inquire for rates.

This is our livelihood; and we thank you for supporting & making possible the efforts to continue equity budgeting organizing & build a global movement to insist that social justice cultural work demands economic justice — starting (but not ending) with our project & program budgets.


For Marion Voices Program Director Jess Lamar Reece Holler’s recent writings on the imperative for new, reparative economic justice models & praxes in the community-based cultural work sector, the following articles & essays may be of interest. Note: A reparative, responsible politics of citation is a core part of equity budgeting work, & is important to recognize & reflect the labor of the individuals & organizations who have built the equity budgeting paradigm. Please use the following citations when referring to these articles.

  • Jess Lamar Reece Holler. Winter 2018. “Emerging Labor: Work & the New Public Historian,” in AASLH’s History News: The Magazine of the American Association for State & Local History, Vol. 73.1: 12–15. Available here.
  • Jess Lamar Reece Holler. Spring 2019. “NCPH Working Group: Ethics & Economic Justice Case Statement: Guilds & Economic Models,” on the NCPH Website. Available here.
  • Jess Lamar Reece Holler. 04 August 2020. “Open Letter to a Tenured University Professor Who Wants To Write a Grant to ‘Study’ and ‘Prove’ and Publish On the Marion Voices Folklife + Oral History Program Equity Budgeting Model. K.”, on Medium.com. [14-minute read] Available here.
  • Jess Lamar Reece Holler. 17 October 2020. “Rogue Public Folklore: Some Recipes for Community-Collaborative Cultural Organizing as Divestment,” on Medium.com [19-minute read] Available here.

We’ll continue to update this page as our community continues to write, think, talk, & present on the equity budgeting movement!

We expect, & will enforce, a rigorous politics of citation. The term & concept of “equity budgeting” have uniquely grown out of Marion Voices’ work in & beyond our community, & we expect those genealogies to be cited & acknowledged — and for you to send people our way — if you write or talk about this work.


For more on equity budgeting, reach out to Jess Lamar Reece Holler at marionvoicesoralhistory [at] gmail [dot] com or oldelectricity [at] gmail [dot] com to set up an initial (free) 15-minute consultation or to book a longer talk, workshop, or commission; we’d be thrilled to go from there ❤

For more on the community-based projects & movements from which the equity budgeting movement has grown, visit/support the Marion Voices Folklife + Oral History Program and Caledonia Northern Folk Studios


Jess Lamar Reece Holler is a community-based cultural organizer, embarrassed public folklorist, anti-oral history oral historian, & documentary artist living & working in North-Central Ohio. She is the founding director of the Marion Voices Folklife + Oral History Program at the Marion County Historical Society, and is Principal at Caledonia Northern Folk Studios — a social justice, cultural work + historic preservation capacity-building consultancy serving North-Central Ohio. She is working to preserve the Masonic & Temple Block buildings in Caledonia, Ohio — the historic home of her family’s Reece’s Market grocery store — as the site of a future regional folklife + cultural work non-profit centering equity practices & working against legacies of cultural work as extraction. Reach out to Jess at oldelectricity at gmail dot com, or via the Caledonia Northern Folk Studios page.




cultural worker + oral historian who tries to listen. cares alot about justice for working people. columbus x marion county, ohio. caledonianorthern.org.