Mission Statement

Kiln-Fired Communications is an organization for learning and doing, dedicated to establishing, encouraging and fostering community through more effective, sensitive, responsive and responsible communication.


            We believe that community is defined by a broadly shared reality and that  shared reality is the product of effective communication. One common cause of such apparently disparate global problems as environmental degradation, human and civil rights violations and the resort to violence as a solution to problems is a failure of communication.


            We propose that the medium of communication is at least as important as the content, or perhaps more precisely, that the medium cannot be meaningfully separated from the message.  (A manipulative, authoritarian film cannot and will not help an audience to more sensitivity to other points of view; a work of art that ignores its context, the origin of its materials, its incidental effects on the community in which it stands, cannot and will not encourage its audience to examine their own impact on the world.)


            Acquiring the skills of effective communication is itself a liberating experience and offers the learner the most essential tools for understanding not only others but herself. Clear communicating requires clear thinking and clear thinking (understanding oneself) is a matter of effectively communicating with oneself.


            The activities of K-FC are dedicated therefore to practicing and nurturing communication – person-to-person, culture-to-culture, generation-to-generation – to bring about a deeper understanding of self, community and global issues.  Among such activities, we include:


·      The production of documentary films (especially ones which enhance understanding across culture, age, gender, ideology and which address threats to global peace and well-being).

EXAMPLE:  K-FC is producing a documentary based on the thoughts and observations of a Tarahumara Indian shaman, who asked us to record his messages for his people before he died.  He was reputedly over one hundred years old and died two months after we recorded him.  The video tape will be accompanied by print materials and made available to his own as well as other Tarahumara communities (especially children) and to a wider audience outside the Sierra Madre.


·      Education and training in communication skills, especially those in the media of film, written word and art.  (In regards to the latter, particular emphasis will be placed on the medium of ceramics, since it has the advantages of being both tactile and visual, intimately connected to the physical earth, and practiced universally throughout human history.  Acquiring skill in this medium requires an understanding of many “realities” from aesthetics to physics.)

EXAMPLE:  We plan to create a “Workshop in Clay and Communication,” in which participants will work on writing skills while learning to throw clay pots.  We believe the admonition to “write about what you know” is most appropriate when it is taken to mean “write about what you are engaged in.”  Learning a skill in a creative process is a powerful, consciousness-expanding experience.  The communication of that experience (to the world, but more importantly to self, through its externalization) can make it transforming.  On a (arguably) more practical level, increasing one’s writing (communication) skills is both liberating and empowering – for middle-class New Englanders as for marginalized indigenous Mexicans (see below).


·      Cross-cultural interaction and exchange engaging in a broad range of teaching/learning experiences.  All such projects must begin with the recognition that each “side” of a multi-polar cultural interaction is equally responsible for the enlightenment of the others, that teaching and learning cannot be meaningfully separated from one another.

EXAMPLE:  We have recorded the making of a clay pot, from mixing clay to firing in a remote Tarahumara village in the Sierra Madre. Anthropologists working with the Cherokee Nation believe that this footage could be very helpful to the Cherokee in regaining lost pottery skills.  There may be many opportunities to facilitate communication of art, craft and other skills (e.g., traditional curing) between indigenous cultures widely separated geographically.  

© Richard Hendrick 2012