Patterson Livable Futures Bio-Cropped-600px.jpg

Dr. Cassie Rosita Patterson

Assistant Director & Director of the Folklore Archives, Center for Folklore Studies at the Ohio State University

Collaborator, Watch Me Grow


Hi, there! I’m the Assistant Director of the Center for Folklore Studies and Director of the Folklore Archives. I’m a graduate of the Folklore program through the English Department here at OSU. The position of Assistant Director opened up just before my last year of graduate school, so I was incredibly fortunate to secure my dream job before finishing my PhD. As the sole full-time employee of the CFS, my job is pretty varied. I’m in charge of everything from program development and strategic planning to the nitty gritty aspects of event management, archival administration, and engagement initiatives.

Together with Dr. Katherine Borland, I co-created the Ohio Field Schools initiative, an archival collection and service-learning course teaching ethnographic methods through experiential learning. The Ohio Field School has been the most exciting and demanding aspect of my job for the past three years. And I wouldn’t change a thing (besides having unlimited time and money to continue the work!). I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my crash course in public folklore and want to keep learning how to creatively and ethically collaborate with communities.

My research interests include folklore, fieldwork and (collaborative) ethnography, Appalachian Studies, commemoration and public display, post-industrial Ohio, home and place, and moral geographies. I’m currently working on a book about Xennial and Millennial placemaking practices in Scioto County. The book seeks to document the creative ways that young people (20- and 30-somethings) are engaging the creative economy, volunteerism, and entrepreneurism in order to stay rooted within their home (and chosen) communities in Appalachian Ohio.

Q & A

What makes more livable futures for you?  

Financial, emotional, and collaborative support structures that sustain compassionate, imaginative, and complex work in the world. A livable future is one in which I am able to devote an appropriate (or even abundance!) of time to each project in which I’m involved—where I get to sit, think, read, discuss, plan and execute the specifics of the vision that a group has created. Being intentional, reflexive, and committed to our work and taking the time/making the space to really dig into the details. While having a vision or an idea is a great starting place for a project, the real work (and the place where the ideals can get lost) is in the logistics: where we meet matters; who is able to attend the meeting matters; where the funding goes matters; whose labor is visible matters. Scurrying to get things done and always being behind—which is my current state of work—is not livable (or desirable, or even minimally healthy). In fact, it makes me a less awesome partner, leader, and friend. A livable future, to me, is slow and contemplative. It’s a pace of life that is conducive to doing things well and having plenty of time for leisure and fun.

What are you reading, viewing, listening to right now?    

Over December break I read Payne Hollow: Life on the Fringe of Society, a book about Harlan and Anna Hubbard’s subsistence life along the Ohio River. I’m now interested in reading Harlan’s Payne Hollow Journals. After that I’ll move on to Living the Good Life: How to Live Sanely and Simply in a Troubled World by Helen and Scott Nearing. Also, I love dogs, so I picked up Mary Oliver’s Dog Songs, a collection of poetry about the canines in her life. I listen to NPR on the radio each morning while I’m getting ready for work (hooray for information without additional screen time!). Being a good leader is important to me (but oh so very hard!), so I’m also working on Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.

I’m using/reading Doing Ethnography Today: Theories, Methods, Exercises by Elizabeth Campbell and Luke Eric Lassiter and Wisdom Sits in Places by Keith Basso for the 2019 Ohio Field School textbooks.

My research reading right now includes Ramp Hollow: The Ordeal of Appalachia by Steven Stoll, Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy eds. Anthony Harkins and Meredith McCarroll, Gone Home: Race and Roots through Appalachia by Karida L. Brown, The Other Side of Middletown: Exploring Muncie’s African American Community by Elizabeth Campbell, Hurley Goodall, Luke Eric Lassiter, and Michelle Natasya Johnson. I’m currently sitting in on my colleague Moriah Flagler’s (OSU Discovery Themes Postdoc) class for Be the Street and she is teaching from Engaging Performance: Theatre as Call and Response by Jan Cohen-Cruz, among other excellent texts.

What practices are sustaining you?  

Spending quality time with my friends. Whether it’s salsa night at Arepazo, walking dogs around the neighborhood, or collaborating on a grant project together, my friends and friend-colleagues sustain me every day. They give me space when they know I’m overwhelmed. They invite me over when they know I’m lonely. They ask how they can help when there’s something I want to do. They enrich my life simply by being who they are.

Willa, my dog, a constant source of affection. A fellow foodie.

Unplugging in the forest with my partner, Brian, and our dogs. When I’m at his place—without cell service or internet—I feel like a completely different person. I feel renewed. Reset. My work week is filled with emails (and emails and emails…) and meetings (and meetings and meetings…) overflowing with requests for my time and energy, but when I’m able to disconnect from technology and focus on being present in nature, my days are completely my own. Brian and I begin the morning by sipping piping hot Bustelo espresso sweetened with turbinado sugar and evaporated milk. The dogs are right beside us and the birds are fluttering around the suet feeders just outside the large picture window. We note the weather and decide what to do that day. Maybe we’ll haul wood from across the creek, or maybe I’ll work on perfecting my wood-chopping skills. I might read, practice my ukulele, or crochet something (this December I made pillow cases and wash rags!). Probably, we’ll bake bread. Before chores and leisure activities, though, we’ll go for a morning hike and watch Sounder, the hound dog, scamper off for his morning perimeter check, while Willa, my darling, spotted shelter pup, sniffs and bounds close by.