Preserving traditions in Long Island

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Long Island Traditions is a nonprofit that works to preserve diverse ethnic cultures, architecture and waterfront traditions of Long Island. (Photo courtesy of Long Island Tradition)

Housed among the many nonprofits in the Community Chest building in Port Washington is Long Island Traditions (LIT), a small organization founded in 1991 with the mission of preserving the diverse ethnic cultures, architecture, and waterfront traditions of Long Island.

To accomplish this, LIT runs programs in the schools, creates permanent and temporary curated exhibits for display, and works with museums, libraries and other organizations to run events highlighting ethnic, cultural, maritime and occupational traditions.

Recent programs conducted by LIT include: Bomba y Plena, a Puerto Rican music program at the East Meadow Public Library; Waterfront Heroes, an exhibit at City Lore in NYC; a Decoy Carving program at Hallockville Museum Farm; as well as Gospel and Klezmer performances and a demonstration of fabric artistry. The Waterfront Heroes exhibit will be coming to the Oyster Bay Historical Society this Fall.

One of LIT’s main focuses is the preservation of Long Island’s maritime and fishing traditions. To that end, LIT brings traditional Long Island baymen and fishermen into the schools to talk to children about their work, about the Long Island waters, and about the environmental changes they have observed over the years and after Superstorm Sandy. The presenters also provide hands-on opportunities for children to touch sea life, try out a fishing pole or net, use tools for building boat models, and try decoy carving. The program includes a boat trip with traditional fishermen.

LIT also provides school programs on ethnic folk arts, and community history and architecture. The ethnic folk arts program, for children from fourth grade up, allows students to work with Long Island-based Native Americans, Central and South American Latinos, Eastern and Western Europeans, African Americans, and South Asian immigrants on hands-on activities and lessons. The program meets state education standards in Social Studies and English Language Arts. The Community History and Architecture program for grades 6-12 focuses on research and writing skills that examine settlement patterns and traditional architecture on Long Island.

For adults and children over 10, LIT offers two Bay House Tours each summer. Many of the South Shore’s traditional bay houses were destroyed during Superstorm Sandy, but many have been rebuilt and are being used by the area’s baymen today. Tours will take place on July 21 and August 4, and will visit two bay houses. The tour will be led by LIT’s Director, Nancy Solomon, who will treat attendees to a brief history of the bay houses, the first of which was built in the 1700s. Registration for the tours begins on June 3rd, and tours sell out quickly. For more information on the Bay House tours, visit: http://www.longislandtraditions.org/pages/events.html

In addition to cultural and maritime traditions, LIT studies local architecture and works on behalf of sites in danger of demolition, as well as working with communities to preserve their history. LIT has worked with Great Neck Plaza, South Shore Estuary, Sea Cliff, Far Rockaway and is currently surveying the historic homes in Rockville Centre. LIT has also worked with several filmmakers to develop compelling documentaries on Long Island’s heritage and culture.

Long Island Traditions welcomes new members! To learn more about LIT, and upcoming programs and events, visit www.longislandtraditions.org, call 516 767-8803, email info@longislandtraditions.org, or join our Facebook group.

Submitted by Long Island Traditions

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