What is local culture?

No place is a place until things that have happened in it are remembered in history, ballads, yarns, legends, or monuments.
–Wallace Stegner, "The Sense of Place," 1983

Local culture is everything that we create and share as part of our lives in the place where we live or work.

Local culture recognizes the expertise that people have in living their daily lives. People bring a wealth of knowledge to their activities – where to buy the freshest meats, how to machine a part within a thousandth of an inch, when to move the infield closer to the plate for a bunt, what types of patterns go well with each other, how to reach consensus on a cooperative’s committee.

Local culture recognizes that people’s daily knowledge comes from shared life experiences and information transmitted to them by family, friends, neighbors and co-workers.

Local culture has connections to all aspects of the curriculum, including:

  • art, music, theater,
  • geography, history, sociology, economics, political science, psychology, anthropology, folklore,
  • reading, writing, speaking, listening,
  • foreign languages, English as a second language,
  • media and technology, international education,
  • natural history and environmental education,
  • family and consumer education.

We create and share local culture as part of our lives in specific places-urban and rural. The common factor is place, yet each discipline investigates place in a different way.

Where is local culture?

Local culture is everywhere.

Local culture resides in our relations with the local environment and landscapes, in our local music and artistic expressions, in our community’s history and contemporary social issues, and in our family’s stories.

Want to explore some examples?


Click on the map to launch an interactive exploration of local in Wisconsin.

Examples include:

  • Finnish names in Washburn
  • An Ojibwe story from Ashland
  • Ojibwe fish decoys in Lac du Flambeau
  • A tall tale from Tomahawk
  • A Menominee story from the Menominee Nation
  • A lumberjack story from Rice Lake
  • Norwegian polka from Mondovi
  • A Hmong story from Eau Claire
  • A Belgian festival in Algoma
  • Polish weddings near Custer
  • A Czech celebration near Hillsboro
  • African American gospel from DeForest
  • African American quilting in Milwaukee
  • Swiss yodeling in Monroe