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October 2012

the latest from Suite 603

October 29, 2012

Telling Stories, Demonstrating the Humanities

Click the image to see a video of the Humanities Council of Washington, DC's ceremony honoring Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga), Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and vocal ensemble SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK for lifelong promotion of equality. The event was rich with stories.
"Journey Stories" brings communities together in Nauvoo, IL
The New Hampshire Humanities Council's new video emphasizes stories
It matters who tells the story
Numbers tell stories about council grantmaking
What's going to be your new Chicago story?

Congratulations to Randy Akers, Executive Director of The Humanities CouncilSC, who was honored with a 2012 Annual Literacy Leaders Award by the University of South Carolina’s School of Library and Information Science. Read more >>

Executive Directors David Tebaldi (Mass Humanities) and Sharon Ann Holt (New Jersey Council for the Humanities) have been recent panelists here at NEH.

"Journey Stories" brings communities together in Nauvoo, IL

Billboard outside Nauvoo, IL advertising "Journey Stories," the Smithsonian, and, the in the bottom right corner, the Illinois Humanities Council.
Billboard outside Nauvoo, IL advertising "Journey Stories," the Smithsonian, and, the in the bottom right corner, the Illinois Humanities Council.
 

Located on the banks of the Mississippi River, Nauvoo had witnessed change and tumult in the 19th century. It was the site of major Mormon migration as well as settlement by French utopians, the Icarians. Its tiny population now includes Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, and Methodists as well as several groups of Latter Day Saints. Tumult carried over into the 21st century and the community was on the verge of being torn apart.

Thanks to the Illinois Humanities Council and Program Coordinator Mallory Laurel, a group of visionary citizens of Nauvoo came together to use the Smithsonian’s “Journey Stories” exhibition to help create a new sense of community in their town.

Lachlan Mackay of the Community of Christ/Joseph Smith History Site describes the situation this way: "A temple rising on the hill. Seeming disregard for the law. Hundreds of Latter Day Saints 'gathering' to Nauvoo, Illinois with rumors of thousands to follow. Land values, as well as taxes, on the rise. A boom-town, with land speculators hoping to get rich quick."

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The New Hampshire Humanities Council's new video emphasizes stories

"You asked me to tell my stories." This is one of the opening scenes in the New Hampshire Humanities Council's new video explaining the nature of its work. The stories in this video show the power of providing the opportunties for others to tell their stories and, thus, to be given stature and value. Stories help us understand our world and convey traditions, cultures, and lives from one generation to another.

It matters who tells the story

Mythologized version of Pocahontas saving John Smith. Based on the engraving -Smith Rescued by Pocahontas,- by Christian Inger, 1870, Virginia Historical Society.
Mythologized version of Pocahontas saving John Smith. Based on the engraving “Smith Rescued by Pocahontas,” by Christian Inger, 1870, Virginia Historical Society.

by Karenne Wood, an enrolled member of the Monacan Indian Nation, who directs the Virginia Indian Programs at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities

Stories are made of silences. What the writers of stories—of history—believe to matter becomes the narrative, and what they think doesn’t matter is excluded. Those who construct the story, therefore, exercise tremendous power: the power conferred by academic authority, or by a state or national agenda. In the U.S., our national historical narrative centers around the story of European arrival and westward movement. It tends to include peoples and events that are seen as integral to the preferred story line and to exclude or minimize those who aren’t. What we’ve gained, as most of us know, is an intimate understanding of the lives of Europeans and subsequent Americans who were male, white and wealthy, for the most part. What we’ve lost are the stories of almost everyone else: women, children, poor people, people of color, indigenous peoples. The majority.

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Numbers tell stories about council grantmaking

by Andrea D. Lewis, Maryland Humanities Council

While in the process of revising their grant procedures, staff at the Maryland Humanities Council recently reached out to colleagues to learn more about what’s happening with Councils and grantmaking across the country. Of particular interest was the amount of funding devoted to grants each year, the number and percentage of grants awarded, grant categories, and reporting requirements. Whether viewed in the context of the total dollars infused into the community or organizations affected, the informal survey confirmed that, large or small, grant programs present a prime opportunity to extend the reach of the Councils’ work in helping to maintain and build more vibrant communities.

The accompanying infographic represents the responses of 19 Councils to the informal survey (including Maryland). Additional statistics on Council programs are available in the State Council Annual Compliance Reports found in the Federal/State Partnership section on the NEH website.

Couple things I should mention. As I asked my coworkers to take a look at this article and the infographic many questions came up about other things that might have been included. When I initially posted to HumBuzz, not everyone interpreted the questions in my informal survey in the same way and so I didn’t always have apples to compare to apples. I chose to keep things simple.

What's going to be your new Chicago story?

The moving walkway at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago with the neon light and sound installation, Sky's the Limit (1987), by Michael Hayden.
The moving walkway at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago with the neon light and sound installation, Sky's the Limit (1987), by Michael Hayden.

Chicago is the home of the big shoulders, Studs Terkel, the Magnificent Mile, Lake Michigan, the Cubs, Millennium Park, one of the world's wildest airports, Mrs. O'Leary's cow, the Daleys, magnificent architecture, Jane Addams, gangsters, great restaurants, a river that turns green on St. Patrick's Day, and, in the memory of some of us, the Walnut Room at Marshall Fields at Christmastime.

Come to the National Humanities Conference in Chicago, November 15-18, to create your own Chicago stories. NEH staffers can help you with that. You can meet Laura Davis of the Office of Inspector General (Friday, 1:30-2:45), Robert Straughter of the Office of Grant Management (Saturday, 8:30-9:45), Chairman Jim Leach (Saturday, 11:45-1:00), and Edie Manza and Kathleen Mitchell of Federal/State Partnership (Saturday, 3:30-4:45; two separate sessions). Please look also for Deputy Chairman Carole Watson, Assistant Chairman Eva Caldera, Humanities editor David Skinner, and Claire Noble and Caitlin Green of the Office of the Chairman.

 


FEDERAL/STATE PARTNERSHIP
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Edie Manza, director [ about ]
202.606.8257
Kathleen Mitchell, senior program officer [ about ]
202.606.8302
Meg Ferris, program analyst [ about ]
202.208.7100
Shirley Newman, program assistant [ about ]
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directions to the National Endowment for the Humanities and Federal/State Partnership

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National Endowment for the Humanities

Federal/State Partnership is the liaison between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the nonprofit network of 56 state and jurisdictional humanities councils