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June 2010

the latest from
Suite 603


June 30, 2010

Quilts from Gee's Bend
Humanities SC funded a weekly lecture series "Stitching Stories: Conversations on Quilts, Community, and the Artists of Gee's Bend" at the Franklin G. Burroughs - Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum in Myrtle Beach, June 9 to August 25, 2010
Remembering Bruce Fraser
A plate-sized fried tenderloin sandwich is worth driving hundreds of miles for ...

Fit for work

♦ Bridging Cultures through Film application deadline: July 28
2010-2011 general liability policies
The Chairman's Civility Tour takes him to Birmingham, AL, July 29
Recent NEH Awards

Remembering Bruce Fraser

Bruce Fraser
Bruce Fraser

When Bruce Fraser, executive director of the Connecticut Humanities Council, passed away June 13, the Federal/State Partnership family lost a friend, a wit, a fearless advocate for the humanities. He worked at high speed, yet took time to mentor new directors. One new director he talked with was Mary-Kim Arnold, executive director of the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities. She wrote on humtalk that, "I was having doubts about a decision I thought I needed to make. I asked him, 'but what if I'm wrong?' and he simply said, 'you're not. And if you are, so what, you'll figure it out and move on.'" We miss him tremendously.

Refresh your memories of Bruce by rereading Humanities September/October 2008 "In Focus" article about him.

Looking through our files, we found the thorough and incisive evaluation he made in 1999 of the joint council/NEH funded "Power of Twelve" social entrepreneurship initiative. In the intervening years, much has changed in the ways councils do their work. Some of the changes rest with this project and with Bruce's evaluation and dissemination of its accomplishments. This evaluation, an historical document, holds a mirror to the ways councils operated and thought about their work in the late 1990s. Here are the four "transformative epiphanies" that Bruce identified had occurred during the project. They have evergreen qualities:

1. The discovery of the power of “market pull.” For over twenty-five years, the councils have shaped program initiatives around what the public ought to want rather than what they themselves feel they need. The project literally turned this thinking inside out by making the councils think outside in. Recalled Florida’s project director, “We have to involve our clients in the process of creating programs. We have to start with them. We’re not the Czarinas of culture.”

2. The absolute importance of understanding “true costs.” Councils have never been strangers to the bottom line, but few [as of 1999] have ever tracked their administrative expenditures across program lines with any precision . . . The fundamental obligation of this project to make an understanding of what things really cost an essential precondition of decision-making radically changed the way many of these councils functioned.

3. The empowering notion of earned income. Accepting both the necessity for, and, indeed, the legitimacy of fees for service was one of the great philosophical divides crossed by the project. “What we realized was that people WILL pay for things they value, and ought to,” said one project director. “The revenue that produces shouldn’t be seen as a tax on our clients, it’s a way for us to do more for them.”

4. The critical importance of systematic analysis in effective council decision making. “I learned that intuition is not enough,” said a veteran executive director, “We have to know who we are, what we can do best and what the real financial implications are of our program choices.” “We learned we have to be honest with ourselves about just how much our projects cost, who is coming, and how important they are,” noted another.

The evaluation notes that there would be a second phase to the project. That did not formally occur. Read Bruce's full evaluation. [ logon fedstate password partnership ]

CHC has provided tributes to Bruce and information about his memorial service, which will be held in Middletown, Connecticut on July 10.

A plate-sized fried tenderloin sandwich is worth driving hundreds of miles for ...

So says Keira Amstutz, president and CEO of the Indiana Humanities Council. She writes that IHC issued a challenge to the residents of Indiana:


Picture a table being prepared for a meal. See the colorful dishes crowded together beneath a slight haze of steam. Allow the enticing aromas to summon you closer. Listen as the sound of a spoon scraping on ceramic stirs in you a recollection of family meals from your past. Savor the way your mouth waters with memory and anticipation.


What, in your mind's eye, do you see on that table? What do the dishes look like, and what's in them? Who's gathering around that table? Will they sit down, or put food on plates and move to another room to eat? Where did the food come from, and who prepared it? How? Is this feast in honor of a special event, or is it just another meal?


These evocative images are the basis of the Indiana Humanities Council’s Food for Thought initiative and have opened the doors to countless new opportunities and relationships for the Indiana Humanities Council. With more than 40 partner organizations ...


[ read more to get to the part about the fried tenderloin sandwich: logon fedstate password partnership ]

Fit for work

Ken Stolz (left), Humanities Montana, "on the ball" at his desk, and Anne Rogers (right), Mass Humanities, walking at her treadmill desk.
Ken Stolz (left), Humanities Montana, "on the ball" at his desk, and Anne Rogers (right), Mass Humanities, walking at her treadmill desk.

Federal/State Partnership staff learn a lot about the way councils work during the site visits that take place every five years. Kathleen Mitchell learned during site visits to Humanities Montana (March) and Mass Humanities (last week) that council staff members can be ingenious about making their work spaces work for them while they work for their councils.

Humanities Montana's fiscal officer, Ken Stolz, keeps his balance on a fitness ball while balancing his books. Anne Rogers, systems manager at Mass Humanities, works at a treadmill desk and wrote an article about walking at work for the Working Together e-newsletter and the Federal/State Partnership website. Meet Anne and her desk—

In the beginning of March, our Executive Director, David Tebaldi, emailed an online opinion from The New York Times with the title "Stand Up While You Read This!" to his ataff at Mass Humanities. The first line was "your chair is your enemy." Ouch. I'm almost 44 years old. I've been sitting at a desk full time since I graduated from college 23 years ago. At age 30, my metabolism slowed down and my weight began to creep up. I've suffered from lower back pain for years now and have the chiropractic bills to prove it. I go to the gym. I bike. I backpack. I'm not a complete slug. This article got me thinking. My skills and talents mean I have to be in front of the computer the majority of my work day. I hope to have many more work years ahead of me. Must I sit for another twenty years while I try ineffectually to undo that very sitting by going to the gym an hour or two every day and dieting or can I do this differently?

David's little email inspired me to do more research. I became obsessed. I found there are a number of studies that are converging on the conclusion that sitting is killing us. I found there are a number of people who have gone the route of walking slowly at the office who swear by it. I read how our spines are not made to sit for such long periods of time. One article informed me that sitters "have higher rates of hypertension, obesity, high blood triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, and high blood sugar, regardless of weight" ("Your Office Chair Is Killing You," Bloomberg Businessweek, April 29. 2010).

When I found a group of "Officewalkers" online and could hear from people who are using a treadmill at their desks, I felt ready. At Officewalkers the tagline is "working @ 100 calories an hour," referencing the amount of calories burned ...

[ read more: logon fedstate password partnership ]


National Endowment for the Humanities
1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 603
Washington, DC 20506
202.606.8254, main number
202.606.8365, fax

Edie Manza, director [ about ]
Kathleen Mitchell, senior program officer [ about ]
Shirley Newman, program assistant [ about ]

directions to the Federal/State Partnership office

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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