We put the humanities in action to create positive change.
The Pennsylvania Humanities Council is seeking individuals committed to championing the humanities to fill open positions on its board of directors. Qualified individuals representing diversity of background, life, thought and professional experience are encouraged to apply. Deadline is March 31. PHC’s board of directors comprises elected individuals and governor appointees who are eligible to serve up to two successive three-year terms. Currently 19 members serve on the board with backgrounds in business, law, education, philanthropy, government, and arts and culture. New board members are elected each spring.
How can we with or best selves make our cities better? How can a people-focused approach to development – one that prioritizes community and justice over gentrification – help us re-imagine and develop our cities? Join us and meet visionaries who are reclaiming, repurposing and rebuilding their cities with arts, culture and their communities. Chester Made, Devon Walls, L. Ward and Kenya Abdul Hadi host Chicago's Theaster Gates and Detroit's Kimberly Driggins for a reception and lively, informative talk. Join us Friday evening for a meet & greet reception then return Saturday morning for lessons in creative and cultural rebuilding in your community.
The Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC) has expanded its award-winning Teen Reading Lounge program to twelve sites, including eight libraries across the state and four out-of-school-time sites in Philadelphia. The primary goal is to leverage the humanities as a tool for positive youth development, with an emphasis on engaging low-income youth and youth of color. "Traditional programs for teens follow the 'if you build it, they will come' model," said Laurie Zierer, Pennsylvania Humanities Council executive director. "Teen Reading Lounge is different because we start by asking teens what’s important and interesting to them. We’ve seen some very positive outcomes—and as we move forward and expand the program, we want to ensure its participants are as diverse as the population of our state."
Through funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Standing Together initiative, we've partnered with Penn VUB to expand and enhance the program’s humanities components. The primary goal is to help participants build vital skills such as synthesizing information, effective communication and critical reflection, all of which contribute to success in postsecondary education. Another program goal: building students' confidence in their ability to effect positive change, not only in their own lives, but in their communities as well.
Each year, the statewide nonprofit Preservation Pennsylvania puts out a call for nominations to its Pennsylvania At Risk list, made up of sites determined to be among the commonwealth’s most endangered historic resources. In 2018, four remarkable places that are part of Pennsylvania’s history were added to the list and will become Preservation Pennsylvania’s work priorities for the year. Together, these four sites represent approximately 635 years of Pennsylvania history. The tales they tell are about slavery, creating community after the Civil War, taming the Pennsylvania wilds, industrial growth and railroad history, craftsmanship, and the ways that people form strong connections to local places they love.
Valerie Adams-Bass is a developmental psychologist who focuses on adolescent development. A partner in the creation of our Teen Reading Lounge program, Dr. Adams-Bass has helped PHC understand how the humanities and the higher order thinking skills associated with the humanities can prepare youth to participate in a larger civic and political arena. She shares some thoughts on these topics in the following post.
President Trump’s FY 2019 budget proposal again requests elimination of NEH and other federal cultural agencies. We strongly believe that Congress will once again support state humanities councils’ work with to strengthen education and civic engagement for residents across the nations—but we cannot rest on our laurels. Continued advocacy in the coming months is crucial.
The Williamsport Sun-Gazette has reviewed the new film, From the Heart of Williamsport, which premiered February 9 to a full house of more than 300 people at the Community Art Center. The film was created by the Heart of Williamsport team, who describe it as "a storytelling film that celebrates what we love about our community."
Beginning this past fall, I have had the pleasure of being PHC’s communication’s intern. Given my rhetoric and public advocacy background, I’m interested in exploring community development and the importance of creating transparency among a group of people. A peer exchange weekend with the Chester Made initiative gave me the opportunity. Chester Made is a civic engagement project that brings together various residents from artists and local leaders to entrepreneurs with a common goal of changing the perception of Chester and building a stronger community.
The Heart & Soul project in Meadville--My Meadville--has published a 2017 year-end report. The report outlines shared community themes and values and recognizes many residents and organizations who are dedicated to improving Meadville's future.
If you're reading this, you're probably familiar with many of the talking points about how the humanities benefit society. Exposure to the arts improves student test scores. Museum attendance leads to positive developmental outcomes. And a liberal arts education can cultivate a set of skills in students that appeal to employers. But can the humanities play a constructive role in community planning efforts? It's an intriguing idea, and it goes to the heart of the Orton Family Foundation's Community Heart and Soul method. This method "empowers people to shape the future of their communities by improving local decision making, creating a shared sense of belonging, and ultimately strengthening the social, cultural and economic vibrancy of communities."