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Williamsport artists and residents recently gathered on a bright Saturday morning for Factory Works’ official unveiling of the Lady of Light mosaic pillars at the Pajama Factory, an historic building renovated to provide space for artists and local organizations. The pillars were designed by local artist Dai En and created in collaboration with fellow Pajama Factory artists and the broader Williamsport community, guided by the storytelling work of Heart of Williamsport. Orchestrating the project was Factory Works, a nonprofit organization within the Pajama Factory complex that strives to ensure a collaborative and educational environment for artists, woodworkers, and the bicycling community. “For Factory Works, this project represents our community – a community that embraces the values highlighted through the storytelling process,” said Jeannette Carter, president of Factory Works’ board of directors. “These core values express gratitude for our community’s culture and its supportive environment for creativity, inclusion, and growth.” The two pillars are a striking 11 feet tall and 18 inches in diameter with kaleidoscopic patterns of dazzling glass and stone tiles that, upon closer examination, reveal curiosities like dice, bottle caps, and toy cars. The objects were donated as part of the Share Your Heart Project, which brought people together to share their experiences of the Pajama Factory and Factory Works. This deep engagement with the community’s stories provided the inspiration for Dai En’s beautiful mosaic work. “I can’t say it belongs to me any longer. It has a life of its own,” said Dai En. “Bringing the ‘treasures’ into it… allowed more community interaction and building of the story and meaning.” Heart of Williamsport lent its extensive story-gathering experience to the process, having dedicated the last few years to the citywide implementation of Community Heart & Soul®, a Pennsylvania Humanities Council supported approach to community development that uses the tools of the humanities to creatively engage residents in planning and decision-making processes as a way to strengthen a town’s social, cultural, and economic vibrancy. “The process of storytelling was robust and Heart of Williamsport supported us all the way,” said Carter. “Their guidance and assistance impacted the project’s strength and the representation of community values in the mosaic design and creation.” Alice Trowbridge, coordinator for Heart of Williamsport, said that the collaborative approach to creating the Lady of Light mosaic has been especially important during the pandemic, when people yearn for greater human connection and to tell their story. “Everyone needs a chance to speak their truth and feel heard,” said Trowbridge. “Seeing something this beautiful coming from a collection of personal stories and experiences connects people, evokes pride, and instills a sense of belonging.” After a series of speakers, the Lady of Light celebration concluded with courtyard music by the Susquehanna Jamcrackers and tours of an exhibit by Chad Andrews in the Factory Works gallery. Support for the Lady of Light mosaic pillars was provided by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.
The Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC), in partnership with Erie Arts & Culture and the PA Route 6 Alliance, invites you to a free virtual workshop to learn about Community Heart & Soul™, an innovative community development process that uses the tools of the humanities to engage residents in planning for the future. Participants will also learn about a special grant opportunity, available to select counties, offered by PHC and statewide funding partners to become the next Heart & Soul community. What is Community Heart & Soul™? Community Heart & Soul™, originally developed by the Orton Family Foundation, is a process that cultivates a shared sense of belonging among residents, engages them in thinking critically and creatively about community life and involves them in planning and decision-making - all as a way to strengthen a town’s social, cultural and economic vibrancy. Key to the process is learning what matters most by gathering stories, hopes and ideas from residents. This becomes the basis for building a community’s shared values, which informs a community’s unique action plan. As a result, communities become more connected, resourceful and resilient. During this webinar, participants will: Learn about the four-phase Community Heart & Soul™ model. Learn how the humanities can be used to engage residents in visioning and planning for a community’s future. Hear from Pennsylvania Heart & Soul communities about how the model has been used to spark growth in their towns. Since 2015, PHC has been the only statewide organization partnering with the Orton Family Foundation to bring Community Heart & Soul™ to towns across Pennsylvania. Click here to learn more about our current H&S towns. “Through this process, the humanities are helping residents to revitalize their communities. By sharing stories, residents are opening pathways for learning and sparking dialogue that will result in the actions needed to transform their communities and public processes.” - Laurie Zierer, Executive Director of PHC Who Should Attend This workshop and grant opportunity is only open to the following counties: Crawford, Erie, Warren, McKean, Potter, Tioga, Bradford, Wyoming, Lackawanna, Wayne, Pike, Venango, Mercer, and Lawrence. Arts and culture organizations, local municipalities, community-based organizations, civic and economic development groups, downtown revitalization and preservation groups - and any resident or organization interested in increasing resident engagement and cross-sector collaboration for more robust community planning are encouraged to register. How To Participate Registration is required. PHC is offering two opportunities to learn about Community Heart & Soul™ and PHC’s special grant opportunity. Sign up below for the webinar that best fits your schedule. Tuesday, October 6 from 10:00 - 12:00 p.m. Register here: https://pahumanities.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_EgNuenUvSOKDY7HYzc5aAw Thursday, October 8 from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. Register here: https://pahumanities.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_aiFXVrzJTxO6uy6xuQYRGQ Note: Application materials will be made available in October. Questions? Contact Jen Danifo at email@example.com or visit www.pahumanities.org for more information.
by Tammy Blount Teen Services Librarian, Erie County Public Library The Teen Reading Lounge (TRL) of the Erie County Public Library hosted a chalk art competition this summer. The teens were given the opportunity to “imagine their own story” through chalk art. They transformed the concrete around the library into vibrant colors and works of art that demonstrate the power of youth and their connection to the community. TRL, an award-winning program created by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, is in its 7th year at the Blasco Library. Participants have an opportunity to engage with literature and art with other teens in a safe learning space. They pick the books, the activities, and have deep discussions about serious issues that matter the most to them. Each year, the group also develops a social impact project to connect with the community. The recent project was inspired through their reading and the ongoing racial unrest in the nation. The group was meeting weekly at the start of 2020. The meetings and a trip to attend a Young Adult book conference in Pittsburgh were cancelled abruptly at the start of the COVID-19 stay-at-home order. In June, the teens were finally able to pick up their books when the library was open for curbside pick-up. Each teen said how much they missed the library, the Teen Space and their friends! The TRL program resumed in July and began meeting virtually via Zoom. This summer, the club read Color Outside the Lines, edited by Sangu Mandanna. It is a collection of short stories about diverse teens (multiracial, intercultural, LGBTQ+) and how they love despite their differences. They wanted to encourage teens to promote awareness of teen issues while also building on the library’s summer reading challenge theme of "Imagine Your Own Story." The chalk art was an opportunity to tell their story about what it means to be a teen today in a positive way. The event was also the first time they were able to meet in person since March. They were given everything they needed to create their chalk art design. The chalk spaces were socially distant and the teens were required to wear masks. A dozen teens spent most of a very hot day sharing their art and their stories. They even tried frozen pickle juice pops! Many of the book discussions this session centered around how we can help people without a voice feel seen and heard. Clara Tupitza, age 16, created her chalk design with this thought in mind. She used a favorite quote: “Every time someone steps up and says who they are, the world becomes a better, more interesting place." She chose to make the people with the colors of the different LGBTQ+ flags. The teens had a great day full of fun and with a positive message. It was a very successful program and they would like to do it again soon. They hope that the people who take the chalk walk will see the beauty in diversity and the power of love in Erie. Teen Reading Lounge is made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services as administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education through the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, Governor. Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
PHILADELPHIA, PA (August, 4, 2020) -- Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC) today announced $780,500 in emergency relief grants to 140 Pennsylvania cultural nonprofits impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Called PHC CARES, the goal of this fund is to assist in sustaining the state’s cultural infrastructure by advancing humanities programs, helping organizations adapt to site closures and the cancellation of in-person events that bring people together and support local economies. PHC assembled a diverse team of 44 cultural professionals who reviewed a total of 313 applications. Award amounts ranged from $3,000 to $10,000, scaled to each organization’s average annual operating budget. The recipients represent museums, historical societies, libraries, and other vital cultural institutions in 57 counties across Pennsylvania. They were carefully selected with an emphasis on equity and geographic diversity. The applicants to PHC CARES reported losses totaling $44.6 million, highlighting the deep and persistent impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Despite facing unprecedented hardship, Pennsylvania’s resilient and creative cultural organizations continue to provide important services and programs to our communities,” said Laurie Zierer, PHC’s executive director. “PHC CARES will help sustain this vital cultural infrastructure at a time when it is needed most.” PHC CARES is funded by the national Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which became law on March 27, 2020. The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) received funding allocated to the 56 humanities councils in the United States, including PHC, to distribute to humanities-based nonprofits financially impacted by the coronavirus. PHC CARES complements the $2.4 million in CARES Act funding previously provided to Pennsylvania by the NEH. The 140 PHC CARES awards will help organizations continue to serve their communities by retaining staff, shifting to online formats, and making resources available to those who depend on them for education, connection, and inspiration. “The collective impact of the hundreds of small cultural and heritage organizations across Pennsylvania is often overlooked. But the work we do is vital to the economic and social well-being of the communities we serve, and so we are honored to be among the recipients of this CARES Act funding,” said Michael L. Norris, executive director of The Carpenters’ Company. “This grant will help to keep Carpenters’ Hall financially sound and flexible as we continue to adapt to the systemic changes COVID-19 has wrought and find new, creative ways to fulfill our mission.” Related Content PHC CARES: Emergency Relief Grants NEH Offers Emergency Relief Funding to Cultural Institutions Affected by Coronavirus
by Edna Creelman, Haverford College My first year at Haverford offered me many new opportunities, and when it came to finding something to do over the summer, their resources didn't fall short. The arts and humanities have always been an area of interest and enjoyment for me, so I looked for a way to pursue that passion while gaining some practical work experience. Through Haverford’s Hurford Center I applied to work as an intern for a variety of humanities organizations in the area. PA Humanities Council seemed to be the best fit for me, and after a zoom interview, I was offered a position there for the summer. Around this time is when I had been sent home due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but despite the situation, I was still hopeful of returning to campus and beginning my internship in the city. A few weeks of headlines went by, and that hope was replaced with a more disappointing reality. Many internships and summer programs were being cancelled, and I dreaded checking my email with fear of receiving similar news about mine. Much to my relief, I was promptly contacted that the PHC internship was proceeding remotely. My initial apprehension was quickly replaced with excitement- an internship during a pandemic? Not only did I feel lucky that my internship was even happening, but what better way to stay busy during quarantine? (Besides baking too much bread, obviously…) It was only a few weeks after many organizations began leaving their buildings that my internship started, and to be honest, after only having one course that went “full Zoom”, I was nervous to see how an in-person based office was going to function virtually. Within the first week of working with PHC those nerves had completely subsided. The fluidity of meetings and easy to use scheduling made me confident in the organization's ability to adapt to the unique circumstances. Communication was emphasized and encouraged at all times, so I never felt awkward reaching out to confirm project specifics or asking questions about something that was talked about in a meeting. Watercooler moments, Philly lunches, becoming a regular on SEPTA- my internship didn't provide me with any of these, but learning how to adapt and communicate virtually has been an indispensable part of my experience with PHC. Throughout the past weeks, I’ve worked with the communications, development, and programming departments and took on a variety of projects to help support larger department initiatives. I’ve been closely involved with the Pop-Up Grants for Cultural Producers program and keeping the PHC team updated with upcoming events and have learned a lot about Pennsylvania’s geography in making visual maps for internal use. PHC created the Pop-Up grants to support humanities organizations launching projects and virtual events during the COVID shutdown. ~ "The fluidity of meetings and easy to use scheduling made me confident in the organization's ability to adapt to the unique circumstances. " ~ I have also contributed research on grantmaking by utilizing my background in Excel, and taught myself how to use an infographic program to create a visual for the PHC CARES grants, which was undoubtedly my favorite project. The CARES grants are NEH funded opportunities for humanities organizations in PA that have been financially impacted due to the ongoing pandemic. PHC has greatly improved my independent working skills and showed me how such work relates back to larger group oriented goals/projects. Developing effective time management, self-motivation, and multitasking was a tough part of this remote internship, but after 11 weeks I am much more confident in these abilities and know they will continue to help me as we proceed working and learning virtually. Another unique takeaway from this internship is seeing how a strong sense of community and the humanities help connect and support people during isolating times like a pandemic. In light of other recent and distressing events, it's proving to be even more important. The unjust deaths of Black citizens across the nation has emphasized the issues of a country that has been built on centuries of racial prejudice. The humanities look at our communities, government, educational systems, history, and culture. By examining each with a critical lens and listening to different perspectives, we can begin to address these issues and go forward in a meaningful and equitable way. It was unique to watch both my school and PHC acknowledge some of these structural inequities, and to listen to people of different ages talk about their experiences in a wide range of contexts. Being a part of these conversations have been really important to me as I continue to learn about my privilege as a white college student and the ways I can contribute to an just and inclusive environment. ~ "Another unique takeaway from this internship is seeing how a strong sense of community and the humanities help connect and support people during isolating times like a pandemic." ~ Business has not been “as usual,” but in some ways, I think a lot of the things I’ve learned have been more valuable because of that. Once it's safe, I'm eager to visit the Pennsylvania Humanities Council’s Philly office and reintroduce myself in person to the awesome staff I’ve gotten to know over my laptop. This fall I'm also excited to continue at Haverford College and will most likely declare a major in Psychology and minor in Philosophy next spring. Overall, summer 2020 has been one for the books. Working a 9-5 from my childhood desk during a pandemic was definitely not what I had in mind, but I'm grateful that's what it looked like.
Congratulations to the recipients of the 2020 Pennsylvania Heart & Soul Hero Awards! To acknowledge some of the many people who supported their communities during the COVID-19 shutdown, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC) created the Pennsylvania Heart & Soul Hero Award. The award honors local heroes in communities that PHC has partnered with through Community Heart & Soul, a humanities-based initiative that uses resident stories and community conversations to spark collective decision-making and action. “The recipients of these awards displayed resilience, compassion, and action in time when their communities needed it most,” said Jen Danifo, PHC’s Senior Program Officer. “This is what Community Heart & Soul is all about and PHC is honored to have the opportunity to uplift their work.” Follow the links below to learn about our 2020 Pennsylvania Heart & Soul Hero Awardees and how they served their communities during a time of crisis, including a virtual award ceremony and interview with each recipient. Citizen's Fire Company #1 (Mount Holly Springs) Citizen's Fire Company #1 (Mount Holly Springs) has long played a vital role in the community, not just in its job of keeping residents safe but also helping with fundraisers and education programs. The team responded to the COVID-19 shutdown by working to keep the town’s spirits up in spite of the restrictions, including drive by-birthday celebrations for those unable to leave their house. Learn more. Frank Sill (Upper Chichester) Frank Sill (Upper Chichester) draws from a deep well of local knowledge and civic engagement experience. When the pandemic hit, Sill took action and tapped his robust network of community connections to help collect and distribute masks to first responders. He also worked closely with senior citizens countywide to make sure they were getting the support and assistance they needed. Learn more. Gary and Tina Solak (Cameron County) Gary and Tina Solak (Cameron County) are radio hosts at WQKY (98.9 FM) based in Emporium and used their platform, including social media, to keep their listeners informed about the latest crisis information. The Solaks supported local businesses and created an online forum for sharing information, providing a space for much needed conversations. Learn more. Lee Scandinaro (Meadville) Lee Scandinaro (Meadville) assessed the needs of his community and determined that food accessibility was a major issue. He then worked to establish a vital school lunch program which will provide food to area children through the summer. Scandinaro is deeply rooted in his community and works collaboratively with residents and local organizations to assist those in need. Learn more. John Hartnett (Meadville) John Hartnett (Meadville) is president of the Meadville chapter of Not One More, an organization dedicated to providing resources and support to people in recovery. John quickly transitioned Not One More's group meetings to an online platform at the start of the COVID-19 statewide shutdown, ensuring life-saving access to a virtual support network. Learn more. Carlisle Community Action Network (Greater Carlisle) Carlisle Community Action Network (Greater Carlisle) is a group of 70+ community members that meet weekly to discuss actions and responses to COVID-19. They jumped into action to meet the needs of Carlisle and reached across cultural divides to ensure everyone had a voice in the process. CAN hosted discussions and provided much need resources. Learn more. Related Content Orton Family Foundation's Community Heart & Soul site (Orton is a statewide partner of PHC) Pennsylvania Community Heart & Soul
Whether your organization has already opened, or you are in the midst of planning and preparation for reopening, ensuring the health and safety of staff, patrons, vendors, and contractors is a priority. On Wednesday, July 15th, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Pennsylvania Humanities Council hosted Reopening the Arts and Humanities Safely, a discussion about reopening safely. Prompted by facilitator Sarah Merritt, Director of PA Creative Communities at PCA, panelists Linda Hollinshead, Dana Payne and Cecile Shellman discussed the challenges and opportunities organizations face in this era of COVID-19. Panelists were joined by partners from PHC, PCA, OCL and PHMC to answer questions from the over 250 leaders, employees and volunteers tuning in to the webinar. The process of planning and implementing a reopening agenda is complex. Practicing open communication, considering flexible support for constituents, and recognizing what is possible during this time helps everyone to feel physically, psychologically and emotionally safe. Please feel free to pass this recording on to your colleagues. PCA and PHC hope to provide updates on reopening guidelines through another webinar in the fall. As a reminder, the guide, Reopening Safely: Tips and Resources to Prepare, is updated regularly.
Congratulations to Citizen's Fire Company #1 (Mount Holly Springs) for receiving one of the Pennsylvania Humanities Council's first ever Pennsylvania Heart & Soul Hero Awards! The COVID-19 crisis and subsequent shutdown brought many challenges to cities and towns across the world as they adapted to social distancing and other health and safety requirements. Despite the difficulties, Pennsylvania’s residents showed their resilience and strength by working together to meet the needs of their neighbors. To acknowledge some of the many people who supported their communities during this time, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC) created the Pennsylvania Heart & Soul Hero Award. The award honors local heroes in communities that PHC has partnered with through Community Heart & Soul, a humanities-based initiative that uses resident stories and community conversations to spark collective decision-making and action. Citizen's Fire Company #1, nominated by members of the Mount Holly Springs Heart & Soul Leadership Team, was among six recipients recognized as Heart & Soul Heroes for their outstanding community service. Each awardee receives a certificate, virtual award ceremony, and a spotlight article. “The recipients of these awards displayed resilience, compassion, and action in time when their communities needed it most,” said Jen Danifo, PHC’s Senior Program Officer and host of the Heart & Soul Hero virtual award ceremonies. “This is what Community Heart & Soul is all about and PHC is honored to have the opportunity to uplift their work.” Citizen's Fire Company #1 was selected to receive a Pennsylvania Heart & Soul Hero Award for its exceptional service to the Mount Holly Springs community during the COVID-19 shutdown. Accepting the award on behalf of the team was Tim Yingst, Fire Chief, and Dennis Russell, President of the fire company. Citizen's Fire Company #1 has long played a vital role in the community, not just in its job of keeping residents safe but also helping with fundraisers and education programs. The team responded to the COVID-19 shutdown by working to keep the town’s spirits up in spite of the restrictions. For example, they did drive by-birthday celebrations for those unable to leave their house and helped to honor graduating high school seniors. As they approach their 125th anniversary, the station's legacy of service to the Mount Holly Springs community continues. “Our fire company is the heart and soul of Mount Holly Springs," said Carmen James, a member of Mount Holly Springs Heart & Soul. “No matter where you live -- or who you are -- you can count on [them].” Related Content Orton Family Foundation's Community Heart & Soul site (Orton is a statewide partner of PHC) Mount Holly Springs Heart & Soul Pennsylvania Community Heart & Soul
Congratulations to Frank Sill (Upper Chichester) for receiving one of the Pennsylvania Humanities Council's first ever Pennsylvania Heart & Soul Hero Awards! The COVID-19 crisis and subsequent shutdown brought many challenges to cities and towns across the world as they adapted to social distancing and other health and safety requirements. Despite the difficulties, Pennsylvania’s residents showed their resilience and strength by working together to meet the needs of their neighbors. To acknowledge some of the many people who supported their communities during this time, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC) created the Pennsylvania Heart & Soul Hero Award. The award honors local heroes in communities that PHC has partnered with through Community Heart & Soul, a humanities-based initiative that uses resident stories and community conversations to spark collective decision-making and action. Frank Sill, nominated by the Upper Chichester Leadership Team, was among six recipients recognized as Heart & Soul Heroes for their outstanding community service. Each awardee receives a certificate, virtual award ceremony, and a spotlight article. “The recipients of these awards displayed resilience, compassion, and action in time when their communities needed it most,” said Jen Danifo, PHC’s Senior Program Officer and host of the Heart & Soul Hero virtual award ceremonies. “This is what Community Heart & Soul is all about and PHC is honored to have the opportunity to uplift their work.” Frank Sill was selected to receive a Pennsylvania Heart & Soul Hero Award for his exceptional service to the Upper Chichester community during the COVID-19 shutdown. As president of the Rotary Club and a leader in various organizations, including the Upper Chichester Historical Society, Chichester Business Association and Chichester School District Board of Education, Sill draws from a deep well of local knowledge and civic engagement experience. When the pandemic hit, Sill took action, tapping his robust network of community connections to help collect and distribute masks to first responders. He also worked closely with senior citizens countywide to make sure they were getting the support and assistance they needed. Finally, under Sill's leadership, the Rotary Club was able to distribute six scholarships to graduating seniors this year, despite the loss of fundraising opportunities. “Frank is the person you go to if you need something to get done," said Barbara Kelley, assistant township manager. “He connects people.” Related Content Orton Family Foundation's Community Heart & Soul site (Orton is a statewide partner of PHC) Upper Chichester Heart & Soul Pennsylvania Community Heart & Soul
Professionals from across Pennsylvania, representing non-profits, government, arts, culture, humanities, and library services, attended Reimagining Community Engagement, a virtual event presented by PHC in partnership with the Office of Commonwealth Libraries during the summer of 2020. The event involved a three-part series to create a statewide network to learn and build humanities-based and equitable practices for the future of community engagement in our changing world. PART 1: From Inclusion to Belonging The first webinar in the series was kicked off by Philadelphia Poet Laureate Trapeta B. Mayson, who highlighted the danger of single story and inspired the group to explore experiences of belonging and disbelonging through storytelling. After Mayson’s talk and poetry performance, participants joined story circles in breakout groups and shared their own personal stories. Returning to the main discussion, they debriefed about what our stories tell us about belonging, inclusion, and community engagement. The event closed with Mayson leading a sensory poem, prompting the group to imagine what belonging looks, feels, tastes and sounds like. A word cloud was created from participants' responses. PART 2: Lessons From the Field The Reimagining Community Engagement series continued with a cross-sector panel conversation moderated by Michael O’Bryan from the Village of Arts and Humanities: Salina Almanzar, Lancaster-based Artist, Organizer, Scholar Mary Foltz, Director, Lehigh University South Side Initiative Lindsay Varner, Community Outreach Director, Cumberland County Historical Society Marcus P. Yuille, Outreach Manager, Erie County Public Library This second session discussed the power of cross-sector collaborations with artists and approaching work with community through inquiry and as lifelong learners. Panelists talked about trusting communities to know what they need, and centering community desires in institutional efforts and budgets. Finally, the group delved into what "belonging" means for staff within organizations and how to address institutional racism. PART 3: Connecting the Dots: Collective Action for a New Era The third and final Reimagining Community Engagement webinar featured an engaging panel moderated by Chester Made project manager Ulysses Slaughter and featured national leaders Carlton Turner from the Mississippi Center for Cultural Production, Tracie D. Hall from the American Library Association, and Ben Fink from Appalshop. Participants moved into deeper discussions about connection, taking action, and making meaningful change. To cap off the event, particpants submitted songs that they felt represented the current moment. Listen on Spotify.