New PHC Project Connects Journalism to Resident-Led Community Development

March 12, 2018

The Federation for State Humanities Councils recently awarded PHC a grant for $35,693 to facilitate a community dialogue in Chester and Carlisle, focused on understanding the roles that journalists and residents can play in telling a community’s story and motivating positive change. 

Through storytelling and conversation, the goal is for journalists to gain insight into the ways that residents and grassroots organizations can help reveal the complex truths of their community. Likewise, the project aims for community members – including residents, activists, artists, and local historians – to better understand the tools and perspectives journalists bring to exploring these same subjects.

This grant comes from the Federation’s “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” program, which seeks to examine how journalism and the humanities can enrich understanding of local and national issues and inspire an engaged citizenry. A collaboration with the Pulitzer Prizes, the grant requires collaboration with a Pulitzer Prize winner or finalist to explore these issues. 


One project will build on the community-driven efforts through Carlisle Heart & Soul to preserve local sites of African American history and struggle, including an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church and cemetery that was founded by a freed slave as well as an Underground Railroad and Civil War trail. Community dialogue will focus on contextualizing historical racism in Carlisle and exploring how it informs present-day relationships, as well as how these issues are covered in local media.

The other project connects to Chester Made, a collaborative led by PHC, local artists, the City of Chester, and Widener University. One of the recurrent themes we have encountered in Chester is resident concern about negative media coverage that focuses on violence rather than stories about citizens making positive change. Our project will organize a community discussion around these issues of image and the role that residents can have in changing that narrative. 

In both Carlisle and Chester, we anticipate holding facilitated community meetings later this year. The meetings will be recorded for broadcast on partner radio stations, podcast release, and segments for local, regional, and national radio, ensuring that this work has a broad reach. 

This program is part of the “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” Initiative, administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils. The initiative seeks to deepen the public’s knowledge and appreciation of the vital connections between democracy, the humanities, journalism, and an informed citizenry.

We thank The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their generous support of this initiative and the Pulitzer Prizes for their partnership.

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