Throughout October, the Federation celebrated the ways in which councils are centering community, connection, and exploration through their public humanities programs year-round. National Arts and Humanities Month is a time to appreciate how the humanities help us relate to one another, to our environments and histories, and to more deeply realize our personal impacts and interconnectivity. Some council staff describe “the humanities” using words like “curiosity,” “relationships,” “perspectives,” and “idea-sharing.” These concepts are reflected in and uplifted by council programs:

Alaska Humanities Forum’s Kindling Conversation program provides themed conversational toolkits, direct host support, and $250 in funding to Alaskans who are interested in initiating community conversations that are “tailored to connect people across differences and foster inclusive spaces throughout the state.” Each hand-crafted toolkit includes a focused discussion guide, community agreements, a “springboard” of learning resources, and even participant surveys. 

Minnesota Humanities Center’s We Are Water MN program strengthens statewide connections and supports communities, organizations, and individuals in “making better, more collaborative, and more relevant choices about water.” Through partnerships, public events, a traveling exhibition, educator resources, and even the Watershed podcast, We Are Water MN prompts participants to consider their relationships to water on a deeper level. Exhibit goers examine water issues on statewide and community levels by listening to personal stories, learning histories, and scientific information.

The New Jersey Council for the Humanities’ Community History program focuses on broadening history by sharing untold or underrepresented  stories and allowing local organizations “to learn the ins and outs of public history while developing their own projects with their communities.” This program consists of learning sessions, one-on-one meetings with program staff, and developing unique, community-based history projects in a collaborative cohort environment. Watch the recent Community History 2022 showcase

In collaboration with Eastern Shoshone, Northern Arapaho, Northern Cheyenne, Crow, Ute, and Lakota Nations, Wyoming Humanities’ Native Narratives initiative aims to expand the state’s narrative through educational and cultural preservation projects.“ Part of the Native Narratives initiative, the council’s Two Nations – One Reservation exhibits introduce “the story of the treaties, laws, events, and people that shaped the history of the Wind River Indian Reservation.”

The humanities help us to reflect and reimagine in the wake of a changing world. Whether through collaborative learning cohorts, rekindling community conversations, or educational pop-up kiosks, councils are fostering meaningful connections, centering community, and expanding historical storytelling this October and every month of the year. 

Written by Jazzy DiMeglio