As daylight lengthens, foliage culminates, and fireflies emerge to meet the stars, humanities councils are examining cultural intersections and probing contemplative questions within their communities: What are the freedoms and responsibilities of citizens?; Whose voices will be heard?; How does one face “the unknown” and embrace change? This summer, councils are busy initiating bold and honest conversations with authors, artists, activists, and humanities fans alike.

In the nation’s capital, Humanities DC explored the dual impacts of artistry and activism during a virtual event and panel of young creatives entitled: “Creative Justice: The Local & National Impact of DC Youth Artist-Activist.” In conversation moderated by Humanitini Curator Grant Recipient Jordan Campbell, panelists discussed their artistic endeavors and “the strengths, challenges, and impacts of social justice movements of the recent past.” 

In Aiken, South Carolina, the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibition, Voices and Votes: Democracy in America engaged community members in a number of public programs and activities, including film screenings, documentary discussions, and a family festival, leading up to the exhibit’s grand opening on July 23. Sponsored by South Carolina Humanities, Voices and Votes: Democracy in America is “designed to be a springboard for discussions about questions that continue to impact Americans.” 

On July 13, Nevada Humanities partnered with Double Scoop to host “Art and Mental Health.” Attendees heard from local artists and panelists about their personal experiences and perspectives on the connections between mental health and artistry. The event uplifted Nevada Humanities’ mission “to build just and healthy communities through conversation and connection” and Double Scoop’s “ongoing efforts to report on the intersections between visual arts and the social issues that matter to Nevadans.” 

Brave conversations continue at Humanities North Dakota, who will soon host speaker and author Michelle Poler for a learning session entitled “Hello Fears: Crush Your Comfort Zone and Become Who You’re Meant To Be.” During her “100 Days Without Fear Experience,” Poler uncovered “that our needs not only motivate us, but they also limit us.” Poler teaches that “by learning how to prioritize and negotiate with our needs, we open a world of opportunities.” North Dakotans will explore topics of “daring to fail; leading with accountability; and highlighting authenticity” among others.

By authentically engaging our needs, embracing duality, and exploring convergence, we can build capacity for connection and for change. Humanities councils are committed to supporting this work—the making of meaningful connections and encouraging honest exploration within their communities. Through the humanities, individuals are able to identify society’s innumerous intersections and consider the bold questions life asks of us.

Written by: Jazzy DiMeglio