Grant Deadline Change!

Humanities Programs in Focus | March 27, 2020 | By:

From the Director Dena Wortzel

There was a moment today when I felt unstuck from time. I couldn’t remember when it was that I headed for home with no idea when I would be back in my office again. You probably have your own version of such a moment. I wish that momentary disorientation were all that anyone had to contend with right now.

As we focus on the need today, at the WHC we’re seeking ways to bring additional assistance to you, and to everyone we can possibly reach.

To help major grant applicants, we have extended the upcoming deadline to April 24 and reduced our request for paper copies. There are also changes to May 1 mini grant submissions. So if you are applying at either of these deadlines, please read these important instructions.

And if you’d like to be part of using the humanities to help in these hard times, I have an invitation for you. Think about a book that changed your life, and answer any of these prompts:

  • Book Title:
  • Author:
  • Tell us a little about what was going on in your life when you read the book.
  • Were there messages or characters or scenes in the book that really moved you?
  • Did this book somehow change you? Impact your choices? Influence the way you see things?
  • What made this book different for you?
  • Why would you recommend that others read this book?

I’d love to hear from you, and I might ask you whether I can share your thoughts with our humanities community.

Be well. Stay in touch. Find comfort in the connections we are sustaining with one another. And be sure to read the Love Wisconsin story next week—we promise it will make you smile!

Sincerely,

 

 


Faith, HOPE, and Love.

An essay shared by Jan Larson, WHC board member and chair of the Department of Journalism and Communication at UW-Eau Claire.

Today is my birthday. I could joke and claim the whole of Wisconsin shut down in celebration. Dancing in the streets to follow. But that wouldn’t be true. #SaferatHome.

Instead, I’ll tell you that I woke with a singular word rolling around in my head: Hope. I’ve been thinking about that word a lot lately. I even looked it up. To be sure. To remind myself. So I could hold its meaning in the close of my hand.

Hope — Expectation.

Hope did not come at my bidding. A friend and colleague had placed it like a farmer planting a seed. The head of a local writing group (and much more), he challenged his neighbors to use this time of unexpected slowness to share stories of hope. He did it to encourage community. He’s like that.

As I lay in bed unwilling to acknowledge the white gray sky and the dirt-flecked snow of March receding into the pine trees that line our property, I glanced up and smiled. Above our bedroom closet, I had as a young mother stenciled three clusters of pansies in shades of blue, yellow, violet and red – one bouquet for each of the three children I didn’t know we’d have but for whom we hoped. The stenciled art was an attempt to remind me of the spring that would follow the long Wisconsin winters. I don’t often remember they are there, but today, they greeted me with the promise of spring.

These delicate flowers made me hope for more than the blooms that spring invariably brings. I hope for, I expect, a time when the distance will fade and the virtual hugs we send our now young adult children will be replaced with open arms and heads nestled close to our hearts.

Hope. It’s a word that works well with others. I can’t think of hope without bumping into Faith. And, Love.

Like the ivy that twists its way through the pansies on my wall these words are linked. They are my heritage. The legacy from my pastor father who spent his adult life tramping through cotton fields among migrant farmworkers and later city barrios to proclaim hope.

My mother, an equal partner, his confidante and counselor had a depth of faith that sustained her in her middle years and beyond when she struggled with illness that threatened and sometimes succeeded in severing her hold on reality.

Faith: Complete trust or confidence

After my parents died in a car accident some years ago, one of my siblings sent me the Bibles they had carried with them. My mother’s constant companion sat by my nightstand for more than a year before I could bring myself to open it. When I unzipped the fabric cover, bits of twig and leaves – remnants of the crash that had somehow worked their way into cracks and crevices — fell from its pages.

The inside front covers bore her beautiful, precise handwriting and a long list of favored verses — verses of faith, hope and love. Verses that she shared with me as a child when others ridiculed and rejected me. As I re-read them, I was reminded of the hope, of the expectation, that someday, there would be love.

Love…well, we recognize it when see it.

I found that love in the eyes of man who has been my partner, confidante, counselor and friend for more than 30 years. His love is more than a feeling. It is a choice, a daily act on his part to be that person who loves me unconditionally.

As I face the final year of my fifth decade, a time of great uncertainty for the entire planet, I am able to draw on a lifetime of Faith…certain belief. Hope…expectation. And love…the greatest of these.

Together, they will allow me to weather the storm that has engulfed us all.

I hope the same for you.

 

 







Connection and Understanding

Voices from the Field | March 20, 2020 | By:

From the Director Dena Wortzel

Human connection and human understanding. That’s a pretty good distillation of everything that the WHC strives for. Now a health emergency is forcing the people of Wisconsin to keep our distance from one another, making it harder for each of us to nurture our connections. At the same time, the speed with which news about the virus just keeps coming is challenging our understanding.

All of us as the WHC are committed to supporting your connection with us and with one another while acting in the interest of public health and safety. Last week, that meant asking our partners and grantees who host events in their venues to follow Wisconsin Department of Health Services guidance to determine what programs should be rescheduled or cancelled. We will do the same for Beyond the Headlines: Wisconsin’s Water Future workshops scheduled for April and May. We will post updates on our website and Facebook as we make further decisions.

This week I’m starting conversations — with my staff and council members, and the larger community of which you, too, are a part — about how the WHC can foster a sense of human connection and bring some light to all our lives in this very challenging time.

We don’t know what next week will bring, but being forever connected to a large community of thoughtful, caring Wisconsinites despite “social distancing” lifts me up.

And to end, a little bit of good news! We made a mistake in our last E-Newsletter, which announced the grant awards we recently gave out. In fact, the we made awards totaling $86,894 (not $77,500, as previously announced). So again, thank you to all the good people and organizations around the state making strong connections and deepening understanding. You are what will brighten the future for all the people of Wisconsin.

Sincerely,

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. Stay tuned! We’ll be in touch over the coming weeks, but don’t hesitate to contact me via email anytime. And rest assured, all administrative processes related to grants are continuing normally.


Announcing Winter Grant Awards!

Humanities Programs in Focus | March 4, 2020 | By:

Winter Grant Awards 2020

We are excited to share the following list of Grant Awards totaling $86,894!


These grants support a range of projects that offer educational, cultural and civic opportunities for Wisconsinites around the state. 


We hope that reading about them will give you a little taste of the big ideas coming from communities of all sizes.


We also hope you’ll be inspired! Consider attending an event, applying for a grant, or contacting us to discuss your own communities’ needs!

The Wisconsin Humanities Council couldn’t fund these projects without support from the National Endowment of the Humanities, the State of Wisconsin, and private donors. This money invested in our state multiplies locally! Learn more…

Grant applications are reviewed by our board members, a group of people who represent the breadth of the humanities and the diversity of our state. In February, board members met in Madison to make funding decisions about Major Grants. We are excited to share the following list of Grant Awards totaling $86,894!


 

Wisconsin Humanities Council Grant Awards MapCongratulations to the following 15 organizations recently awarded Major Grants and Mini Grants in Brown, Chippewa, Clark, Dane, Douglas, Eau Claire, La Crosse, Milwaukee, Outagamie, Ozaukee, St. Croix, Vernon, and Washington Counties:


$2,000 to City of New Richmond   |  “Stories of Service” Veterans Oral History Project

The goal of this project is to open intergenerational discussion about our country’s conflicts and those who served their country and return to civilian life. The city will install interpretive trail signage along a walking trail in a city park, featuring photos and interview excerpts from local veterans. Local volunteers will be trained in oral history collection as part of the project.


$2,000 to Fox Cities Performing Arts Center (Appleton)  Middle Eastern Cultural Programming and Festival in the Fox Valley

This program will use the production of “The Band’s Visit,” which explores music and cultures in Egypt and Israel, as an opportunity to gain understanding about Middle Eastern cultures with community book discussions, talks and the showing of a documentary. This organization is new to WHC grants and we look forward to working with them! This project meets our focus on race and ethnicity.


$1,952 to Luxembourg Cultural Society and Center   Votes for Women! 2020 Cultural Conference|

This project aims to place the suffrage movement in Wisconsin in the context with what was happening at the same time in Europe. This organization is new to WHC grants and we look forward to working with them!


$2,000 to UW-Superior Refugees in Wisconsin: A Community Conversation

Our former ShopTalk speaker Khalil “Haji” Dokhanchi has expanded his discussion of refuges with a program that will engage with K-12 teachers. This program will engage several communities across the state in a discussion of the legal definition of refugees and migrants and their experiences, offer an interactive exhibit, and introduce teachers to children’s books by and about refugees and migrants.


$2,000 to La Crosse Public Library  2020 Regional Community Read of “Waking Up White”

This regional reading program creates venues for this predominantly white community to explore the origins of biases and gain awareness and empathy for the lived experiences of Americans of different backgrounds. The project builds on ongoing community work on issues of racism. This project meets our focus on race and ethnicity.


$2,000 to Mount Horeb Area Historical Society    |   3rd Annual Native Art Marketplace

Funds will be used to expand and enhance the museum’s annual Native Art Marketplace in collaboration with Little Eagle Arts Foundation to celebrate and showcase the art and culture of Wisconsin’s indigenous peoples. This project meets our focus on race and ethnicity.


$862 to UW-Eau Claire Ruth Foster Gallery   |  What’s Sex (Gender, Race, Place, Love) Got to Do with It?

A panel and Q&A as part of the Midwest Queertivities exhibit of visual and written artworks at the Ruth Foster Gallery at UW-Eau Claire will help participants explore the ways that a Midwestern regional affiliation intersects with affective identities.


$6,720 to Norskedalen   (Coon Valley) Moving History

This project will build an audio-based oral history that visitors can tune into to hear the story of the physical moving of the many historic buildings and the people who moved them: where they came from, how the buildings were de-assembled, transported, reassembled, and all the challenges and obstacles that were faced in this process.


$10,000 to Chippewa Valley Museum (Eau Claire)   Music of the North 

Eau Claire has laid claim to the identity of “Music City.” Working with community partners, the Chippewa Valley Museum will produce “Music of the North,” a 15-minute Object Theater show in its Farmhouse Theater that explores music in everyday life. This project will provide a deeper, more inclusive history of local music and help student and local resident audiences make connections between music heritage, local history, regional identity, and each other.


$10,000 UntitledTown    UntitledTown Book and Author Festival 2020

WHC has funded this festival since its inception. Now entering its fourth year, it has become an annual event for Green Bay that promotes storytelling and book culture. In 2020 the festival theme of Community will bring core questions in the humanities to an even wider audience in Northeastern Wisconsin through community partnerships and intentionally impactful programming.


$10,000 Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans Memorial Project (The Highground, Neillsville)  “We Were There-Korea” 

WHC is proud to again support a Highground traveling exhibit that collects the personal pictures, stories, and experiences of veterans. This time the focus is Korea. The exhibit will include era-specific uniforms and memorabilia, music, and, eventually, personal veteran interviews on DVDs.


$10,000 to Summit Player’s Theatre (Milwaukee)   |   Shakespeare in the State Parks – “The Winter’s Tale”

We’ve been proud to support this non-profit traveling theater company, which produces free workshops and performances in the Wisconsin State Parks. This season will include newly updated curriculum that relates the plot and characters of the play to its outdoor setting and the works of Shakespeare as a whole. Workshops take place prior to each performance free of charge for park patrons 25 times in 24 state parks and state forests around Wisconsin between June 13 and August 23, 2020.


$10,000 Neighborhood House of Milwaukee    Nature of Culture: Come Grow with Us!

This project is a dynamic initiative for low income Milwaukee youth focused on historical and artistic exploration of culture in Milwaukee from 1945-2020. The project will engage children in activities that examine arts and culture over time, how people have used the arts to express positive and challenging aspects of community, and how cultures influence artistic expression. Children learn about key visual art styles such as abstract art, graffiti and pop art, as well as musical genres like jazz, blues and Latin music, and popular dance forms like the cakewalk, tap and hip hop.


$8,000 to Milwaukee Public Library Foundation   |   Recalling Milwaukee’s Socialist History

With the Democratic National Convention (DNC) convention in Milwaukee in 2020, interest has increased in Milwaukee’s unique local history as the largest city governed for four decades, and well into the twentieth century, by three mayors identified as socialists. Utilizing the library’s vast archive collection for its Socialist mayors, the library will design, create and facilitate a multi-media exhibit. This organization is new to WHC grants and we look forward to working with them!


$9,360 Museum of Wisconsin Art (West Bend)   |   “Wisconsin Funnies: Fifty Years of Comics” Exhibition, Programs and Catalog

This exhibition includes hand-drawn comic originals, spanning the late 1960s to the present, representing sixteen artists. The exhibition will be hosted in two locations: MOWA’s West Bend home and MOWA/DTN, the new outpost located in Saint Kate the Arts Hotel in downtown Milwaukee. Because the exhibition will coincide with the Democratic National Convention, the MOWA/DTN component will focus on the relationship between comics and politics. The West Bend component will explore the legacy of Kitchen Sink Press — Wisconsin’s most significant comics publisher.


Sign up to get ENews

 


New Humanities Voices: Introducing Jodi and Cris

Humanities Programs in Focus | January 23, 2020 | By:

Jodi and Cris love words. We are lucky to start off 2020 with each of them bringing more poetry, connection and exploration to our work around Wisconsin!

Poetry Matters

Welcome Jodi! Jodi Vander Molen is passionate about poetry and using the power of language to give us reason to laugh, hope, and connect. She grew up on a small farm, performs at open mics, has a weekly haiku habit, and is the WHC’s new representative on the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission! We are one of six organizations that supports the Poet Laureate in acting as a statewide emissary for poetry and creativity.

 


¡Mi travesía hasta Wisconsin! 

Welcome Cris! Cris has been part of the Wisconsin Languages Project at UW-Madison, where he documents stories from Heritage Spanish speakers around the state. Originally from Puerto Rico, we are thrilled to have him here, helping to expand the reach of our Immigrant Journeys from South of the Border: ¡Mi travesía hasta Wisconsin! exhibit. Coming soon: A statewide tour of the exhibit!

 

Grant Program: Contact us if you have any questions! 


Happy New Year! A Vision for the Future

Voices from the Field | January 10, 2020 | By:

From the Director Dena Wortzel

Happy New Year!

Maybe it’s the energy that comes after a break, or just the result of eating too many holiday treats, but since the first of the year I’ve been in a frenzy of list-making.  Here are some of the top items on my “new for 2020” list. I hope you’ll add them to yours!

Beyond the Headlines:  Wisconsin’s Water Future 2020

In communities in the Coulee region, greater Green Bay, the Northwoods, Wausau, Eau Claire, and near Lake Superior, we’re hosting workshops and community conversations about the many water challenges we face, and how to tell deeply-informed water stories that help us move our communities forward.  The first workshop is on April 25 in La Farge.

Immigration in Wisconsin

Cris Font-Santiago, a UW humanities dissertator and native of Puerto Rico, is joining the WHC team this month to coordinate the statewide tour of our exhibition, Immigrant Journeys from South of the Border ¡Mi travesía hasta Wisconsin!.  He’s really looking forward to working with local hosts around the state.  Stay tuned for the schedule, or contact me if you would like to be considered as a host.

Sharing the power of the humanities

So many amazing things are happening – community conversations, performances, exhibits, and more — of which I am proud that the WHC plays a part. I hope you’ll be inspired this summer, when I invite you to experience our new website and listen to our inaugural podcast.  You’ll hear about what people in other parts of the state are doing, and what they care about – curious people like you, who love Wisconsin.  And it’s going to be easier to apply for grants, when we unveil our new online grant application portal!

So stay tuned!  And write me a note to tell me what you’re excited about in 2020!

 

 

 

P.S.  Start 2020 on a positive note and meet people who are doing amazing things: Get a copy of the gorgeous Love Wisconsin book when you give a monthly gift of $10 or more!  I look forward to sending you a copy with my warmest thanks!


We all have a water story. And the water stories around us grow more complex every day. What do we know about extreme rainfall and PFAS and why the Great Lakes are at record highs?  Who can we turn to and who should we trust to find out?

We’re excited to announce that Beyond the Headlines will be focusing on Wisconsin’s Water Future statewide, thanks to a generous grant of almost $35,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as part of its Democracy and the Informed Citizen initiative. We’ll be hosting events and activities in six regions of the state in 2020 and 2021 that will bring journalists, community members and experts together to delve into Wisconsin’s water stories.

We’re kicking it off April 25th in La Farge with a workshop that convenes journalists, community leaders and experts on the past, present and future of Coulee Region waters.

We’ll be following this with a workshop on Northwoods water issues May 8th in Rhinelander, and on Greater Green Bay issues May 29th.  Additional events to be scheduled will focus on Lake Superior (Ashland), Chippewa Valley (Eau Claire) and Central Wisconsin (Wausau).

WHC launched Beyond the Headlines in 2018 in response to concerns about the public’s declining trust in the news media and the loss of local news outlets and the capacity to inform the public about important issues. Research shows that the loss of local news outlets leads to a decline in civic participation and an erosion of democracy.

Wisconsin has a rich water heritage that has shaped its communities and even the identities of its residents. What does the future hold? What are your water stories? We look forward to these important conversations in 2020!


 


This is what the humanities look like

Humanities Programs in Focus | December 18, 2019 | By:

Share your photography skills to help us tell the story of the Wisconsin Humanities Council!

*Deadline has passed

 

The Wisconsin Humanities Council is seeking photographers who specialize in event and portrait photography. Professional photographers living in every region of Wisconsin are invited to apply.

Selected photographers will become part of our roster and may be hired to photograph events and people for WHC print and digital publications and marketing. Photographers will be hired on a job-by-job basis.

Details:

  • Professional photographers from every region of the state are encouraged to apply.
  • Submission DEADLINE HAS PASSED.
  • Hourly rates of $150-$250 will be agreed upon depending on the job. Travel costs may be compensated depending on the job. Editing expectations will be discussed depending on the job.
  • Photographers who are selected to be included on the roster will be asked to file W-9 forms to facilitate payment.
  • Work done for the WHC will become WHC property and the WHC will assume rights to publish in print and digital medium with photographer credit given on the WHC website. (Photographers maintain rights to use their photos to promote their own work).

The Humanity in Each of Us

The WHC’s mission is to use history, culture and conversation to strengthen community life for everyone in Wisconsin. Our story is made up of your stories. We are committed to working with and representing the diverse populations of our state. 

Questions:

Contact Jessica Becker at 608-263-3155 or via email with questions.


Announcing Fall Grant Awards!

Humanities Programs in Focus, Tips for Grant Writers | October 30, 2019 | By:

We are excited to share the following list of Grant Awards totaling $42,700!

The Wisconsin Humanities Council administers the only grant program in the state devoted to the public humanities. Every year, we give away $200,000 in grants to organizations that provide original programs for people all over the state. Our grant program is open seven times a year, with two categories of grants (smaller and larger grants), so we can respond directly to the people who know the needs of their community.

Grant applications are reviewed by our board members, a group of people who represent the breadth of the humanities and the diversity of our state. This October, board members met in Madison to make funding decisions about Major Grants. We are excited to share the following list of Grant Awards totaling $42,700!

The Wisconsin Humanities Council couldn’t fund these projects without support from the National Endowment of the Humanities, the State of Wisconsin, and private donors. This money invested in our state multiplies locally! Learn more…

WHC board meeting October 2019

Board members meet three times a year in person to review Major Grant Applications. Pictured here are board members at the Pyle Center on UW-Madison campus. CENTER: WHC Director Dena Wortzel and WHC Board Chair Arnold Chevalier.


 

Congratulations to the following 8 organizations recently awarded Major Grants and Mini Grants in Brown, Waukesha, Milwaukee, Dane, Door and Marathon Counties:

$2,000 to Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Educational Foundation (Green Bay) | Kao Kalia Yang Presentation

WHC funds will help the college bring Hmong author Kao Kalia Yang to the Green Bay campus to provide a community lecture and workshop open to staff, students, and the community. Yang is the author of “The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir” and “The Song Poet.” Her works speaks to the refugee and immigrant experiences and she will address issues of literacy and education, as well as race and class of the Hmong people.  This project is part of our focus on race and ethnicity.

$2,000 to UWM Waukesha Foundation |  Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books

We’re pleased to again support the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books, a free community celebration of literacy and arts. The 2019 theme is Opening Doors: A Decade of the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books.

$2,000 to Crossroads at Big Creek (Sturgeon Bay) | The Big Dig at Crossroads, Fall 2019 

The Big Dig is an authentic archaeological experience for middle school students of Door County. Funds from the grant enable students to have an archaeological experience that include shovel testing, unit excavation, a flintknapping demonstration, flotation machine use, and the cleaning and classification of artifacts.

$2,000 to Wisconsin Veterans Museum Foundation | Talking Spirits XXI: Forest Hill Cemetery Tour

This popular award-winning living history program illuminates the lives of many prominent and lesser-known figures in Wisconsin history. This year’s theme, “Service Beyond the War,” featured five theatrical performances by actors portraying people with a range of perspectives on both the Civil War and the growth of Wisconsin afterward.

$10,000 to UW-Milwaukee | The Gun Violence Project: Narratives of Violence in Milwaukee 

We’re proud to help fund an important collaborative effort to map the human experiences of gun violence in Wisconsin, beginning with the Milwaukee area. Using a digital platform, this evolving resource will share the audio stories, images, and interactive maps to help engage the community understanding the realities of gun violence at its aftermath.

$5,525 to First Stage Milwaukee | Courage in Storytelling: Workshops inspired by regional premiere GRETEL! 

We’re pleased to again support First Stage’s Foundry Stage Series production and workshops. The musical theater production reinterprets and combines the folktales of “Vasilisa the Beautiful” and “Hansel and Gretel,” relating how a girl overcomes life’s obstacles with courage, perseverance, determination and kindness. The reach of this project includes extended programming for Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee.

$9,175 to Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service (WIPPS) | Conversations About Immigration in Marathon County 

WHC funds support a three-part series designed to lay out facts, bust myths, provide local perspective and make space for conversations on how the issue of immigration affects central Wisconsin communities. This project is part of our focus on race and ethnicity.

$10,000 to Music Theatre of Madison | INDECENT: A Tony-winning play with extensive significance 

We’re pleased to support this ambitious presentation of “Indecent,” a play the explores themes of anti-semitism, censorship, sexuality, and love of art. In association with this production, MTM will work in collaboration with numerous community partners to provide supporting educational materials.


 


ShopTalk Takes A Bow

Humanities Programs in Focus, Our Working Lives Project | October 24, 2019 | By:

From the Director Dena Wortzel

In the years since we launched the Working Lives Project, a lot has changed in the economy and even in the nature of work itself.  I’m so happy that we were able to help people across the state reflect with one another on the past, present, and future of work.

Today, I want to give a special shout-out to the two dozen presenters who made the ShopTalk speaker program such a success.  This month, we’re celebrating the completion of the program, which brought over 200 presentations and lively conversations about work to communities from Bayfield to Milwaukee, from Rice Lake to Cross Plains.

“ShopTalk topics were timely and timeless, and seemed designed to spark discussion and foster connections among humans,” said one library host.

Space doesn’t permit me to list every speaker and talk, but among our most popular were Corey Saffold on the paradox of being African American and a police officer, Jim Leary sharing the folksong traditions of Wisconsin workers, Rachel Monaco-Wilcox educating audiences about human trafficking, Alan Anderson on the forgotten craftsmen who build Frank Lloyd Wright’s furniture, and Jesus Salas on migrant workers in Wisconsin.

As we celebrate the end of the Working Lives Project, I want to offer my thanks as we say good-bye to Carmelo Dávila, who directed the project and brought his passion to the sparking of great humanities conversations.


PS: We are so excited that Governor Tony Evers has proclaimed October Arts and Humanities Month in Wisconsin! Thanks to our partners at the Wisconsin Arts Board for their great work around the state. And thanks to all of you for being part of this work, every month of the year!

 


Arts & Humanities: Two peas in a pod?

Humanities Programs in Focus, Voices from the Field | October 16, 2019 | By:

Summit Players Theatre Shakespeare in the Park

This summer the Summit Players are performing Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” at 17 state parks around Wisconsin. The free performances include an all-ages educational workshop on Shakespearean history, language and characters. This program, which combines historical insight, audience reflection, and conversation with a theatrical performance has been funded with grants from the Wisconsin Humanities Council two times.

What is the difference between ‘the arts’ and ‘the humanities?’

Here at the Wisconsin Humanities Council, we regularly discuss the different ways to define and understand ‘the humanities.’ We are aware that, as a term, it puts a label on a can of squishy, wriggling worms. Let’s face it, most people don’t find themselves dropping the words ‘the humanities’ in regular chit-chat.
The arts, though. That is a somethings we all can talk about a little more easily. So, how are these two categories distinct, and where do they blend together? As humans with brains wired for creativity, curiosity, and contemplation, can they really be considered as separate pursuits?
To get at these perennial questions, we are republishing one of our most popular blog posts. We think you’ll enjoy it!

Untold Stories and Arts@Large participant work on exhibit.

Organized by LOTUS Legal Clinic, the ‘Untold Stories’ program has received multiple WHC grants.  In an intimate workshop setting, survivors of sexual or domestic violence or human trafficking study literature, poetry, and other expressive writing to begin to put their own experiences into context and develop their skills in testimonial writing. Through a partnership with the Arts@Large program, middle and high school students who are studying gender-based violence create artistic responses to the written work of the ‘Untold Stories’ participants.

For many of us, the arts and the humanities go hand-in-hand. Our experiences in both life and in our work illustrate how the things we call The Arts (like theater, dance, music, and visual art forms) are influenced by, and intertwined with, the the things we call The Humanities (like history, philosophy, literature and folklore). And vice versa.

Read More


Staff Summer Reading List 2019

Voices from the Field | August 13, 2019 | By:

It is August! Oh my!

Our annual staff summer reading list is always fun to put together. This year it was a reminder for many of us of how quickly the season seems to be flying by and how many books there are still waiting to be read. But no worries:  the cooler months make for cozy reading, too. As the novelist Stephen King said, “Books are a uniquely portable magic.”

Here are a few of the books on our minds and in our hands right now! Happily, since a book is timeless, we think you’ll find recommendations from past years that inspire you, too!

Happy reading!


From Meg:  Summer is just racing by and I haven’t done anywhere near as much reading as I’d hoped. I’m halfway though “Little Faith” by Nickolas Butler and I’ve just picked up “This Storied River – Legend & Lore of the the Upper Mississippi” by former WHC board member Dennis McCann. “Little Faith” (also recommended by Gail below!) explores the family dynamic that emerges when different perspectives on faith clash over how best to care for a sick child. It sets this story in a richly detailed Wisconsin seasonal and cultural landscape as grandparents struggle to remain in the lives of their ill grandchild. I’m really enjoying it. I’ve only just begun to dig into “This Storied River,” which I was excited to read after hearing the author tell one of the stories in it.  The unique stories about places along the Mississippi River, from effigy mounds to the button boom, speak to my love of rivers and history.

 


From Shawn: I’m reading a book that was a National Book Award Finalist in 2014 titled “Citizen, An American Lyric,” by Claudia Rankine. In parabolic prose poems, photos, art and essays, the book elucidates the raw impact of emotional injury the author personally experienced or witnessed from subtle and unexpected moments when racism surfaced – between she and friends, between she and colleagues, and among strangers on the train headed for Union Station. There is also the tumult of being rendered invisible (hence, insignificant) by society at large which shows up in the news every day, and in gestures and the facial expressions of neighbors in drugstore check-out lines. This book is a painful read no matter the color of your skin. Carve out enough time to process the shock of it.

 

 


From Carmelo: This summer I was up for light and fun reading. I finally took one of my wife’s reading recommendations seriously and picked up her beat-up pocketbook copy of “Good Omens” by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (after 15 years of insistence on her part).  A TV series based on the book is now streaming on Amazon Prime (I won’t be watching it until I’m through with the book!). This now-classic comedic novel tells the story of the attempts of Heaven and Hell to finally unleash the Apocalypse and the efforts of an unlikely alliance between an angel named Aziraphale and a demon named Crowley to thwart such prophetic attempts. Aziraphale and Crowley have both been living among humans for thousands of years, and have therefore developed an appreciation for all things humans and, in the particular case of Crowley, for earthly pleasures. The plan? To swap babies, so baby Antichrist be placed with a normal human family, instead of his designated Demon family, to sabotage the implementation of the book of Revelations prophecy. From page one I realized that the irony in this book is to die for. The humor in these pages reaches Apocalyptic proportions very quickly. Wonderful reading if you want to decompress or recharge through laughter!


From Jessica: For fans of Barbara Kingsolver’s characters and storytelling, it is a treat when a new book comes out. I loved her latest, “Unsheltered,” a story set in Vineland, New Jersey. The real city of Vineland was established by a property developer in the 1860s as an alcohol-free utopian society based on agriculture and progressive thinking. In the book, chapters alternate between a family living in a crumbling home of dubious historic importance in modern times with a family living in nearly the same spot in the early years of the city’s founding. Delightfully, the last two words of each chapter form the title of the next chapter, allowing the ideas in the two stories to weave together poetically.  Characters in both families find their beliefs about the world coming unhinged just as the literal roofs on their homes collapse and threaten to make the families homeless, or unsheltered. I especially enjoyed learning about Mary Treat, a real-life botanist and entomologist who corresponded with Darwin, studied the carnivorous plants of the pine barrens, and brought new scientific ideas to popular audiences in her regular pieces in magazines like Harper’s. When visiting family in New Jersey this summer, I made a point of going to Batso Village to see where Mary Treat set off into the woods for her plant studies!


 

From Dena: What better time than summer to read something thoroughly addictive? I’m half-way into the second of the four Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante and will not stop until I’ve read them all (“My Brilliant Friend,” “The Story of a New Name,” “Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay,” “and “The Story of the Lost Child.”)  Their driving force is the friendship between two women, beginning with their childhood in a working class neighborhood in Naples.  Either character alone would be fascinating enough to carry an entire novel.  The two together, and Ferrante’s brilliant depiction of their friendship and their struggles in life and with one another, are mesmerizing.  The emotional complexity of the two characters is so convincing that I’m sure, like me, you’ll decide they must be real.  Add a ton of great plot, great secondary characters, and some ocean…. Maybe you’ve heard that HBO did a version, but don’t even think of watching instead of reading!

 


From Gail: I’m also recommending “Little Faith” by Wisconsin writer Nick Butler. I was fortunate to work with Nick years ago and have read all his books. I can recommend them all. But this one I really enjoyed. It is subtle and powerful, and beautifully written. In an interview, he explained: “I don’t know how NOT to be influenced by the people I love, namely my family and friends. I also don’t know how to write about the world I’m struggling to understand, the world I’m trying to celebrate, the world I’m trying to critique, without incorporating my own feelings, perceptions, and history.  So it often seems that my books very much have the fingerprints of real people all over their pages. ” As for the inspiration for this story, he said, “I’d been thinking about the Kara Neumann case since 2008 when her death came to light.  It was just a horrendous story and something that still resonates with any adult who was alive at that time, but especially those with children.”

 


In conclusion, in the words of Nick Butler: “Read a book.  Any book. Thanks.”

What we were reading last summer

Books we loved in 2017

Our 2016 Summer Reading Picks

Top Summer Reading Selections in 2015

The first WHC Summer Reading List