Happy New Year! A Vision for the Future

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!


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