Posts Tagged ‘From the Director’

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.


People who made the journey

Humanities Programs in Focus | June 25, 2019 | By:

From the Director Dena Wortzel

 

Every immigrant to Wisconsin has a unique story.  If you aren’t part of that story, or aren’t looking for it, you might miss it.

As immigration remains at the red-hot center of our politically divided nation, we decided at the WHC that we had to use the humanities to help people think about the immigrants among us — especially immigrants from south of the border. Read More


From the Director: The Shutdown, Wisconsin Humanities Council, and You

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

From the Director Dena Wortzel

You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone, right?  The government shutdown is increasingly having that effect, as people in Wisconsin experience what happens when federally-funded programs and services are not available. 

It is largely thanks to federal funding that, for 47 years, we’ve made the humanities a living, breathing part of your life and the lives of millions of people throughout Wisconsin. 

I’m not considering cancelling grant rounds or programs because of the shutdown.  I hope it will be over long before we would take such steps. Instead, today, the shutdown is a forceful reminder of why Americans have long believed that the humanities and the arts should receive federal support.

Democracy demands wisdom and vision in its citizens. It must therefore foster and support a form of education, and access to the arts and the humanities, designed to make people of all backgrounds and wherever located masters of their technology and not its unthinking servants. National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965 (P.L. 89-209)

That’s what we said as a nation in 1965 when Congress passed the bill that created the National Endowment for the Humanities and its sister for the arts.  We agreed then, as a nation, that the health of our democracy depends upon the humanities. 

Today we are divided as we were in 1965, and even more threatened by technological change.  It takes each of us, and all of us, to make the nation whole. Will you join me in renewing that agreement? 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

P.S. Please consider affirming your commitment to the humanities in Wisconsin by joining The Legacy Circle or making a recurring gift to the Wisconsin Humanities Council.



Because we all find ourselves disagreeing with people at one time or another. Use these tips to make sure you, and others, walk away feeling good. The Zeidler Center’s Katherine Wilson offers four strategies for hosting gatherings where difficult conversation is encouraged. She says, “The goal, and the challenge, is to help people disagree without being disagreeable and help people connect in ways they may not realize they can with people they may have de-humanized or othered.” Her four tools will help you get started or improve your programs and events!

From the Director: Taking Care of Local Treasures

Humanities Programs in Focus | December 20, 2018 | By:

From the Director Dena Wortzel

Responding to a natural disaster isn’t the WHC’s stock in trade. We are best known for giving grants to organizations that create programs like walking tours, museum exhibits and face-to-face community discussions. But last summer, when I started getting reports about torrential rains causing unprecedented flooding in the southwestern parts of our state, I worried about the organizations in those rural communities. A few phone calls and conversations revealed that libraries in La Valle, Ontario, Norwalk, Rock Springs and Viola all needed help. 

The WHC hadn’t worked with any of these libraries before, but in each of these small towns, the library is treasured.  In Rock Springs, at word of impending flooding, community members worked furiously to get everything out of the library before the rising water rendered their building unusable.  Today, that library is temporarily housed in a church basement.  Libraries in Ontario, Norwalk and Viola didn’t suffer quite as badly, but needed to replace lost items and make repairs. 

Fortunately, the WHC is an organization poised to help. Generally, we respond to community members who want help bringing their ideas for humanities programs to fruition, and we can provide expertise and funding. In this case, the real need was to keep these little libraries open! What they needed was money for books, shelves, carpets, and other basics.

I was in La Valle, population 367, last week to visit their library. The WHC has provided money to replace items that were damaged when water filled their building, covering the lower three shelves and destroying their entire children’s collection. I was thrilled to learn from Becky and Cindi that the La Valle Public Library, founded in 1903, plans to re-open soon.

Libraries are a critical source of information and of connection to the rest of the state and to the world.  Especially in rural communities. I’m so grateful to our donors, whose regular contributions meant that the WHC could instantly offer help when and where it was most needed.  Thank you on behalf of Becky and Cindi in La Valle,and all the other librarians and library supporters we are able to help.

Here’s wishing you a joyful holiday season and a new year rich in the humanities!

Becky, Cindi, and Dena at the La Valle Library; December 2018.



How to talk without fighting

Humanities Programs in Focus | September 12, 2018 | By:

Do you avoid talking about politics with someone in your family, for fear of conflict?  Have you clashed with a friend over an issue, and sadly found that more conversation made you both dig into your positions more deeply?  Read More


Immigration in Wisconsin: We Need the Humanities

Our Working Lives Project | August 15, 2018 | By:

Miguel Hernandez, pictured here, chooses to return to his hometown in Mexico after many years as a loyal and much-needed worker on a dairy farm. Los Lecheros is a short film that reveals the complexity of the current situation and the tension around Wisconsin dairy farms and undocumented workers.
Photo credit: Coburn Dukehart/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Since the day he announced his candidacy, the President’s statements on immigration have provoked intense reactions, both for and against.  It’s pretty emotional.  But how familiar are you – or are most Wisconsinites — with the people the President is talking about?  With immigrants living in communities throughout Wisconsin today, or with the laws that govern their lives, the jobs they hold, or the measurable as well as unquantifiable effects their presence has on all of our lives? Read More


What is the right response to hate?

Voices from the Field | August 17, 2017 | By:

Years ago, a friend of a friend was telling a story about a local horse deal, when she said something that took me aback.  Describing the deal, she said she had been “jewed down.”  Not only had I never heard a neighbor make a reference to Jews in any context, I had never in my life heard someone standing right in front of me say something anti-Semitic. 
 
Puzzling over it later, I was sure of two things:  1) that the person who used it was unthinking in her incorporation of an ugly stereotype into her vocabulary, and thus at some level into her worldview, and 2) that if she were asked to think about what it meant for Jewish people like me for such a phrase to be used, she would see the darker significance and gladly stop using it. 
 
When I saw reports of white supremacists with Nazi flags marching in Charlottesville, Read More