Humanities Iowa Awards $130,710 in Major Grants

Fall 2010

Humanities Iowa, the local affiliate for the National Endowment for the Humanities, awarded $130,710 in grants to fund projects across the state during its board meeting on June 12 and 13 in Perry, IA. This year, the major grants will be distributed to 16 different organizations. The awards were selected through a competitive application and review process and are made possible through Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Major Grants awarded for Spring 2011, Fall 2010, Spring 2010, and Fall 2009.

The grants awarded are:

Title of Project: Dallas County Conservation Board
Sponsoring Organization: Prairie Awakening--A Journey into Indigenous Learning Workshop
Grant: $4,850
Project Description: The project aims to foster an understanding of and connection with indigenous people and landscape. Native Americans will share their cultural beliefs and traditions with the general public and school children. Goals of the project include: returning indigenous cultural activities to the landscape, providing a forum for non-Native and Native people to participate in environmental and cultural appreciation activities, and fostering and strengthening partnerships between the Native and non-Native community and cultural and natural resource–based agencies. The Saturday “Prairie Awakening” includes music, dance, and storytelling by people from several indigenous nations from the U.S. and Canada. Facilitation and commentary will be provided by scholars who are members of Native nations. In the week before the Prairie Awakening, one of the scholars, Dallas Chief Eagle, will visit four school districts, a senior care facility, and the Woodward State Resource School.

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Title of Project: Farm Crisis of the 1980s Documentary Development
Sponsoring Organization: Iowa Public Television
Grant: $15,000
Project Description: The project is a one-hour high definition documentary that will focus on the farm crisis of the 1980s. During that decade, thousands of farmers went into bankruptcy, agricultural land values dropped by one-third nationally, and rural communities suffered the greatest damage since the Great Depression. The documentary will examine the causes of the crisis, how agriculture changed as a result, and how small towns and communities were affected by this change. The grant project encompasses the planning phase and will produce a program treatment in consultation with scholars, a videorecorded panel discussion that will be used as resource material for the documentary and may result in a self-contained television program to air on IPTV, and a video trailer for promotional and fundraising purposes.

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Title of Project: Iowa Archaeology Month 2010, Touring across Iowa's Past
Sponsoring Organization: University of Iowa Office of State Archaeologist
Grant: $10,000
Project Description: Iowa Archaeology Month is an annual statewide event sponsored by OSA. OSA will organize a “Team Archaeology” to bike the entire RAGBRAI route, interacting with hundreds of riders and community residents and pointing out archaeological sites and resources along the route. An outreach team will set up a traveling exhibit five communities along the route: Sioux City, Washta-Quimby, Stout, Rockford, and Quasqueton. The latter four towns represent communities in between major overnight stops, and are all located in areas rich in archaeology and history, providing a wealth of humanities content. An interactive website is also a component of the project.

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Title of Project: Peace Through Corn Living History Outreach
Sponsoring Organization: Creating Great Places
Grant: $6,000
Project Description: Project proposes eight performances of the play “Peace Through Corn,” by Cynthia Mercati, to be produced throughout Iowa. The 50-minute play, featuring John Earl Robinson and Michael Cornelison as Nikita Khrushchev and Roswell Garst, is based on original dialogue between the two men as reflected in their extensive correspondence, memoirs, and press accounts.

Creating Great Places is offering eight Iowa cultural organizations the opportunity to host a presentation of the two-man play “Peace Through Corn.” in exchange for just a nominal administrative fee. The application can be found here. Applications must be received by September 6, 2010 to be considered. Questions? Contact producer Robert Ford at 619-322-9628 or robertjohnford(at)gmail(dot)com

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Title of Project: City of Literature
Sponsoring Organization: University of Iowa Center for Media Production
Grant: $10,000
Project Description: The project is a one-hour documentary on the place of literature in Iowa City and the place of Iowa City in American and world literature, highlighting and explaining its status as a UNESCO City of Literature. It proposes to examine the power of creative writing and offer a window into the writing process while exploring the history, diversity, and vitality of the Iowa City–University of Iowa writing community and the value and impact the literary arts have in modern society.

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Title of Project: The Story of Music, Stories from Home
Sponsoring Organization: Picaresque II
Grant: $7,500
Project Description: Project is a series of nine public programs using music history and spoken word as the means to examine the power of stories to establish individual identity, create a sense of community, and celebrate the importance of place. Musician Lauren Pelon will use voice and approximately 20 ancient and modern instruments, and writer Gary Holthaus will employ stories and poems from growing up in Iowa and living and working more recently with Midwest farmers. Programs are to take place in Decorah, Grinnell, Spencer, Altoona, Centerville, Mt. Pleasant, Ames, and Belle Plaine in October 2010, and Cedar Falls in May 2011.

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Title of Project: Movie Star: The Secret Lives of Jean Seberg
Sponsoring Organization: Historical Society of Marshall County
Grant: $12,000
Project Description: Documentary on the international actress Jean Seberg, who was born and raised in Marshalltown. Her life is a colorful and dramatic story that can illuminate social, cultural, and political issues of the 1960s and ’70s. This production is a collaboration of the project director and Fourth Wall Films. Interviews have been completed with primary participants in the U.S. and France, and with others in Iowa and Los Angeles. This phase will encompass production in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, and Georgia this summer; interview transcription; and an assemblage of footage. The final editing and finishing is planned for 2011.

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Title of Project: 120 Acres: An American Farm
Sponsoring Organization: Northwest Film Forum
Grant: $14,860
Project Description: Project is a feature-length documentary that tells the story of the Swansons, Iowa farmers who stay small in an era of mega-farms. It takes the audience inside the lives of one close-knit Iowa family while exploring the questions of farm size and family-based operations: Why have farms become bigger and bigger in the last 50 years? What has this done to rural communities? What are the risks and rewards of staying family-size? What part do some of the newer small farms play in the community?

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Title of Project: Thursday's Children
Sponsoring Organization: State Historical Society of Iowa
Grant: $5,000
Project Description: The project is an original musical theater production based on events in the 1960s that led to the landmark Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines Public School District, which extended First Amendment protections to symbolic protests by students in public schools. The play will have 16 performances in the Iowa Public Theatre at the State Historical Museum in fall 2010. Two public pre-show discussion forums with humanities scholars, the writer/composers, and individuals involved in the actual historical events, including Mary Beth Tinker. Other project activities include a teacher/parent study guide and a Vietnam War exhibit in the museum. The project will involve professional artists, museum curators, educators, legal professionals, civil rights experts, and religious scholars to explore the political, social, legal, and cultural impact of the case.

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Title of Project: M&M Divide Interpretive Park Educational Panels
Sponsoring Organization: Carroll County Conservation Board
Grant: $9,000
Project Description: Project consists of interpretive displays at an outdoor park that sits on the Missouri and Mississippi Divide, and a lecture by ISU associate professor Heidi Hohmann on the many features of historical significance at the site. The educational panels will cover the history related to the M&M Divide landform and the watersheds it divides; Native American tribal history related to the divide; explanation of the Des Moines Lobe of the Wisconsin glacier; how the divide affected steam railroad history; and wind energy and its relationship to the divide. Another display will focus on the Lincoln Highway, the first national coast-to-coast designated highway (1913), which passed nearby.

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Title of Project: Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America and Symposium
Sponsoring Organization: Dubuque County Historical Society
Grant: $10,000
Project Description: The project involves an exhibit and presentations on the role of Roman Catholic nuns in the history of America, from the founding of the U.S. through the Civil Rights Movement. The exhibit is a national touring exhibit developed and sponsored by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in association with Cincinnati Museum Center. It features artifacts, oral history listening stations, touchscreen interactives, and videos of historical footage. The main themes of the exhibit are: Pioneer Spirit, Prejudice Within and Without, Courage and Care, Community and Nation Building, and New Frontiers. The presenters at special events will be John Fialka, historian and journalist; Carol K. Coburn, Ph.D., professor of religious studies and women's studies at Avila University; and Helen Maher Garvey, Ed.D., national coordinator of the touring exhibit.

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Title of Project: The Ubiquity of Work: Telling the Story of the History and Heritage of Iowa Labor
Sponsoring Organization: St. Ambrose University
Grant: $5,000
Project Description: A year-long (2010–11) interdisciplinary series of events telling the story of the role that work has played in the human experience. Public lectures, panel discussions, a film festival, artistic exhibitions and performances will examine labor, work and employment from cultural, historical, artistic, philosophical, humanistic, and practical perspectives while focusing on the history and heritage of Iowa's contributions to union and labor movements and workplace innovations.

The project’s objectives are to engage the community in exploring both academic and practical applications of work; to heighten students’ and community members’ awareness of the value of their own work experiences by putting them into historical, cultural, and political contexts; to identify gendered, ethnic, and generational differences in attitudes about and realities of work; and to examine work that is overlooked or invisible, such as reproductive labor and the work of creating art.

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Title of Project: Beyond the Score: New World Symphony
Sponsoring Organization: Des Moines Symphony Association
Grant: $5,000
Project Description: Project involves two public performances of a program developed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra that focuses on Dvořák’s New World Symphony. The first half of the performance is a multimedia educational presentation on the history and influences of the work, incorporating video and slides, two narrators, an actor, a vocalist, and the orchestra. It examines the time Dvořák spent in America, highlighting the summer he spent in Spillville (1893), and the inspiration he derived from African American and Native American music, as well as his longing for his home in Bohemia. The second half of the program will be the orchestra's performance of the full symphony. The conductor, actors, and the symphony’s music lecturer will engage the audience in Q&A after each performance.

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Title of Project: Roshek Redevelopment Historical Display II: The People, Brand & Building
Sponsoring Organization: Dubuque Initiatives
Grant: $7,500
Project Description: Project involves the construction of museum-quality display panels in the Locust St vestibule entrances of the newly renovated Roshek Building in downtown Dubuque, which is now occupied by an IBM technology service center. The panels will tell the story of the Rosheks and their department store and will also feature other Dubuque buildings and their “then and now” stories.

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Title of Project: Lamoni's 8th Annual Civil War Days Reenactment & Living History Farms Festival
Sponsoring Organization: Civil War Days
Grant: $5,000
Project Description: A three-day event held annually over the Labor Day weekend that presents both civilian and military aspects of the United States of the mid-19th century. A Friday School Day Program attracts as many as 500 students, and Saturday and Sunday activities draw up to 1,500 spectators to the encampment. Re-enactors portray Civil War infantry, cavalry, artillery, and medical units and there are two large battles over the course of the weekend. Tradespeople include a blacksmith, tin smith, gourd banjo maker, spinner, rag weaver, rag rug weaver, heritage rug braider, crochet and embroidery artisan, broom maker, bobbin lace maker, laundress, and orator. There will also be a period spelling bee.

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Title of Project: The Historic Park Inn Hotel
Sponsoring Organization: Wright on the Park, Inc.
Grant: $4,000
Project Description: The project is the production of video footage to document the restoration and rehabilitation process of the Historic Park Inn Hotel, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, in downtown Mason City. It is the last remaining hotel designed by that architect. The hotel is scheduled to re-open in June 2011, and after that Wright on the Park hopes to use the footage as a foundation for a documentary that tells the story of the restoration effort.

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