Minnesota Humanities Center

MHC Celebrates 2018 and Rings In 2019

Posted December 31, 2018

2018 by the numbers:

Grant funds distributed to Minnesota communities: $2,122,235 (includes legislatively-mandated grants)

Event Center—
Events hosted: 368
People served: 10,456

Programs & Resources—
Communities served: 22
Resources distributed: 613
Participants: 6,720
Events: 97
Presentations: 546

“Every time I come to the Humanities Center it refuels, energizes, and feeds my soul. I engage as a whole self and it expands my lens of place. I am so honored to participate.” – Rochelle Look, Increase Engagement Through Absent Narratives participant

“I work for Hennepin County and having this type of training really helps us honor the children in different ways rather than focusing on [the] negative.” – David Yanz, Four Seasons of the Ojibwe participant

MHC in 2018: A Look Back

Happy New Year! As you can see, 2018 was a busy year for the Minnesota Humanities Center (MHC). We traveled the state listening to community stories about water, and learning about the importance of treaties with Native Nations. We visited with communities from Red Wing to Ely asking our fellow Minnesotans what it means to be human. We invited internationally-acclaimed author and documentarian, Sebastian Junger to speak at our sixth annual Veterans’ Voices Award Ceremony – sharing what he feels the humanities mean to Veterans and how they can help us bridge the Veteran-civilian divide. We developed a delicious partnership with The Sioux Chef for participants of our Learning From Place: Bdote trip to enjoy authentic indigenous food during their tour. The Bdote trip also made us proud with a feature in the Star Tribune. And, our Event Center welcomed 40 educators from around the state to attend the Educator Institute which is grounded in our Absent Narratives Approach™.

2018 reinforced, yet again, why the humanities matter and are such a strong vehicle for change in Minnesota (as well as our country, and our world). I’m exhilarated just writing about a few of the partnerships, gatherings, resources, and opportunities that MHC invested in in 2018. Through all of this, MHC revealed many ways of thinking about and experiencing life, and the value of partnerships when creating space for community problem-solving. We strive to make real change and lasting impact by addressing difficult community issues that lie at the heart of our Minnesota identity. Thank you for joining us on this journey.

-Leondra Burchall, Vice President, Minnesota Humanities Center

“This workshop provides me not only with Ojibwe content for my classroom, but it reconnects me with cultural knowledge lost to my family through removal and assimilation. What a gift to my entire family!” – Anna Reid, Four Seasons of the Ojibwe participant

Making Meaning in a Complex World

Forward-thinking organizations, like prescient people, lean into transitions. MHC is no exception. Nearly fifty years into its quest “to build a thoughtful, literate, engaged society,” it is reassessing the changing landscape and realigning its resources to make the greatest impact.

Like all transitions, this one began with an ending, has an open-ended middle, and will end with a new beginning—the arrival of the next president and CEO.1 As interim president, I am the shepherd of the murky middle.

During this in-between time, we’re focusing on the things that distinguish important organizations from essential organizations: relevancy, impact, and “meaning making.”

Our current work falls into three buckets. 

  1. Momentum. We’re advancing ground-breaking programs like Veterans’ Voices and “We Are Water MN” while exploring new opportunities that help people find their voice and make meaning in a complex world. That’s what the humanities do best.

    We’re laying the groundwork for our next strategic plan—another future-focused endeavor that’s informed, in part, by a series of listening sessions held around Minnesota. It’s how we ensure that our work remains relevant.

    We’re making great strides in our $3.5 million Many Voices, One Statecapital campaign to restore our historic building on the shores of Lake Phalen in St. Paul. It serves as our offices, Event Center, and place of convening.

    With leadership from our board, we are strengthening relationships with our legislative allies on both sides of the aisle to ensure continued state and federal funding for our work.

    Finally, we’re hoping to leverage the exemplary work we do with Omaha Public Schools to improve education outcomes in Minnesota schools. This oft-overlooked program holds promise for both states.

  2. Clarity. We’re clarifying roles, updating policies, and streamlining processes to make the best use of our talent—on the staff, on the board, and in the community. While not the stuff of novels, this behind-the-scenes work paves the way for a smooth transition.

  3. Cohesiveness. Transitions can be both exhilarating and unnerving for the people going through them. To ease anxiety and prepare for the “new beginning,” we’re investing in team building, communication, and collaboration among the staff. Our goal is a cohesive culture that fully embraces the adventure ahead.

1Adapted from Transitions by William Bridges.

-Anne Hunter, Interim President, Minnesota Humanities Center

“A life-changing experience. My perception and respect for the Dakota people and all native peoples has forever been changed. The day, speaker, food, and transportation – all amazing!” – Randee Gurban, Learning from Place: Bdote participant

“We didn’t know how much of the “We Are Water” exhibit would be a continuing thread in our museum, but are thrilled that it has remained a conversation that we share with our guests.” – Emily Buermann, “We Are Water MN” partner, Becker County Historical Society

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By: Minnesota Humanities Center