Four communities selected for annual Community Conversation series

Four Indiana communities have been selected to host a Community Conversation that will help them better understand their past and prepare for a monumental event in their future – Indiana’s Bicentennial. This is the fifth year for the series, convened by Indiana Humanities and the Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University.  The focus of the Community Conversation series for the next three years will be Bicentennial 2016: The Next Indiana.

Selected regions, lead partners and topics include:

Evansville. Historic Southern Indiana, a heritage-based program out of the University of Southern Indiana, will examine the city’s history and work with cross-disciplinary groups to revitalize center city neighborhoods.

Hamilton County. The Hamilton County Convention and Visitors Bureau seeks to lead a meaningful cross-county conversation about how Hamilton County’s heritage can be preserved and presented for the future.

La Porte. The La Porte Historic Preservation Commission will use this opportunity to discuss best practices for historic towns to revitalize in the 21st century.

Lawrence County. The Lawrence County Economic Growth Council will lead a conversation to celebrate its past and present and identify its path to the future.

“Indiana communities have changed a great deal in size, economics, and government structure over the past 200 years,” said Keira Amstutz, president and CEO of Indiana Humanities.  “These communities have all acknowledged a critical need and a desire to address these issues through respectful, civil dialogue. We look forward to working with them to create a unique event that will help serve as a catalyst for the necessary, but difficult, conversations about how Indiana communities can prepare for the next 200 years.”

The Bowen Center for Public Affairs and Indiana Humanities will work with local partners to convene a regional conversation among community leaders and citizens from public, private and non-profit sectors; evaluate possible solutions for addressing community challenges and discuss best practices; provide regions with access to resources, technology, and expertise in the creation of solutions to regional problems; and provide ongoing consultation.

Several statewide partners have committed to lending their expertise and support to the Community Conversation series, including:

2016 Indiana Bicentennial Commission
Association of Indiana Convention & Visitor Bureaus
Association of Indiana Counties
Association of Indiana Museums
Community Based Projects, Ball State University
Indiana Association of Cities and Towns
Indiana Chamber of Commerce
Indiana Commission for Women
Indiana Farm Bureau
Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities
Indiana Grantmakers Alliance
Indiana Historical Society
Indiana Landmarks
Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs
Indiana Office of Tourism Development
Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick

“By providing an open forum that promotes collaboration and innovation, these conversations really can serve as catalysts for change,” said Sally Jo Vasicko, co-director of the Bowen Center for Public Affairs. “In the past four years, the Community Conversation has been the instigator for many communities to take action—from Orange County’s beautification project to a mutually beneficial relationship between Franklin College and the city of Franklin.”

Over the past four years more than 20 Indiana regions have been selected to participate in the Community Conversation series, which is aimed at helping the community build on its strengths and meet its challenges. The cost of the speakers, planning and promotion will be covered by the Bowen Center for Public Affairs, Indiana Humanities and event sponsors. After the meeting, the Bowen Center for Public Affairs will provide additional consultation as requested. Details, including dates and locations, about each Community Conversation are still being determined.

Indiana Humanities connects people, opens minds and enriches lives by creating and facilitating programs that encourage Hoosiers to think, read and talk. BH