Lou Ann Homan-Saylor and Carolyn Powers took a road trip from Angola to Indianapolis last fall because they wanted to attend a quirky little event we concocted called Frankenfest. They didn’t expect to be electrified or inspired. But what they learned led to a year long obsession with Mary Shelley and her classic novel Frankenstein, and kick-started conversations and collaborations in their own community that will last for years to come. That’s because the two friends were able to rally an entire community—including dozens of organizations and businesses—to create their own Frankenfest in Angola that provided fun and educational activities for all ages.
Lou Ann and Carolyn were just two of the thousands of Hoosiers who were captivated by Shelley and the creature she brought to life 200 years ago during our statewide read of the book, called One State / One Story: Frankenstein. Across the state at more than 600 events, people young and old gathered together to learn about the teenage author and discuss the incredible moral and ethical questions that her book raises, even today.
Communities like Angola, which received stipends of $1,000 to help conduct community reads and programs, took that small amount of money and leveraged thousands more through in-kind partnerships and donations. Seventeen colleges and universities jumped into the fray, offering special public courses, curating art shows and displaying rare collections. The result was monstrous and led to an article in The New York Times, which highlighted celebrations around the book’s 200th anniversary and dubbed Indiana the “epicenter” of the Franken-frenzy.
Now more than ever, we believe that shared experiences centered around texts—like a statewide read of Frankenstein—are vital to the success of our communities because they can help us relate to one another and diminish our differences.
That’s why we invest in giving Hoosiers the tools they need to come together—skilled facilitators, discussion guides, books and more. These are the types of experiences that spark year long obsessions about literature and community-wide initiatives. (And yes, we’re hard at work selecting our next title for our statewide read.)
You can help us create more of those shared experiences in more cities and towns across Indiana by donating today.
When donors like you support the humanities, it makes us all stronger—just like it did in Angola. Please give to support more conversations in more communities in 2019.