Community Conversations

Cities, counties and regions across Indiana are encouraged to apply for a facilitated workshop in their community that could help them better understand their past and prepare for a monumental event in their future – Indiana’s Bicentennial.

The Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University, Indiana Humanities, and the Indiana Office of Rural and Community Affairs will hold Community Conversations designed to help communities tackle challenging issues. The focus of this year’s Community Conversation series will be Bicentennial 2016: The Next Indiana. 

Deadline to apply: August 15.
Download the application.

During the past 200 years, Indiana communities have changed a great deal in size, economics, and government structure. These workshops will help serve as a catalyst for the necessary, but difficult, conversations about how communities can prepare for the next 200 years.

If selected, communities will develop a local steering committee and meet with Indiana Humanities and the Bowen Center for Public Affairs to create a customized program to be held in the fall of 2014 or the spring of 2015. A dozen statewide organizations also provide resources to the program.

Selected regions, lead partners and topics for 2013 included:

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. Hamilton County Tourism, Inc. 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.

The goals of the Community Conversations will be to:

  • Convene regional conversations among community leaders and citizens from public, private and non-profit sectors to better understand the community’s past and future;
  • 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;
  • Provide ongoing consultation to continue to address these challenges.

The workshops vary by community and audience. They are typically a one-day workshop that spans several hours, beginning in the morning and concluding in mid-afternoon.  However, they can also be a two-hour event with a keynote speaker, a mobile bus tour, or anything in between. A nominal fee can be charged to participants to cover the cost of meals and materials. 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 workshops, The Bowen Center for Public Affairs will provide additional consultation as requested.

Regions must submit a proposal to Ms. Susan Gerard at or:

Ms. Susan Gerard
Administrative Coordinator
Bowen Center for Public Affairs, North Quad 294 Ball State University Muncie, Indiana 47306

Download the application.

The following information should be included in the proposal:

  • Name and contact information of lead community partner
  • List of partner organizations and contact person for each organization (It is recommended that applicants include a broad range of community organizations that will play a role in the planning and implementation process.)
  • Three potential dates from October 2014 to March 2015
  • Answers to the following questions:
    • Why is this topic an important one to the community?
    • How will better understanding your past help position your community for the future?
    • What do you want to accomplish during the session?
  • Applicants will also need to identify a follow-up strategy for after the conversation and provide a name and contact information for the person leading the follow-up session.

Communities will be selected and notified by September 4, 2014.

Visit for more information, or contact Ms. Gerard at 765.285.8941.

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