Community Conversations

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 in 2016. This is the sixth year for the series, convened by Indiana Humanities, the Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA). The focus of the Community Conversation series is Bicentennial 2016: The Next Indiana.

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. Cities, counties and regions across Indiana were encouraged to apply.

Selected regions, lead partners and topics include:

  • Johnson County, ASPIRE Johnson County. The newly formed collaborative seeks to use a Community Conversation to evaluate Johnson County’s assets, collect its “best practices” and determine its current and future needs.
  • Knox County, Knox County Public Library. As the capital of the Northwest Territory, Vincennes/Knox County plays a significant role in Indiana’s history. With a variety of partner organizations, KCPL hopes to foster conversations that generate new ideas on how to sustain and grow the tourism industry based on this rich history.
  • Madison County, Madison County Community Foundation. In collaboration with Hoosier Park Racing & Casino and a number of other Anderson and Madison County organizations, the goal of this conversation is to develop a direction for a 2016 Bicentennial celebration that encompasses the key pillars of history/celebration, youth/education, nature conservation, and community involvement.
  • Noble County, Noble County Convention & Visitors Bureau. Ligonier was one of the earliest Jewish settlements in Indiana. Through a Community Conversation, the CVB hopes to raise awareness and appreciation of the area’s unique heritage and identify how it could help increase tourism and economic development.

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

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.

Over the past five 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, OCRA, and local 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. Contact Kristen Fuhs Wells (kwells@indianahumanities.org) for more information.

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