Our Stories, Our Lives

Past Grant Recipients

2016  Grant Recipients

The Michigan Humanities Council (MHC) is pleased to announce $274,575 in grants to 24 Michigan organizations in support of public humanities programming. In addition to this direct support, each agency was required to present matching cash or in-kind cost share, bringing an additional $568,288.68 to the table. This major grant cycle, the Humanities Grants, support projects exploring history, poetry, reading, education and community identity.

Shelly Kasprzycki, Executive Director of the Michigan Humanities Council said, “Humanities Grants are more critical than ever to keep quality cultural programs in our local communities. These projects not only educate, inform, and enrich local audiences in these communities, but also attract visitors, support community development, and build capacity in organizations around the state.”

Humanities Grants are awarded to Michigan nonprofits in support of cultural, educational and community-based public humanities programming. These grants play a vital role in defining our culture, our state, our community and ourselves, and are intended to connect us to Michigan’s rich cultural heritage and historical resources.

“The Michigan Humanities Council is pleased to support so many creative and important initiatives through its Humanities Grants. The need for understanding, personal connections, and civil discourse is great, and these projects bring our state opportunities to share our stories and engage in dialogues with each other,” said Council Board Chair Kathleen Mullins.

MHC received 41 eligible applications for review in its fall 2016 deadline cycle. The organizations with award amounts and project details, by county, are listed below.

Alger County:

Alger County Historical Society (Munising): $15,000
Pictured Rocks Interpretive Center
Alger County Historical Society (ACHS) will add voice and authoritative content to the Pictured Rocks Interpretive Center in Munising, MI by creating an exhibit that tells the story of Munising. By sharing its cultural and collection resources, ACHS will present the unique cultural heritage of Munising and vicinity, connecting visitors with the area’s truly unique history. The project will yield a permanent museum-quality exhibit in the Pictured Rocks Interpretive Center.

Berrien County:

The Heritage Museum and Cultural Center (St. Joseph): $10,925
Lighthouse and Museum Complementary Exhibitions

The Heritage Museum plans to debut two ongoing, complementary exhibitions: one will be located on the St. Joseph North Pier inside the 1907 Inner Lighthouse, and the other will be at the downtown Museum. Both exhibits respond to significant public interest in the recently restored lighthouses. With support from the City of St. Joseph, which now owns the lights, the Heritage Museum will begin offering the public better access to interpretive information and authentic local artifacts by developing a visitor focused interpretive exhibition inside the lighthouse.

Cass County:

Dowagiac Area History Museum (Dowagiac): $14,725
Starting a New Life: Dowagiac’s Orphan Train Story

The Dowagiac Area History Museum is partnering with the City of Dowagiac, artist Ruth Andrews and community members and organizations to create a multi-platform commemoration of the Orphan Train and Dowagiac’s role in its history. The project will include several components, including: the creation of an outdoor mural in downtown Dowagiac; the development of a website that will document the project and provide information about the Orphan Train and Dowagiac’s role in its initial success; a ‘Rider’s Reunion’ for Orphan Train Riders and their descendants with a speaker from the National Orphan Train Complex in Kansas over the weekend of September 30, 2017 (the 163rd anniversary of the first Orphan Train’s arrival in Dowagiac); and a Youth Voices event featuring a theater production, storytellers and music.

Delta County:

William Bonifas Fine Arts Center (Escanaba): $15,000
Wooden Boats Afloat: The Stories of Traditional Boat-Building in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

The project generates public understanding of the role that traditional wooden boats have played historically in shaping the development of the social, economic, and cultural makeup of Upper Peninsula communities, and how that role has defined the current scenario as well as impacts for the region in the future. The grant supports an exhibition and programming at the Bonifas Art Center that will define a sense of place through the historic-geographic examination of the region’s wooden boat heritage, craft traditions and their historic impact on culture and economy in the Upper Peninsula. Project components include a public exhibition related to wooden boat heritage, a story-sharing section within the exhibit to record oral histories/traditions, and portions of the exhibit travelling to other locations.

Eaton County:

T. ROSE Foundation (Lansing/Idlewild): $5,000
Idlewild Education and Empowerment Sessions

The weekend event includes presenters who will discuss the historic impact of Idlewild, Michigan. Sessions will discuss the historic development and acquisition of Idlewild as a summer resort for African Americans, with inter-generational sharing of history/life experiences to encourage empowerment. Programs will also utilize music as a catalyst to help educate and engage youth and adults in the rich history and impact of music on the culture of Idlewild. These sessions will be designed to bring forth a greater awareness, appreciation and changing perception of Idlewild as a community, with a focus on the values of Idlewilds’ culture, past and present.

Emmet County:

Crooked Tree Arts Center (Petoskey): $7,500
The Art of Ansel Adams

Crooked Tree Arts Center will host Ansel Adams Masterworks exhibit in summer of 2017 with programming to augment the experience. The project includes two exhibits, lectures, film, workshops, concert, family activities and panel discussions. Public dialogues will focus on themes and experiences related to the environment and natural beauty through photography, northern Michigan cultural tourism, and the legacy of our National Parks.

Grand Traverse County:

National Writers Series (Traverse City): $2,950
Writers Series of Traverse City

As part of the Fall 2016 Writers Series, NWS will host its first annual Community Reads event with author Daniel Bergner for an on-stage interview followed by audience Q and A regarding his latest book, “Sing for Your Life” about an African American who grew up in poverty and abuse yet somehow managed to gain a role in “La boheme” and will perform this fall at the Metropolitan Opera. The author will also visit a class of aspiring high school writers to talk about his writing career and his book.

Houghton County:

International Frisbee Hall of Fame & Museum/Calumet Colosseum (Calumet): $8,400
Pucks and Guts: An Interactive Kiosk and Traveling Exhibit

The project seeks to create a better appreciation for the contributions hockey and Guts Frisbee have made to the local area and its people. In addition to giving residents of all ages athletic opportunities, the two sports have brought attention to the local area statewide, regionally, nationally, and internationally. A traveling exhibit and informational kiosks will be created at the Colosseum in Calumet and include oral histories from local players participating in the sports during previous eras. A main goal for the kiosk and portable displays will be to connect the two sports’ histories to the local people across a broad spectrum of ages. Residents from youth to senior citizens will gain a new and/or improved perspective of the two sports and their significance in the history of the Keweenaw Peninsula and beyond.

Ingham County:

Advent House Ministries, Inc. (Lansing): $15,000
Expanding Horizons Together: Performing Poets Part II

“Performing Poets – Part II” will advance the study of poetry during the Advent House Ministries existing Family Literacy Program so that all participants can integrate and appreciate diverse ages, cultures, schooling, reading levels, and poetry analysis and interpretations. In “Performing Poets – Part II,” the program will expand upon Part I in four ways: poetry will be a vehicle for revealing the poets’ persona accompanied with original art, music, and movement; poetry will celebrate the “differences” in our cultures and heritage; the personal interests of the performing poets, and their oral tradition of story-telling, will record their world – – a world of generational poverty; the Family Literacy poets will learn the arts of memorization and self-expression.

Library of Michigan (Lansing): $15,000
Notable Books

The Library of Michigan, through its Michigan Notable Book program, identifies significant Michigan books and authors and makes them accessible to residents throughout the state. This project is designed to identify, acknowledge, and track Michigan’s strongest writers and books and connect them to the people of our state by means of author visits to libraries and schools.

The author tour matches authors with public, school and academic libraries throughout the state for presentations related to their work, and attempts to make as wide a geographical distribution of visits as possible. The tour visits provide an opportunity for libraries to invite the public into their facilities and share their collections, as well as learn from the author.

Kent County:

Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters (Grand Rapids): $9,025
Writers Squared at GLCL

GLCL has developed a unique literary event series called Writers Squared. The series, currently designed to be held six times per year, is fairly simple in concept: two writers share the stage in front of an intimate audience, explore each other’s written works through brief readings, and then engage in a spontaneous conversation/discussion between themselves and the audience about the craft of writing, living the literary life in Michigan, commonalities and divergences in their works, and the responsibilities of a literary citizen in this day and age.

Mackinac County:

Museum of Ojibwa Culture (Saint Ignace): $15,000
Healing the Spirit of Our People

The project initiates the steps that are necessary to help Native people from all generations to continue to express their stories and find healing from shared experiences and celebrations of their culture. Project activities build on accomplishments of 2015 Heritage Grant to help community and tribal members further connect with each other and build a sense of cultural identity and self-determination. The activities involve the sharing of their stories and moving on from trauma to shared healing experiences and include: comprehensive outreach to community/tribal members and museum visitors (adults and youth); the development of traditional teaching materials and Anishinaabe sculptures created for the clan park on museum grounds for public display and teaching; healing/talking circles throughout the project; bringing youth and tribal elders together for dialogue.

Marquette County:

Northern Michigan University (Marquette): $15,000
World War I Remembered

“World War One Remembered” is a community wide commemoration of the United States entry into the conflict in 1917. This grant supports exhibits and events at several institutions and locations throughout Marquette County. The focus of this event is on the history of the war, America’s involvement, and the impact and involvement of the citizens of Marquette County and the entire Upper Peninsula. The citizens of the region will gain a greater appreciation and knowledge of this conflict and the roles of local people in the conflict, and its influence on their communities.

Oakland County:

Troy Historical Society (Troy): $15,000
Humanities Hub

Implementation of four Troy Historical Society program initiatives within the History Hub, each with specific goals for four targeted audiences: Site Responsive Theater in the Village for young adults (millennials) through seniors; Civil War Days for 8th graders; Teas at Two for adults and seniors; Artisan Arts for youth and adults.

Plowshares Theatre Company (Lathrup Village/Detroit): $4,800
Motown Records: Made in Detroit

Scheduled from July 6-8, 2017, the “Motown Records: Made in Detroit” Symposium is a three-day weekend conference focusing on the history, music and social impact of one of Detroit’s greatest contributions to pop culture. The symposium brings together humanities scholars and attendees to bring to life this uniquely American story through interactive sessions. Symposium participants will blog about their learning on a publicly accessible site and apply their learning in the creation of videos using digital storytelling techniques. The finished products will be available to the general public via a website designed for that purpose. The project raises awareness of the significance of Motown and shows how the music and spoken word records of this company mirrored racial and socio-economic conditions still with us today.

Detroit Educational Television Foundation (Wixom): $15,000
Saving Mother Earth: A Tribe’s Quest to Protect Culture, Tradition, and Environment

Detroit Public Television will produce a mini documentary that profiles the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Native Americans located in Dowagiac Michigan and their cultural and historical ties to environment–specifically water resources. This topic compliments DPTV’s Great Lakes Bureau, a year-round vehicle to report on issues of economic, social, health, and recreation related to the Great Lakes Basin’s environment. Additional components to be created under the project include a digital OVEE screening event and the creation of a curriculum guide to travel with the film and be distributed through PBS Learning Media and available to educators statewide.

Washtenaw County:

Wild Swan Theater (Ann Arbor): $15,000
Marketplace Stories: Folktales from the Arab World

Wild Swan Theater (WST) will develop a new and original mainstage and touring production inspired by folktales from the Middle East. The project collaborates with the Arab American National Museum (AANM) and the National Arab Orchestra (NAO) using the arts to deliver experiences that engage children and families in building bridges, cultivating friendships, and expanding perspectives across cultures. The play will be written for elementary school audiences (grades 1-5), families, and the general public. Because “democracy demands wisdom and vision in its citizens,” this project aims to provide opportunities for our youngest citizens to learn about other places, values, traditions, and cultures.

Kerrytown BookFest 2017 (Ann Arbor): $4,575
Kerrytown BookFest 2017

The 2017 Kerrytown BookFest will be the 15th annual event, bringing together a diverse cross-section of local, regional and nationally- known authors; artists in book crafts, paper crafts and related arts; book lovers, collectors and sellers in a free, open-air festival that attracts and engages 3,000 – 4,000 people in books and book arts.

Wayne County:

Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion (Detroit): $15,000
Detroit Youth Voice

The project will expand upon a mobile exhibit entitled “We Don’t Want Them”, which vividly depicts the history of housing segregation and discrimination in the Metro Detroit Region and its companion curriculum that specifically complies with current educational requirements. This project develops a new phase entitled Detroit Youth Voice: An Arts Consortium on Racial Truth, Healing and Justice. Detroit Youth Voice will leverage the powerful impact that the “We Don’t Want Them” mobile exhibit has already had on hundreds of thousands of people by launching an educational program that merges the arts with lessons in social justice. The project includes opportunities for related discussion in classrooms (curriculum), with artists, and at the culminating exhibition.

University of Michigan (Dearborn) Mardigian Library: $6,675
Young Authors’ Festival 2017

The goals of the 2017 Young Authors’ Festival are: promote children’s authentic literacy engagement; motivate children’s writing interest; support students’ writing development; provide families with literacy strategies to support home-school connections; connect with Michigan authors and illustrators and; provide a quality art experience through an exhibition of original art work used in well-known children’s literature (Little Golden Books).

The Friends of Historical Hamtramck (Hamtramck): $15,000
The History of Hamtramck Immigration Mural Project

Coming to Hamtramck: The Hamtramck Immigration Mural is a project designed to bring the community together and help connect the various ethnic groups in the city as they work together and communicate on a joint cultural project. The 165 x 7 foot mural will be painted in The Hamtramck Historical Museum and will depict the history of each past and present group as they arrived in the city of Hamtramck and have helped build it. The mural process will be a participatory one and will include a time when each immigrant groups will be invited to assist in the painting of the mural, as well as unveiling receptions hosted by the immigrant groups who will invite the entire community to help celebrate their portion of the mural, their ethnic identity and their role in the history of Hamtramck.

Signal-Return (Detrtoit): $5,000
Power of the Press Fest

To catalyze the growing interest in letterpress printing in Detroit, Signal-Return will create a weekend long festival, April 6-9, 2017, Power of the Press Fest, in their Eastern Market neighborhood. This interactive event will highlight letterpress printing and strongly related interests: book arts, papermaking, zines, literature, literacy and the visual arts. Activities will connect expert practitioners from Detroit and beyond–letterpress printers, bookbinders, papermakers, poets, writers, zine makers, booksellers, museum curators–with each other, with Eastern Market neighbors and with the larger metro Detroit area.

Wayne State University/Reuther Library (Detroit): $15,000
Evidence of Detroit 1967

The project creates a physical and digital exhibit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Detroit’s 1967 Civil Unrest. The project will also develop critical thinking skills by encouraging visitors to interrogate primary sources and understand their place in shaping history. By providing visitors of the exhibit with evidence of the events and conditions that led up to the Unrest, the project will encourage analysis and appraisal rather than blind assumptions. An exhibition of the Reuther Library’s primary resources about Detroit’s 1967 Civil Unrest will encourage the community to interpret, consider, and discuss the information. The addition of a web component telegraphs the experience to a worldwide audience, which will impact local, state, national, and international understanding of the events of 1967.

Detroit Public Theatre (Detroit): $15,000
Shakespeare in Prison

Shakespeare in Prison (SIP) is entering its fifth year at Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility, the only women’s prison in Michigan. It empowers inmates through theatre exercises and Shakespearean text to think creatively, re-examine decisions they’ve made, gain insight into themselves and others, and develop crucial life skills to be used both in and out of prison. Inmates who volunteer for the Shakespeare in Prison program form a tight ensemble and work for nine months, finally performing a fully staged work by Shakespeare at the culmination of the session.

2015 Grant Recipients




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