Creativity at Work

Each day, KHC  features the hot topics and great speakers in the Speakers Bureau catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “Creativity as Art and Labor” by John Edgar Tidwell.

Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks

“I think maybe the rural influence in my life helped me in a sense, of knowing how to get close to people and talk to them and get my work done,” Gordon Parks said in a 1964 interview. His pragmatic approach to art — that it was work — reflects the process of making creative art, whether it is a photograph, poem, short story, novel or song.

In his Speakers Bureau talk, John Edgar Tidwell, an English professor at the University of Kansas, explores the nature and function of creative labor in selected works by famous Kansas artists Langston Hughes, Gordon Parks, and Frank Marshall Davis.

John Edgar Tidwell

John Edgar Tidwell

“The celebrity that has come to Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz is richly deserved,”said Tidwell. “Its iconic status as the most acclaimed book and film representing Kansas life and values, made me wonder whether any other books or authors might deserve similar recognition. This talk seeks to answer that question by exploring the Kansas connections of three writers who were distinguished in their own right: Langston Hughes, Gordon Parks, and Frank Marshall Davis.”

Bring John Edgar Tidwell’s “Creativity as Art and Labor” or one of the other presentations in the Speakers Bureau catalog to your community for FREE with a Resource Center Support Grant. It’s quick and easy! Visit the Speakers Bureau page to get started or contact Leslie Von Holten, KHC program officer, for more information.

 

Forty and Fabulous

Throughout the month of November, KHC tweeted “40 Reasons to be Thankful for the Humanities in Kansas” on Twitter in honor of our fall fundraising campaign and our 40th anniversary.

Become a part of the list (item #40 to be exact) with a gift to KHC. Donate safely and securely at the Network for Good giving site.

1. Turning local stories, like KCK’s Strugglers Hill, into a short film.
2. TALK book discussions in Newton since 1996.
3.  The Kinsley Library’s inspiring oral history projects to preserve community history.
4. Bringing “The Way We Worked” Smithsonian exhibit to six Kansas communities.
5. The new Kansas Town Hall partnership with the Eisenhower Library.
6. Preserving thousands of glass plate negatives in Stafford.
7. Humanities and Heritage grant projects across the state.
8. Reader’s theater brings the Shared Stories of the Civil War on the KS-MO border to life.
9. Exploring work in rural Kansas in “The Way We Worked in Morton County” exhibit and programs.
10. Documenting changes in Kansas working life through the Boeing Oral History project.
11. “Harvesting the High Plains” documentary film based on the book by historian Craig Miner.
12. Over 50 “The Way We Worked” Speakers Bureau topics exploring work in Kansas and how these stories define us.
13. We think this little ditty says it all.
14. TALK book discussions, like “Best of the West” series at Basehor Community Library.
15. Ideas exchanged at the 618 humanities events in 126 Kansas communities in 2011.
16. “KHC developed my desire to be a lifelong learner.” —Sr. Mary Collins.
17. Speakers Bureau events, like Matthew Thompson’s talk about German POWs in Kansas on 11/11 in Lawrence.
18. WWII veterans stories preserved by KHC Heritage grant in Hodgeman County.
19. Short films that tell local stories and promote community dialogue.
20. Bringing cultures together at the Kansas City Chinese film festival.
21. Exploring Eudora’s African American community as part of “The Way We Worked in Kansas” initiative.
22. Lots of “Food for Thought” at the TALK book discussion in Glasco.
23. Farmers talking about the way they worked in Liberal.
24. Commemorating the 100th anniversary of Gordon Parks’ birth at the Ulrich Museum in Wichita.
25. Reflections on memory at a TALK book discussion in Ottawa.
26. KHC’s TALK partnership with the Northwest Kansas Library System.
27. Biscuits and Bison: exploring food heritage in Manhattan.
28. Virgil Dean’s look at the way we work in Kansas.
29. “For rural Kansans, KHC is a solution waiting to happen.” — Joan Nothern.
30. Grants to preserve the history of a recent Kansas ghost town.
31. The Poet Laureate of Kansas‘ new home at KHC.
32. All the people who choose to get involved with humanities projects.
33. TALKing about contemporary immigration through literature in Council Grove.
34. Community discussion in Lawrence about Quantrill’s Raid supported by a KHC grant.
35. Short film featuring the story of basketball’s original “Dream Team.”
36. Exploring the way women in the West worked in Hugoton.
37. Exploring the indigenous people of Kansas on Sunflower Journeys.
38. Grant for photo documentary project of working in Blue Rapids, Kansas.
39. Dedicated Kansans who serve on KHC Board of Directors.
40. KHC’s Friends of the Humanities, who make humanities in Kansas possible.

 

 

Service with Style

Each day, KHC  features the hot topics and great speakers in the Speakers Bureau catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “The Harvey Girls’ Service with Style” by Michaeline Chance-Reay.

Harvey Girls in Syracuse, Kansas, c. 1920.
Photo courtesy of kansasmemory.org, Kansas Historical Society, Copy and Reuse Restrictions Apply.

Harvey House restaurants along the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway offered single young women in Kansas a reputable means of employment from the late 1800s through the early 1950s. Dressed in the iconic black and white uniforms, the “Harvey Girls” were the epitome of efficiency and grace as they served meals on fine china to rail travelers in the elegant Harvey House dining rooms.

But, what was it like to be a Harvey Girl? In “The Harvey Girls’ Service with Style,” Michaeline Chance-Reay explores the job duties, pay scales, and working conditions of the Harvey Girls and compares them with other occupations available to single women during that time period.

Michaeline Chance-Reay

Michaeline Chance-Reay

“I became interested in the Harvey Girls when I visited the Grand Canyon and saw their exhibit,” shared Chance-Reay, who teaches Women’s Studies and Education at Kansas State University. “How wonderful it was to discover ‘it all started in Topeka’ with Fred Harvey’s restaurant. The real success of the Harvey Company can be attributed not only to the food offered but also to the over 100,000 lovely women employees who guaranteed repeat customers and made history.”

Interested in learning more? “The Harvey Girls’ Service with Style” will be presented in Topeka on December 1.

Bring Michaeline Chance-Reay’s “The Harvey Girls’ Service with Style” or one of the other presentations in the Speakers Bureau catalog to your community for FREE with a Resource Center Support Grant. It’s quick and easy! Visit the Speakers Bureau page to get started or contact Leslie Von Holten, KHC program officer, for more information.

POWs on the Plains

Each day, KHC  features the hot topics and great speakers in the Speakers Bureau catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “From Fatherland to Farmland: German POWs in the Great Plains” by Matthew Thompson.

German POWs, 1945

German POWs, 1945

Some German soldiers predicted Allied victory in World War II based on unlikely evidence: meals served on Kansas dinner tables. When German POWs working as laborers on farms near Concordia discovered that American civilians were eating better than German front-line soldiers, they knew immediately that the war was not going in Germany’s favor.

Matthew ThompsonMatthew Thompson, a registrar at the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, points out small details such as this in his compelling Speakers Bureau presentation about German POWs who were detained in prison camps throughout Kansas. By virtue of their work on the farms and the close proximity visitors shared with their guards and local populations, both groups had ample opportunity to learn about one another and even develop friendships. Thompson’s talk explores the politics of and reasons for the prison camps, the culture of these camps, the treatment of the prisoners, and how curious townspeople saw firsthand that they had more in common with their captured foes than they might have imagined.

Bring Matthew Thompson’s “From Fatherland to Farmland: German POWs in the Great Plains” or one of the other presentations in the Speakers Bureau catalog to your community for FREE with a Resource Center Support Grant. It’s quick and easy! Visit the Speakers Bureau page to get started or contact Leslie Von Holten, KHC program officer, for more information.

 

 

 

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

#GivingTuesday logoThis #GivingTuesday KHC encouraged the gift of a poetry and the response was amazing! Thank you to all who answered the call to share the gift of poetry with your friends, for reminding us of long-forgotten favorites, for introducing us to new verses to cherish, and for inspiring us in general.

Here is a list of the poems shared on social media today:

Ode to Mix Tapes by Sherman Alexie
In Memory of W. B. Yeats by W. H. Auden
I Wish… by Julie-Ann Blackmore
Songs of Innocence and of Experience: The Tyger by William Blake
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in by e. e. cummings
I Carry Three Birds by Dennis Etzel
Three Hundred Thousand More by James Sloan Gibbons
My First Memory (of Librarians) by Nikki Giovanni
Red Brocade by Naomi Shihab Nye
Why I Am Not a Painter by Frank O’Hara
Kansas by Roxie Powell
We Read by Kevin Rabas
Happiness by Carl Sandburg
Ode to the West Wind by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Weather or Not by Evie Shockley
Cathedral Kitsch by Tracy K. Smith
A Ritual to Read to Each Other by William Stafford
Song of the Open Road by Walt Whitman

There’s still time to share more! Visit KHC on Twitter or Facebook to share your favorite poem.

 

 

 

The First Kansans

Donald BlakesleeEach day, KHC  features the hot topics and great speakers in the Speakers Bureau catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “Products of the First Kansans” by Donald J. Blakeslee.

Who were the earliest inhabitants of this place we now call Kansas? How did they survive? What did they produce? Although early Native Americans did not leave written records, we can gain some understanding of how they worked by examining the products of their labor and the artifacts they left behind.

“Viewing the past from our large and complex society, we have a hard time imagining how people lived their lives,” observed Donald Blakeslee, a professor of anthropology at Wichita State University. “In small societies without many specialists, everyone needed huge amounts of ‘how to’ knowledge: how to build a house, how to make a fire, how to create and maintain all the tools they needed. What is more, they had to communicate all that knowledge to their children and grandchildren.”

Through an exploration of prehistory, Blakeslee shows how the nature and definition of work has changed over time and across cultures.

Bring Donald Blakeslee’s “Products of the First Kansans” or one of the other presentations in the Speakers Bureau catalog to your community for FREE with a Resource Center Support Grant. It’s quick and easy! Visit the Speakers Bureau page to get started or contact Leslie Von Holten, KHC program officer, for more information.

 

Pass It On

#GivingTuesday logoOn this #Giving Tuesday
KHC asks you to give away
A poem to a neighbor or friend.
You choose the way you’d like to send.

Tweet us with your poem of choice,
From a favorite poet or in your own voice.
And if you’re still in the mood to donate,
A year-end gift to KHC would be great.

Join the Kansas Humanities Council on #GivingTuesday, November 27, by giving the gift of a favorite poem to a friend and encouraging them to pass it on. Share a link to your poetry selection with KHC on our Facebook and Twitter page. Not sure what to Tweet or post? Here’s an example:

Twitter: @kshumanities: I just read “Famous” by Naomi Shihab Nye to my best friend for #GivingTuesday. http://bit.ly/hYkM4d

You can also support KHC with a gift in support of KHC’s fall fundraiser to help us reach our goal of $40,000 for our 40th anniversary. Donate safely and securely through the Network for Good giving site.

What is #GivingTuesday?

According to the mission statement: “#GivingTuesday is a campaign to create a national day of giving at the holiday season. It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support nonprofit organizations.” Click here to visit KHC’s #GivingTuesday page.

True Pioneers

Each day, KHC features the hot topics and great speakers in the Speakers Bureau catalog. Today’s topic is “African American Work beyond Menial Slave Labor, Sharecropping, and Industrial Occupations” by Robert Weems.

The story of work within the African American experience is often characterized by enslavement, discrimination, and menial and dangerous industrial jobs. Robert Weems’ research, however, exposes a broader picture of the role of African Americans in the nation’s economy.

During slavery, some individuals were trained to manage agri-business operations. Later, following Emancipation when most African Americans were engaged in sharecropping, a significant minority of blacks became landowners and entrepreneurs.

Robert Weems

Robert Weems

Today, assumptions about race and work continue to impact our recent history. “Most people immediately think of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs in terms of the historical evolution of computer technology,” said Weems, a business history professor at Wichita State University. “This presentation, among other things, identifies a far less well-known African American whose work with IBM also makes him a true pioneer in this area.”

Bring Robert Weems’ “African American Work beyond Menial Slave Labor, Sharecropping, and Industrial Occupations” or one of the other presentations in the Speakers Bureau catalog to your community for FREE with a Resource Center Support Grant. It’s quick and easy! Visit the Speakers Bureau page to get started or contact Leslie Von Holten, KHC program officer, for more information.

Ike’s First Job(s)

Each day, KHC features the hot topics and great speakers in the Speakers Bureau catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “The Kansas Work Ethic of Dwight D. Eisenhower” by Roy Bird.

It’s said that part-time jobs build character in young people. If that’s the case, then what did Dwight D. Eisenhower’s do for an after-school job? The future general and president learned to work hard at an early age. In addition to his daily chores, he worked various jobs including selling vegetables, laboring as a farm hand, and working for several years at the Belle Springs Creamery.

Young Dwight Eisenhower

Young Dwight Eisenhower.Image courtesy of Kansas Historical Society.

Roy Bird, former director of the Kansas Center for the Book, talks about how young Ike managed these jobs while earning good grades in school and participating in sports and community activities.

“Adult audiences find the close identification I have with the location and the era of the Eisenhower family of the 1890s and early 20th century refreshing,” said Bird. “I talk about what Ike learned in Kansas, not events after he left.”

Bring Roy Bird’s “The Kansas Work Ethic of Dwight D. Eisenhower” or one of the other presentations in the Speakers Bureau catalog to your community for FREE with a Resource Center Support Grant. It’s quick and easy! Visit the Speakers Bureau page to get started or contact Leslie Von Holten, KHC program officer, for more information.

 

Getting to Know You: Joan Nothern

The following article was published in the October 2011 issue of KHC’s Hometown Humanities newsletter, a publication available to KHC’s Friends of the Humanities. Become a Friend of the Humanities with a gift to KHC in honor of KHC’s fall fundraiser.

Getting to Know You

Joan Nothern

Joan Nothern

Joan Nothern of Glasco is president and co-founder of the Solomon Valley-Highway 24-Heritage Alliance, an organization dedicated to researching, preserving, and promoting the history and resources of the 24 communities located along Highway 24 in the Solomon Valley. In addition to her work with SV-24-HA, Nothern supports her community as a founding member of the Glasco Community Foundation. She encourages residents to find deeper understanding of the area’s heritage through historical research, symposiums, and heritage tourism projects. A Friend of the Humanities since 2001, Nothern presents “Converting Pasture Paths to Public Roads” as part of KHC’s Speakers Bureau.

NOTHERN: I came to Glasco 30 years ago, moving from teaching in Manhattan, tempted by a sense of adventure and the unknown. The challenge of bridging school and community led to involvement in civic organizations, and then to looking at things from the community’s point of view.

In 1999, I became a founding member of both the Glasco Community Foundation and the Solomon Valley-Highway 24-Heritage Alliance. Since the SV-24-HA is dedicated to preserving heritage, our major task has been to delve into defining the past of this place. KHC grants have supported two major research projects. The first, Weaving the Fabric of the Solomon Valley, allowed us to explore the history of all our communities. The second, The Story of U.S. 24 and the Solomon Valley: The Automobile, The Men, The Politics, and The Highway, led us to apply for and to be selected as a host of Journey Stories, the Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition.

KHC is uniquely positioned to meet the needs of a small community. In 2007, Glasco residents united to better understand Kansas’ role in the Civil War, using the KHC TALK series Before the Civil War to guide our reading and discussions. This generated keen interest in the Civil War veterans interred in Glasco Cemetery and their part in establishing this prairie town.

[In 2011], the SV-24-HA received support from KHC in recognizing Kansas 150 through two projects. In March 2011, the SV-24-HA hosted community conversations in Downs and Hill City, introducing Kansas poet William Stafford to the Solomon Valley so that this man of courage and keen Kansas sensibilities might be better known. Our second venture [brought] facilitator Aaron Fowler to Hoxie the first week of December where community elder stories will be lifted up in song and viewed in the context of local history.

For rural Kansans, KHC is a solution waiting to happen. In KHC, communities like mine find a friend with a variety of approaches and programs to help stimulate and encourage thoughtful action. KHC supports projects that grow from within our community, conveying respect for our place and past, and even encouraging us to try to become more.

I hope my gratitude for the programs KHC makes possible in rural Kansas shows in the telling above. I gladly contribute as a Friend of the Humanities, and I am humbled to be included among the KHC speakers for Kansas 150.