ON Newsletter - Summer 2023


Continuing Grassroots Initiatives

Spooner teens, Miranda, Sean, and Bailey with bags they decorated to express what their community means to them. They were among the 29 teens from four different schools who participated in a Community Powered teen all-night “lock-in” at Spooner Memorial Library. Teens made new friends and brainstormed projects they could complete to make a difference in their community.

As the first year of Community Powered, Wisconsin Humanities’ new grassroots community resilience initiative, wraps up this May, we are excited to share more about the community-led projects that grew from the community engagement work of WH’s local staff.

In Appleton, we have been hosting story circles with the Fox Valley Literacy Council that invite participants to share their traditions while practicing their English. In Racine, our community visibility campaign resulted in a digital map of locations around town that residents submitted as meaningful and representative of Racine pride. In Spooner, we connected history to the present and the future through veteran oral history recordings, a teen overnight ‘lock-in’ at Spooner Memorial Library, a scavenger hunt focusing on railroad history, and a “history harvest” where residents told stories about historically significant objects. Finally, in Forest County Potawatomi, we have been holding workshops on how to make Great Lake style lacrosse sticks and teaching the community to play the game, revitalizing a traditional sport not played among the Forest County Potawatomi for decades.

In each of these places, our programs brought people together to share their stories, histories, and dreams for their communities. Now you can read more about these people and their stories on our website, or by following us on Instagram.

Help us power Wisconsin dreams

When you opened this issue of ON, you saw the donation envelope. Please don’t throw it away! Your gift helps Wisconsinites make their community dreams come true through educational and cultural programs that inspire civic participation and individual imagination.

So, whether by mail or online at wisconsinhumanities.org, please make a gift today. You can also give to our new Future Fund endowment and make a gift that lasts.

WH is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in the state of Wisconsin.

Donate Today


Jonathan with his wife, Mikala, and daughters, Mayla and Quinn.

—Jonathan Pleitner, sustaining monthly donor since 2017

The Humanities Beyond Bars 

This summer a second season of our Human Powered podcast will be ready for your ears! This time, we teamed up former Wisconsin Poet Laureate, performance artist, and change agent Dasha Kelly Hamilton with public historian Adam Carr to bring you remarkable stories of people inside and outside Wisconsin prisons who are using the humanities to overcome the dehumanization of incarceration. The resulting stories challenge us to imagine a more just system—one that is good for all of us.


Grant Spotlight: Art Against the Odds

Can the creative process transform individual lives and help us understand more about the more than 41,000 people who are living in Wisconsin’s prisons and jails? Debra Brehmer, the curator of an exhibition called Art Against the Odds, notes there are more incarcerated people making art than you might think, often without support, formal programs, materials, or instruction.