ON Newsletter - Spring 2022

What Connects Us

From the Director

How do you feel about the world you live in? What world do you dream of? How might you share your vision—for yourself, your community, or the world—with your neighbors? What happens if you do?

It has been 50 years since Wisconsin Humanities was created by people who believed that the humanities have a critical public role to play, helping Americans protect democracy. Back then, the humanities were seen as available primarily on campuses. Influenced by the “Wisconsin Idea,” our founders looked for creative ways to share the knowledge and skills of historians, professors of literature, languages, anthropology, philosophy, and other humanities disciplines, with people outside the classroom—to bring the humanities to life in community spaces.

We have learned and done a lot since then. For 50 years, WH has helped people explore countless dimensions of the human experience thanks to creative public humanities projects. From the foods we cook to the wars we’ve fought; from the stories we tell about our ancestors to the ideas that can shape our communities’ future. We believe that knowledge of many kinds, combined with heartfelt reflection, and conversation, can deepen our understanding and our democracy.

In this issue, you’ll learn about Community Powered, our newest approach to putting the humanities to work in ways that make communities better places for everyone. I’m thrilled that we are launching such a practical yet visionary project in our anniversary year.

Today, I don’t have to look far to find reasons to fear for humanity’s future. Nevertheless, I find hope every day in the caring efforts of so many Wisconsinites who share their stories, listen to others, and forge connections that can bring so much good into the world.

Dena Wortzel, Director

Contact Dena

In this issue:

Spring 2022

Community Powered: Growing Grassroots Resilience

As Wisconsin Humanities celebrates its 50th Anniversary, we have been reflecting on the lessons learned from decades of public humanities work. One that stands out is how, by putting the tools of the humanities in the hands of committed problem-solvers, we can make powerful changes happen.

Read More ➞

Ready for Something New?

More Human Powered Is Headed Your Way

Wisconsin Poet Laureate Dasha Kelly Hamilton and public historian Adam Carr co-host the brand new season of Wisconsin Humanities’ Human Powered podcast.


Jerry and John Viste: Making More Possible

We’re so delighted that after 50 years, founding Wisconsin Humanities board member Gerald (Jerry) Viste is still a dear friend and supporter.

Having grown up on a farm, Jerry always felt strongly about making humanities projects accessible to rural communities.


We’re celebrating 50 years of Wisconsin Humanities

What were you doing in 1972? Since our organization's founding, Wisconsin Humanities has worked in every corner of the state with YOU to explore what it means to be human, to be part of a democracy, and to strengthen each of our communities. Check out a timeline of our ongoing work bringing together individuals and communities.


Wisconsin’s Water Future

We’re all connected by Wisconsin’s wealth of water! Last fall, at Sturgeon Bay’s Crossroads at Big Creek, Beyond the Headlines worked with news media partner Wisconsin Watch to host a panel discussion on “Imperiled Shores,” a deeper dive into news reporting on the impact of Lake Michigan’s wildly fluctuating water levels.


LoveWI - Chia Youyvee Vang

To shine a light on what makes this work so special, Love Wisconsin is featuring stories from former Wisconsin Humanities board members—extraordinary people who help shape the humanities in Wisconsin. If you don't yet know Chia Youyee Vang, you are going to love 'meeting' her! As a student Chia noticed Hmong history wasn't in the curriculum. Now, as a historian at University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, she has founded the Hmong Diaspora Studies program. Read her story, and others, on the Love Wisconsin website!