California Council for the Humanities Awards Nearly $200,000 to 20 Story Projects

Mar 28, 2011, 15:06 ET from The California Council for the Humanities

SAN FRANCISCO, March 28, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The California Council for the Humanities has awarded grants to twenty projects through its California Story Fund, which supports community-centered, story-based public humanities projects that contribute to our evolving understanding of California. In alignment with the Council's Searching for Democracy initiative, this round of projects examine the meaning of democracy in different and thought-provoking ways—through exhibits, performances, workshops, documentaries, mixed media pieces, and more.

"The Council is committed to advancing our collective understanding of ourselves, our neighbors, and our state. That's key to a healthy, functional democracy," said Ralph Lewin, President and CEO of the Council. "Through our California Story Fund, we are able to support libraries, cultural and community centers, historical and educational institutions, scholars, and educators. Especially now, at a time when the public humanities are under attack, we're proud to make this important investment in the people and institutions that strengthen our communities and enrich our lives."

Selected from among 93 proposals, these California Story Fund (CSF) projects will collectively receive $199,665 in grant funding. More information about the CSF and other Council-supported projects can be found on the Programs section of the Council website. Guidelines for the next round of CSF applications, due June 15, 2011, are also available at

The following projects received awards:

Changing Neighborhoods, Changing Communities: Boyle Heights and the Phillips Music Company, $10,000

Sponsoring Organization: Grand Performances, Los Angeles

Project Director: Leigh Ann Hahn

At the Phillips Music Company of Boyle Heights, Japanese-, Jewish-, and Mexican-American residents have encountered each others' cultural traditions and invented new ones. Learn the history of this vibrant community through a live multimedia performance and interactive site.

Decade of Dissent: Democracy in Action 1965-1975, $10,000

Sponsoring Organization: Center for the Study of Political Graphics, Los Angeles

Project Director: Mary Sutton

Visitors to this exhibit will explore the relationship between art and activism and see how political posters produced by diverse social movements in California developed and promoted the ideals of democracy. The project includes public events and a youth printmaking workshop.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen and the Three People's Principles, $10,000

Sponsoring Organization: Chinese Historical Society of America, San Francisco

Project Director: Francis Wong

Learn about Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, Founding Father of modern China, and his relationship with American democratic values via an interactive living history performance series and recordings.

Growing Leaders: Youth, Gardening and Governance in Richmond, California, $10,000

Sponsoring Organization: Urban Tilth, Richmond

Project Director: Doria Robinson

How have disenfranchised Richmond youth grown to become leaders of a local youth gardening movement? The documentary will be publicly screened and distributed, along with educational materials, to schools and youth advocacy groups.

Hayward's Gay Prom, $10,000

Sponsoring Organization: Friends of the Hayward Public Library, Hayward

Project Director: Laurie Willis

This teen film project explores the history and significance of the city's annual gay prom within the context of a democratic society. Screening events encourage dialogue about challenges faced by LGBT youth. The film will be made available to student clubs, teachers, and the public.

The Khmer Youth Archive Project, $10,000

Sponsoring Organization: Little Tokyo Service Center, Los Angeles

Project Director: Gena Hamamoto

This female youth video project will document the experience of Long Beach Khmer immigrants and refugees. Public screening events and an awareness campaign will involve the community.

New Birth of Freedom: Civil War to Civil Rights in California, $10,000

Sponsoring Organization: Center for Oral and Public History/CSU Fullerton, Fullerton

Project Director: Benjamin Cawthra

This multimedia exhibit explores the distinctive role California has played in shaping the nation's ongoing struggle for equality. The project will offer stories from African-, Mexican- and Japanese-Americans in Southern California, exploring themes of democracy and equal justice.

Poetry for Democracy, $10,000

Sponsoring Organization: poetryXchange, Huntington Beach

Project Director: Sue Cronmiller

Poetry writing workshops, organized around the theme of democracy, will be provided to El Sol Academy middle school students by UC Irvine faculty and students. Students will be invited to read their poetry at the annual National Leadership Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C.

Resurrected Histories: Voices from the Chicano Arts Collectives of Highland Park, $10,000

Sponsoring Organization: Avenue 50 Studio, Los Angeles

Project Director: Kathy Gallegos

The tension between individual expression and social responsibility in a democracy will be examined through the stories of Chicano community artists in the 1960s and 80s. Young people, working with scholars and a filmmaker, will interview the artists; their videos will screen at an exhibit focused on art of the period and shared online.

The Search for Equality: LGBT Stories of Democracy in Action, $10,000

Sponsoring Organization: Media Arts Center San Diego, San Diego

Project Director: Patric Stilman

This film will share stories from San Diego's LGBT community that explore principles of democracy, inequality, and activism. Screening events (in partnership with the public library) will facilitate a greater understanding of social and political challenges faced by LGBT people.

So Near/So Far: Navigating the Passage to Democratic Futures, $10,000

Sponsoring Organization: Photo4Change/Tides Center, San Francisco

Project Director: Sarah Bachman

These workshops in reporting, photography, and radio production for Pescadero high school students and recent graduates will focus on examining the rights, responsibilities, and benefits of participating in a democracy. The stories they produce will be posted online and broadcast.

Somos Parte de la Democracia?: Culture, Democracy, and LA's Day Labor Community, $10,000

Sponsoring Organization: Cornerstone Theater Company, Los Angeles

Project Director: Lorena Moran

Members of innovative day laborer theater troupe Teatro Jornalero Sin Fronteras will be trained in documentary methods and techniques; they will reach out to their community to elicit stories that will reveal what democracy means to people who are rarely heard in the public discourse.

Stories of the Spill, $9,665

Sponsoring Organization: Earth Alert, Inc., Port Hueneme

Project Director: Janet Bridgers

The 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill catalyzed grassroots activism around Prop 20, a citizen-sponsored initiative that created the California Coastal Act. Stories about the spill and resulting state and federal legislation will be gathered; the film will be distributed online and broadcast.

Tai Chi Chats, Oakland Chinatown Oral History Project, $10,000

Sponsoring Organization: API Cultural Center, dba Oakland Asian Cultural Center, Oakland

Project Director: Roy Chan

Oakland Chinatown residents in Madison Park discuss their use of public space for cultural, social, and recreational activities. The project's exercises will foster citizen participation in the planning process, inform city planners' work, and illuminate the value users attach to the park.

Take Me to Your Leader: California Indian Traditional Chieftainship and Democratic Practice, $10,000

Sponsoring Organization: Heyday Books, Berkeley

Project Director: Margaret Dubin

This publication will examine political leadership of California tribes and the role of the modern Indian chief. Tribal leader interviews and essays on tribal history and traditions will be published as a supplement to the magazine News for Native California and distributed to schools.

Talk Story: Democracy - How Immigrant Senior Citizens View American Democracy, $10,000

Sponsoring Organization: EngAGE: The Art of Active Aging, Burbank

Project Director: Tim Carpenter

Workshops will enable a group of seniors to share their stories of immigration and citizenship, fulfilled and unfulfilled dreams of freedom, and the meaning of the power to vote. Stories will be developed into spoken word pieces, performed in community settings, and broadcast via radio.

Tenderloin: Stories of Transformation, $10,000

Sponsoring Organization: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Historical Society, San Francisco

Project Director: Joey Plaster

Through oral history and archival research activities, GLBT youth will learn about the moment when GLBT people entered the political sphere, led by a coalition of community and faith-based leaders in 1960s San Francisco. Included: an exhibit and public history programming.

Through The Ages High School Residency, Performances, and Podcast, $10,000

Sponsoring Organization: About Productions, Pasadena

Project Director: Rose Portillo

Working with theater artists, high-risk Latino high school students will learn about their community's rich history of civic engagement and political activism. Staged readings of the plays they write will be performed at Plaza de la Raza, L.A. and shared via podcast.

Woman Inside: Narratives from America's Incarcerated Women, $10,000

Sponsoring Organization: Voice of Witness, San Francisco

Project Director: Mimi Lok

This oral history/book project explores the role of democracy in the lives of women in the U.S. prison system. The book will be published by McSweeney's and distributed to students in partnership with Facing History and Ourselves. Readings will take place at women's prisons.

World Premiere Production of Tom Jacobson's The Chinese Massacre (Annotated), Talkback Series and Small Exhibition, $10,000

Sponsoring Organization: Circle X Theatre Co., Los Angeles

Project Director: Timothy Wright

An original theater piece explores a dark chapter in our history—the 1871 massacre of Chinese Americans in LA's first race riot. Discussions, a website, and an exhibit will provide additional learning opportunities around the relationship of law and justice to democracy, then and now.

The California Council for the Humanities connects Californians to ideas and one another in order to understand our shared heritage and diverse cultures, inspire civic participation, and shape our future.

The Council is an independent nonprofit organization and state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Originally founded in 1975, the Council is a leader in statewide humanities programming and grant funding. For more information, visit

SOURCE The California Council for the Humanities