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The 2013 Community Conversation Cycle

Four Indiana communities have been selected to host a Community Conversation that will help them better understand their past and prepare for a monumental event in their future – Indiana’s Bicentennial. This is the fifth year for the series, convened by Indiana Humanities and the Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University.  The focus of the Community Conversation series for the next three years will be Bicentennial 2016: The Next Indiana.

Selected regions, lead partners and topics include:

Evansville. Historic Southern Indiana, a heritage-based program out of the University of Southern Indiana, will examine the city’s history and work with cross-disciplinary groups to revitalize center city neighborhoods.

Hamilton County. The Hamilton County Convention and Visitors Bureau seeks to lead a meaningful cross-county conversation about how Hamilton County’s heritage can be preserved and presented for the future.

La Porte. The La Porte Historic Preservation Commission will use this opportunity to discuss best practices for historic towns to revitalize in the 21st century.

Lawrence County. The Lawrence County Economic Growth Council will lead a conversation to celebrate its past and present and identify its path to the future.

“Indiana communities have changed a great deal in size, economics, and government structure over the past 200 years,” said Keira Amstutz, president and CEO of Indiana Humanities.  “These communities have all acknowledged a critical need and a desire to address these issues through respectful, civil dialogue. We look forward to working with them to create a unique event that will help serve as a catalyst for the necessary, but difficult, conversations about how Indiana communities can prepare for the next 200 years.”

The Bowen Center for Public Affairs and Indiana Humanities will work with local partners to convene a regional conversation among community leaders and citizens from public, private and non-profit sectors; evaluate possible solutions for addressing community challenges and discuss best practices; provide regions with access to resources, technology, and expertise in the creation of solutions to regional problems; and provide ongoing consultation.

Several statewide partners have committed to lending their expertise and support to the Community Conversation series, including:

2016 Indiana Bicentennial Commission Association of Indiana Convention & Visitor Bureaus Association of Indiana Counties Association of Indiana Museums Community Based Projects, Ball State University Indiana Association of Cities and Towns Indiana Chamber of Commerce Indiana Commission for Women Indiana Farm Bureau Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities Indiana Grantmakers Alliance Indiana Historical Society Indiana Landmarks Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs Indiana Office of Tourism Development Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick

“By providing an open forum that promotes collaboration and innovation, these conversations really can serve as catalysts for change,” said Sally Jo Vasicko, co-director of the Bowen Center for Public Affairs. “In the past four years, the Community Conversation has been the instigator for many communities to take action—from Orange County’s beautification project to a mutually beneficial relationship between Franklin College and the city of Franklin.”

Over the past four years more than 20 Indiana regions have been selected to participate in the Community Conversation series, which is aimed at helping the community build on its strengths and meet its challenges. The cost of the speakers, planning and promotion will be covered by the Bowen Center for Public Affairs, Indiana Humanities and event sponsors. After the meeting, the Bowen Center for Public Affairs will provide additional consultation as requested. Details, including dates and locations, about each Community Conversation are still being determined.