Cal Humanities

"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more in context."

— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project

"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more when it is in context."

— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project

California Humanities Awards 20 Humanities for All Quick Grant Projects to Support Community, History, & Storytelling


For Immediate Release 
Media Contact:  Kerri Young, Communications Manager, 

January 30, 2023—(Oakland, CA)— California Humanities is proud to announce that 20 new public humanities grantees will receive $99,500 in funding through the Humanities for All Quick Grant program. Their projects and public programming, from plays and screenings, exhibitions, workshops, and public art, will provide rich humanities-centered learning experiences for Californians up and down the state.  

Many of the awarded projects in this grant cycle weave together placed-based storytelling and the California landscape to shed light on underrepresented stories in the state’s history. For example, “Hi Desert Queer & Trans Oral History Project,” is a public storytelling event sharing LGBTQIA desert oral histories, presented by desert LGBTQIA youth and adults about arriving, surviving, and thriving in the vast and dusty Hi-Desert. Two nights of story telling—April 16, 2023 (Twentynine Palms) and November 11, 2023 (Joshua Tree)— will highlight local LGBTQIA hero/heroines, feature LGBTQIA vendors, a resource zine made by LGBTQIA youth, historical LGBTQIA video and photos, and finish with an open discussion with those who shared their history and stories.  

Other projects celebrate the legacy of community activism in their regions, such as “No Human Being Is Illegal.” Based at the Raizes Collective in Santa Rosa, this play will examine how entire families are impacted by the criminalization of immigrants, especially children and youth, and subsequent facilitated conversations will provide a public space to discuss the immigrant and Indigenous women’s movement for just immigration reform and human rights.  

“We are honored to continue our organization’s role of fostering creative and diverse humanities projects accessible throughout the state and beyond,” shares California Humanities President & CEO Julie Fry. “The projects we are supporting in this cohort provide new avenues for understanding and engaging with California histories and stories and their impact on our daily lives.”  

The Humanities for All Quick Grant program is a competitive application that provides up to $5,000 to support small-scale locally initiated public humanities projects. See the complete description of awarded projects below. 

Projects Awarded Winter 2023 

In addition to continuing consideration of all eligible project applications on any topic, using any mode or format, and reaching any public audience, California Humanities designated three specific funding focus areas for Humanities for All Quick Grants: Youth Voices (denoted by “*”), Arts & Humanities (denoted by “+”). 

Los Angeles Issei Poetry: The Flowering of Pre-War Japanese American Poetry + 
Japanese American Cultural & Community Center, Los Angeles 
Project Director: Hirokazu Kosaka 

“Los Angeles Issei Poetry: The Flowering of Pre-War Japanese American Poetry,” is a public program series that will illuminate the work of the Issei (first generation Japanese immigrant) poets and the broader experience of the pre-war Japanese American community in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. Beginning in May 2023, this project will explore these writings with a public program series: two community-based translation workshops, a Little Tokyo Poetry Walking Tour, and a public program where artists and humanities scholars respond to the Issei poetry. This series will use the humanities to connect participants to Los Angeles’ immigrant voices, history, and place. 

inVISIBLE/unHEARD Civil Rights Tour 
Museum of Riverside, Riverside 
Project Director: Robyn Peterson 

“InVISIBLE/unHEARD,” is a local history program that will feature a car tour of sites related to civil rights in Riverside to explore important moments in local history. Through InVISIBLE/unHEARD, participants will visit the partially excavated Chinatown; the oldest Black church in the city; the site of a murder motivated by homophobia, and Sherman Indian High School. These stories will be told through dance and the spoken word by artists, students, and humanities presenters, concluding with a discussion among participants. Programming will begin April 2023. 

Story As a Claim to Place for San Francisco’s Filipino Community: “Sa Amin” Film Screening and Forum + 
Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco / SF Urban Film Fest 
Project Director: Fay Darmawi 

The project consists of an outdoor film screening of the “Sa Amin: Our Place” documentary and community forum at Victoria Manalo Draves Park (named after the first Filipina-American gold Olympic medalist) in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood. This neighborhood remains a place of historical cultural significance for the Filipino community in San Francisco. The early evening event will occur in March 2023 and open to the public. Community partners include Bessie Carmichael Public School (Tagalog bi-lingual education) and Filipino-led service organizations. The forum will be led by historian MC Canlas and community leader Raquel Rendodiez. 

Mi Casa Es Tu Casa 2023 + 
Pajaro Valley Arts Council, Watsonville 
Project Director: Judy Stabile 

“Mi Casa Es Su Casa/My House is Your House,” presented by the Pajaro Valley Arts Council will consist of a six-week art/installation exhibition; a celebratory opening with dance performances; a one-day community forum utilizing the Dia De Los Muertos tradition as a starting point for a cross cultural conversation about honoring ancestors, that will include discussions, a poetry reading, and art workshops. Programming will run from October through December 2023. 

Hayward is Home: Understanding and Belonging in the Heart of the Bay
CSU East Bay Foundation, Hayward 
Project Director: Bridget Ford

“Hayward Makes History: Home, Knowledge, Belonging,” is a digital community engagement project explores themes of home, knowledge, and belonging in the history of Hayward, California. Less known and less studied among Bay Area communities, Hayward presents extraordinary histories of diverse peoples building and fighting to preserve their homes; of creating ecological knowledge of the Bay, leading to critical shoreline and wildlife protection; and of nuanced and powerful ideas of belonging for Indigenous, Japanese American, Black, Latinx, and LGBTQ, and working class communities. This project brings together historical research, digital exhibit, and media, and lived experience in three community forums planned for fall 2023 in Hayward. 

Our Voice, Our Power: Oral History Project by refugees from Burma resettled in San Diego * 
Karen Organization of San Diego
Project Director: Nao Kabashima 

To raise awareness about ongoing ethnic conflicts and struggles in Burma, refugee youth from Burma resettled in San Diego launched a new oral history project and started to collect stories from their parents and grand parents in 2022. Drawing from the oral histories collected, this project will present a public storytelling performance and presentation event in June 2023. Those stories will be based in California, Burma, and refugee camps on the Thai-Burmese border. The project will enhance the general public’s understanding of the unique culture, history, struggles, and resiliency of refugees from Burma, one of the newest refugee populations in California. 

Remember Your Neighbor 
Health Communication Research Institute Inc, Sacramento / Joshua’s House Hospice 
Project Director: Eliana Swerdlow 

“Remember Your Neighbor” is an oral history initiative for residents at Joshua’s House, a Sacramento hospice community for the region’s terminally ill, homeless population. This project will guide Joshua’s House residents through the oral history process so that their memories are honored and will survive. To inform the public, histories will be posted on social media, the Joshua’s House website, and in print publication. In December 2023, Joshua’s House will host an event in which residents or their representatives share histories and the audience participates in a follow-up discussion. Through this initiative, the public bears witness to its unhoused neighbors’ humanity. 

California Native American Veterans and Their Stories 
Blue Lake Rancheria, Blue Lake 
Project Director: Chag Lowry 

The Blue Lake Rancheria Tribal Education Agency (TEA) will coordinate and host a free two-day humanities conference in February, 2023 in Humboldt County. The event will feature Native American veterans and highlight the many contributions of California’s original people in the U.S. military. Attendees will provide input useful to advocate for a permanent Native veterans humanities and exhibition space at the new California Indian Heritage Center in Sacramento. 

Stories from the East and West Barrios 
Claremont Heritage Inc, Claremont 
Project Director: David Shearer 

In the spring of 2023, oral histories, photographs, and ephemera, will be gathered from residents who were raised in Mexican American barrios in or adjacent to Claremont during an era of institutional racism before the Fair Housing Act of 1968. A community-wide event will be held in Claremont during Hispanic Heritage Month in 2023 to share information gathered, facilitate interaction between the those interviewed and the public, and to celebrate their contributions to the historic record. The primary source materials gathered will be preserved in online digital repositories that are available to all at no cost. 

ALMAS Libres Theatre: “No Human Being Is Illegal” + 
Raizes Collective, Santa Rosa 
Project Director: Renee Saucedo 

In May 2023, ALMAS Libres will perform the play, “No Human Being Is Illegal,” written by Latinx, Immigrant & Indigenous women on their lives as undocumented women in California. “No Human Being Is Illegal,” examines how entire families are impacted by the criminalization of immigrants, especially children and youth. After each performance, the actors and audience will participate in a facilitated, public conversation around immigrant rights and the Immigrant & Indigenous women’s movement for just immigration reform and human rights. Performances will take place in Santa Rosa and Guerneville. 

Fresno County Youth Writing Workshops * 
California State University Fresno Foundation
Project Director: Venita Blackburn 

This project will include a series of free writing workshops for K-12 residents and occupants of the central valley over a year, in rural and urban Fresno County locales. The workshops will be cross genre in the disciplines of poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction (memoir). Each workshop will be led by a guest expert or university student with a demonstrated history of successful teaching, followed by a small group reading of the participant’s work and onsite critique and evaluation. Participants will have the opportunity to participate in a public reading hosted by one of the guest instructors. Programming will run from spring through fall 2023. 

Valley Tales + 
Open Sky Radio Corp, Lake City 
Project Director: Lawrence Rinder 

The Surprise Valley, in rural Modoc County, has a rich history and vibrant culture, with a unique mix of cattle ranching and holistic farming, as well as a resilient Paiute community and a large number artists, musicians, and. writers. “Valley Tales,” will be a weekly, one-hour interview-format radio program featuring a range of voices and perspectives on life in the valley, presented throughout 2023 on the non-profit community station KDUP. Airing on the weekend to improve accessibility for families, the program will increase understanding and empathy across the diverse populations of this remarkable region. 

Passing The Drum – Womens African Drumming Conference + 
World Stage Performance Gallery, Los Angeles 
Project Director: Rene Fisher-Mims 

S.H.I.N.E. MAWUSI WOMEN’S AFRICAN DRUM CIRCLE (*Sisters * Healing * lnspiring * Nurturing * Empowering) will present, “Passing The Drum: Women’s African Drumming Conference,” to explore the legacy of Women’s African Drumming in the Leimert community, a cultural tradition long-assigned to males, now thriving in Los Angeles. “Passing the Drum” workshops will be held at the World Stage Performance Gallery’s (TWS) in Leimert Park Village, South Los Angeles with four community drumming circles culminating in the March 2023 conference. 

Potrero Stage Land Acknowledgment Mural Project + 
PlayGround Inc, Berkeley 
Project Director: Jim Kleinmann 

PlayGround, in partnership with the Association of Ramaytush Ohlone, will commission an Indigenous artist to create a mural at PlayGround’s home theatre Potrero Stage as a creative interpretation of PlayGround’s land acknowledgment. The project will culminate in an unveiling celebration and artist talk, providing Bay Area community members the opportunity to interpret and experience the mural together. This project seeks to acknowledge and honor the Ramaytush Ohlone as the past and present Indigenous stewards of the land, as well as bring attention to the historic injustices, forcible removal, and genocide of Indigenous people of San Francisco and their ancestral lands. Programming will begin June 2023. 

Food for Thought: Facts and (Science) Fictions * 
Regents of the University of California, Davis / UC Davis Humanities Institute 
Project Director: Amanda Trager 

“Food for Thought: Facts and (Science) Fictions,” is a discussion series and public platform for critical community engagement with topics related to agricultural practices—here on earth, and in our wider galaxy. The platform is part of the Davis Humanities Institute’s “Cultivation: Food, Farming, and Heritage in the Sacramento Valley and Beyond”—a year-long initiative which explores the themes of farmers, farming, race, and ethnic heritage in the Sacramento Valley and beyond. The free, outdoor events, which begin March 2023, will unfold in Sacramento’s historically-Black Oak Park neighborhood. 

Hi Desert Queer & Trans Oral History Project * 
High Desert Living Arts Center dba Joshua Tree Living Arts, Joshua Tree 
Project Director: Tania Hammidi 

“Hi Desert Queer & Trans Oral History Project,” is a public storytelling event sharing LGBTQIA desert oral histories, presented by desert LGBTQIA youth and adults about arriving, surviving, and thriving in the vast and dusty Hi-Desert. Two nights of story — April 16, 2023 (Twentynine Palms) and November 11, 2023 (Joshua Tree) — will highlight local LGBTQIA hero/ines, feature LGBTQIA vendors, a resource zine made by LGBTQIA youth, historical LGBTQIA video and photos, and finish with an open discussion Q&A with those who shared their history and stories. Join this safe space, be an ally, find support, build community. 

River Sessions + 
LA River Public Art Project, Malibu 
Project Director: Jenna Didier 

“River Sessions,” is program that will include a monthly meander along the LA River guided by Indigenous culture bearers, river-focused historians, and artists. Each month this program will explore a new area along the river: beginning with headwaters of the river in January 2023 and concluding in Long Beach in December 2023. Participants will visit ancient Tongva village sites, spotlight local cultural organizations, tour river-adjacent art studios, take part in a panel discussion in a riverine park bookends some tours, and view temporary public art work and performance enroute. 

Miwok Stories of Landlessness 
Sacred Lands, Native Hands Inc, Sacramento 
Project Director: Caressa Nguyen 

“Miwok Stories of Landlessness,” is project that will capture the collective memory, heritage, and history of one of California’s many indigenous tribes- the Ione Miwok. In July 2023 in Sacramento, a video of interviews with tribal people followed by a panel of indigenous leaders will shed light on underrepresented stories of California history to the general public. 

The Frida X Trash-Mex + 
Frida Cinema, Santa Ana 
Project Director: Logan Crow 

In collaboration with Mexican genre cinema preservation organization Trash-Mex, The Frida Cinema will present a weekend of film screenings, historical original film art exhibition, culinary pairing, curated music, and panel discussion exploring the history of Mexican genre films. Taking place February 25-26, 2023, this exhibition will examine contemporary and historical social issues through the exhibition of three from the 1980s and 1990s complimented by moderated discussions with Trash-Mex founder Armando Hernandez and area Mexican film historians, lobby exhibition featuring original film artwork, DJ playing music featured in the films, and culinary arts pairing from local Mexican restaurant Alta Baja Market. 

Iranian Studies Initiative: Persian Literature as World Literature 
University of California at Santa Barbara Dept of Religious Studies, Santa Barbara
Project Director: Janet Afary 

The Iranian Studies Initiative at UCSB  will present, “Iranian Studies Initiative: Persian Literature as World Literature” a virtual lecture series presented in collaboration with the Farhang Foundation. Led by Professor Janet Afary, “Persian Literature As World Literature,” will focus on an array of topics in Persian literature. Events will include presentations followed by question and answer sessions held monthly. In addition, well-known diaspora writers based in California will be hosted for campus events. On the first day our guest will deliver a lecture. On the second day, the speaker will attend a brunch workshop and engage more directly with students and the community. Programming will begin February 2023. 

California Humanities, a statewide nonprofit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, promotes the humanities—focused on ideas, conversation, and learning—as relevant, meaningful ways to understand the human condition and connect people to each other in order to help strengthen California. California Humanities has provided grants and programs across the state since 1975. To learn more, visit, or like and follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  

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A production of the Raizes Collective, based in Santa Rosa. Courtesy of the Raizes Collective.

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