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

A person has a red cloth wrapped around the waist, and another person pulls it.

A Snapshot of Humanities Projects Located in CA’s Central Valley Region 

California Humanities strives to tell the stories of California through administering grants and special programs that reach every corner of our state. This month, we share grant projects happening throughout the Central Valley region. 

 LUSO-FORNIA–Supported by a California Documentary Project Grant 

Director David Grabias’ forthcoming film LUSO-FORNIA is an impressionistic vision of the relationship between humanity, nature, and spirituality. Set within a Central Valley landscape dominated by big agriculture, generations of immigrants in an isolated town turn to their Portuguese heritage to find meaning and community. Since the 1950s, thousands of Portuguese from the Azores have immigrated to the Central Valley. Portuguese flags fly in front of many homes, and Portuguese phrases echo across the schoolyard. And every fall, the town overflows as the community holds a “festa,” a centuries-old religious and cultural celebration that culminates in a bloodless bullfight. LUSO-FORNIA documents and celebrates this immigrant tradition in California’s dairy lands — discovering the unseen beauty of its residents’ lives and testifying to the power of a richly constructed, communal universe. Click here to watch the trailer.  

Appreciation: Rebuilding a Sense of Community through (Visual) Stories, California State University Fresno Foundation, Fresno–Supported by a Humanities for All Quick Grant 

“Appreciation: Rebuilding a Sense of Community through (Visual) Stories” will feature facilitated community dialogues and visual art workshops led by California-based Asian/Asian American scholars, authors, poets, and contemporary artists. This project seeks to expand people’s understanding of Asian/Asian American communities in California. Participants will participate in profound conversations about isolated Asian/Asian American communities in California suffering during/after COVID-19 periods when Anti-Asian hate crimes have increased.  

The project aims to build a bridge between arts and humanities by presenting community dialogue and discussion sessions led by prominent ethnic and cultural studies scholars/researchers and visual art workshops facilitated by contemporary AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) artists and scholars. The project is held virtually through zoom sessions, and the outcomes will be exhibited through a virtual gallery. 

Humanities Beyond Bars: Incarceration, Visibility, and Humanization, CSU Bakersfield Auxiliary for Sponsored Programs Administration, Bakersfield–Supported by a Humanities for All Project Grant 

The Humanities Beyond Bars (HBB) project aims to increase the visibility and, in turn, understanding of incarceration and the human condition of those incarcerated. HBB accomplishes this through oral history interviews with formerly incarcerated students and staff in the California State University System regarding their life experiences, challenges, successes, and resilience in pursuing education upon release from prison. These individuals and their voices are important elements of the shared history of the Central Valley and the CSU System.  

Through the Humanities Beyond Bars Symposium (April 2022) – a two-day series of public-facing workshops and community conversations led by formerly incarcerated students, scholars, and activists serving currently and formerly incarcerated populations in CA –the HBB project increased public engagement with the humanities and fostered greater understanding and collaboration between formerly and non-incarcerated populations in our region. Featured events included a moderated conversation with Earlonne Woods and Nigel Poor (“Ear Hustle: Stories of Life In and Beyond Prison) and workshops led by Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Defy Ventures, and Project Rebound staff. Learn more about the HBB oral history project in this brief video

Shelter and Place, Merced County Office of Education, Merced–Supported by a Humanities for All Project Grant  

This oral history project empowers local high school students to conduct interviews with community members about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on this rural Central Valley region. Workshops provided by the University of California, Merced, guide humanities students, and faculty to develop students’ skills and confidence in public history methods. Oral histories will be developed into dramatic monologues, to be performed through a live, multilingual production at a local theater, followed by a community dialogue exploring the effects of the pandemic on individual and community mental health and related issues. Transcripts and recordings of the interviews and performances will be archived and shared widely to increase the impact and reach of the project, which also aims to strengthen campus-community connections and encourage high school students to pursue higher educational opportunities. 

The K.N.O.T: Knowledge to Nurture our Traditions, California Indian Basketweavers Association, Woodland– Supported by a Humanities for All Project Grant 

The Knowledge to Nurture Our Traditions (The K.N.O.T) Program is designed to increase basketweaving knowledge in the California Indian community, emphasizing connecting tribal youth to culture bearers and increasing public appreciation, knowledge, and support for California Indian basket weavers. The program format will include six intergenerational basketweaving workshops and two-panel presentations with master level, elder basketweavers and culture bearers from Southern, Central, and Northern California tribal populations. Workshops will provide participants with a hands-on opportunity to work with traditional basketweaving materials, while panel presentations will provide education on the unique history, cultural traditions, and weaving styles of the presenters’ tribal area. The program’s overarching goal is to increase the number of California Indians engaging in traditional practices and continue to grow connections between California Indians and individuals, organizations, tribes, and community institutions to help preserve and perpetuate this unique art form. 


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