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

16 Humanities for All Quick Grants Awarded for Public Humanities Projects

Santa Monica History Museum, Outlook Collection 1998.1.898


September 20, 2021
For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Cherie Hill, Communications Manager, 
Image / Santa Monica History Museum, Outlook Collection (1998.1.898)

(Oakland, CA) — California Humanities is proud to announce that sixteen public humanities grantees will receive a total of $76,789 in funding through the Humanities for All Quick Grant program this fall. Among the range of topics covered in this cycle of awards, prominent themes include responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, women’s histories, poetry and literary arts projects, and community history and cultural preservation.

The grants of up to $5,000 support small-scale locally initiated public humanities projects and enable organizations to share untold stories and histories. Here are some project examples: In response to the pandemic, the University of California Irvine’s “PrisonPandemic in the Community” project will amplify the digital media archive of thousands of calls and narrated letters collected from people incarcerated in California’s prisons during the pandemic. “Building Community: The Broadway Neighborhood” by the Santa Monica Historical Society Inc. will focus on an area in Santa Monica that, from the 1920s to 1960s, was home to thriving businesses, cultural ventures, social services, and faith-based institutions established and operated by the city’s African American residents. In Palo Alto, “The Art of Disability Culture” will feature work in a wide range of media by artists with disabilities from the Bay Area and beyond.

“The perseverance we are seeing from humanities-based institutions and collaborators is outstanding,” shares California Humanities President & CEO Julie Fry. “Despite numerous challenges, these organizations continue to support ongoing dialogue and projects that are essential to our society and understanding of each other. We are delighted to award funding to this group of grantees.”

The California Humanities’ Quick Grant program is a branch of the Humanities for All grant line. The grants supply funding for small-scale local public humanities activities that take place within a year.

Projects Awarded Spring 2021:
In addition to considering all eligible project applications on any topic, California Humanities designated two specific funding focus areas for Humanities for All Quick Grants: Youth Voices (denoted by “‡”) and Arts & Humanities (denoted by “+”). 

Santa Monica Historical Society Inc.
Building Community: The Broadway Neighborhood‡
Project Director: Sara Crown
“Building Community: The Broadway Neighborhood” will focus on an area that from the 1920s – 1960s was home to thriving businesses, cultural ventures, social services, and faith-based institutions established and operated by the city’s African American residents. This project will explore what defines a neighborhood and its identity and how this intersects with urban planning and environmental equity. It will include oral histories, photographs, pamphlets, media, and other ephemera, as well as panel discussions, activity days, school visits, and online/digital content. “Building Community” will run from December 2021 through May 2022 at our museum site in Santa Monica, CA.

Norco Library
We Out Here: Diversity Summit and Film Festival+
Project Director: Ivan Aguirre
In collaboration with Norco College diversity organizations, Norco Library will present “We Out Here: Diversity Summit and Film Festival,” a free month-long virtual event in November 2021. This project seeks to empower and celebrate diversity in Norco’s unacknowledged and underrepresented BIPOC+ (Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and LGBTQ+) communities. “We Out Here” will provide four Good Docs documentary screenings by and about BIPOC+ members accompanied by virtual speaking engagements. In addition, the film festival will serve as a backdrop to a diversity summit with various BIPOC+ led workshops and panels that speak on themes of diversity, equity, inclusion, and the importance of archiving local BIPOC+ history.

University of Redlands
Plague Stories: Gathering Our Community Narratives
Project Director: Youna Kwak
The University of Redlands’ “Plague Stories” utilizes the humanities to understand our world as we emerge from the pandemic. Interconnected and interactive community-based activities create space to share stories from humanistic fields while collecting local stories of lived experience. Community forums, led by faculty “fishbowls,” will address uncertainty, loss, and rebuilding, followed by a One City One Book discussion of Emily St. John Mandel’s novel, Station Eleven. Simultaneously, we will collect individual stories via video for a community archive. These events explore how humanist practice illuminates our personal stories within the collective narrative of the Covid-19 pandemic. Programming will begin in January 2022.

Pajaro Valley Arts Council, Watsonville
28th Annual Mi Casa Es Su Casa/My House is Your House+
Project Director: Valeria Miranda
“Mi Casa Es Su Casa/My House is Your House” consists of a six-week art/installation exhibition; a one-day conference utilizing the historical, cultural, and religious icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe as a focal point to explore a variety of themes through readings, discussions, and art workshops. In addition, a candlelight vigil and a book group discussion of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer are also offered. Inspired by the traditional Mexican holiday Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), “Mi Casa Es Tu Casa/My House is Your House’s,” 28th annual exhibition and programs invite participants and visitors to celebrate ancestors and loved ones who passed away through the creation of altars/installations, and 2-D artwork. Programming will run from October through December 2021.

Commune Foundation, Oakland
West Oakland to West Africa International Poetry Exchange Book Forums+
Project Director: Karla Brundage
West Oakland to West Africa (WO2WA) is a community of primarily Black writers living in Oakland that exchanges Renshi style poetry with poets and artists in West Africa. During the COVID pandemic, twenty-four Oakland poets who took part in this program exchanged epistolary poems with twenty-four Nigerian and Kenyan poets. “West Oakland to West Africa International Poetry Exchange Book Forums” will amplify the works created out of this exchange, hosting two free public poetry readings held via Zoom in partnership with the African American Museum and Library in Oakland. In addition, an anthology of these poems will be distributed free of charge to all participants, including those in Africa. These free, spoken word poetry reading events will include a community forum component, allowing our poets and audience to engage in meaningful dialogue around the Black experience. In addition, poets and audiences will engage in meaningful dialogue around humanity, identity, and intersectionality themes. Programming will run from February-August 2022.

California State University Fresno Foundation
Sudden Experiments: A Series of Student-Led Public Workshops on Art/Poetry-Making+
Project Director: Mai Der Vang
“Sudden Experiments: A Series of Student-Led Public Workshops on Art/Poetry-Making” organized by the Laureate Lab Visual Wordist Studio (LaLab) at Fresno State, is a public workshop space founded by Juan Felipe Herrera and housed at Fresno State, bringing together students, writers, artists, and community members to explore the dimensions of and connections between poetry, sound, movement, visual art, and performance. LaLab will present a series of creative art and poetry-making workshops in coordination with Creative Writing program faculty and facilitated by student leaders in the Lab. Workshops will be free, held on campus in fall 2021 and spring 2022.

Rancho Los Cerritos Foundation, Long Beach
Raíces de Long Beach: Roots of the Rancho Speakers’ Series
Project Director: Alison Bruesehoff
Rancho Los Cerritos will present “Raíces de Long Beach: Roots of the Rancho Speakers’ Series” that aligns with the upcoming “Raíces de Long Beach: Roots of the Rancho,” year-long exhibit. The “Speakers’ Series” will provide further context for the stories featured in the exhibition within the more extensive history of Mexican and Mexican American people in Southern California. In addition, there will be a total of four lectures hosted by RLC at the Rancho Los Cerritos site and will be virtually available. The series will take place between September 2021 – August 2022.

Regents of the University of California Irvine
UCI PrisonPandemic in the Community: Programmatic Events & Participatory Activities
Project Director: Keramet Reiter
University of California Irvine’s “PrisonPandemic” is a digital media archive of thousands of calls and narrated letters collected from people incarcerated in California’s prisons during the COVID-19 pandemic. The archive amplifies incarcerated people’s experiences and gives voice to the numbers: nearly 50,000 incarcerated Californians infected with COVID-19 and 224 dead since March 2020. This project will feature an exhibit and two associated public events – an opening event and a panel introducing an associated podcast – to increase awareness of and engagement with the PrisonPandemic voices. Events will take place in late spring 2022 on UCI’s campus (and virtually).

San Diego Chinese Historical Society and Museum, San Diego
Resilient Women of California’s Chinatowns+
Project Director: Anne Hoiberg
“Resilient Women of California’s Chinatowns” will uncover the stories of the Chinese women who lived in California’s Chinatowns through the creation of video and public programming. This project will highlight the story of Sue Leong, the “Mother” of San Diego’s Chinatown, “Honoring the First Mother of San Diego’s Chinese Community”; and will create a walking tour and video, “Women of the Gaslamp Quarter and Chinatown—a Walking Tour.” This program aims to enrich the lives of all film viewers and walkers through these stories and the post-screening discussions, increase public awareness of the long history of anti-Asian racism and discrimination–and discuss solutions to this bias and attacks on Asian Americans. Other outcomes include printing a brochure promoting the walking tour and a booklet about the women of the Quarter and Chinatown. Programming will begin in January 2022.

Palo Alto Art Center Foundation, Palo Alto
The Art of Disability Culture+
Project Director: Karen Kienzle
“The Art of Disability Culture” will feature work in a wide range of media by artists from the Bay Area and beyond. At the heart of this exhibition is a robust celebration of the diverse, personal, and infinitely varied “disability experience.” The artists featured in this project have one or more disabilities, whether visible or invisible. Their work responds to this diversity of perspectives and experiences exemplified by these individuals’ creativity, vulnerability, and unique perspectives. This exhibition provides a safe space to come together and reflect upon the pandemic with a greater understanding of how disability culture can strengthen our communities through the practices of interdependence, accessibility, and inclusion. To celebrate and amplify the exhibition, the Art Center will present two hybrid programs to create opportunities to appreciate and celebrate the disability community. Programming will begin in fall 2021.

Gyopo, Los Angeles
Korean American Young Adult Fiction Today‡
Project Director: Yoon Ju Ellie Lee
The “Korean American Young Adult Fiction Today” event brings together five Young Adult fiction writers, whose books feature characters of Korean descent, to read their published works and reflect on their personal career journeys. In January 2022, at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in Los Angeles, this event will surface diverse perspectives in literature for young audiences both in and beyond the Korean diaspora. Prior to the event, two virtual reading groups of local secondary school students, facilitated by educators from community-based organizations, Koreatown Youth and Community Center and Sustainable Little Tokyo, will read a YA novel by a featured panelist.

Balboa Art Conservation Center, San Diego
Preserve Community Art: San Diego’s Chicana/o Cultural Heritage
Project Director: Bianca Garcia
Balboa Art Conservation Center (BACC) seeks to connect the field of art conservation to communities and collections that have been historically and institutionally underrepresented. Preserve Community Art: San Diego’s Chicana/o Cultural Heritage will partner with San Diego’s Centro Cultural de la Raza (Centro) to convene an online community conversation about historical efforts, current state, and future planning to conserve Chicana/o art and culture in San Diego. The dialogue will center the voices of community historians, activists, artists, conservators, arts administrators, educators, and culture bearers to respond to the question: What does Cultural Preservation look like for San Diego’s Chicana/o community? Programming will begin in April 2022.

Litquake Foundation, San Francisco
Lit Crawl San Francisco 2021
Project Director: Hunter Thomas
Litquake will produce “Lit Crawl San Francisco,” which will consist of a series of in-person, community-led literary events sourced via a public submission process and emphasizing the work of local, BIPOC/LGBTQ+ authors and arts organizations on Saturday, October 24, 2021. The mission of this project is to bring together the greater Bay Area literary community to share their unique perspectives on the issues of the day via literature in all its forms (poetry, short stories, novels, memoir, storytelling, essays, journalism) and foster discussion, cross-cultural exchange, and community building.

Mariachi Women’s Foundation, Los Angeles
Mariachi Women Warriors: Tradition and Innovation+
Project Director: Leonor Perez
“Mariachi Women Warriors: Tradition and Innovation” will be an in-person community dialog with a panel of mariachi women speakers held during Women’s History Month. A performance by the all-female Mariachi Divas will add context to the panel. Community participants will increase their understanding of women’s experiences as they uniquely and innovatively engage and sustain the mariachi tradition rooted in Mexican masculine culture. The event will be held in March 2022 at La Plaza de Cultura y Artes in Los Angeles and streamed in April 2022.

San Lorenzo Valley Historical Society, Boulder Creek
Birth Happens
Project Director: Lisa Robinson
“Birth Happens” is a cultural project that includes an exhibition, associated programming, and the collection of oral histories. The exhibition celebrates the history of midwifery in Santa Cruz County from pre-contact to the present day. It examines midwifery legislation, especially focusing on the 1917 decision to identify birth as a medical procedure and its implications and the 1976 California Supreme Court decision to make the practice of non-medical midwifery illegal. It identifies those women, who took back the practice of home birthing and created The Santa Cruz Birth Center, and who were arrested and jailed for conducting non-medical home births. Programming will begin in September 2021.

Beauty & Love Publishing, Boonville
Revitalizing and Celebrating Pomo Life Cycle Traditions+
Project Director: Jeanine Pfeiffer
“Revitalizing and Celebrating Pomo Life Cycle Traditions” is a project that seeks to revitalize and celebrate Pomo life cycle traditions through diverse community outreach activities. Main events will include in-person and remote/recorded talks by Pomo culture bearers in collaboration with the Grace Hudson Museum (Ukiah); the Historic Courthouse Museum (Lakeport), the California Indian Museum and Cultural Center (Santa Rosa); and over twenty Pomo tribes and tribal communities located in Mendocino, Lake, and Sonoma counties. Our main events will be supplemented with round-table community dialogues centering on a locally written and published book on cradle basketry and short explanatory videos and imagery uploaded to individual and institutional Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter accounts, and websites. Programming begins September 2021.

To learn more about the Humanities for All grant programs, click here. Applications for the next round of Humanities for All Quick Grants are due October 18, 2021.

About California Humanities:
California Humanities, a 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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