Highlighting a Successful 2018

Martin Baron, Washington Post Executive Editor, (above, left, with Gene Policinski, president of the Newseum Institute, at a USD news conference) received the 2017 Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in The Media from the University of South Dakota and hosted a public forum at the Al Neuharth Media Center in Vermillion on Thursday, April 26. Baron's appearance at USD kicked off a series of events SDHC promoted and produced as part of its 2018 programming initiative, "Democracy and the Informed Citizen." Photo by Ryan Woodard

Looking Back at the South Dakota Humanities Council's 2018 Highlights

By Ryan Woodard

In 2018, the South Dakota Humanities Council hosted distinguished humanities experts -- including the national humanities chair, the nation's top poet, a 14-time Pulitzer Prize-winning editor and an author featured in PBS's "The Great American Read" -- and helped South Dakotans discuss contemporary issues of vital importance to America's democracy.

The statewide humanities organization also met goals for three major incentive fundraising campaigns and played a significant role in an unprecedented statewide fundraising effort.

While fulfilling its mission of "celebrating literature, promoting civil conversation, and telling the stories that define our state" in 2018, SDHC celebrated with its constituents not only literature but also a series of landmark moments that will be remembered for years to come. Below are SDHC's 2018 highlights.

1. Conversations about Infoliteracy with 14-time Pulitzer Prize winner Martin Baron and More through the Democracy and the Informed Citizen Initiative

As part of our 2018 initiative, we promoted infoliteracy, a relatively new skill necessitated by our complex digital media era. Our programs taught the value of being an infoliterate citizen – one who distinguishes real news from fake news by recognizing and dismissing biased sources. We also promoted re-establishing positive relationships with traditional media, building our case by speaking with local, regional and national newspaper editors, including the editor of the top newspaper in the country. During our kickoff event at the University of South Dakota in April, we asked Washington Post editor Martin Baron, a 14-time Pulitzer Prize winner how to select reliable, accurate news sources.

The veteran editor's advice? Think critically.

"If ... they're trying to reinforce your point of view, you should be highly suspicious of those news sources, because ... their purpose is just to tell you that you're right all the time."

To read our editorial on the topic, which was printed in newspapers around the state, please click below.

2. Hosting NEH Chair Jon Parrish Peede

SDHC staff had the honor this summer of helping host the top official for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Jon Parrish Peede, NEH's 11th chairman, visited Western South Dakota July 17-20 to speak with local groups about statewide humanities programs supported by the NEH and carried out by the South Dakota Humanities Council.

Founded in 1965, NEH is an independent grant-making institution of the United States government dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities. 

Jon Parrish Peede, NEH Chair, visited the Black Hills in the summer of 2018. The visit was coordinated in part by the South Dakota Humanities Council.

NEH Chair Jon Parrish Peede visited the Michael J. Fitzmaurice State Veterans Home in Hot Springs as part of his July 2018 trip to the Black Hills, which was coordinated by the South Dakota Humanities Council. Shown above in a photo taken during the veterans home tour are, from left, State Veterans Home superintendent Brad Richardson, South Dakota Arts Council executive director Patrick Baker, Arts South Dakota executive director Jim Speirs, former SDHC executive director Sherry DeBoer, Peede and Lt. Gov. Matt Michels. Peede and his staff visited Spearfish, Rapid City, Oglala Lakota College and more. SDHC partnered with Arts South Dakota for the tour of the State Veterans Home, which was also part of Michels’ Arts in Military initiative. Photo by Vincent Ricardel, NEH

Peede visited various sites in the Black Hills, including the Matthews Opera House in Spearfish, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology in Rapid City, the Michael J. Fitzmaurice State Veterans Home in Hot Springs, Oglala Lakota College in Kyle and more. 

Watch our comprehensive video recap by clicking the button below.   

3. Bringing Nationally Renowned Author Alice Sebold to Festival of Books—Partnership with SDPB for The Great American Read

One of the best-known authors to appear at the South Dakota Festival of Books during its 16-year history, Alice Sebold did not disappoint. The acclaimed author was featured prominently on Friday, Sept. 21, the first official day of the 2018 event in Brookings. She started her day visiting with a standing-room-only crowd of college students and other readers about her novel, "The Lovely Bones," before sitting down for an intimate interview with SDPB's Lori Walsh as part of the evening keynote.

Using a conversational approach that was at times both humorous and heartbreaking, Sebold was brutally honest about the extreme highs and lows of her life, which took a tragic turn when she was raped as a freshman at Syracuse University. Sebold transformed her heartache into poignant prose tackling difficult subjects of rape, child murder and the fracture of families with her wildly successful 2002 novel, "The Lovely Bones."

The book was an unprecedented international bestseller, with translations in over 45 languages and sales of more than five million copies in America alone. A film version was adapted, written and directed by Peter Jackson. It was released in 2009 and starred Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, and Stanley Tucci.

"The Lovely Bones" was featured on PBS's The Great American Read list of America's 100 Favorite Books, and Sebold's appearance was the result of a partnership between the South Dakota Humanities Council and South Dakota Public Broadcasting.

Internationally renowned author Alice Sebold, one of the most well-known author to appear at the S.D. Festival of Books, was featured at the 2018 event thanks to a partnership between SDHC and South Dakota Public Broadcasting with its

Internationally renowned author Alice Sebold, one of the best-known authors to appear at the South Dakota Festival of Books during its 16-year history, was featured at the 2018 event thanks to a partnership between SDHC and South Dakota Public Broadcasting in conjunction with SDPB's "Great American Read" program. Photo by Ryan Woodard

4. Facilitating Visit from National Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith

In October, SDHC was honored to help Library of Congress staffers facilitate Black Hills events featuring U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, who toured four states in 2018 as she unveiled a new anthology featuring the works of 50 living American poets.

Smith read selections of her own poetry and pieces from "American Journal: Fifty Poems for Our Time" and discussed the poems with audience members at the Belle Fourche Community Center, Matthews Opera House in Spearfish and Sturgis Public Library.

Smith's presentations in the Black Hills drew large crowds and memorable responses, both from aspiring poets and from people who merely had stories to tell. Those who attended the events received free copies of Smith's new anthology, signed upon request.

American Conversations is Smith's second-term project as the nation's poet laureate for 2018-2019. A former Wegner Poetry Fellow at Stanford University who teaches creative writing at Princeton University, Smith set out with the intention of reaching primarily rural audiences.

U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith visited the Black Hills in October 2018 to promote a new anthology from the Library of Congress and acquaint herself with local residents during programs coordinated in part by the South Dakota Humanities Council. Photo b

U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith visited the Black Hills in October 2018 to promote a new anthology from the Library of Congress and acquaint herself with local residents during programs coordinated in part by the South Dakota Humanities Council. Photo by Ryan Woodard

5. Pulitzer Winners Timothy Egan and Jacqui Banaszynski, One Book Author Patterson, Other Journalism Experts Bring Special Lens to Festival of Books, Democracy and the Informed Citizen Initiative 

Pulitzer Prize winners Timothy Egan and Jacqui Banaszynski and other notable journalism experts headlined the non-fiction track at the 16th annual South Dakota Festival of Books, which was held Sept. 20-23 in Brookings and Sioux Falls.

Egan and Banaszynski provided a high level of expertise exclusive to the relatively small circle of writers who have reached the Pulitzer Prize pinnacle of journalism. The veteran reporters anchored the Festival of Books non-fiction track as well as SDHC's 2018 initiative, "Democracy and the Informed Citizen," which examines the critical role of journalism and the power of the humanities to enrich understanding of local and national issues and inspire citizen engagement.

In "Tough Topics, Pulitzer Prizes: How Our Content and Its Coverage Have Changed Over the Years", Egan and Banaszynski explained drastic differences between the news reporting eras they've lived through. They also offered insight on how modern-day journalists can best serve Americans during the digital overload era of Facebook and Twitter. They were joined at the Festival by fellow journalism experts like viral blogger and digital storytelling expert Andy Boyle, ABC news correspondent Linsey Davis, and One Book South Dakota author Thomas E. Patterson.

Timothy Egan and Jacqui Banaszynski discuss media issues past and present during a special event at the 2018 South Dakota Festival of Books in Brookings as part of the 2018 SDHC Initiative,

Timothy Egan and Jacqui Banaszynski discuss media issues past and present during a special event at the 2018 South Dakota Festival of Books in Brookings as part of the 2018 SDHC Initiative, "Democracy and the Informed Citizen." Photo by Stephen Parezo

6. Hosting an Outstanding One Book Author and Events—Democracy & the Informed Citizen

Media expert Thomas E. Patterson, the 2018 One Book South Dakota author, discussed the state of news at the September South Dakota Festival of Books and during a subsequent tour through Rapid City, Pierre, and Sioux Falls.

He led SDHC's efforts to help citizens understand "infoliteracy" and explore the 2018 theme, "Democracy and the Informed Citizen." Patterson's book "Informing the News: The Need for Knowledge-Based Journalism," which was read and discussed across the state as the One Book, argues that deeply introspective, or "knowledge-based," reporting is crucial to the future of democracy and public awareness.

Thomas E. Patterson (right) is interviewed by SDPB radio host Lori Walsh during the 2018 S.D. Festival of Books. Patterson was the centerpiece of SDHC's 2018

Thomas E. Patterson (right) is interviewed by SDPB radio host Lori Walsh during the 2018 S.D. Festival of Books. Patterson was the centerpiece of SDHC's 2018 "Democracy and the Informed Citizen" initiative. Citizens watched Patterson speak at the Festival of Books as well as during tour events in October 2018. Photo by Ryan Woodard

7. Successful Completion of Three Major Incentive Fundraising Campaigns and Record Effort on Statewide Day of Giving—November 27

In 2018, SDHC supporters culminated a three-year effort to meet incentive endowment fund challenges that will boost SDHC's legacy funding, while also supporting an unprecedented local and statewide philanthropic effort in November.

As a result of meeting three-year goals for incentive funding at Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation, Black Hills Area Community Foundation and South Dakota Community Foundation, SDHC brought in an additional $352,000 in permanent endowment funds. 

SDHC also completed in 2018 a 2-year challenge for a National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant that will provide an extra $200,000 for Young Readers through raised funds and NEH matches to be used in 2019, 2020 and 2021. With the completion of this most recent challenge, NEH has now provided three challenge grant opportunities for SDHC over the last two decades, representing nearly $1 million.

SDHC also raised more than $5,170 during the first-ever statewide Day of Giving, receiving donations in-person, online and by mail. The local #BrookingsGives movement provided SDHC with an opportunity to meet and strategize with other local non-profits; #BrookingsGives campaign efforts were bolstered by a 1-1 matching opportunity from Larson Family Foundation. The foundation matched gifts from any Brookings County resident received online or in person on the Day of Giving or postmarked Nov. 27.

"The deep and constant generosity of Larson Family Foundation in Brookings is recognized by all non-profits statewide, but especially in Brookings where they are located, and they did it again with this much-appreciated act of philanthropy," DeBoer said.

The South Dakota Humanities Council has increased its fundraising efforts during the past three years.

8. Award Winners Exemplifying Spirit of the Humanities— Gruener, Hicks, Larson Family Foundation, Marshall III

Three people and one organization received 2018 Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities awards for their contributions to humanities in South Dakota.

Maria Gruener, Patrick Hicks, Larson Family Foundation and Joseph Marshall III were honored at the 2018 Festival of Books for demonstrating "a commitment to scholarly and cultural advocacy around South Dakota," per the award guidelines. The 2018 honorees present humanities-related events and programs, write books and publications important to the humanities and provide funding or partnerships to sustain a vibrant cultural landscape.

Gruener has hosted and coordinated numerous SDHC grants, while the Larson Family Foundation is a valued contributor whose funding has supported multiple SDHC programs, including the Festival of Books and Young Readers Initiative. Hicks and Marshall III have appeared as presenters at the annual Festival of Books; Marshall's "The Journey of Crazy Horse" was the 2011 One Book S.D.

The South Dakota Humanities Council honored four

Honored at the 2018 South Dakota Festival of Books for contributions to the humanities in South Dakota were (starting with plaque holders) Joseph Marshall III, Patrick Hicks, Maria Gruener, and Larson Family Foundation (award accepted by Maree Larson on behalf of the foundation). SDHC board member Eric Abrahamson (far left) and SDHC executive director Sherry DeBoer presented the awards. Photo by Ryan Woodard

9. Uniting Citizens for Reflective Conversations—Training for Scholars & Coordinators

As part of the 2018 "Democracy and the Informed Citizen" initiative, SDHC hosted two Reflective Conversation Facilitation Training sessions aimed at preparing facilitators to conduct civil and enlightened dialogue about current events and topics involving information literacy.

Co-hosted and promoted by the South and North Dakota Humanities Councils, the event featured specially-trained facilitators from Oregon Humanities. A Community Innovation Grant funded by the Bush Foundation through the South Dakota Community Foundation was awarded to SDHC for this opportunity.

Adam Davis and Rachel Bernstein of Oregon Humanities taught groups in Aberdeen and Brookings how to guide and engage in civil conversations using special skills they learned while creating the Oregon "Conversation Project."

According to Oregon Humanities, the project's goal is "to connect people to ideas and to each other, not to push an agenda or arrive at a consensus. We believe that conversation is a powerful medium to invite diverse perspectives, explore challenging questions, and strive for just communities."

In 2018 the South Dakota Humanities Council hosted this group of Reflective Conversation participants as part of the 2018 programming initiative,

In 2018 the South Dakota Humanities Council hosted groups of Reflective Conversation participants in Brookings and Aberdeen as part of its programming initiative, "Democracy and the Informed Citizen." The above group gathered at South Dakota State University in Brookings. Participants were led by specially-trained facilitators from Oregon Humanities. Photo by Ryan Woodard

10. DiCamillo Shares Inspiring Festival Tale with Time Magazine

The mutually-inspirational South Dakota Festival of Books environment created an unforgettable moment for author Kate DiCamillo, the headliner of the inaugural Young Readers Festival of Books in 2014. She recently shared the experience with a national audience, recalling the moment fondly in a letter to Time magazine:

"During the Q&A, a boy asked me if I thought I would have been a writer if I hadn't been sick all the time as a kid and if my father hadn't left. And I said something along the lines of "I think there is a very good chance that I wouldn't be standing in front of you today if those things hadn't happened to me." Later, a girl raised her hand and said, "It turns out that in the end you were stronger than you thought you were."

When the kids left the auditorium, I stood at the door and talked with them as they walked past. One boy — skinny-legged and blond-haired — grabbed my hand and said, "I'm here in South Dakota and my dad is in California." He flung his free hand out in the direction of California. He said, "He's there and I'm here with my mom. And I thought I might not be okay. But you said today that you're okay. And so I think that I will be okay, too."

We love to hear such stories of connection. Click the button below or here to read more. 

2014 Young Readers One Book SD Author Kate DiCamillo is shown during an event at the Washington Pavilion. DiCamillo recently shared a story from the 2014 event that was published in Time Magazine. Photo by Emily Spartz/Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

2014 Young Readers One Book S.D. Author Kate DiCamillo speaks to a group of cheering third-graders during the inaugural Young Readers South Dakota Festival of Books at the Washington Pavilion. DiCamillo recently shared a story from the 2014 event that was published in Time Magazine. Photo by Emily Spartz/Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

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