The next 200 years


This week, Keira Amstutz, chief executive officer of Indiana Humanities (, and Sally Jo Vasicko, co-director of the Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University, announced the recipients of grants to support local Community Conversations. The program, now in its fifth year, brings together civic, business and political leaders to consider significant regional matters important to Indiana communities. Each year, the collaboration receives many applications but ultimately selects only a handful who are lucky enough to participate.

While each program is customized to meet the specific needs and objectives of the awardee, the agenda usually brings experts from around the state (or nation) to convene and discuss the problems and opportunities facing these places. Then, the Bowen Center and Indiana Humanities will evaluate possible solutions for addressing the identified community challenges, discuss best practices, provide regions with access to resources, technology, and expertise in the creation of solutions to regional problems and then support the project with ongoing consultation.

The theme of this year’s program, Bicentennial 2016: The Next Indiana, encourages Hoosiers to take a long view of community development and planning. Amstutz says it is designed to “serve as a catalyst for the necessary, but difficult, conversations about how Indiana communities can prepare for the next 200 years.”

Brenda Myers and her team at the Hamilton County Convention and Visitors Bureau were awarded a grant and seek to lead a meaningful cross-county conversation about how our heritage can be preserved and presented for the future.

Hamilton County is one of the most economically robust communities in America. How can learning, planning and projecting a thoughtful future be a bad idea? Our heritage is one of innovation in agriculture production, community development and entrepreneurship. We should learn from our successes and failures with an eye toward what’s next.