The host sites for an annual series focusing on long-term community planning have been announced. This year's Community Conversation locations are Johnson, Knox, Madison and Noble counties. October 17, 2014

News Release

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Four Indiana communities have been selected to host a Community Conversation that will help them better understand their past and prepare for a monumental event in their future – Indiana's Bicentennial in 2016. This is the sixth year for the series, convened by Indiana Humanities, the Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA). The focus of the Community Conversation series is Bicentennial 2016: The Next Indiana.

Selected regions, lead partners and topics include:

-Johnson County, ASPIRE Johnson County. The newly formed collaborative seeks to use a Community Conversation to evaluate Johnson County's assets, collect its “best practices” and determine its current and future needs.

-Knox County, Knox County Public Library. As the capital of the Northwest Territory, Vincennes/Knox County plays a significant role in Indiana's history. With a variety of partner organizations, KCPL hopes to foster conversations that generate new ideas on how to sustain and grow the tourism industry based on this rich history.

-Madison County, Madison County Community Foundation. In collaboration with Hoosier Park Racing & Casino and a number of other Anderson and Madison County organizations, the goal of this conversation is to develop a direction for a 2016 Bicentennial celebration that encompasses the key pillars of history/celebration, youth/education, nature conservation, and community involvement.

-Noble County, Noble County Convention & Visitors Bureau. Ligonier was one of the earliest Jewish settlements in Indiana. Through a Community Conversation, the CVB hopes to raise awareness and appreciation of the area’s unique heritage and identify how it could help increase tourism and economic development.

“We received more than a dozen applications from cities and counties across Indiana seeking to host productive and open conversations,” said Keira Amstutz, president and CEO of Indiana Humanities. “While we wanted to help them all, these four communities really identified a specific need and had a plan to engage residents in thoughtful dialogue that could serve as a catalyst for change.”

The Bowen Center for Public Affairs, Indiana Humanities and OCRA will work with local partners to:

-Convene a regional conversation among community leaders and citizens from public, private and non-profit sectors.

-Evaluate possible solutions for addressing community challenges and discuss best practices.

-Provide regions with access to resources, technology, and expertise in the creation of solutions to regional problems.

-Provide ongoing consultation.

“We have a unique opportunity in cities and towns across Indiana because of our Bicentennial in 2016,” said Ray Scheele, co-director of the Bowen Center for Public Affairs. “We look forward to working with these communities as they learn about their past to help prepare for the next 200 years.”

The following partners have agreed to lend their expertise and support as a part of this program:

-2016 Indiana Bicentennial Commission

-Association of Indiana Museums

-Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities

-Indiana Farm Bureau

-Indiana Philanthropy Alliance

-Indiana Historical Society

-Indiana Landmarks

-Indiana Office of Tourism Development

-Indiana Tourism Association

-Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick

-Sustainable Communities Institute

“OCRA firmly believes that citizen input in a community's long term planning is crucial to its success,” said Kathleen Weissenberger, state CDBG Director for OCRA. “These conversations are a great start to engaging the general citizenship as the community looks toward the Indiana Bicentennial celebrations and their future.”

Over the past five years more than 20 Indiana regions have been selected to participate in the Community Conversation series, which is aimed at helping the community build on its strengths and meet its challenges. The cost of the speakers, planning and promotion will be covered by the Bowen Center for Public Affairs, Indiana Humanities, OCRA, and local event sponsors. After the meeting, the Bowen Center for Public Affairs will provide additional consultation as requested. Details, including dates and locations, about each Community Conversation are still being determined.

About Indiana Humanities

Indiana Humanities connects people, opens minds and enriches lives by creating and facilitating programs that encourage Hoosiers to think, read and talk. As a convener, leader and partner, Indiana Humanities promotes the public humanities and engages Indiana’s community of minds to create stronger, more vibrant communities. Learn more at

About the Bowen Center for Public Affairs The Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University advances the ideals of civic literacy, community involvement, and public service exemplified by the career of Dr. Otis R. Bowen. The Center leads the way in Indiana toward an energized citizenry and vital community life. Learn more at

About the Office of Community and Rural Affairs OCRA promotes community prosperity to strengthen Indiana's economy by providing capacity-building solutions to assure ready, marketable and competitive communities for economic growth.

Source: Indiana Humanities

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