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January 30, 2013

Series to help plan for state's bicentennial

Municipalities encouraged to apply for facilitated workshop

Cities, counties, and regions across Indiana are encouraged to apply for a facilitated workshop in their community that could help them better understand their past and prepare for a monumental event in their future - Indiana's Bicentennial.

Each year the Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University and Indiana Humanities hold a Community Conversations series designed to help communities tackle challenging issues. The focus of the Community Conversation series for the next three years will be "Bicentennial 2016: The Next Indiana."

The 2013 deadline to apply is March 15.

"During the past 200 years, Indiana communities have changed a great deal in size, economics, and government structure," said Dr. Sally Jo Vasicko, co-director of the Bowen Center for Public Affairs. "These workshops will help serve as a catalyst for the necessary, but difficult, conversations about how communities can prepare for the next 200 years."

If selected, communities will develop a local steering committee and meet with Indiana Humanities and the Bowen Center for Public Affairs to create a customized program to be held in summer or fall, 2013. A dozen statewide organizations also provide resources to the program.

The goals of the Community Conversations will be to:

- Convene regional conversations among community leaders and citizens from public, private, and non-profit sectors to better understand the community's past and future;

- 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; and

- Provide ongoing consultation to continue to address the challenges.

"We're looking for communities that want to come together and discuss what they want to become and how they can build upon their strengths to get there," said Keira Amstutz, president and CEO of Indiana Humanities. "The agenda will be tailored to each community's needs and be designed to bring communities into an open civic dialogue that recognizes the importance of both vision and action."

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