Gathering Catalysts at a Critical Time

Why Cultural Heritage and Social Change, and why now?

Cultural heritage organizations, from public libraries and small house museums to globally recognized art and history museums, are in a unique position to foster social change in their local communities. More than ever, these organizations are both looking internally at issues of diversity, inclusion and equity, while at the same time finding their role in communities at the front lines with questions of social and environmental justice, community development, and cultural preservation. We are at a critical juncture in which these organizations have the opportunity to support social change and empower local communities in both time-tested and new ways. This Summit provides an opportunity to focus on creating and implementing policy and strategy to support cultural equity in our fields.

Is this meeting for me? Will I fit in?

If you’re involved in cultural heritage in any way, from working passionately to gather your community around history or art, to working on interpretation or recruiting at a national institution, this Summit is for you. If you believe that social change is possible through art or history or science or cultural memory, this is for you. If you have implemented strategy or are interested in using or creating tools for action, this is for you. If you’ve been working for change in your community or institution or field and could benefit from a broader network, this is for you. If you like to talk about change but not do anything, this is *not* for you, sorry.

So this isn’t just another conference? How does the Summit model work?

For a lot of reasons, this is *not* just another conference. In fact, we call it a Summit because it’s more like a mountain-top experience. By pulling together delegates from very different fields and experiences, we create an environment in which people are free to think about issues in entirely different ways.

The conference (often called an “unconference”) is organized using a technique known as Open Space Technology, which is based on principles of self-organizing. Using a “community marketplace,” the conference is planned in the first hour of each conference day, based on sessions proposed by the delegates. While the process is facilitated, most of the work is done ahead of the conference to recruit the delegates, set the tone and intention of the Summit, provide the tools to delegates to make it successful and then open the space for delegates to create in. Jon Voss, Strategic Partnerships Director at Historypin and the Summit convener, has been organizing and facilitating Open Space Technology meetings around the world since 2010.

Summits are also importantly held in inspiring locations and should create an environment that takes delegates out of a sense of normal or everyday thinking. The food is of critical importance, the way chairs are arranged make it clear that knowledge comes from the group instead of a hierarchical selection, and there is ample room for outdoor space and walks.

What does it cost?

Thanks to the generous support of sponsors, the cost to attend will be $75 to help cover food and facilities costs. If that’s not possible for you, let us know. We are also raising funds for a limited number of travel grants.

How do I apply for a travel grant?

Limited travel grants are available. You apply for the travel grant as part of the registration process–you’ll see a section about travel grants, just put in your needs, and do not pay the registration fee at the end. Recipients will be notified by September 30, 2016.

Who comes and who’s organizing?

A common phrase with the Summits is “whoever comes is the right people,” but in reality, a lot of conscious work is done to attract the right delegates. The most important thing is to recruit thought leaders and catalysts across a diverse range of fields. We’ll be tapping leaders across the cultural heritage spectrum and both local and international communities. From authors reporting on trends and findings in the various fields, to visionary practitioners, about 120 delegates will gather for the CHSC Summit. The Summit is being coordinated and convened by an organizing committee representing a wide cross-section of the various organizations and institutions we’re working with.

2016 Organizing Committee:

  • Jon Voss (co-chair), Historypin
  • Haitham Eid (co-chair), Southern University at New Orleans MA Museum Studies Program
  • Bergis Jules, University of California, Riverside
  • Cheryl A. Eberly, Santa Ana Public Library
  • Effie Kapsalis, Smithsonian Institution Archives
  • Gia Hamilton, Joan Mitchell Center
  • Jeff Chang, Stanford University, Author: Who We Be
  • Jennifer Himmelreich, Peabody Essex Museum
  • Jerald White, New Orleans Loving Festival
  • Jordan Hirsch, Writer and Advocate
  • Kara Olidge, Amistad Research Center at Tulane
  • Kerri Young, Historypin
  • Lanae Spruce, National Museum of African American History & Culture
  • Mark Puente, Association of Research Libraries
  • Mia Henry, Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership, Kalamazoo College
  • Miriam Langer, Center for Cultural Technology at New Mexico Highlands University
  • Rachel Frick, Digital Public Library of America
  • Rebecca Cooper, Lower 9th Ward Living Museum
  • Sharon Leon, Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media
  • Traci Taylor, Southern University at New Orleans