NEWPORT, R.I. – The Pell Center at Salve Regina University has won a 2013 Major Grant Award from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities (RICH), an independent state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The grant, announced by RICH on Monday, Jan. 14, is to support Story in the Public Square, a project to examine and celebrate the use of storytelling in public affairs.
Story in the Public Square will launch with a public conference on Friday, April 12. The day-long event will feature accomplished story-tellers, whether they are journalists, novelists, or filmmakers, a screening of the Providence Journal’s acclaimed documentary “Coming Home” about veterans returning to southeastern New England after tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, keynote remarks by former Senator Gary Hart, and the presentation of the first Pell Center Prize for Story in the Public Square. A detailed description of the event follows below.
The winner of the inaugural Pell Center prize will be announced in the coming months.
“This is great news for the Pell Center and Salve Regina University,” said Jim Ludes, executive director of the Pell Center. “We’ve worked for nearly a year with our partners to organize a public program that begins with a day-long event this April and then continues with on-going research and programming that will both celebrate ethical storytelling and expose abuses. We’re very grateful to RICH for their generous support.”
G. Wayne Miller, a Providence Journal journalist, filmmaker and author, is co-directing Story in the Public Square as a visiting fellow at the Pell Center. “RICH’s support is a difference-maker for us,” he said. “Their long record of support for great projects in the humanities is a real validation of our work. We’re looking forward to the event on April 12th with real excitement and expectation.”
Additional details about the program, the Pell Center Prize, and a contest for college students will be released in the coming weeks.
For up to the minute news on Story in the Public Square, follow @pubstory on Twitter.
The use of storytelling in the public square is as old as politics. On April 12, a panel assembling at the Pell Center will examine contemporary story-telling in the public square from many perspectives. Each panelist will be asked to share their experiences in story-telling: the impact, the reach, the perils, and the promise of this time-honored element of public dialogue. Each will be asked to explore the importance of veracity in their work. Finally, each will be asked to discuss, briefly, the best example, from their perspective, of storytelling in modern American political discourse.
Moderator for the event will be Karen Bordeleau, acting executive editor at the Providence Journal. Panelists will include: James Vincent, NAACP Providence; Christopher B. Daily, Boston University; Karen Thompson Walker, best-selling author of The Age of Miracles; Shanna Pearson-Merkowitz, University of Rhode Island; and David Boeri, WBUR.
Also planned on April 12 will be a screening of “Coming Home,” followed by a panel discussion: “War Stories.” War has been a central narrative of the human experience since before Homer’s Iliad. For Americans, the latest chapters have come since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In the 11 years since those attacks, nearly 50 southeastern New Englanders have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thousands of veterans have returned forever changed.
In the hour-long documentary, “Coming Home,” the Providence Journal tells the deeply intimate stories of several who served, and the after-effects of combat on them and their loved ones. “Coming Home” was broadcast on PBS, and shown at the 2012 Roving Eye and Rhode Island International Film Festivals and other venues. “Coming Home” was nominated in 2012 for a New England Emmy and won a regional Edward R. Murrow Award.
Moderator for the panel discussion will be Donna Harrington-Lueker, Salve Regina University. Panelists will include John DiRaimo, Rhode Island National Guard; Iraq War veteran Lt. Col Denis J. Riel, Rhode Island Air National Guard, Director of Air Staff, Deputy Chief of Joint Staff, Rhode Island National Guard, and a war veteran of Iraq; Bob Kerr, Providence Journal columnist, narrator of “Coming Home;” Marine Corps combat veteran of Vietnam; The Hon. Elizabeth Roberts, lieutenant governor of Rhode Island; and G. Wayne Miller, Providence Journal.