St. Luke’s Carbon Campus invites representatives of organizations and municipalities as well as residents of Carbon County to a workshop that will explore how arts and culture can help improve community well-being.
The workshop, “WE-Making: How Arts & Culture Unite People to Work Toward Community Well-Being,” will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, September 30, at Blue Mountain Resort, 1660 Blue Mountain Drive. Breakfast and light lunch are included.
“WE-Making is a framework developed by the National Endowment for the Arts for how communities can use arts and culture to improve community well-being,” said Micah Gursky, who will be one of the presenters. “We’ve seen it work in East Oakland, California, Natchez, Mississippi, and even in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania. It can work in Carbon County, too. This workshop will talk about what WE-Making can look like in Carbon communities.”
When John Nespoli, President of St. Luke’s University Hospital’s Carbon Campus, learned about the WE-Making report, he asked Gursky, Director of Development, to bring the arts project to the communities in Carbon.
Workshop to feature arts, cultural strategies
Participants in the workshop will explore fun, arts and cultural strategies that have been shown to improve communities and health outcomes. Presenters will share what social cohesion is and why it matters in Carbon County.
The workshop facilitators/presenters are:
- Anne Gadwa Nicodemus, who led the development of “WE-Making” in 2021 for a consortium of major funders. A public speaker, Nicodemus also has contributed to reports, journal articles and books that have helped shape arts-based community development projects.
- Micah Gursky, a native of Tamaqua, who has led the comprehensive, placed-based sustainable community development efforts through the Tamaqua Area Community Partnership and the Tamaqua Community Arts Center. Gursky also served 16 years on Tamaqua Borough Council, eight as president.
WE-Making was started in 2017 by a group of funders with a mutual interest in supporting placed-based arts and cultural practices to advance health equity and the well-being of communities. Funders include the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kresge Foundation, and others.
A WE-Making report, which has the same title as the workshop, featured three case studies, one of which was in Tamaqua. The Tamaqua case study featured “Dear Tamaqua…In a New Light,” which was part festival, part public performance, and part block party. Based on letters written by current and past residents, “Dear Tamaqua” featured a 1-mile walking tour of the borough that included interactive scenes, sounds, tastes and memories. The project was launched in 2013-2014.
When students at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences surveyed residents of Tamaqua in 2011, they found residents to be negative and dissatisfied with the community. The survey inspired Tamaqua leaders to organize a cultural arts program to improve social cohesion. When Penn State repeated its study in 2016, it found that attitudes had indeed improved.
Those who are interested in attending are asked to RSVP at 1-866-STLUKES (785-8537).