Events to explore importance of agriculture


JASPER — Aimed at starting conversations and celebrating the past and future, a string of free community programs focused on exploring change in rural America will soon take place at various Jasper locations.

Funded by a $1,500 Indiana Humanities grant, the chain of events is called The Crossroads, Change in Rural America Program Series, and will be hosted through a collaboration between Jasper Community Arts, the Jasper Public Library and the Dubois County Museum. Those groups will host five different programs from October through April 2020.

“Certainly, I think each one will have its own mission, if you will, for individuals,” said Donna Schepers, education coordinator for the Jasper Community Arts. “And its own takeaway. But I think, by and large, what we are hoping is to create conversations with people in our community that lead to understanding of the importance of agriculture, before and now, in our community. And that that’s still a very important part of who we are.”

The program topics are diverse, but they all tie in to the community’s roots and how the area could look to evolve into the future. They include concepts like genealogy; exploring what craft beer can teach us about creative placemaking in Indiana; a conversation centered on local culinary arts and how they are changing across the country; the story of Dubois County agriculture; and a meeting centered on the 2020 Indiana State Read, “The Year We Left Home,” by Jean Thompson.

All events are open to the public. Readers are encouraged to sign up for the various programs on the Jasper Community Arts website, and if they don’t fill up, walk-ins will be allowed.

Schepers explained that each particular gathering was picked after extensive brainstorming and research. A long list of ideas was whittled down to the five mentioned above.

“I don’t go into a venture like this lightly,” Schepers said. “I don’t know how to do something halfway. If I’m gonna do something, I want to give it all I’ve got. So, I want those five events to make a difference in our community, in the understanding of how important the history of agriculture is in our community. And where we’ve come from.”

As part of a collaboration with the Jasper Public Library and Dubois County Museum, Jasper Community Arts has been awarded $1,500 by Indiana Humanities to host a local program exploring themes from a traveling Smithsonian-curated exhibit.

In addition to Jasper, 10 other communities received $1,500 stipends to host programs and locally-curated exhibits around rural change during the time of the tour.

Schepers stressed that the local events will allow attendees to explore their heritage and “who we’re becoming.”

“Knowing who we are, and how we got to be — where we came from and who we are today — that’s how small communities can continue to make a difference in an urban world,” Schepers said.

The Crossroads, Change in Rural America Program Series

Ask Granny, a Genealogy Discovery
Facilitated by library staff member Jill Watson at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 10, at the Jasper Public Library.

Something’s Brewing - What Craft Beer Can Teach Us About Creative Place Making in Indiana
Guest speaker and author Bill Riley will speak at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 30, at the Parklands Pavilion.

There and Gone and Back Again, A Conversation Sparked by the Creative and Culinary Arts
Guest speaker David Hoppe — who is a journalist, playwright and essayist — will speak at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 12, at the Parklands Pavilion.

The Story of Dubois County Agriculture
Guest speaker Lee Bilderback — who is a local family and agriculture historian — will speak at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, at the Dubois County Museum.

Indiana State Read, The Year We Left Home
Facilitated by Jill Watson, Library Staff, and Education Coordinator Donna Schepers at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, at the Jasper Arts Center.

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