Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Country and the City event in East St. Louis

"How can urban and rural communities sustain their defining cultural features while also being culturally inclusive? How can they maintain their cultural distinctiveness and vitality and their sense of place in the face of economic, technological, and social changes? To what extent can rural and urban Illinoisans find common ground on issues that affect both the country and the city?"
These and other questions are being raised as part of "The Country and the City: Common Ground in the Prairie State," a 2018-2019 Illinois Humanities program that takes place in rural and urban venues across the state.

[RelatedPhoto-review of the Country and the City event in East St. Louis]

On October 25, the East Saint Louis Action Research Project co-sponsored a version of the event in East St. Louis. The event, which lasted from 6:00 to 8:00 pm included a meal, panel and audience discussion, and small group discussions.

Participants discussed challenges and opportunities confronting residents in rural areas and urban areas. The panel included three people representing rural communities--Jim Nowlan of Toulon, Illinois; Kay Rippelmeyer-Tippy from Pomona, Illinois; and Claudia Zabala, a Mexican immigrant who now lives in Beardstown, Illinois. The panelists representing urban communities included Leone Jose Bicchieri, from Chicago; Vincent Thomas of Rock Island Township; and Cindy Reed from East St. Louis. Kelli Covey hosted the panel discussion and other activities.

Cindy opened the event by reading excerpts from one of her poems about East St. Louis. The subsequent discussion took us to many different places about people and their experiences across the state. Audience members offered comments and questions throughout the discussion. At one point, everyone broke into small groups to discuss the poem "Philadelphia Flowers" by Roberta Hill, as a way of thinking about topics concerning rural and urban areas.

  Photo-review of the Country and the City event in East St. Louis

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