Maggie's Minute May 31: A Colorado Humanities Update

Maggie's Minute: A Colorado Humanities Update

May the columbine bloom!

Copious April snowfall followed by impressive May Day squalls and weeks of rain gave most of us a series of springtime surprises and improved Colorado water supplies-but not by enough to eliminate careful summer water use.  Our ancient history as a vast inland sea and current Rocky Mountain streams and rivers notwithstanding, drought and the anticipation of drought are part of the Colorado psyche, and a host of "use only what you need" and "use even less" signs shows that we're still mindful of how we use our water.  The Colorado Doctrine, originating during the years of Colorado's transition from territory to statehood, maintained that all surface and groundwater in Colorado is a resource for the beneficial use of both public agencies and private individuals, and defined the use in terms of water rights.  Phrases like Law of the River, prior appropriation, first-in-right, ditch riding, can and will, equitable apportionment and return, waste and seepage permeate our water history, which is thick with complexities and fraught with changing perspectives on short- and long-term need.  A critically debated issue, water use is as long on controversy as the Colorado River itself.

To further inform discussion about water, we are eagerly anticipating another wonderful Havey Productions film now in the works: The Great Divide: The Turbulent Past and Uncertain Future of Colorado Water.  Following the course of water through each of Colorado's major river basins, The Great Divide will highlight our heritage of water-its infrastructure and influence on landscapes, cultures and communities.  We'd love to have your support for this film project slated to premiere in 2015.  As with our other Havey films, we plan to distribute it in DVD format to school and public libraries statewide.

Our River of Words program, with its poetry and artwork about water by K-12 students, is an ongoing inspiration, and this year we are proud to also acknowledge two of our Colorado students who earned extra recognition as finalists in the national competition: Colorado Springs 2nd grader Jack Shimon for his poem The Waldo Canyon Fire, and Greeley 5th grader Grace Bailey for her painting "Canyon Moonlight."  Denver Water partnered with us again this year for River of Words.  "Getting children excited about water is no easy task, and it takes a collaborative effort from the entire water community," says Jim Lochhead, CEO/Manager of Denver Water.  On May 15 during our annual Student Literary Awards at Denver Public Library, we celebrated 2013 River of Words winners from Colorado along with winners of our equally compelling K-12 writing competition Letters About Literature.  Winning work from both competitions has been published in our 2013 Student Literary Awards Anthology for the students, their teachers and school libraries.  Visit our store for your own copy.

On Friday, June 21, at 1 p.m., we'll also celebrate our 22nd annual Colorado Book Awards at the Doerr-Hosier Center at Aspen Meadows, Aspen.  Of this year's 170 entries, 40 finalists were selected in 13 literary categories.  You're invited to meet them at the awards celebration, and help us honor the best books published in 2012 by Colorado authors, editors, publishers, illustrators and photographers.  Held in conjunction with the Aspen Writers' Foundation literary festival and writing retreat, Aspen Summer Words, it's a great way to begin a spring weekend of fresh mountain air.  Obtain your tickets online, by calling (303) 894-7951 or emailing us: $10 in advance; $20 at the door.

The Smithsonian Institution refers to journey stories as central to our personal heritage.  They express the hopes and promises of fresh starts and the thrill of personal exploration and discovery, and chronicle the realities of forced migrations, odysseys and pilgrimage.  Our new Museum on Main Street "Journey Stories" touring exhibit-in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, five Colorado museums and a library-kicks off with the Aspen Historical Society at the Aspen Fire House, June 4-July 10, then moves to the Hayden Heritage Center, July 19-Aug. 24, the AR Mitchell Memorial Museum of Western Art in Trinidad, Aug. 30-Oct. 5, Overland Trail Museum in Sterling, Oct. 11-Nov. 30, the Platteville Library, Dec. 6-Jan. 11, 2014, and finally The Animas Museum in Durango, Jan. 17-Mar. 18, 2014.   Following the great success of our previous Museum on Main Street "Between Fences" exhibit, this year's "Journey Stories" is a powerful catalyst that opens doors to our communities' own history, culture and people, and enhances our pride of place.  Not to be missed.

Keep an eye out for the complete schedule for this summer's High Plains Chautauqua.  With the theme "Exploring Boundaries," our annual living history festival will be held day and night Tuesday, Aug. 6-Saturday, Aug. 10, Greeley.  Notable historical figures, from Amelia Earhart and Captain William Clark to Carl Jung and conquistador Francisco Pizarro, will meet us under the big tent and help investigate boundaries of body and mind, beliefs, cultures, science and ethics.  For those of you who like to read up for the Q&A sessions, High Plains Chautauqua scholars have an impressive list of titles that can provide a rich context for their upcoming presentations.

Signed up for Colorado Humanities membership?  Take a moment to consider how your support promotes Motheread/Fatheread Colorado (our early childhood and family literacy program that has just received endorsement for Year II of a highly selective Social Innovation Fund grant through Mile High United Way) and our many other wonderful programs.  Thank you!

Here's to you, and a "life written in water..."

Maggie Coval, Executive Director