Photo above: July Lecture, “Childhood, Ethinicity, and Community Interaction in the Late Prehistoric Central Illinois River Valley” by Dr. Jennifer Bengston, SEMO
By Paige Hawthorne, Americorps VISTA, Heritage
Since May of this year, I (Paige) have been conducting a monthly lecture series featuring talks about Southern Illinois’ rich archaeological history. Each month, a professional in the field of anthropology, archaeology, and/or history are presenting on their current research about sites that are found throughout Southern Illinois and nearby areas. So far, topics that have been included Southern Illinois’ prehistoric rock art, the East St. Louis Mound Group (just on the border of Illinois and Missouri), the archaeology of childhood at a site located in the Central Illinois River Valley, and the prehistoric “stone forts” back down to Southern Illinois. Each of these lectures have been gratefully hosted at the Longbranch Coffeehouse in Carbondale, an extremely fitting atmosphere for public lectures such as these.
Longbranch is not only a place to enjoy all types of caffeniated beverages from beautiful lattes or ginger-green iced teas, but it is also known as being a “vegetarian cafe” where customers can taste a melting pot of flavors in the form of healthy vegetarian paninis, salads, enchiladas, lasagnas and so on. From when you first step inside there is the eating area as well as a “backroom” where events such as mine, poetry readings, bookclubs and etc. meet for intellectual talks over a nice espresso drink or sandwich. Because of the great reputation Longbranch has for their restaurant and events, I felt it was the best place to have customers become engaged in an informative public lecture as well as doing what humans do best– Eat!
Every third Thursday of the month, I will be hosting these lectures along with the featuring speaker of the night at Longbranch’s “backroom” at 7PM. Although my term as VISTA is over in November, I do intend to continue this series for a full year and have it last [at least] until May 2014. Creating and maintaing this lecture series has become a huge success in my career as a VISTA. It has not only acted as a design for effective heritage outreach but it has mended a few of my top interests into one single night– Great food (of course), scholarly discussions between a large group, and learning about something you may of known little or nothing at all about. I’ve had four lectures so far and each night the crowd has gotten bigger and bigger! This was a special thanks to my interview on the local NPR station WSIU about the purpose of this series and publicizing the past July lecture we had. As I mention on the WSIU interview, these events have become a place to experience knowledge that you can relate to through own interests or heritage as well as being a location to meet like-minded people with the same enthusiam for topics such as these. They are also a way for those not conscious in their own area’s history to realize that the land they are living on was a land treasured for thousands of years and especially in terms of preservation of archaeological sites, these topics are something to be aware of.
If you are interested in attending one of these lectures, keep your eye out in “The Southern” newspaper as well as flyers hung around Longbranch or other establishments in Carbondale. As I mentioned before, these talks are every third Thursday of the month making the next talks being September 19th, October 17th, and November 21st at 7PM. Get there about 10 minutes before as the room fills up quite a bit! Any questions email firstname.lastname@example.org. Like to take a gander at my WSIU radio interview with myself and my supervisor? Follow http://news.wsiu.org/post/shawnee-forest-beneath-surface#rpctoken=698255907&forcesecure=1
See you there!