Charlotte Dagones ’22 and Hannah Kolzer ’22 Make Moves at Chester Made

IN A WORLD where the humanities have the power to impact lives, there is a council—for the humanities—IN PENNSYLVANIA. 

Hi folks! We’re Charlotte Dagones and Hannah Kolzer (‘22 and ‘22) and we’re working with the Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC) this summer! PHC is a nonprofit with the goal of promoting the humanities in Pennsylvania. 

Preparing for the Lights on Chester Festival.

It’s 9 a.m. Blistering Heat is relieved by CRISP air conditioning in a towering Philadelphia office building. On the 4th floor of a 20 story building: Hannah and Charlotte type laboriously. They type e-blasts and other emails. They prepare media packets, advocacy packets, and application packets. They also have so many meetings. They take notes (they may, in another time, have been called scribes) and learn things.

It’s been a jolly good time working with PHC! They organize and sponsor a wide range of initiatives across the state. The goal is ultimately to “promote the humanities,” however we’ve learned that this tends to take the form of socially-conscious efforts aimed to enhance communities at large. Take, for example, Teen Reading Lounge (TRL), a program geared towards offering youth from under-resourced communities access to resources and means of discourse beyond those which the local public education system can provide. 

Teen Reading Lounge: do you like comics, art, books, friends, and fun? TEEN READING LOUNGE is for YOU. Come discuss everything from your favorite superhero to issues of social justice! And did we mention the SNACKS? Youth at more than 60 sites (libraries and schools) statewide have participated in this program, and it continues to grow.

In addition to help with programming and funding, PHC provides TRL locations with free training for facilitators, or finds already trained facilitators for sites that are short-staffed. A TRL program runs from two to three years, and the hope is that site staff will be able to sustain the program after that turn. As interns, we help collect applications and create and organize helpful materials, such as local media contacts and a general advertising handbook. This past Friday, however, was a peak event for a different initiative: Chester Made.

Hannah (left) and Charlotte (right)

The city of Chester, about 30 minutes directly south of Haverford, is the location of another PHC program: CHESTER MADE. CHESTER MADE—WHAT CHESTER MAKES, MAKES CHESTER. #chestermade #chestermakes #chester For the last several months, community residents, supporters, and artists have been working together on a collaborative documentary series, Illuminate Chester, that showcases the history, legacy and promise of the city of Chester. The latest installment, “Return To Overtown” explores Chester’s thriving shopping district.

Last Friday PHC helped organize a red carpet event to celebrate Overtown, the major shopping district in the city of Chester. Local artists and businesses hosted workshops and performed for the public in a block party-esque festival. There was live music, spoken word artists, community quilting, and more; all accompanied by free food and refreshments. Then people were ushered into the MJ Freed Performing Arts Theater (a beautiful art gallery/jazz hall that houses the art and workspace of its owner, local artist Devon Walls) to watch the Illuminate Chester documentary series in its entirety. We helped set everything up, then tabled reception during the festivities, and got to distribute free T-shirts to a very joyful crowd. The event was pleasant and a resounding success! 

To sum it all up: working at PHC is a PHantastiC time! The people are nice. They’ve taken us out for good food. And we’ve had COOL CONVERSATIONS. The vibe in the office is cool. And the air conditioning is ABSOLUTELY FRIGID. In a world where the humanities have the power to change lives, Charlotte and Hannah love their internships and became friends!

Written by Hannah Kolzer ’22 and Charlotte Dagones ’22

Edited by Emily Dombrovskaya ’19