MCMH Wins Community Partnership Award for “Breaking Bread in McLean County”
Bloomington, IL-The McLean County Museum of History (MCMH) received an award for Superior Achievement in Community Partnerships by the Illinois Association for Museums (IAM) in recognition of their groundbreaking series, “Breaking Bread in McLean County.” This 10-part online program highlighted the shared and disparate experiences of local migrant communities from the Kickapoo to Congolese Americans, emphasizing shared elements including food, family, tradition, trauma, and exchange to promote a deeper understanding of the ways McLean County has treated its past and present im/migrant communities.
“I am most impressed with how different community organizations came together to develop this series,” said MCMH Executive Director Julie Emig. The series was a collaboration between McLean County Museum of History in Downtown Bloomington, BN Welcoming (a coalition of the Immigration Project, Not In Our Town/Not In Our Schools, West Bloomington Revitalization Project, Mennonite Church of Normal, First United Methodist Church), Design Streak at Illinois State University (ISU), and Heartland Community College (HCC). “Everyone contributed to the success of this program, but none of it would have been possible if not for Hannah Johnson, the Director of Youth & Family Education at the Museum, and her brilliant leadership,” said Emig.
“Immigration and migration is an American story,” said Not In Our Town co-chair Mike Matejka. “There are similarities to what new arrivals endure and the hopes they carry to what long established residents’ forebearers faced. Hopefully this series-built empathy for our newest residents, since establishing American roots is a journey that all our families took.”
Through the course of the series, registered participants engaged in live, monthly, multimedia presentations consistent in overall format and online venue (Zoom Webinar), but all imbued with their own flavor dependent upon the community experts involved. Each of the 10 programs employed a unique combination of live and recorded lecture, discussion/interviews, musical performances, cooking demonstrations, and more. In lieu of sharing food and breaking bread together in real time, online attendees were given access to recipes personal to the presenters and featured in each of the programs. A possible (and hopeful) future extension of this program series will be an annotated cookbook inspired by the recipes cooked and shared throughout. The series can be accessed for free on the Museum’s YouTube channel.