Thursday, April 23, 2015

Christi Shortridge - Humanities Embracing Our World On Capitol Hill

Christi Shortridge is the Communications Director for the Minnesota Humanities Center who has a passion for the Congressional appropriations process and blogging on One Chic Mom's Adventure on Suburbia. You can read her blog at:

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Washington, DC and share the work of the Minnesota Humanities Center with members of Congress and their staffs. Time spent on Capitol Hill always reminds me of why the humanities matter and how the humanities help us embrace our world. Capitol Hill in Washington, DC defines humanity. People gather here from all across the United States and around the world. People of differing political affiliations, the young and the old, those with different religions, races, and genders are all gathered on the Hill, feet pounding through those marble hallways. Why are they all convening on Capitol Hill? Everyone is trying to make the world a better place—each in their own way and with their own story.

On my single day on the Hill, I encountered groups for the Alzheimer's Association whose members donned purple sashes, an energized cable television group from Minnesota, uniformed flight attendants and pilots, and Western ranchers in 10-gallon hats and cowboy boots. Each person in each special interest group on Capitol Hill that day had their own compelling reason for being on the Hill and talking with their member of Congress. They all had a story to tell about what mattered most to them and their particular community.

Their stories were probably not about English literature or medieval history or Greek philosophy. Isn't that what comes to mind when you hear the word "humanities?" The humanities are so much more. The humanities are what unite us. The humanities are what make this world a better place for all of us. Yes, I had a story to tell about the incredible work of the Minnesota Humanities Center and how many lives we touch each year, but so did everyone else. We all shared stories of our passions and hopes of ultimately making this country a better place for all Americans.

As you stand on Capitol Hill and look west, the National Mall sprawls out in the distance, lined with museums and monuments—tributes and collections of American achievement. Each massive granite monument, each work of art in the National Gallery, and every artifact in the National Museum of the American Indian is a story of humanity and the humanities. Stories of where we have been and hope for embracing an even brighter future. A future where we all continue to tell stories of our passions and seek out what connects us rather than what divides us.


  1. If I saw this sentence in isolation--"Capitol Hill in Washington, DC defines humanity"--I would be terrified, given the current dysfunction in the two chambers. So it's good to be reminded that there are many other folks whose feet are pounding through those marble hallways, engaged in the rather free-form choreography that is our democracy. And it's actually encouraging to remember that the view from the Capitol includes all those monuments--stories of where we have been--to what connects us (sometimes arrived at after much conflict) rather than what divides us. Maybe the House should meet in the Lincoln Memorial and the Senate in Jefferson's.

  2. I'd love to see the House meeting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial! Perhaps they could take time to read and absorb the words of his second inaugural address inscribed on the north wall.