Honoring people who have made extraordinary contributions to Maine through the humanities.
Honoring exemplary contributions to the public humanities
Constance H. Carlson Public Humanities Prize
MHC Facilitator Prize & MHC Program Partner Prize
- Constance H. Carlson Public Humanities Prizes
Joseph Jackson and Carol Dana
- MHC Facilitator Prize
- MHC Program Partner Prize
Literacy Volunteers of Franklin and Somerset Counties
This prize recognizes a Maine resident who is involved in the public humanities in Maine and is using the humanities to: 1) foster agency, connection and engagement; 2) emphasize and/or increase diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and justice; and 3) represent or engage with communities that have traditionally had the least access to humanities resources.
Joseph Jackson is Director of Leadership Development at Maine Inside Out, an organization that uses original theater to build community, develop youth leadership, and create dialogue both inside and outside of Long Creek Youth Development Center, Maine’s juvenile correction facility. He is also Executive Director of Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition, and Campaign Advisor of Maine Youth Justice. In 1995, Mr. Jackson was convicted of manslaughter, and served 19 years. During that period, he founded the Maine prison chapter of the NAACP, and earned associate’s and bachelor’s degrees, both summa cum laude, from the University of Maine at Augusta. When Mr. Jackson enrolled in the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program in Creative Writing, he was the first prisoner in the state to be selected for a graduate program. In 2015, he earned a Master’s Degree from University of Southern Maine. A published poet, Joseph Jackson was on the Advisory Board of Freedom & Captivity, a humanities project that examines the impact of incarceration and offers public opportunities to imagine alternatives. In a 2018 article for The Guardian, Mr. Jackson wrote: “I do this work because years of liberal studies and distance allowed me to make sense of the unfathomable world I experienced. It is a world in which abuse is relentless. It defies comprehension.”
Carol Dana was appointed the language master of the Cultural and Historic Preservation Department for the Penobscot Nation in 2002. This came after decades of her study and preservation efforts of the Penobscot language, which began in 1982 when she served as a research assistant to Dr. Frank T. Siebert, who created a written system and published a dictionary of the Penobscot language, which, at this point had been almost entirely destroyed by the impact of government-run residential schools. Ms. Dana’s work on the Penobscot Dictionary was the start of a decades-long mission to preserve and share the Penobscot language as a living language. Ms. Dana achieved a Master’s in Education, studied language immersion at St. Thomas College in Fredericton, New Brunswick, completed workshops from the Indigenous Language Institute, and received a certificate on Second Language Learning methods from the University of Maine. Today, she teaches widely in her community, especially in schools and to young children. Ms. Dana also collected and edited stories of Gluskabe, the legendary trickster, and published them as“Still They Remember Me”: Penobscot Transformer Tales, Volume 1—in Penobscot and English, with art from the tribal community. Ms. Dana and her extraordinary work were recently featured in a New Yorker article about the colonization of languages.
The MHC Facilitator Prize celebrates a facilitator who demonstrates depth and excellence in their facilitation practice and in their commitment to engaging and supporting Maine’s communities through that practice.
Wendy Allen, a coordinator for the Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition, has been an MHC facilitator since 2020, starting while in residence at the Southern Maine Women’s Re-Entry Center. She continues to facilitate now from her home in the Bangor area. Ms. Allen has facilitated MHC Discussion Projects with NextStep Domestic Violence Project in Washington County, Restorative Justice Institute of Maine, the Freedom & Captivity Coalition, and with women incarcerated at the Southern Maine Women’s Re-Entry Center. Ms. Allen embodies the MHC’s core priorities: She fosters agency and empowerment among the participants in her Discussion Projects; helps participants develop and voice complex feelings, ideas and reactions to texts; ensures that every participant’s voice is heard and valued; and works with care on every assignment she receives. During the past two years, she has helped to lead facilitator trainings with MHC staff, has mentored new facilitators, and has hosted and designed her own Discussion Projects for women incarcerated at the Re-Entry Center. Ms. Allen is also an MHC speaker. She writes about herself, “I’m passionate about helping others by sharing my experience, strength, and hope from active addiction into recovery.”
The MHC Program Partner Prize celebrates an organization—a program partner or grantee—that has stretched itself by seeking audiences in new ways/seeking new audiences, including the humanities in its work and its mission, and engaging with communities to determine needs and program design; and is fulfilling MHC priorities of engaging with and bringing resources to people under-resourced in the humanities.
Literacy Volunteers of Franklin & Somerset Counties (LVFSC) is a Western Maine community of adult learners, volunteer tutors, and a small two-person, part-time staff. For over 30 years, they’ve been an MHC partner, creating opportunities for meaningful connection and discussions about books, new ideas, and new worldviews in their community. LVFSC’s participants are often very isolated from one another and from their rural Maine communities. During the pandemic, LVFSC went above and beyond expectations in their efforts to include these participants in MHC Discussion Projects: They took books to participants’ homes, offered transportation, and deftly facilitated hybrid virtual and in-person conversations, ensuring that every participant’s voice was heard. During this period, as the MHC transformed and sought to embody principles of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice in its work, LVFSC took that as an opportunity to grow and change as well. LVFSC has shown innovation, creativity, and curiosity in our relationship, one that the MHC values for its length and the ways that it has grown and developed during the past two years.
Constance H. Carlson Public Humanities Prize Selection Committee
- Tam Thanh Huynh (Executive Director, Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine)
- Darren Ranco (Chair, Native American Programs; Director, Native American Research, University of Maine)
- Maya Williams (Portland Poet Laureate)
- Samaa Abdurraqib (Associate Director, Maine Humanities Council)
- Diane Magras (Director of Development, Maine Humanities Council)