Press Release

Conversation at Cahokia Mounds Will Share Opinions, Practical Advice on Cultural Conservation

CHICAGO, IL- March 4, 2014— Should communities use their cultural heritage to create jobs and revenue? What are some effective practices for generating economic opportunity from local culture while also protecting it and keeping it healthy?

The Illinois Humanities Council (IHC), along with the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, will be exploring answers to these questions at an upcoming discussion in southern Illinois.

Marketing our Heritage? Cultural Conservation and Economic Development will take place Saturday, March 22, 2014 at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Collinsville, Illinois. Panelists and audience members will use a variety of conversation formats to share success stories and practical advice on the ways in which landmarks, artistic traditions, and local history can foster cultural and economic vitality. 

 Jim Kirchherr, host of Living St. Louis on KETC Channel 9 in St. Louis, will be the master of ceremonies.

 “This program will serve two purposes,” explained IHC program officer Matt Meacham.  “One is to discuss issues that may arise when resources important to the identity of a place, such as historic sites or musical traditions, are used for economic gain through practices like heritage tourism or marketing of traditional arts and crafts.  The other is to share practical advice about ways in which cultural resources can contribute to local economies while retaining their integrity and character.”

Audiences will be invited to take a survey as a starting point for discussion, using their cell phones to answer multiple choice questions in a real time gathering of research.

Along with Kirchherr, featured guests will include Erin Conner and Lance Allen, alumni of the McKendree University Speech and Debate Team (Lebanon, Illinois), who will perform contrasting fictional speeches meant to spark a healthy debate among the audience. Panelists, providing insight to the conversation, will be:  

  • David Braswell of the Maeystown Preservation Society, Maeystown, Illinois; 
  • Bill Iseminger of the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site;
  • Jeffrey Manuel, assistant professor, Department of Historical Studies, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville;
  • Edna Patterson-Petty, multi-media and quilt artist from East St. Louis, Illinois;
  • Sarah Watson of the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition, Springfield, Illinois.

This event is part of Bridging Divides, a conversation series that draws on the humanities to help local communities address seemingly intractable social, cultural and political divides. The Bridging Divides series is made possible in part by the generous support of The Boeing Company and is part of the IHC’s Conversations on Contemporary Issues program.         

Marketing Our Heritage? Cultural Conservation and Economic Development will take place Saturday, March 22, 2014, 2-4pm at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site (30 Ramey Street) in Collinsville, Illinois. The event is free to the public, though reservations are required and can be made by emailing to, or visiting the IHC website, For more information, please contact Matt Meacham at the IHC at (312) 422-5589, or by email at 

About the Illinois Humanities Council

The Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) is a philanthropic and educational organization dedicated to making the humanities a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities in Illinois, regardless of their economic resources, cultural background, or geographic location. This year, it marks 40 years of developing or funding educational activities and programs throughout the state, including lectures, seminars, performances, exhibitions, films, library discussions, and written materials – all free and open to the public. Organized as a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1973, the IHC is now a private nonprofit (501 [c] 3) supported by state, federal, and private funds.

Media Contact:
Carlos Velázquez
(312) 422-5580, x233