In the summer of 2023, The Exchange participated in a one-day workshop sponsored by Conversations and WVIA associated with PBS's "Iconic America" series: Our Art Cart facilitator and our executive director worked with local high-school students to redesign the Statue of Liberty for the 21st century. Using pencils, markers, recycled maps, and other materials, the students came up with many ideas about what "liberty" looks like today. Others involved during the day included WVIA's Chris Norton, Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble's Elizabeth Dowd, the Bloomsburg Public Library's Lydia Kegler, and University faculty members William Hudon, Safa Saracoglu, and Lisa Stallbaumer.
One of the students, Wyatt Diltz, later wrote this poem:
The Statue of Liberty
Lady of green
Shining a light onto a sea of immigrants
Chains thrown and gates opened
Life and liberty to all that see
The song of justice bellows throughout the land
Walls that shroud the light of freedom
Prisoners of non incarceration count the days
Till the Golden land of the free
Trapped and kept from loved ones
Children caged like animals
To find who you lost
Look towards the dawning light
The conversation continued on Thursday, September 7th, 2023, with an on-campus event, "Immigration Stories: From the Statue of Liberty to Northeast Pennsylvania". WVIA recorded the panel discussion for later broadcast; you can find it at WVIA.org.
Conversations for the Common Good is an interdisciplinary, university, and community-wide movement linking Commonwealth University-Bloomsburg students, staff, faculty, and administrators with community partners and the general public towards a single goal: to invest time, talent, and resources to promote dialogue that unites and bridges seemingly vast divides within the community that the University serves.
Inspired by the WVIA-TV/Bloom. U. collaboration "American Creed" in February 2018, and underwritten by the generous support of the Office of the President of Bloomsburg University, this movement hopes to generate informed, civilized discourse about meaningful questions related to civic life in a twenty-first-century democracy.
What does it mean to be a citizen of the United States?
What responsibilities do we have to one another in our community?
What rights do we enjoy under the Constitution?
Do all citizens enjoy those rights equally, and what are we called to do if the answer is “no?”
What is the real meaning of the guarantee of free speech embodied in the First Amendment, especially in the age of social media?
How should U.S. citizens respond when public expressions of protest are questioned and criticized?
Where do we find truth in public media, especially on the internet?
How do we distinguish between reliable and false information presented through social media outlets?
What is “hate speech,” and should it be protected the same way as other kinds of speech?
How should we respond when we see hate speech used?
What liberties do we possess as citizens, and how do we appropriately claim them?
What responsibilities do we have as citizens, and how do we live up to them?
What are the common values that unite us, when political passions and rhetoric sometimes inflame and divide us?
These questions may make us uncomfortable but are essential to explore. In Conversations for the Common Good, we explore such questions in interactive community events that are free and open to the public.