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Breaking Bread in McLean County
February 9 @ 6:00 pm - November 13 @ 3:00 pm
Beginning February 9, 2021, the McLean County Museum of History, in partnership with BN Welcoming (a coalition of the Immigration Project, Not In Our Town/Not In Our Schools, and West Bloomington Revitalization Project together creating a supportive environment for immigrants to McLean County), and Design Streak at Illinois State University, will launch a 10-part program series exploring stories of migration, immigration, adaptation, assimilation, appropriation, preservation, contribution, and sustentation in McLean County.
Breaking Bread in McLean County will highlight the shared and disparate experiences of local migrant communities from the Kickapoo to the Congolese, seeking to disrupt the historical chronology in order to promote a deeper understanding of the ways McLean County has traditionally treated its migrant communities.
“When originally approaching the Museum to partner on the immigration series, the motivation was the current poor treatment of immigrants in McLean County,” said program partner Mike Matejka. “The hope was that if we talked about how previous immigrants and migrants were treated, we could help people see the connectivity between what current immigrants endure and what previous generations of immigrants faced in their time…by being reminded of this history, perhaps it would conjure a less judgmental and more welcoming attitude toward today’s voyagers to McLean County.”
From February to November 2021, Breaking Bread in McLean County will take audiences through the migration stories of the Kickapoo, Irish and Upland Southerners, Germans, Swedes, African and Black Americans, Italian, Mexicans and Central Americans, Japanese, South Asian Indians, and Congolese, emphasizing shared elements including food, family, tradition, trauma, and exchange. Each program will incorporate a multitude of voices from the community who can speak to the migrant experiences of these varied cultural groups, relying on scholarship, expertise, and firsthand accounts.
Program collaborator Archana Shekara noted, “As an immigrant, cultural researcher, and Creative Director of Design Streak Studio at ISU, I am excited to be a part of the planning and designing of the Breaking Bread in McLean County series. The project brings together diverse communities of people to share their migration and adaption stories, celebrating their rich cultural history and traditions through cuisine. The collaboration has brought new cultural understandings and sensitivity into the studio-lab this semester. I am looking forward to learning about my community and home.”
The program series will alternate Tuesday evening and Saturday afternoon dates. Programs through June will be held over Zoom, with the hope that subsequent programs may be held in person at locations yet to be determined.
Breaking Bread in McLean County Program Schedule (February-November 2021)
Tuesday, February 9 at 6:00 p.m. Zoom It’s All in the Salsa: Mexican Stories of McLean County (Carolyn Nadeau, Byron S. Tucci Professor of Hispanic Studies at Illinois Wesleyan University; Constantina Navarete, owner of Taqueria El Porton in Bloomington)
Saturday, March 13 at 1:00 p.m. Zoom Johnny Cakes to Paddy Cakes: Irish Cookery (Greg Koos, McLean County Museum of History Executive Director emeritus)
Tuesday, April 13 at 6:00 p.m. Zoom Ça va, Cassava? The Roots of Congolese Cooking (Chris Callahan, Professor of French at Illinois Wesleyan University; Patrick Lubala, Multicultural Leadership Program alum)
Saturday, May 8 at 1:00 p.m. Zoom Kaffe, Knäckebröd, & Coal: Swedish-Americans in Central Illinois (Hannah Johnson, McLean County Museum of History; Edgar and Virginia Lundeen and other members of the local Swedish community)
Tuesday, June 8 at 6:00 p.m. Zoom Kickapoo Food and Remedies (Lester Randall, Tribal Chairman of the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas)
Saturday, July 10 at 1:00 p.m. TBD Soul, Greens, and Savory Things: Local African American Food Traditions (Willie Horton Halbert, NAACP, author of Cooking with Love; Jeff Woodard, McLean County Museum of History)
Tuesday, August 10 at 6:00 p.m. TBD Hot Dog! It Could be Wurst: German Cookery (Greg Koos McLean County Museum of History Executive Director emeritus)
Saturday, September 11 at 1:00 p.m. TBD Garam Masala Box — Hot, Spicy, & Sexy: Indian American Cooking (Archana Shekara, Associate Professor of Graphic Design at Illinois State University and Art Director of Design Streak Studio)
Tuesday, October 12 at 6:00 p.m. TBD America Meets East Asia: Mayonnaise in the Sushi (Nobuko Adachi and James Stanlaw, professors of Sociology and Anthropology at Illinois State University)
Saturday, November 13 at 1:00 p.m. TBD Sunday Sauce: An Italian Staple (Jack Capodice, formerly of Capodice Produce; Greg Koos, McLean County Museum of History Executive Director emeritus)