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Black Earth Institute Needs Your Support

Dear Friends of Black Earth Institute,

We need your support to continue. The Black Earth Institute supports artists and art much needed in our troubled times. Now in our fourteenth year, BEI was founded by my late wife, Patricia Monaghan, and me to have art serve the areas of spirit, earth and society and we have done that in the years since. We started after Bush’s second stolen election and now years later things are worse than they were then and the support for artists and art is even more important.

Art helps to change the world. It creates a map of where we are now, and where we can go. It creates images and story that strengthen the mind, heart and soul for the journey. It comes from misery and suffering;  joy and hope. It changes the artist and the beholder. It brings us together and yet sees how we must honor and address differences. We need more of it to get out of this mess.

BEI just recruited our fifth group of fellows for their three year term. We had 125 applicants for 7 ositions. Our new group produces many genres including poetry, prose, fiber art and performance. These current fellows address immigration, racism, Native rights in the US and Canada, protecting the earth, and violence here and in critical places around the world. These are those powerful voices that paint pictures of suffering and injustice and yet paths out in a way give us strength and hope. 

Each fellow receives an annual $1000.00 stipend for their three years to do a project in line with the mission of BEI and one that expresses their own work, interests and concerns. BEI supported projects including prose and performance on disability rights and practice; quilts and a poetry chapbook to demonstrate the racial profiling and shooting of African Americans ; a book and performance series about Syrian immigrants coming to the US; a major anthology of Chicanx writing, and the building of a writers retreat in the Driftless area inviting local and other writers. These projects reflect work with different media and address the environment, spirituality, and social justice much needed today.

BEI continues our publication About Place Journal edited by fellows and now out in its 17th issue. Each issue of About Place Journal sets a theme chosen by editors to address issues consistent with the mission of BEI.  The last two issues Roots and Resistance and Rewilding.  Issues get between 5000-7000 views on pages of the contributors to that issue and have published almost 600 artists. Our influence and reach have grown thanks to your support. About Place needs about $9000.00 each year between editing and production to continue.

Each year current and past fellows, scholar advisers and board members attend an annual retreat here at Brigit Rest, our land here in the Driftless area of Wisconsin. We discuss how to support each other, share work and take on topics of import for the year. This past year the topics included what is political art, localized environmental action by faith groups and art speaking of the Irish peasantry. We tour local places like effigy mounds or the UW Arboretum. People leave to return to their own work strengthened, filled with new direction and supported in creation to change the world. We provide a travel grant of $500.00 to each participant.

Here is how one fellow commented on the retreat:

During a time of increasing fear, the Black Earth Institute weekend was a true haven. A place I could argue, contemplate and be loved in complete safety. The past few years have felt more and more suffocating in our nation, and the world, and BEI offered the antidote–the wide countryside, nourishing meals from Charlene, and the kind of conversations that can only happen among deeply thoughtful, kind people. Mostly, I learned that people are continuing to make challenging work, that they are brave, and that I have a community that will support me wherever I go. Communing with artists all over the country gave me the hope that we are going to keep fighting, that our voices, even when soft, are amazingly strong. We are not yet lost.– Claudia Savage, BEI Fellow 

Our past fellows and scholars stay in touch and support each other We get by with a limited but productive staff. In total our yearly budget runs to just under $40,000. We need your support to continue. Our country, world and planet are on the verge of great changes and in what direction is the challenge. We are threatened with loss of democracy, further racist violence, irreparable damage to our world and its creatures, OR a different path with voices of ordinary people determining our rulers, protecting and healing for the earth, renewed spirit, and a much more just society build on acceptance and respect for all.

Please donate what you can. Enclosed in a stamped addressed return envelope with support options. We need your help, art can change people and the world, you can too.


Michael McDermott

Director & Founding Fellow

Black Earth Institute