Media Advisory: Launch of Looking for America: Siouxland

Hosted by the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and national partners, Looking for America: Siouxland seeks to answer, “What does it mean to be American?”

Media are invited to preview, attend, and cover Looking for America: Siouxland, a chapter in a new dialogue and art initiative that is touring six communities across the United States. 

At a time when Americans are more polarized than ever, especially on the issue of immigration, several organizations have partnered together to help bridge the divide. Looking for America seeks to bring people together across a multitude of political opinions to answer the question, “What does it mean to be American?” 

An invitation-only dinner that features cross-political civil discourse will take place on Sunday, September 29th from 2:00 to 5:00pm CT at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and Chris Larsen Park. Approximately 50-75 participants, including local leaders and community members with different political identities, will gather for dinner, viewing and interacting with curated art exhibitions from local artists, all centered around the question, “What does it mean to be American in Siouxland?” Participants will share their reactions to the art and their perspectives and stories over a shared meal. 

Beginning on October 1, 2019, the Looking for America: Siouxland art exhibition will be free and open to the public at the Betty Strong Encounter Center at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.

Along with the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, partners include One Siouxland, New American Economy, the American University School of Public Affairs, CuriosityConnects.us, and the Tenement Museum, with support from the Gilchrist Foundation and the Missouri River Historical Development. The dinner and dialogue is part of a larger exhibit — on display and open to the public at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center — featuring local artists who represent different backgrounds, countries of origin, political viewpoints, and art practices. 

Who: 

The event will feature remarks by:

  • Erica DeLeon, One Siouxland
  • Vicky Wilkins, Dean of the School of Public Affairs at American University 
  • Dan Wallace, Director of Special Projects, New American Economy
  • Philippa Hughes, Founder & Chief Creative Strategist, CuriosityConnects.us

When: 

September 29th, 2019 from 2:00 to 5:00 PM 

Where: 

2:00-3:00pm: Art Exhibition at the Betty Strong Encounter Center at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, 900 Larsen Park Rd, Sioux City, IA 51103

3:00-5:00pm: Dinner at Chris Larsen Park, 1280 Larsen Park Rd, Sioux City, IA 51103

Why: 

The Looking for America tour is an effort to hear different perspectives on immigration in America through the lens of very different communities. At a time when Americans are more divided than ever, especially on the issue of immigration, Looking for America seeks to bring people together across political divides and answer the question, “What does it mean to be American?” This series serves to reveal what different Americans and communities think about immigration, how local culture and circumstance is shaping political perspectives across the United States, and how we can build more constructive dialogue and understanding at a time of increasing division and polarization across America. 

Quotes from Looking for America Partners:

“In a time when it seems easier to focus on that which divides us, One Siouxland is thrilled to provide a unique opportunity for community members to find that which unites us,” said Erica DeLeon, Director, One Siouxland. “At our Looking for America event, participants will enjoy great food and genuine face-to-face conversations with other Siouxlanders from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. We are honored to be part of this inaugural tour, and look forward to continuing the conversations and building a stronger Siouxland, together.”

“The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center is excited to host Looking for America: in Siouxland,” said Connie Jones, Design and Exhibits Coordinator, Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. “We are looking forward to having this wide variety of locally-sourced Art on display. Looking for America represents Artwork that can inspire dialogue, and fits with our mission of exploring the stories of how we live together as diverse people.”

“We are proud to host Looking For America in Siouxland as it’s a city that represents some of America’s most cherished values, like endurance, hard work, ingenuity, and perseverance,” said Dan Wallace, Director of Special Projects at New American Economy. “Siouxland’s unique voice in immigration, including that of its indigenous peoples, makes it is an ideal setting to explore thoughts around American identity and immigration.”

“Art can help us to process complicated ideas and emotions,” said Philippa P.B. Hughes of CuriosityConnects.us. “Sometimes people find it easier to identify with something that expresses how they feel, rather than what they think. In this way, art can lead to greater empathy between people who may not necessarily see eye to eye.”

“The School of Public Affairs at American University is committed to civil discourse as a crucial aspect of our democracy, and faculty members are committed to sharing these skills on and beyond campus, especially in this time of hyper-partisan divide,” said Vicky Wilkins, Dean, School of Public Affairs at American University. “We also look forward to listening to and learning from community members in Siouxland–and bringing those important learnings back to Washington, D.C.”

The remaining host cities and regions include Anchorage, Alaska; Detroit, Michigan; El Paso, Texas; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Northwest Arkansas. In addition to local partners, the national organizers of Looking for America are New American Economy, the American University School of Public Affairs, and CuriosityConnects.us. These groups have come together to build a model for hosting constructive dialogue and civil discourse around pressing topics like immigration, which can eventually be shared and hosted in cities across each of the 50 states.  

Find more information, visit LookingForAmerica.us. 

Media Contacts: 

●      Natasha Abel, nabel@american.edu, (202) 885-5943

●      Sona Rai, sona@newamericaneconomy.org, (646) 324-8284

●      Liza Morris, lmorris@american.edu, (202) 251-8287 (for requests during the actual event)

About NAE

New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…