Making Connections: Conferences That Build Communities

By Reneé Leta

Three June conferences spotlight the public-facing work of the State Library Division, the State Historic Preservation Office, and the Division of Indian Affairs. These summits offer participants the chance to learn from subject experts, as well as network with colleagues and policy makers.

Internet for All: Utah Broadband Confluence >> Wednesday, June 7, Utah Valley University Conference Center. 

The conference, hosted by the Utah Broadband Center and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration with support from the Utah State Library Division, focuses on connecting all Utahns to affordable, reliable high-speed internet.

“Utah has announced the bold goal of connecting every resident to the Internet within five years, and the state is ready to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in this initiative,” said Liz Gabbitas, digital access & education program manager for the Utah State Library Division, who is one of the organizers. “This summit will connect decision makers with internet service providers and community partners at the starting line as we jump into five years of action.”

Leaders from federal, state, Tribal, and local governments, industry, and other key collaborators will discuss Utah’s broadband and prepare plans aimed at qualifying for federal grant funding as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Register here: “Internet for All: Utah Broadband Confluence.”

Preservation Engaged: Celebrating Utah’s Communities >> Thursday, June 8 at Fort Douglas, University of Utah campus; and Friday, June 9, Columbus School Building, South Salt Lake.

The State Historic Preservation Office, in partnership with Preservation Utah, will hold a conference for descendant communities, academic researchers, civil servants, architects and the public. “The past is never really gone,” says Elizabeth Hora, Utah’s public archaeologist. “People today need archaeology and the historic built environment to (re)create community and connect with the past.”

The conference offers multiple tracks. “This year we are excited to invite our Utah Main Street Program communities, as well as Cultural Site Stewards,” says Amber Anderson, tax credit program coordinator with the State Historic Preservation Office. “Our 16 Main Street partners are working to revitalize the economy, appearance, and image of their downtown commercial districts in cities from Brigham City to Salina.”

Some conference presentations will focus on:

  • How The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints manages hundreds of historic resources across the world.  
  • 19th-century antique firearms, authentic uniforms, and other accouterments used by the military and militia in the Utah Territory. 
  • Outdoor recreation as a major driver of Utah’s 21st-century economy, and exploring how Utah State University is preserving the industry’s history through its archives. 
  • Workshops on historic headstone restoration and wood evaluation, maintenance, and repair.

Register here: Preservation Engaged: Celebrating Utah’s Communities.

17th Annual Governor’s Native American Summit >> Thursday, June 23 at Utah Valley University Sorenson Student Center.

“We thrive when we connect and learn from each other,” says James Toledo, program manager for the Utah Division of Indian Affairs. “As Native communities, cultural teachings provide important tools to help individuals navigate the modern world, confront challenges, and create strong connections to family and community.” 

The annual summit began in 2006 and has evolved into the only event in the state where state and Tribal leaders, stakeholders, educators, and community members converge to learn about and address the issues and concerns impacting Utah’s Native American population. 

This year’s theme, “Connecting Our Communities,” seeks to open pathways to learn from community elders, be inspired by Native teachings, and discover solutions to strengthening ties to culture, education, and family. The summit will  honor Harry James Sr., a member of the Navajo Nation and former board president of the West Valley Native American Association.

Register here: 17th Annual Governor’s Native American Summit.