Thematic Description

For much of Ohio’s history, the good times were signified by belching smokestacks. Pulling down forests, draining the swamps, and extracting fossil fuels helped Ohioans build a new state. While Ohioans prospered, this activity degraded the environment. The first Industrial Revolution of coal and steam, and second of oil, steel, and chemicals left behind poisonous waste. As the first waves of industry passed into history, the sprawling growth of the cities buried the best farmland under suburban housing developments. Modern agriculture turned large swathes of the state toward the horizontal industrial production of corn, soybeans, hogs, and poultry. Finding a resilient and sustainable relationship with the environment in a place so firmly shaped by human activity is a significant and on-going challenge.

The Human Story in Ohio

is inextricably tied to the natural world. The experiences of Ohio communities, families, and individuals are grounded in the state’s vibrant landscapes and cities, and shaped by its natural resources. Ohioans are deeply tied to the environments they inhabit and place names reflect those ties. The name Ohio originated from the Iroquois (Haudenosuanee) word for “Good River.” This name was later translated by the French as La Belle Rivière, “the Beautiful River.”

Toward a Beautiful Ohio Supports

public humanities projects that explore the interdependence between the people and places of Ohio. Ohio Humanities seeks to uncover the stories that reveal human interactions with the environment, to better understand our past and present, and imagine our shared future.

Request for Grant Proposals

Toward a Beautiful Ohio grants will be available for all Ohio Humanities grant lines, and all guidelines apply. On the application, where relevant, please discuss how your project fits with the thematic description.