The 3 Questions Series offers the chance to learn more about board members, grantees, and longtime supporters of Rhode Island Humanities. In the coming weeks, we will continue to share these conversations as a window into the people who make up our unique network.
Chrystal Mars Baker (she/her/hers)
Education Manager, Tomaquag Museum
Lives in Charlestown
As you join Rhode Island Humanities’ board, what do you find most interesting or exciting about the Council’s work? Or what are you hoping to learn more about through your board service?
In truth, I hadn’t heard of RI Humanities before being approached by the Executive Director of Tomaquag Museum, who introduced me to the wonderful Elizabeth Francis, Executive Director of the Humanities Council. After one Zoom meeting with her, I was enlightened to and intrigued by the Council’s work. I will spend this first year truly endeavoring to understand all that the Council does and the various ways they intersect with the communities at large. Listening to a recent panel conversation on the 2022 RI Civic Health Index by its members was the first step! I look forward to this journey of learning which will prepare me to be of service.
How do you interact with Rhode Island’s humanities and cultural sector personally and/or professionally? Can you share a favorite program, exhibit, project, performance, screening, or other humanities activity you’ve participated in recently and what you took away from that experience?
Without realizing it, I have been interacting with RI’s humanities and cultural sector throughout the years. From local museum visits to newly discovered exhibits such as those of the medallions indicating a significant part of Rhode Island’s history with slavery, I did not know these projects, places, and exhibits were made possible by the support and contributions of RI Humanities. Being able to walk up to a medallion, scan the QR code with my phone, and have at my fingertips the history of that place was exciting, amazing, and convenient! I look forward to being part of supporting these types of projects going forward.
What is it about living in Rhode Island that you find compelling?
I have heard it said most truthfully that there is no Rhode Island history without Narragansett Indian people’s history. However, in Rhode Island’s public school system, I only learned that the Narragansett Indians no longer existed. This is what was in my textbook. To read that you don’t exist was so confusing and dismissive. Well, I am a Narragansett Indian citizen and we do exist. This is what I find compelling—the absolute need to incorporate Indigenous history, the people’s past and current stories, resilience, and contributions into the educational curriculum of every school system in Rhode Island. Learning the whole history of RI’s foundation is important and necessary. This is what changes the futures of the next generations.
Learn more about Chrystal and other board members by reading their biographies here.