The Hexagon Project’s Beth Burkhauser was pleased to introduce the keynote speaker at the 57th Annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Sondra Myers, the speaker, has a connection to the beginning of the Hexagon Project.
The theme of the breakfast was “Framing the Future.” Over 400 community members gathered at the historic Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel on Wednesday, October 23rd. “As the Mayor of the City of Scranton, and a longtime patron of the arts, I have a deep appreciation of the vital role the arts play in our community,” said Wayne Evans, Mayor of Scranton.
The Mayor went on to say, “Scranton has a rich history in the arts … from being a major stop on the Vaudeville circuit in the early 1900’s … to serving as a source of inspiration for famous painters such as George Inness and John Willard Raught.
“Today, we reap the benefits of a thriving arts community that offers monthly gallery hops on First Fridays, rotating exhibits at the Everhart Museum, Broadway shows at the Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple, and various annual events including the Jazz Festival and the Fringe Festival. These are just a few examples of our continuing commitment to the arts.”
Introducing Sondra Myers, Beth Burkhauser painted a picture of a woman who is passionately dedicated to the arts. “Sondra is an activist — is Senior Fellow for International Civic and Cultural Projects, and Director of the Schemel Forum at the University of Scranton. She has presented programs on Democracy and civil society internationally.
“She has served with the National Endowment for the Arts, was Cultural Advisor to Governor Robert Casey; Founding President of Citizens for the Arts; serves on national and international boards of trustees, and was appointed to commissions by Presidents Carter, Clinton and Obama.
“Personally, I’m indebted to Sondra for inviting me — after retiring from 35 years in public education — to become part of her Interdependence Day Committee. From there, the International Interdependence Hexagon Arts Project was born 13 years ago. A nonprofit, we align with themes of citizens’ rights and responsibilities in an increasingly interconnected world, with over 11,000 hexagons created, giving visual voice to young peoples’ thoughts, feelings and solutions to the issues they face as future citizens of their countries and world,” concluded Burkhauser.
Sondra Myers inspired the group by first stressing the need for our healing city and “to work towards progress, defy and reject corruption, and use our creativity — our imagination, our capacities for innovation, our courage — to choose a better tomorrow.”
She focused on the arts by saying, “with regard to the arts and humanities: they are a public good. We must nurture and support them. They say that societies will not be measured in the future by the battles they won but by the arts and culture they leave for posterity. The fine architecture that graces this city is a public good. Our fine symphony orchestra is a treasure that we must support. The arts and humanities are not a frill any more than free minds are a frill. Only free minds can create and sustain a free society.”