Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum with K. David Weidner celebrates one nonprofit leadership team’s commitment to their ENTIRE community. Here’s what Weidner has to share about their important mission and the way they deploy it.
In a rapidly evolving world, non-profit organizations (NPO) play a vital role in driving social change and creating a more equitable society. However, to truly make a lasting impact, it is essential for these organizations to embark on a transformative journey that goes beyond core missions, pushing them to evolve. Today’s non-profit management teams are called to pave the way for a more truthful, inclusive and diverse present and future.
Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum Embraces a Truthful History
In the case of historical monuments and museums, it begins with elevating a truthful history, not hiding from what once was and committing to do the work to be better. The Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum (PMPM) was founded in 1892 as the Cape Cod Pilgrim Memorial Association—Cape Cod’s oldest non-profit organization. The Pilgrim Monument was constructed to commemorate the Mayflower Pilgrims’ first landing in the New World in November 1620 and the signing of the historic Mayflower Compact in what is now Provincetown Harbor. In 1910, the Provincetown Museum was built to educate the public about Provincetown’s significant place in American history. However, for many years, a “whitewashed” version of history was told.
As new leadership came on board in 2017, we set out to strategically acknowledge and address historical inaccuracies as well as help visitors understand the real story of the complicated relationship between the indigenous Wampanoag and the Mayflower Pilgrims. Collaboration with community members was instrumental in helping to uncover and curate truthful narratives. Our partnership with SmokeSygnals and the Wampanoag Cultural Council allowed us to build the only permanent exhibit in the world to tell the history of Cape Cod’s original inhabitants, up to and including the arrival of the Mayflower, from the perspective of the Wampanoag.
Fostering an Environment of Inclusivity and Acceptance
Creating an inclusive and accepting environment is paramount for non-profit organizations in their pursuit of social progress. Change begins with a thorough assessment of the organizational culture and practices to identify gaps that hinder inclusivity. By recognizing and addressing these gaps, organizations can foster an atmosphere where everyone feels valued and accepted.
The Association took this commitment to heart by diversifying our board of trustees to be more representative of the communities that the organization serves. Our mission is now one of inclusiveness. We also built and opened a new, ADA-compliant inclined elevator to improve accessibility. This move extends PMPM’s front door from atop High Pole Hill down to Provincetown’s commercial center, making it easily accessible from the main downtown/tourist area and providing a critical economic link between the two areas. Under the new leadership, the Museum also debuted An Anecdotal LGBTQ+ History of the Last Century of Provincetown – a poignant new exhibit that explores Provincetown’s modern, vibrant legacy as a LGBTQ+ haven.
Encouraging the inclusion of diverse voices and perspectives within the organization enriches the decision-making process and promotes innovation. Through these collective efforts, organizations can foster an environment that actively breaks down systemic barriers and ensures the values of inclusivity and acceptance flourish.
Celebrating Regional Diversity
The regional diversity of Cape Cod is a true treasure, encompassing a myriad of cultures, traditions and experiences. NPOs like PMPM have a unique opportunity to recognize and embrace this richness within their communities. Through vibrant events, captivating exhibits and engaging programs, they can showcase a tapestry of the region, inviting everyone to join in the celebration.
For centuries, the seaside town of Provincetown has been a safe haven for marginalized communities, welcoming “pilgrims” of every kind from near and far—regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or lifestyle. In coming together, these groups have made our town the ultimate melting pot, enriched and invigorated by the diversity of our people. Each of these groups has a colorful history that makes up the fabric of our beloved town, and we literally wave banners to celebrate them.
PMPM regularly collaborates with cultural organizations like our neighbor museum, the Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM) and advocacy groups like GLAD to bring to the forefront the voices and talents of often underrepresented communities. We host annual events, including a juried art exhibition with PAAM and GLAD’s Summer Party. By creating spaces for intercultural understanding and dialogue, non-profits can become catalysts for connection, breaking down barriers and fostering a sense of unity. An inherent beauty emerges when people from different backgrounds unite. Embracing this fact helps further ignite positive transformation that resonates throughout the community and with visitors.
Engaging the Next Generation: Building Community Ties
It goes without saying that schools play a pivotal role in shaping the minds of the next generation. It is crucial for non-profit organizations to establish strong community ties with regional schools and other educational institutions. Together with these vital platforms, non-profit organizations can equip today’s students with knowledge and awareness that help create a more inclusive and accepting society. By forging partnerships with regional schools, PMPM is actively promoting truthful historical awareness and a deeper understanding of our community’s past.
Through collaborative efforts, PMPM is working to develop immersive explorations that provide a sense of connection with the past and instill a sense of appreciation of diverse perspectives. In showcasing our obligation to ensure historically marginalized voices are heard, we are empowering students to become active participants in shaping the future of their communities. This helps to create a thriving and lasting legacy of truth, inclusivity and diversity.
Shaping the Future
The importance of non-profit transformation cannot be overstated. It is a catalyst for profound and sustainable change. Elevating truthful history, fostering inclusivity and celebrating diversity are vital pillars of a necessary journey that is at the heart of effective non-profit management. Non-profits have an obligation to use our privileged platforms to rectify past inaccuracies and ensure a more comprehensive understanding of our collective history. By embracing diverse perspectives and promoting an awareness and understanding of all stakeholders, we have the capacity to help forge a path toward a more equitable and united society.
Since its completion, millions of visitors from near and far have come to view the exhibits, climb the tower’s 116 steps and 60 ramps, and we are proud to say, support PMPM’s mission of TRUTH: Tolerance | Respect | Unity | Trust | Her/his/their-story. We hope our story serves as an encouragement for non-profit organizations to take proactive steps toward transformative change. Together, we can help build a brighter future for all that embodies justice, acceptance and equality.
Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum with K. David Weidner was first posted at 501c3.Buzz