No Longer Naptown

Soldiers & Sailors Monument Photo courtesy: Visit Indy

Soldiers & Sailors Monument
Photo courtesy: Visit Indy

by Christine Zetzl

For years Indy has been trying to decide what hat to wear – note how we’ve been fighting the love-hate “Naptown” nickname for decades.

But something new is brewing in our city. (And I’m not just talking about the 12+ new breweries to open in 2014!).

Sure, we do sports better than anyone. We’ve pulled off Olympic Trials, B1G Ten Championships and a Super Bowl. Hell, each May we host the world’s largest single-day sport event, the Indy 500.

Yet Indy excels at more than just sports, and we’re on a journey to find our identity.

Just this year, Indy welcomed a bikeshare program, the world’s largest all-electric car sharing program, and the first new downtown grocery store in nearly 30 years. This progress is clearly reflected in a huge spike of residents moving to our city’s core. Over the past four years, the number of residential apartments increased more than 30 percent, while rentals are in historically high demand (Indianapolis Downtown, Inc., & Urban Initiatives, 2013).

And with people, comes personality.

Our food scene has evolved from chain city to a launching pad for everything artisanal (I’m looking at you, bacon marshmallows). Alternative transportation options have caught on (though I’m not sure the Handlebar counts as “transportation”, we’ll allow it). And a culture of Indypride has exploded like never before.

In my short time living the “adult life” in Indy, I’ve noticed change for the better. “Naptown” only exists in our rearview mirror, and I’m excited to be along for the journey.

Christine Zetzl is the Digital Marketing Coordinator at Visit Indy. Born and raised in Indianapolis, Christine enjoys cycling, coffee, traveling and all things Indy. Follow her latest adventure on Twitter: @christinezetzl.

Join us in 2014 as we celebrate the theme of “JOURNEY” during the Spirit & Place Festival, November 7-16.

My Journey

Brett Michael Wiscons

Brett Michael Wiscons

By Brett M. Wiscons

Ever since I was sixteen, way back in 1996, I wanted to be a musician.

My love for music really was born in my bedroom. I’d spend innumerable hours with the door closed while I listened to tunes by the Doors, Eagles, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Beach Boys. You know, the good stuff. I fantasized about being on a stage in not only the USA, but also in foreign countries. All I wanted to figure out was a way to make music my career. Fast forward to 2008, and I bid adieu to my relatively high paying and reasonably steady sales job to jump in, with both feet, to the music business.

“I fantasized about being on a stage in not only the USA, but also in foreign countries. All I wanted to figure out was a way to make music my career.”

I’d been singing in a band since high school, so I was laying the foundation for what was to come. As I moved on to college at Marian University in Indianapolis, I studied (sometimes) hard and decided it was best to at least obtain a degree in case the whole music thing didn’t work out. I settled on a business administration degree with a concentration in marketing and it truly came in handy.  I was still singing in a band on the weekends and getting my feet wet on the business side of things. I handled most of the booking and promotion aspects of the band. Looking back, it really was a blessing – for now I am just as comfortable trying to book a show in Florida as I am in my home state of Indiana.

Now, I’m 34, started my own, independent record label and publishing company (MAD Diamond Entertainment) and have some great things on the horizon. In the last two years I’ve written and self-published two private detective novels and released a new EP of music that was produced by a two-time GRAMMY winner. Later this summer, my new group and I (The Brett Wiscons Band) will be playing high profile shows with Zac Brown Band (July 13th) and at the Indiana State Fair (August 14th). I’m still working on playing overseas though, but it’s only a matter of time.

“I’ve by no means “arrived,” but the journey is what keeps my train on the tracks.”

It’s nice to pause and look back at my journey thus far. Writing this blog post has aided me in doing just that. Like most people, I’m always eyeing what’s next, but rarely live “in the moment.” When I really think about it, I feel I’ve been able to do some cool things in my music career which have led to lifelong friendships and memories. This is what I should be doing with my life. If there’s anyone out there – no matter what age – whose time and mind is consumed with a certain career field or path, they should follow it. You just might get where you’re going. I’ve by no means “arrived,” but the journey is what keeps my train on the tracks.

Brett Michael Wiscons is a singer-songwriter and novelist. He lives in Zionsville, IN with his wife and dog.  He can be found online at www.brettwiscons.com

Join us in 2014 as we celebrate the theme of “JOURNEY” during the Spirit & Place Festival, November 7-16.

Returning


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By Son Lux

I’m this close to calling Indianapolis my hometown. I grew up all over the country, and I have no memory of my true hometown, Denver, as I was outta there before I turned two. But my wife grew up in Indianapolis, and most of her family still lives in the area. I met Jennifer in Bloomington at IU 15 years ago (I had ventured from my then-home Atlanta to study music). So for the last 15 years, I’ve returned several times a year to visit family, but also for professional reasons.

“All this returning to Indianapolis has shaped my life and career. Though I am a “New Yorker” now (and, I hope, forever), Indianapolis has defined me like no other place.”

My connections to Indianapolis have grown steadily over the years; my manager, both record labels I’m working with–Joyful Noise Recordings and Asthmatic Kitty Records, and my lawyer are all based in Indianapolis. My last two releases, Lanterns and Alternate Worlds, feature the voices of two young singers who, serendipitously, grew up in Indianapolis (they are sisters, and make music as Lily & Madeleine). In 2013, I even had the opportunity to perform with the Indianapolis Symphony.

All this returning to Indianapolis has shaped my life and career. Though I am a “New Yorker” now (and, I hope, forever), Indianapolis has defined me like no other place.

Son Lux performing live at Spirit & Place Festival's Signature Series event 'Lanterns Raised; Journeys Through Art.'

Son Lux performing live at Spirit & Place Festival’s Signature Series event ‘Lanterns Raised: Journeys Through Art.’

For this reason, it’s always especially sweet to perform in Indy, and performing at CTS for the Spirit & Place Festival was no exception. But more than just an opportunity to return to a familiar place and faces I know, the show was a chance to return to my songs in a new way.

“To return is to gain the opportunity to experience the journey smarter, with wider eyes and a better understanding.”

Abandoning the electronics and sophisticated studio tools that shape my recordings, I chose to work with just a piano and voices for the show. The piano was my first instrument, and it’s always a bit of a homecoming when I get to spend some time with the instrument. Redeemer Presbyterian Church downtown on Delaware kindly allows me access to their sanctuary at night while I am in town in order to get my practicing in. So in the days leading up to the Spirit & Place event, I spent a few hours each night all alone in their beautiful sanctuary (it’s amazing in the dark at night!). Starting “from scratch” with each song I chose for the show, I built new arrangements with just the piano, and some toys and tools thrown in to modify the sound in various ways. This process of revisiting songs to reinvent them is very familiar to me.

In fact, the act returning has been a central theme in my career. Alternate Worlds, for example, is a return, of sorts, to four songs from the previous release, Lanterns. I did this once before, releasing the EP Weapons, which returns to a song of the same name from my first record, and unravels as multiple variations of it. The melody from “Weapons,” in fact, returns again and again in my own new compositions, and even in remixes I do of others’ work. I call it “the ghost melody,” as it returns like a haunting presence at unexpected moments.

But the act of returning is a unique type of journeying. When creating, I see it as an opportunity for reinvention, for the re-deployment of an idea or sound. The composer in me loves to return to the core of an idea in order to experience the thrill of the restart, the beauty of the wide horizon lost after the starting point. The return is an end to one kind of journey, but the heart of another kind. To return is to gain the opportunity to experience the journey smarter, with wider eyes and a better understanding. And hopefully, on occasion, it’s an opportunity to appreciate the “home” that makes your journeying possible.

Son Lux performed on April 9 in the Spirit & Place Signature Series event Lanterns Raised: Journeys Through Art along with artists Tony Styxx and Kathryn Armstrong.

 

 

Reflections on JOURNEY

By Spirit & Place

Spirit & Place Festival’s 2014 theme, JOURNEY, explores the ways in which we move and our reasons for doing so. The journey between “here” and “there” is filled with movement and meaning. How is this movement shaping—and being shaped by— identity, spirituality, public policy, and civic life? From the instruments of mobility in all its forms (education, money, waterways, trails, bus lines, bike lanes, policies, etc.), to the reasons (quality of life, self-expression, community development, health, persecution, pilgrimage, etc.), JOURNEY will explore the dynamic passages of peoples and places.

Many Hoosiers embark on spiritual journeys that can be both internal experiences and physical pilgrimages. Physicians innovate in the field of palliative care, exploring ways to end the journey of life in a way that is dignified, strong, and supported. Artists create works that transport others to a different time or place.

Yet even as we are inspired to travel spiritually, physically, and emotionally—both individually and together—we must strive to understand our methods, motives and directions. What expressions are we using as we journey? What holds us back from embarking on a journey? What places exist to encourage journey? Who or what do we take with us as we move toward or away from places spiritually, emotionally, or physically? How do we encourage and create opportunity for personal and collective movement?

We’ll delve-deep into our theme and explore answers to these intriguing questions year-round on our digital platforms and through dozens of “never-seen-before” programs at our 10-day long festival.

Join us this November to witness audacious performances, exhibits, thoughtful discussions, hands-on workshops, and other engaging programs that explore how our JOURNEY shapes our life.

Risk Recap – Touchy Subjects: Art, Sex, and Humor

118c159f-88f9-4475-8d1e-c3ce6219daf2Event name: Touchy Subjects: Art, Sex, and Humor

In one sentence, describe the event: A look at the risk artists take in creating edgy work.

How would you describe your risk-taking personality or lack thereof?: I don’t actually take a lot of risks. The biggest risks I take on a daily basis probably include the various media pitching strategies I use for my job. Sometimes my correspondence to get others to respond could be considered a bit risky.

What was the most memorable and/or meaningful aspect of the event?: I loved the discussion with the artists. It was vital in understanding the event itself and the risk the artists took in creating the work. Understanding the art from that level brings a greater appreciation for the work in an entirely new way.

What’s one thing you learned about risk that surprised you?: Risk comes in all forms! I wasn’t quite sure what to expect!

Each year’s Spirit & Place Festival’s theme influences the next year’s theme. Through the lens of this year’s theme of “Risk,” what types of events do you anticipate for next year’s theme of “Journey”?: I could expect an art installation there, as well. The part I enjoyed the most was hearing the artists talk about their personal journeys to the installations they presented.

Taking My Risk

By Rexene Lane

“Courage is telling our story, not being immune to criticism. Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection. If you’re like me, practicing authenticity can feel like a daunting choice—there’s risk involved in putting your true self out in the world. But I believe there’s even more risk in hiding yourself and your gifts from the world. ”
- Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

I attended “The RISK of Pursing Your Passion,” a Spirit & Place panel discussion event on November 7, 2013 in Indianapolis. The event was life changing for me and touched my very soul. The panel was made up of five very talented and creative people, three of whom I know personally.

Stephanie Lewis Robertson, fabric artist and academic arts administrator, is an amazing woman, a mentor, and a loving friend to me. She has led me on many risk-taking and creative journeys over the past seven years. David Hochoy, Artistic Director of Dance Kaleidoscope, is a dynamic and yet introspective man originally from Trinidad. Lali Hess, owner and chef of a catering company, The Juniper Spoon, specializes in using local and organic foods in her cooking.  Lali shared many insights on taking risks in her own life. Diana Ensign, a published author and blog writer, is a soft spoken woman with some painful yet meaningful experiences to share. Diana and I have crossed paths more than a few times over the past year. Marg Herder is the owner of Softsound and CircleWebWorks and the Director of Public Information for EEWC-Christian Feminism Today. I know Marg through her involvement with the Indianapolis Winter Solstice Singing Ritual, an event I became involved in six years ago as a choir member.  Even before I attended The Risk of Pursuing Your Passion, Marg had challenged me to pursue my own passions, and she actually dared me to risk writing this blog post. Here I am!

“The fear of not being good enough caused me to live on the perimeter and to take negative risks, rather than positive, healthy, life-producing risks.”

I grew up in a household and a religion that taught me I was not good enough and I would never be good enough. My father (also my pastor for most of my growing up years) was the child of an alcoholic with little insight about his own issues and scars. The independent, fundamental, Bible-believing, New Testament-teaching, evangelical religion fit perfectly with the dysfunction, rigidity and shame-producing environment of an alcoholic home. I bought it all—hook, line, and sinker.

I could relate to so much of what the members of the panel shared about what their biggest obstacles were in risking the pursuit of their passions.

In my house growing up I couldn’t even do the dishes well enough to please my parents!  This gave rise to constant negative self-talk which has led me down many sorrowful paths. I didn’t believe I had anything to offer anyone. Consequently, I have always been my own biggest obstacle. The fear of not being good enough caused me to live on the perimeter and to take negative risks, rather than positive, healthy, life-producing risks.

During the event several panel members said how important it was to risk being vulnerable by revealing details about yourself in your work. A tear or two trickled down my face as I felt the shame of believing I had nothing good to reveal about myself. Shame is my familiar companion. But within just a few minutes I found myself smiling and laughing as a panelist shared something humorous that I could relate to.

“It was meaningful to hear that I have to surrender to risk-taking in pursuit of my passion every day. 100% surrender.”

Most of the panelists agreed that through sharing yourself authentically, your audience can see themselves in your work and learn from it.   My own experience has taught me that this is true. Hearing stories similar to my own has helped me to begin to heal from my childhood injuries.

It was meaningful to hear that I have to surrender to risk-taking in pursuit of my passion every day. 100% surrender.  And it’s okay to be afraid.  As a matter of fact, one of the panelists suggested when fear takes over it helps to call a friend and talk it out.

At the event I found myself feeling that I was in a familiar place, amongst familiar people, people of a like mind. I was exactly where I needed to be!

Stephanie passed out permission slips giving everyone in attendance permission to take a risk in pursuit of their own passion. If my biggest risk is being my authentic self, to tell a bit of my own story, then today I have taken that risk.  Maybe it’s just one small risk, but my hope is that if it doesn’t kill me, I’ll be willing to take many more.

Rexene Lane is studying Studio Art and Pre-Art Therapy at the University of Indianapolis.  She attended the November 7, 2013, Spirit & Place event, The Risk of Pursuing Your Passion, a panel discussion held at the First Mennonite Church in Indianapolis.

This is a re-post of a post that originally appeared in Risk of Pursuing Your Passion blog, posted Nov. 19, 2013.

Risk Recap: The Hungry Games

Event Name: The Hungry Games

In one sentence, describe the event: Ever entertaining, learned a lot about Indy’s history

How would you describe your risk-taking personality or lack thereof?: I thought the students were very brave from going up on stage and competing for their charities. You could tell some of the competitors felt uncomfortable, but some of those ended up going very far in the competition. It was great to see dedication for a worthy cause.

But they never specifically addressed “risk”.

What was the most memorable and/or meaningful aspect of the event?: Seeing high school students dedicate their time and volunteer efforts for such great causes. It was nice to see them run around to gain more donations for their nonprofits.

What’s one thing you learned about risk that surprised you?: Risk can be conquered with teamwork and dedication.

Each year’s Spirit & Place Festival’s theme influences the next year’s theme. Through the lens of this year’s theme of “Risk,” what types of events do you anticipate for next year’s theme of “Journey”?: I could see events such as: how my journey of risky moves paid off… something along those lines.