2017 Theme: Power. November 3-12, 2017!

POWER can be disquieting, discomforting, and oppressive; it can also be illuminating, inspiring, and hopeful. How do our social, political, cultural, and spiritual perspectives shape notions of power? How do the arts, humanities, and religion fuel our inner life and empower communities? How has the use, misuse, and abuse of power shaped our individual and collective lives? What new sources of energy can power our lives together? How can we give voice to communities that have historically lacked power? How can we bring diverse groups together to examine power structures in our own communities?

How do you want to explore POWER in 2017?

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Cultural, faith-based, educational, health and human service organizations, libraries, community centers, civic institutions, artists, musicians, and others are invited to create innovative events for upcoming festivals. Application guidelines are posted at the beginning of the year.

Contact Program Director Erin Kelley at 317-274-2462 or ekkelley@iupui.edu or click here to learn more.   

Signature Events & Award of Awesomeness Highlights

The 2016 festival included five Signature Events including an opening night celebration, The Dog Ate My Homework, which included the debut of “Dear Indy”– a Spirit  & Place commission written and performed by poet and spoken word artist Tony Styxx.

A collaboration with the Butler University Visiting Writing Series brought Pulitzer Prize winning author Elizabeth Strout to Indy to share with a crowd of 400+ why she writes: To get to know what it is like to be someone else. To know empathy.

The ambitious Side-by-Side programming with Roberts Park United Methodist Church displayed, for the first time ever, Timothy Schmalz’s six “Matthew 25” sculptures in one place, including Homeless JesusProgramming also included the debut performance of Matthew’s Voices, a community choir welcoming to Indianapolis’s homeless population.

Spirit & Place’s year-long partnership with the Kheprw Institute on “Gentrify: The Good, the Bad, The Ugly,” culminated in the workshop From the Ground Up and the 21st Annual Public Conversation featured Matt Desmond, Allison Luthe, and Timothy Schmalz.

Nine community-created events were nominated for exemplifying the values that make the Spirit & Place Festival special. The Award of Awesomeness winner was Riverside Speaks! (lead partner, Ebenezer Baptist Church) who received a $1,000 prize. As one judge stated, “When I think about Spirit & Place, I think about this kind of event . . . people coming together from the heart.”

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What did HOME teach you?

https://storify.com/spiritandplace/spirit-place-2016

Did you know that over 40 events took place during our 2016 Spirit and Place festival? We were also proud to present five Signature Events: The Dog Ate My Homework featuring a newly commissioned spoken word piece by Tony Styxx, An Evening with Elizabeth Strout  in partnership with the Butler University Visiting Writers Series, the ambitious Side-by-Side programming with Roberts Park UMC, and the 21st Annual Public Conversation hosted by our official 2016 venue partner, Indiana Landmarks.

Even more, nine additional events have been recognized this year for exemplifying the values that make the Spirit & Place Festival special!

Spirit & Place represents a collaboration of congregations, cultural institutions, universities and colleges, schools, civic groups, museums, etc. We’re always seeking to improve, and your feedback at our events is sincerely appreciated.

Take a look at what you had to say about this year’s Festival on Storify:
[View the story “Spirit & Place 2016” on Storify]

Looking back toward “HOME.” A Visual Recap of our 2016 Festival:

The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.
— Maya Angelou

We had an incredible time with you as we celebrated ‘HOME’ and learning more about our city, our neighbors, and our world. Thank you for everyone who participated in events and shared photos and comments online! We greatly enjoyed seeing things from your perspective.

Another special thanks goes out to our generous sponsors and donors.

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Here’s a look at some photos shared from our 2016 Festival. Do you have one to add? Be sure to share with us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram!

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In the midst of our Slow Saunter/Indiana Humanities Next Indiana campfire as part of Spirit & Place Festival — beautiful day at Morgan-Monroe State Forest, discussing the history and value of species diversity here: “Are we planning to bequeath something to the people of the next century?” –Charles C. Deam. #SPIndy #talkandtrek

 

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As part of this year’s Spirit & Place Festival, IndyGo (Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation) asked riders to share their stories about what “home” means to them. Take a moment to read some of these great responses and share what “home” means to you!

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From Indy School on Wheels: A huge shoutout to our friends from @CHIPIndy for a fantastic @spiritandplace event yesterday featuring @HomestretchDoc! #SPIndy

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From Storytelling Arts: We’re collaborating 4 @spiritandplace First up: Bless This Mess, 7 p.m. 11/9, Theatre at the Fort, Lawrence

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Did you know that the #Indy Athenaeum was designated as National Historic Landmark? It’s serving as our beautiful venue for Haus Music

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From Sapphire Theater: Signs + Symptoms of #MoralInjury & #PTSD. Find out more today at REBUILDING HOME @AtTheA http://www.sapphiretheatre.com/rebuilding-home/ … #HelpIndyVets #SPIndy

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Especially poignant given the time of year. We should think about all of the veterans away from home this holiday season. #spindy

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Congratulations to the Veterans who shared their personal stories, the DK dancers who choreography pieces to match each story, and to the dancers who performed in our Spirit & Place show, Writing Home: Stories of American Veterans. We are, as always, extremely proud of you. Photos by Chris Crawl

WFYI Essay: “Indiana and Israel: Home and Homeland.”

Indiana and Israel: Home and Homeland
Lindsey Mintz
Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council

Did you know that when a plane touches down in Israel, people on board clap and cheer? And yes, some actually kiss the tarmac. Each time I land in Israel, tears of gratitude well in my eyes as I exhale and feel, home.

During the summer before my third grade year, my family lived and worked on a kibbutz in northern Israel, just minutes from the Sea of Galilee. We were paired with a family similar to our own, with feisty daughters, loving moms, and fathers who oozed both wit and wisdom. My dad worked as the kibbutz dentist, my older sisters picked oranges in the grove, my mom priced items in the grocery store, and I got to play in the summer camp. At the age of nine, I picked up quite a bit of Hebrew and quickly made friends. Everyone on the kibbutz had a bike, so we were given one too. Each day, members of my family would come back together to share meals in the communal dining room. And on Friday night the entire kibbutz gathered to sing the ancient prayers and songs of Shabbat – words and melodies that I knew, but was hearing for the first time sung by Israelis, whose Hebrew was like silk.

When we weren’t on the kibbutz, we travelled throughout Israel alongside our host family. Scenes from that summer are etched in my mind: clinging to the toe-path walking cautiously down Masada; feeling a cut on my skin sting in the salty waters of the Dead Sea; shivering in our car looking up at the snow-capped Mount Hermon; playing endless paddle-ball on the beach in Tel Aviv, and holding tight to my father’s hand through the bustling corridors of Jerusalem’s Old City; somehow appreciating the magnitude of touching the same stones placed by the earliest Jews nearly 3,000 years ago.

That summer was over 30 years ago, and since then I have been to Israel more than a dozen times, including a year living in Jerusalem to study at the Hebrew University. After graduate school, I spent another summer living once again on that kibbutz from my childhood – this time as an adult on my own. I was issued a bike, and remembered exactly how to navigate to the small apartment home of my host family, where they were waiting to welcome me with open arms! I was home.

And yet, I love to boast that I’m a third generation Jewish Hoosier, whose great-grandparents fled the pogroms of Eastern Europe to find safety in, of all places, South Bend, Indiana. I’m proud to share that my grandfather is one of only a handful of umpires inducted into the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame, and that for over 40 years my father provided dental care to Hoosier children most in need. I’m grateful to have graduated from IU and IUPUI with degrees in Jewish Studies and Public History, having focused my research on Indiana Jewish history. And I cherish the 10 summers I spent at a Jewish camp in Zionsville, the place where I would meet my future husband and where we send our children today.

When I look back now, I can see clearly how all of these experiences, and all of these people – both in Israel and in Indiana – imprinted me, shaped my identity as a Jew and as a Hoosier, and influenced the direction my life would take, both personally and professionally.

As the director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, I have the privilege of conveying the interests and concerns of the Indiana Jewish community to Hoosiers throughout the state. If I do my job well, I help people understand how – and why – the Jewish community is so committed to improving and protecting the lives of people living in two places that many call home: Indiana and Israel.

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Each year Spirit & Place partners with WFYI on a series of essays on the annual theme. Listen to them here.

WFYI Essay: “Coming Back from War.”

Coming Back From War
Ken Barger
Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, IUPUI

I came back from war, but didn’t really come home. While serving in Vietnam, a bullet once clipped my ear, and I thought, “Why are they trying to kill me? Don’t they know that I’m here to help them get freedom and democracy?” Another time in a helicopter, I looked out and saw death and destruction everywhere, and I thought, “You know, if I was a Vietnamese peasant I’d be out with the Viet Cong fighting the Americans.” I was shocked … what the hell had I just thought? Eventually I realized that they were not evil “communists,” but people fighting us foreign invaders who were destroying their lives and homes … just like we would do. I realized that this war had nothing to do with freedom and democracy. After that, it was tough to get through each day.

When I came back, I was a very different person, alone, isolated … a stranger to what had once been “home.” I had discovered that the worst of human nature could exist in me. I was angry at myself for what I had done, and at my government who had misled me. My homeland seemed strange, and for the first time I really saw racism, corporate greed, and political manipulation. Life didn’t make sense any more, and I didn’t know how to resolve the core ideals of my upbringing with the new realities I now saw.

It takes a lifetime to resolve this conflict. I cannot change the past, but I can try to change the future. I got involved with many social causes. When we were preparing to invade Iraq, I started sharing my Vietnam story. After one rally, I talked with a small group of high school students who had just enlisted, and asked them to not let what happened to me happen to them. Afterwards I was depressed, because I knew that there was nothing that could be done … it would happen anyway.

A few years ago, I went back to Vietnam. Former Viet Cong and NVA soldiers came up to me, shook my hand, said that we were friends now, and bought me a drink. Vietnam is now a thriving society, and I kept thinking that if we had just left them alone they would have reached this point many years sooner. I also thought that we are doing the same damn thing all over again in Iraq.

Today, when I hear voices of fear and hate and military force, I ask what kind of Americans will we be? Will we seek to be the best we can be as a people, and search for mutually constructive options to resolve the underlying causes of conflicts? Will we question who really benefits from our policies, and who really pays the costs? It is my hope that Americans will live up to the core values which we hold for ourselves and all human beings … the home that would never send us off to a meaningless war.