Q&A on the 2019 Festival: R/Evolution

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What is the Spirit & Place Festival?

The Spirit & Place Festival is a 10-day celebration created by and for our community! Since 1996, the festival has served as a platform for Central Indiana cultural organizations, artists, congregations and others to work together to create dynamic events focused on a yearly theme. All of these events use either the arts, humanities or religion to connect to theme and invite the public to wrestle with big ideas, think deeply and connect with one another.

What is your favorite part about the Spirit & Place Festival?

As the Program Director, I love it when applications to the festival begin hitting my email box. Every year I am impressed and inspired by the creativity of our community and their commitment to providing thought-provoking, fun and engaging offerings to the public.

Each festival has a theme – how is that theme reflected in the exhibits and events?

If you can imagine it, it’s probably been the festival! One of the great things about Spirit & Place is that it encourages experimentation and bold creativity. This means just about every event format you can think of has found its way into the festival over the years. You’ll usually find a few lectures, films and art exhibits in the festival line-up. But then there could be something really surprising, like in 2018, when the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra partnered with the Indy Lightsaber Academy to talk about the cultural significance of John Williams’ Star Wars score … and then taught actual lightsaber lessons on the stage of Hilbert Circle Theater!  

The 2019 festival’s theme is R/Evolution, what is the meaning behind this focus?

We really wanted to give folks a chance to explore the idea of “change.” Maybe that’s a sudden and abrupt change (e.g., revolution) or a slow, gradual and unfolding change (e.g. evolution). Regardless, we thought R/Evolution would give the community a chance to think about various changes that have happened over time, are happening now, and that still need to happen … and then what’s the best way for these changes to occur? When is evolution the prudent course and when does a cautious approach cause more harm than good? What happens when revolutions backfire? But what also happens when we’re not brave enough to make big changes? We hope this year’s festival will wrestle with these kinds of questions.

Can you give us a sneak peek into potential events for the 2019 festival?

This question will be answered after committee meeting on June 6.

How to Celebrate Indy Pride Week 2019

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In 1981, the first ever Indianapolis Pride event was held at the now gone Essex House Hotel, once located downtown. Many attendees arrived wearing masks to protect their identities because at that time, there weren’t any safe places for the LGBTQ+ community in Indianapolis.

Though there is still progress to be made, a lot has changed since then. Indianapolis has been home to many celebrations of Pride, from picnics, to festivals, dinners and more. Indy Pride Inc. helped Indianapolis’ Pride “come out of the closet” through numerous events, including the first annual Indy Pride festival in 2003. Today, the festival has grown to a week-long celebration featuring entertainment, vendors, parades and community-building events. With so much to do during this year’s Pride Week, we’ve narrowed it down to our favorite five events starting June 1, 2019:

Pet Pride – Saturday, June 1

Join fellow animal lovers at Riverside Park for one of the most adorable events on the Pride calendar! Whether or not you’re a pet parent, everyone is welcome to gather from noon to 3 p.m. for an afternoon of play and music centered around our furry friends. Local animal shelters, pet-centric business owners and nonprofit organizations will also be engaging with the community at this free event.

Community Picnic & Bat N’ Rouge, June 2

As we celebrate the 36th Anniversary of Pride Picnics, the 2019 Community Picnic will take place at Garfield Park from noon to 6 p.m., and is free to the entire community. Gather, eat, connect and celebrate Pride with friends and family, then join Indy’s Bag Ladies, the oldest HIV/AIDS fundraising group in Indiana, for the Bat N’ Rouge softball game starting at 3 p.m. Get your free ticket to the entire event here.

Indy Pride Music and Movie Night, June 5

Enjoy a summer evening in the Historic Military Park at White River State Park with entertainment, food and drinks. This event serves as the Pride of Indy’s Bands’ anniversary concert, and the group puts on show-stopping jazz, pep and concert band performances starting at 6 p.m. Following the concert, a family-friendly movie will be screened to cap off the perfect night of free entertainment!

Cadillac Barbie IN Pride Parade, June 8

Named after the Indy Pride Bag Lady alter-ego of Gary Brackett, the founder of Indy’s Pride Parade, the 2019 event will be the biggest yet! Indy’s first ever Pride Parade lasted just 15 minutes and featured one float, an antique truck, a few drag queens, some antique cars and a couple walking groups. This year’s free parade down Mass Ave will feature well over 140 floats, vehicles and walking groups and will last from 10 a.m. to noon

Indy Pride Festival, June 8

As the culmination of Indy Pride week, the Indy Pride Festival is a celebration you won’t want to miss. The event starts following the Pride Parade and runs all day long with performances from popular artists including Lizzo, Monet x Change, Dev, Blair St. Clair and more! Held at White River State Park, the festival has activities all ages will enjoy. Get tickets here.

Find more details about these events and other Pride Week happenings at indypride.org.

5 Easy Health Tests You Can Do Yourself

The 20th annual National Women’s Health Week kicks off on May 12, 2019 and is celebrated through May 18. This week serves as a reminder to make your health a priority, and to build positive habits for life. Focusing on health doesn’t have to be time consuming – here are five easy self-assessments provided by Every Day Health and Women’s Health Magazine that you can do at home, some of which take less than a minute.

1.) The Skin Test – performed once a month

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S., but is also the easiest to see. Regular skin self-exams may catch early signs of cancer at stages that are treatable and even curable. Inspect every inch of your body, from your scalp to the soles of your feet, using a full-length or hand-held mirror. Even if an area isn’t often exposed to the sun, it should still be included in your inspection. Look for the appearance of or changes in moles, and get anything suspicious checked out by a dermatologist as soon as possible.

2.) The Waist Test – performed every three to four months

Your waist circumference is a large indicator of future risk for many health conditions, as fat around your belly has been linked to heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Even if you are at a healthy body mass index and weight, waist size is considered to be the best indicator of potential health risk. In general, women are healthiest when their waist is less than 35 inches. To measure your waist, encircle a soft tape measure around your body at the level of your belly button, making sure the tape is snug, but not tight. Remeasure your waist circumference every three to four months and assess any changes.

3.) The Breast Test – performed once a month

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists stresses the importance of “breast self-awareness” among women over age 20. Ideally, you should be familiar with your breasts’ normal appearance and feel so you can notice any changes. Simply assessing the area when taking off your bra or washing in the shower is a great way to look for any changes in your breasts, such as dimpling, puckering, redness, swelling, rash or pain. Performing this self-check in addition to staying up-to-date with necessary doctor’s exams is a great way to detect any complications before they become serious.

4.) The Pulse Test – performed once a month

Your heart rate can provide important insight into overall heart health. Place your index and third finger on the side of your neck or wrist and count the number of beats in 15 seconds. Multiply that number by four to find your heart rate. To get an accurate reading, perform the test when you first wake up or after a period of time in which you haven’t been exercising to ensure you are measuring your true resting heart rate. A normal reading falls between 60 and 100 beats per minute, and anything in the 110s or 120s could be cause for a trip to the doctor. However, don’t jump to conclusions based on one reading – instead look for a pattern over time by testing once a month.

5.) The Height Test – performed once a year

Measuring your height is an easy way to keep tabs on how healthy your bones are – a loss of height may be an early sign of osteoporosis. If you notice any significant drops in height, you may want to talk to your doctor. In the meantime, make sure you’re getting enough calcium through dairy products and green, leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli. Weight-bearing exercises like walking, running, jogging and lifting weights can also help strengthen your bones.

5 Things to do in Indy for Earth Day 2019

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1.) 30th Annual Earth Day Indiana Festival hosted by Earth Day Indiana
Celebrate Earth Day on Saturday, April 20 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at one of the largest and most successful Earth Day festivals in the U.S. At the 30th Annual Earth Day Indiana Festival, you can explore over 125 exhibitor tables, listen to live music, grab lunch from local food trucks or vendors, visit the Children’s tent, and much more, all right downtown at the historic Military Park! Learn more about the festival, and find a list of exhibitors by visiting Earth Day Indiana’s website.

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2.) Spring Refresh: Earth Day hosted by Newfields
Get out of the house and enjoy everything nature has to offer with Newfields! The Earth Day Spring Refresh event on Saturday, April 27 is about appreciating our planet with all things green and earthy – from flowers to plants to fabrics and paints. Join other participants from 5 – 8 p.m. in experimenting with sustainable materials, and pick up a few tricks on how to shrink your carbon footprint! This event is free with admission to the Newfields Gardens and includes snacks and music.

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3.) Earth Day Recycle Run hosted by Earth Day Indiana
Are you looking to help the environment and get a good workout in this Earth Day? Then both the Earth Day Recycle Run and the Earth Day Virtual 5K or 10K are for you! The Recycle Run is part of the Earth Day Indiana Festival on Saturday, April 20, and offers a 5K run/walk, or a one-mile walk starting and ending at Military Park at White River State Park. All races start at noon, with courses that take you along the scenic White River. This run is focused on generating as little waste as possible, and participants are strongly encouraged to bring their own reusable water bottles. Register to run or walk here!

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4.) Indianapolis Sustainability Summit hosted by Sustain Indy and IUPUI Sustainability
On Wednesday, April 17, the second annual Sustainability Summit will bring together hundreds of leaders within Indianapolis’s business, nonprofit and civic communities to develop a roadmap for meeting our city’s sustainability goals. The 2019 event is designed to start discussions on how Indianapolis residents can contribute on individual levels to help the city meet its climate goals. Experts within the sustainability field will speak, 16 workshops will be set up to engage all participants, and sustainability scholarships and awards will be given throughout the day. Register and learn more about this groundbreaking event hosted at the IUPUI Campus Center here.

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5.) April Great Indy Cleanup hosted by Keep Indianapolis Beautiful

Join Keep Indianapolis Beautiful on Saturday, April 27 from 9 a.m. to noon for the annual April Great Indy Cleanup, focusing this year on the Christian Park neighborhood. This year, volunteers can take their pick of three projects: to “keep it clean” by participating in street and alleyway cleanup, to “keep it beautiful” by installing new mulch around the park’s playground, community buildings, entrances and mural, or to “keep it green” by helping with a large-scale native plant installation of 87 new trees to line the park’s waterway. Breakfast and free T-shirts will be provided. Sign up here.

In 1970, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson organized the first Earth Day to bring attention to conservation issues. Since then, the holiday has grown into an international movement to help conserve, sustain and rebuild local, national and global environments. Today, Indianapolis is a leading city in this movement, and there are many ways you can participate in this year’s 49th celebration of Earth Day on April 22.

New Year, New Books

Now that the 2019 is upon us, you may need some new books to add to your list. Here, we’ve compiled a few of our favorites.

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Coming Back to Life: The Updated Guide to the Work that Reconnects

Authors: Joanna Macy and Molly Brown

This book is often referred to as a “timeless map for Earth healers” as they offer a guide for connecting with our suffering so we can discover and release our actionable compassion for the world.

Recommended by: Pam Blevins Hinkle, Director at Spirit & Place

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The Hate U Give 

Author: Angie Thomas

This is a young adult book that was recently turned into a movie in late 2018. It explores how a teen girl’s life is changed when she witnessed the fatal shooting of a childhood friend by the police. More about the movie here.

Recommended by: LaShawnda Crowe Storm, Spirit & Place Community Engagement Director

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1947: Where Now Begins

Author: Elisabeth Asbrink

1947 is a memoir not of a person but of a year. Elisabeth Asbrink divides the book into months and recalled the happenings connected to specific people and places. The brilliance of 1947 lies within the comparison of the past and future. We can study the past, but not change it. We’d like to believe we can shape the future, but we cannot control what it will ultimately be. This book is a great read for history lovers.

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Sacred Economics: Money, Gift and Society in the Age of Transition 

Author: Charles Eisenstein

This book traces the history of money revealing how the money system has contributed to alienation, competition and scarcity. It follows these trends through to today as society may find great opportunity in the wake of their collapse. Sacred Economics is offered on a “pay what you want” basis and also as a hardcover.

Recommended by: Pam Blevins Hinkle, Director at Spirit & Place

Reflections on Winter holidays

I was raised Christian—American Baptist specifically—and I love Christmas. The most potent memories are, not surprisingly for me, filled with singing. The Christmas Eve service at the First Baptist Church in Franklin, Indiana, was especially magical. There were carols, choirs, string instruments, organ, candlelight and the story of Jesus’ birth. Together, it made me weep with joy and hope for the world.

I still love Christmas music, and yeah, I probably start listening to it way too early. My favorite CD right now is “More Joyful Sounds” by North Central High School’s Counterpoints. My eyes fill up when I listen to those young people (many of whom I know) sing, and I know that the world is going to be okay because of the light they carry.

For the last 13 years, I’ve celebrated this darkest season of the year with the annual Winter Solstice Celebration, an earth-affirming, non-denominational event presented by Central Indiana Unitarian Universalists. This free, family-friendly evening has the things I love from my childhood celebrations—choir, crowd singing, strings (cello specifically), stories, candlelight—with the addition of tingsha (a small cymbal used in Tibetan Buddhist prayer), West African drums, raucous clapping and aisle dancing (voluntary, of course), stretches of meditative silence (always with babies chirping because this is for EVERYONE), a stunning altar in the center of the room created by local artists, and a large feast to conclude this festive night of sound and spirit.

I always—ALWAYS—come away feeling different … centered, grounded, and whole. This celebration helps me honor the darkness (that’s where seeds grow after all), celebrate the Light, and reclaim the communal joy that is too often missing in our lives.

However you name that Light, where ever you find that Light, and however you mark this season, I wish you joy and peace, and yes, singing!

Pam Blevins Hinkle
Director, Spirit & Place
(and also music coordinator for Winter Solstice Celebration, co-director of SongSquad, and co-founder, Indy Justice Choir)