Indianapolis’ Inaugural Civic Saturday

by Karen Hurt

Saturday, April 28, Spirit & Place and partners hosted the first Civic Saturday outside of its founding city, Seattle. Hosted at the Glendale Library, several community members gathered together to learn, think and listen to one another about citizenship and its meaning. For more background on the structure of Civic Saturdays and what the event is, read this post here.

Spirit & Place’s program director Erin Kelley introduced the event, with Civic Scriptures and group singing to open the afternoon.

Kelley directly addressed the fact that many civic scriptures seem that they are not written for people outside of the white men who wrote them. However, she also encouraged us to separate the words themselves from the people who wrote them. The American experiment is still ongoing, and our system was designed for us to live in and feel tension between one another and our different ideas. Looking at the exact words that were written and thinking about them in the context of today was really enlightening. I really got a lot out of reading the exact words and excerpts provided without thinking about them in an academic setting or thinking about who wrote them.

The focus of this event was citizenship. Erin invited us to think about citizenship and different definitions of the word. We hear about it in the news as paperwork that connects people to the state where they live, which is generally a Western civilization concept.

I specifically was interested in the question Kelley posted about who gets to decide to be a good citizen. Does it have to do with documentation? Or participation? And does anything even matter beyond what the people around you perceive about your citizenship? We didn’t necessarily come to any specific conclusions, but it was enlightening to grapple with all of these questions.

There were also several moments where the group was encouraged to discuss what we had heard and how we understood or felt about it. In our small group circle, it seemed that a lot of our consensus was that the thing that matters most in citizenship is showing up for our neighbors and each other. While it was still clear that voting is one of the best things we as citizens can do to participate in civic life, it’s not the only thing. Participating in things like Civic Saturday discussions, helping neighbors or getting involved in things that can make the neighborhood better are also ways to be a good citizen. Often, those things are really more important in making our neighborhoods a better place and can be where more of a good citizenship discussion can come from.

Our group also felt that respecting others and really making time for the things we say our values are is paramount in being a good citizen. For example, if I say that I value taking care of my neighbors but don’t take the time to help the neighbor who can’t shovel the snow in front of her home, I’m not truly living the values of a good citizen.

While voting or running for office is very important to a functional democracy, Civic Saturday encouraged me to think about what else I’m doing to be a good citizen to those around me and to encourage others to be better citizens in every way possible as well.

The next Civic Saturday in Indianapolis is scheduled for July 28 at Central Library. Keep an eye on this blog and the Spirit & Place website, Facebook and Twitter for information about future Civic Saturdays or other ways to engage with Spirit & Place.


Mo*Con Intersections

by Maurice Broaddus

Coming up the weekend of May 4th, I will be hosting my twelfth Mo*Con. For the uninitiated, Mo*Con is a mini-writers conference that I host (“Maurice Convention”), bringing together speculative fiction writers from across the country for a weekend of conversations—sometimes hard conversations—all done over food. In a church. The conceit being that the church should be a safe place where people could question and discuss things.

Mo*Con exists in intersectionality. It began as a place to explore the intersection of faith and speculative fiction. The first Mo*Con featured horror writer Brian Keene giving his testimony of unbelief: how he has always struggled with the idea of God, why he has, and how it has played out in his fiction.

What I mean when I say intersectionality is that we are intersectional people, we exist in multiple dimentsions. I can’t separate me as a black man from the role faith plays in my life or how both impact my art. The sociological theory behind intersectionality recognizes that an individual’s identities overlap—age, race, sexuality, health, religion, etc.–and discrimination can follow. We can get caught up pursuing the interests of “part” of us while ignoring—or worse, at the expense of—another “part” of us. Which is why we’ve had Mo*Cons revolving around sexual identity and Christianity, mental health and the artist, atheism and art. Because to move forward, we have to realize we are all in this together, all parts of our identity.

This year Mo*Con will be held at the Switchboard, a community co-working space in Fountain Square. The event brings together partners such as Spirit & Place, the Kheprw Institute, and gROE Inc. Our guest of honor line up this year includes Lynne and Michael Thomas (editors of Uncanny Magazine), speculative fiction author/black feminist/social media icon Mikki Kendall, horror author John Urbancik, and agent Jen Udden. As a community, we’ll be discussing race, feminism, the business of art, fluid fiction, and protest through art. Which is how I see Mo*Con: at the intersection of faith and social justice; community and continued conversation.

Find more information about Mo*Con at this link.

A pre-Mo*Con event featuring Mikki Kendall and Chesya Burke will be held Thursday, May 3. Find more information and RSVP here.

The Intersection of Nursing and Spirit & Place

by Karen Lynch, Spirit & Place intern

Being an intern for the Spirit & Place Festival has been an adventure. I have learned about academia, nonprofits, my community, and myself. I first began working with Spirit & Place in the fall of 2016, helping to prepare for the upcoming Home festival; at the time I was an event management major. I was so excited to learn more about the industry of event planning and I was ecstatic to work with an organization who’s so focused on community. Throughout the next year and a half, I would learn the basics of the industry and have plenty of opportunities to network; but the greatest impact this internship has had on my life is that it taught me about my community, its assets and issues, and how to get involved.

I grew up in a town about 45 minutes west of Indianapolis, it is smaller and more rural than Indy and I grew up in a “bubble.” My parents are conservative, white Christians, and I love and respect them more than I can express, but I grew up not knowing the reality of what everyday life looks like to the average person living as a minority or living in poverty. As an intern at Spirit & Place I was able to meet a lot of people and groups whose sole purpose was to serve the underserved, and build platforms for them to improve their lives. Being exposed to these new ideas and people changed my opinion about my community and I realized a passion that I never knew existed; I want to help vulnerable people. There’s a lot of ways to do this, but for me the obvious choice was healthcare. So I took some difficult courses and spent some very late nights studying and applied not once, but twice to nursing school and was finally accepted.

Nursing is a wonderful and difficult profession, and I hope to make a difference in someone’s life in their most vulnerable moments. As a nurse I will take on many roles: caretaker, communicator, sympathizer, and most importantly, I will be an advocate for my patients when they can’t advocate for themselves. My internship at Spirit & Place has given me the foundation I need to succeed in many of these areas, and the rest I will learn along the way, in nursing school and in my career.

What Kind of Events Does the Festival Want?

By Erin Kelley

The three most frequent questions I hear this time of year are:

  • What is Spirit & Place?
  • What’s the deal with the theme?
  • What kind of events does the Spirit & Place Festival want?

Let me break it down!

Spirit & Place is YOU! We are nothing without this community’s passion for creating evocative events that enlighten, challenge, engage, and bring people together. Ultimately, Spirit & Place is a platform for you to experiment with new ideas, amplify your voice, and embark on radical collaborations. Of course, we believe using the arts, humanities, and religion is the best way to go about doing all this.

Each year we choose a different theme for the community to interpret and explore. There really is no “right” answer to what the theme means.

What we hope is that when you think about the 2018 theme, INTERSECTION, you think of places of meeting and of convergence. At the same time, we recognize that when ideas meet, it can sometimes get messy! Intersections are complex, but there is opportunity in the complexity. So, slow down and work together – ideally across sectors – to explore an intersection in a new and innovative way.

As for actual festival events? We want your best!

The Spirit & Place Festival provides you the opportunity to build up our community. For 10 days, Central Indiana residents are invited to share in a common experience built on exploration of a yearly theme. You have the power to help bring people together in dynamic ways all the while elevating the work you and other arts, humanities, religious, and/or community organizations do.

When submitting your event application . . .


  • Be inventive and collaborative. Get out of your silo and work with others to create something fresh.
  • Center the theme. Be clear on how your event is connected to the theme and how the audience will experience/reflect upon the theme. (2018 theme is INTERSECTION.)
  • Embrace the arts, humanities, & religion. Use one or more of these disciplines as a vehicle explore your idea.


  • Force what isn’t there. If you’re stretching to make a theme connection, don’t.
  • Ignore your audience. Invest the time in really talking about the needs, wants, and values of the audience you hope to attract.
  • Get lost in language. The application questions have word limits for a reason: To force succinct explanations. Be descriptive, but direct. Compelling, but concise.

Check out our partner resources for guidance as you plan your event and do not hesitate to contact us for assistance at

Remember, event applications are due Friday, April 20 at midnight!

Partner Resources:
Event application link:


Spirit & Place Statement on the Tunnel of Oppression

November 21, 2017

Dear Friends:

During the 2017 Spirit & Place Festival, a student-led event called “Tunnel of Oppression” at IUPUI contained information about the Middle East conflict that was factually inaccurate and lacked an appropriate framework to explore the complexities of this challenging issue.

We deeply regret that the event did not reflect the values of Spirit & Place to build bridges of understanding and promote civic conversation in an inclusive fashion, and for that we apologize. At this time Spirit & Place is thoroughly investigating this incident and coordinating with campus and community partners to consider procedural and programmatic measures to ensure that future events reflect our values of inclusion, fairness, and thoughtfulness. (Click here for more about our values.)

If you have further concerns, please contact Festival Director Pam Blevins Hinkle at 317-278-2644 or Thank you for your continued support of Spirit & Place.


Ken Honeywell
Steering Committee Chair

David J. Bodenhamer
Executive Director, The Polis Center

Pam Blevins Hinkle
Spirit & Place Director

Music & Theater events part of 2017 Spirit & Place Festival starting Nov. 5

22nd annual Spirit & Place Festival focuses on POWER Nov. 3-12

 WHAT: The Spirit & Place Festival returns in 2017 to explore the meaning behind “power” with 37 unique events throughout 10 days. These events take place across 32 venues with over 70 presenters, speakers and performers on Nov. 3-12. This year’s festival includes a selection of events that are centered on the art and power of music and theater.

Visit the website at for the full festival lineup, including these music and theater events below:


Sunday, November 5 – 2-3:30 p.m.

Power Chords: A Violinist’s Obsession with Bach
Presented by Colette Abel Colette Abel and Crown Hill Heritage Foundation

Crown Hill Cemetery – Gothic Chapel, 700 W. 38th St.
Violinist Colette Abel leads you on a musical journey through powerful masterpieces by J.S. Bach and Eugene Ysaye in Crown HIll’s intimate Gothic Chapel. 


Sunday, November 5 – 2-4 p.m.

What If? The Power of Imagination

Presented by JCC Indianapolis, Dance Kaleidoscope, Indiana Writers Center, Indiana Historical Society, and Jewish Family Services

Arthur M. Glick JCC – Laikin Auditorium, 6701 Hoover Rd.

High school and college writers exercise their imaginations through literary responses to “what if” scenarios inspired by the world we live in. Dance Kaleidoscope dancers as well as actors from the Indiana Historical Society will then interpret their creative responses.


Sunday, November 5 – 7-9 p.m.

Overcoming Addiction: The Paradox of Powerlessness and Power

Presented by Presented by Fairbanks; Indiana Addiction Issues Coalition; Art of Healing, Inc.; and Hope Academy.

Phoenix Theater – 749 N. Park Ave.

Witness the powerful grasp of addiction, the stigma of mental health diseases, and the healing power of recovery through a play, spoken word performance and discussion.


Thursday, November 9 – 6:30-8 p.m.

Using the Power of Music to Promote Health
Presented by Marianne Tobias Music Program at Eskenazi Health and the Indianapolis Children’s Choir.

Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital – Eli Lily Company Foundation Concourse, 720 Eskenazi Ave.

High-quality healthcare combines with the power of music to heal the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – at Eskenazi Health. Learn how music has the power to enhance health while enjoying a performance from the Indianapolis Children’s Choir.


Saturday, November 11 – 1-3 p.m.  

Rise Up Singing!

Presented by Earth Charter Indiana; Indianapolis Worker Justice Center; Desmond Tutu Center for Peace, Reconciliation, and Justice; and Christian Theological Seminary.

Christian Theological Seminary – 1000 W. 42nd St.

Lift your voice in song for historic and contemporary social justice causes: civil rights, worker justice, human equality and environmental protection. Participants will learn about the important role music has played in various social justice causes through video, discussion and group singing.