What Does the Festival Want?

By Erin Kelley


The question I hear the most when individuals and organizations begin planning their Spirit & Place Festival application is, “What does the festival want?”

We want unique events that engage as broad of a swath of the public as possible in reflection and discussion of the yearly theme. We want you to partner with others so that multiple perspectives inform the content of your event as well as its format and design. We want you to help bridge new understandings between people so that they might feel more connected to Central Indiana—our shared “place.” We want you to use the festival as an opportunity to stretch yourselves creatively, collaboratively, intellectually, and spiritually. We want your best.

And, yeah, we know that’s a lot!

After digesting all those festival “wants,” I think it is also useful for community partners to step back and ask themselves what they want.

  • What do you want to give?
  • What do you want to get?
  • Who do you want to reach through this event?
  • Why do you want to reach this audience?
  • What is THE MOST IMPORTANT thing you want to achieve by being in the Spirit & Place Festival?

Taking the time to think about and discuss these questions is an important first step in identifying how you and your partners might positively impact the community, as well as your own organizations or creative endeavors, through the festival.

As you begin your planning process, please make use of the partner resources we have available on the Spirit & Place website that can help you dig into these questions. And never hesitate to contact us for assistance at festival@iupui.edu.


Ask themselves what they want: http://www.spiritandplace.org/spwebresources/2016/PART%202%20Audience%20&%20Achievements.pdf

Partner Resources: http://www.spiritandplace.org/Festival.aspx?access=Partners

Plan for Miracles

Win Blevins is an award-winning writer and dedicated follower of his dreams. He’s also my Dad, and in 1994, he said three words to me that changed everything.

Twenty years ago, my family was living in an old dairy farm that had been transformed into a church just north of Pittsburgh, PA. We lived in the old milk house, spent hours swinging on the porch, petting bunnies and discovering fairy rings in the woods. But while the environment appeared peaceful, my insides were roiling with the mismatch between who I was and who I wanted to become.

Win's shirt translated from French means play, dance, eat, repeat.

Win’s shirt translated from French means play, dance, eat, repeat.

Enter Dad.

Shortly after arriving for a visit, he took a walk and returned with a perfectly straight stick as thick as my index finger and about a foot long. Without explaining why, he asked me to write down one-line prayers on a sheet of paper. (And though I’m comfortable with such a task now, back then it felt, um, weird.)

Without reading it, he tore each line from the sheet, curled it around the stick, and wound richly colored yarn around my prayers. At the end of the day, he solemnly handed me a beautiful prayer stick covered in red, blue, green, and golden yarn, and said, “Plan for miracles.”

Plan for miracles? That was a head-scratcher. Can you plan for a miracle? A miracle is something inexplicably wonderful and surprising, perhaps even divine. But you can’t count on them; you can’t build them into your plan. Or can you?

Many of my prayers on that stick were about making music. That simple intention started a steady stream of answered prayers. It got me directing and producing, improvising and chanting, composing and arranging, and it introduced me to countless artists, musicians, poets, dancers, and people of faith whose creativity and spirituality are inseparable. Miraculous? Oh, yeah.

Naming and claiming your dream—whether you call it a prayer, a vision, or an intention—is a powerful and prophetic act. Twenty-one years later, that prayer stick still calls me to make music and calls me out when I don’t. And it reminds me, again and again, to plan for miracles.

Thanks, Dad.

Pam Blevins Hinkle is a musician and director of Spirit & Place, which celebrates the theme of DREAM during it’s annual festival from November 6-15, 2015. Pam recently received the IUPUI Inspirational Woman Award in the staff category. Pam’s father Win Blevins is an award-winning author of more than 30 books and is the 2015 recipient of the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Contributions to Western Literature. The award is given by Western Writers of America as its highest honor.

The Playful Side of a Dish


Neal Brown

Neal Brown

By Neal Brown

There are few things I love more than developing a new dish.  And while it can be, and usually is, a lot of work, it is also one of the more playful exercises we chefs do as part of our jobs.

The thing I really enjoy the most about the inception of a new dish is a practice called “flavor bouncing”. You start with a base ingredient and work outward with complimentary and seasonal ingredients to create a cohesive dish.

“Chefs work very hard, and there is a lot of pressure to create a perfect dish each and every time.”

We do this in a graphical fashion similar to “mind mapping,” where you basically connect the components by their ability to PLAY well with the other ingredients. So, in this case, if I want to use Wild Atlantic Cod as my featured ingredient, I then look at what is in season, and that compliments the flavor of the Cod.  In this instance, I use Butternut Squash, Kale, Cauliflower, Chard, and Mushrooms. While any of these things could and do go with Cod, I also have to think about what will appeal to a broad base.

“The creative process is the greatest form of play that we chefs have. It is what inspires us and pushes us to constantly create.”

Once I have the seasonal ingredients mapped out, I then begin to play with different ways to treat the ingredients. In this case, I have decided to use a vegetable peeler and thinly slice the squash to create Butternut Squash “pasta,” thin noodles of squash that will resemble papparedelle pasta. Not only will they look like pasta but because of the starch content, they will also behave like pasta, helping to thicken the sauce when cooked. FUN RIGHT!?

Mapping the seasonal ingredients

Mapping the seasonal ingredients

This is such an important part of being a chef. But it is also really, really satisfying. Chefs work very hard, and there is a lot of pressure to create a perfect dish each and every time. The creative process is where we can create a dish for ourselves, before we go through the editing process to make it approachable for the people that we serve.  The creative process is the greatest form of play that we chefs have. It is what inspires us and pushes us to constantly create. Creating is my ultimate form of play, and it is what keeps me up at night, and gets me out of bed in the morning.

Neal Brown’s bio is available here.