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.”


Upcoming Event Features: Indiana Bicentennial

Slow Saunter Hike/Next Indiana Campfire
Saturday, November 5, 2—5pm
Morgan-Monroe State Forest
6220 Forest Rd., Martinsville
$10 per person, RSVP by Nov. 2 (limit 40 per hike)
317-602-3692 /
Presented by the Indiana Forest Alliance and Indiana Humanities

Experience nature directly and encounter big ideas while hiking and discussing the works of noted environmental writers.

As part of the Indiana Forest Alliance’s Slow Saunter hiking series, which aims to inspire advocacy for Indiana’s forests, and Indiana Humanities’ Next Indiana Campfires, which connects nature, literature, and the Hoosier bicentennial, this hike and campfire discussion will explore the enduring yet often fraught relationship we have with the natural environment.

Transportation to Martinsville is on your own and upon arrival you will be greeted and given a short history of Morgan-Monroe State Forest before venturing out on a guided 3-mile hike. Along the way, you’ll pause to read aloud the words of important environmental thinkers. Imagine 15 minutes of walking, 5 minutes of reading, followed by more walking and reading over the course of 90 minutes. A forest ecologist will also join the group to answer questions about flora and fauna along the trail.

Following the hike we’ll gather for a 90-minute campfire meal and discussion led by University of Indianapolis English professor Kevin McKelvey connecting the ideas of nature and home. The two readings include “Wilderness Letter,” Pulitzer-winning author Wallace Stegner’s landmark 1960 essay in praise of untouched wilderness, and “Stone,” an essay by Susan Neville from her 1994 book Indiana Winter.

RSVP by November 2 at
screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-2-13-42-pmFinding Home: Indiana at 200
Saturday, November 5, 4pm & 8pm
Sunday, November 6, 2pm
Tuesday. November 8, 6:30pm
Wednesday, November 9, 7:30pm
Thursday, November 10, 7:30pm
Saturday, November 12, 5pm & 9pm
Sunday, November 13, 2pm
Indiana Repertory Theatre, Upperstage
140 W. Washington St.
IndyGo: 2, 4. 11,12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 24, 25, 28, 31, 38, 39, 55

Tickets start at $25—Order at or by calling 317-635-5252
Presented by Indiana Repertory Theatre and Indiana Historical Society

A multifaceted look at Indiana’s life and times mixes music and history, comedy and drama, fact and fable.  

Finding Home: Indiana 200 is a collaboration of more than 30 Indiana writers—fiction writers, poets, journalists, historians and playwrights—from across the state coming together to celebrate the 200th birthday of Indiana. Interwoven with songs performed by Hoosier singer-songwriter Tim Grimm, this production allows you to delve into Indiana’s beloved icons and hidden gems.

This original production showcases many notable stories about our home state—from Princess Mishawaka, the daughter of Chief Elkhart to Madame C.J. Walker, the nation’s first African American female millionaire. Audience members will journey back in time with Abe Lincoln as he takes his first steps towards becoming a lawyer and with James Dean as he visits his high school drama teacher. Share in the memories of a middle-aged man recalling what it was like going to high school with Ryan White and eavesdrop on a conversation between William Henry Harrison and one of his descendants, eight generations later. Unique, engaging, and rooted in our shared history as Hoosiers, Finding Home: Indiana at 200 is a bicentennial treat for all!

Purchase tickets at or by calling 317-635-5252


There’s No Place Like Home: Love Letters to Planet Earth
Saturday, November 12, 1—3:30pm
Orchard School
615 W. 64th St.
IndyGo: 28
317-835-9827 /

Presented by Elders Climate Action, The Orchard School, The Nature Conservancy, and Youth Power Indiana

Youth and elders come together to learn from each other and explore the different ways we share and care for our home, planet earth.

Dorothy knew the truth: “There’s no place like home.” Since planet earth is our only home, how we treat it matters. We are more than mere sojourners passing through without consequence. Our choices about the earth affect our lives, our children’s lives, and grandchildren’s lives. Let’s work across generational lines to be the best stewards of the earth we can be!

This intergenerational event invites you to learn from today’s youth as well as from the wisdom of elders. Third grade students from The Orchard School as well as other area schools will kick off the gathering by reading love letters to the earth. Older students will then present on climate education topics such as Climate Recovery.  (They’ll also be happy to swap stories on how they have achieved policy victories in IPS!) Afterwards, older attendees will be invited to write their own love and action letters while youth learn about the new Children of Indiana Nature Park. When the two groups recommence, some of the elders will read their love letters to the next generation.

This event gives a voice to the young and energizes elders to exercise their power to protect and preserve. United, these generations can teach and learn from each other.  Begin with love, and anything is possible.

Walk-ins welcome. RSVPs requested at

Upcoming Event Features: Veterans and Homelessness

A Place to Call Home: A Workshop Where You Can Help End Homelessness
Thursday, November 10, 9am—3pm
Indiana Interchurch Center
1100 W. 42nd Street
IndyGo: 34
FREE, RSVP by Nov. 7 (Limit 150)
317-472-7638 or

Presented by Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention (CHIP), Veterans Homelessness Task Force, Community Education and Public Policy Committee of the Continuum of Care, and IU Public Policy Institute.

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-3-25-05-pmHow can Indianapolis end homelessness? Tell us what you think in this unique town hall meeting and workshop to create a community plan.

Home means different things to different people. At its core home is about safety, comfort, community, and belonging. We believe that everyone in Indianapolis deserves a home. Unfortunately, 5,000 – 8,300 individuals experience homelessness in our community annually.

The Blueprint 3.0 will be our community’s plan toward the goal of ending homelessness. This dynamic plan weaves together community input, best practices, research, and data to develop practical strategies to end homelessness. We invite you to provide your voice to this process that will help more people experience “home” and make Indianapolis a better place for all of our residents.

This day-long workshop is geared for service providers and concerned community members alike. Nationally recognized expert on homelessness Dr. Dennis Culhane of the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice will be the featured speaker. Visit the Spirit & Place website ( for a full schedule, including speaker details.

RSVP’s required by Nov. 7, includes continental breakfast and lunch. Guests have the option of RSVPing for the Town Hall session (9am-12pm), Workshop (12—3pm), or both.


Rebuilding Home: Moral Injury to Soul Repair
Thursday, November 10, 1—2:30pm and 6—7:30pm
Athenaeum Auditorium
401 E. Michigan St.
IndyGo: 3, 5, 10, 11, 17 and 21
317-966-7529 /

Presented by The Sapphire Theatre Company, Athenaeum Foundation, Valiant Seed, Heartland Yoga Center for Education and Research, and Brite Divinity School Soul Repair Center.

Interactive performance designed to foster healthy communication and re-connection for military members, veterans, families, and friends.

Serving in the U.S. Military is honorable and praise-worthy. Unfortunately, many come home with invisible wounds that leave them deeply conflicted by experiences contrary to their moral beliefs. If unresolved, these moral injuries can result in depression and guilt that break down one’s mental health and home-life. Rebuilding a Home is a performance with guided conversations to shine a spotlight on the signs and symptoms of moral injury, to explore communication techniques, and to offer helpful ideas for military families to reconnect—ideas they can use in celebrating together the following day, Veteran’s Day.

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-3-25-42-pmRebuilding a Home is an extension of The Sapphire’s award-winning, interactive PICTURE THIS program, delivering impactful learning in an entertaining way since 1984. Audiences will be engaged by live enactments of real-life scenarios with opportunities to talk directly with the characters. The Sapphire is collaborating with veterans and vital community partners to ensure authenticity, relevance, event-day support and on-going resources.  Presentation includes stress reduction techniques and trained on-site Listeners to assist struggling audience members.

Walk-ins welcome. Free, limit space childcare available through the YMCA at the Athenaeum. Childcare reservations must be requested at

Writing Home: The Stories of American Veterans in Words and Dance
Friday, November 11, 10am—11:30am AND 1pm—2:30pm
Theater at the Fort
8920 Otis Ave.
IndyGo: 4

Sunday, November 13, 10am—11:30pm AND 1:30—3pm
Arthur M. Glick JCC
6701 Hoover Rd.
IndyGo: 28

FREE, RSVP by Nov. 11
317-715-9240 /

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

Theater, spoken word, and movement performed by Dance Kaleidoscope and veterans will evoke a sense of wonder, understanding, and appreciation for all.

Get a personal glimpse at what veterans think and feel through this multidiscipline endeavor that provides veterans an opportunity to share their feelings and express themselves through written and spoken word and creative movement. This unforgettable experience will tie the past, present and future together allowing people to ponder and experience “home” in a unique way.

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-3-26-27-pmAs attendees enter the auditorium, they will hear music and will be asked to share thoughts about “home” and a veteran they know. Or, if they are a veteran, their own thoughts of home. A postcard on each chair may be used as a conversation prompt before a brief museum theater piece brings to life a series of letters from the IHS Collections between Norman Vandivier, an Indiana naval aviator stationed in the Pacific during WWII, and his parents.

The event is cap stoned by the readings of veterans previously involved in writing workshops with the Indiana Writer’s Center. Their words are followed by creative dance interpretations created and performed by Dance Kaleidoscope. All are invited to remain after the program, enjoy refreshments, and share thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

Learn from the veterans and be provided with an unforgettable experience that will tie the past, present and future together allowing people to ponder and experience “home” in a unique way.

RSVP by Nov. 11 at

The Things They Brought Home: Military Tattoos
Saturday, November 12, 3—5pm
Indianapolis Art Center
820 E. 67th St.
IndyGo: 17
255-2464 /

Presented by Indianapolis Art Center, Veterans in Industries and Arts, and Indiana Writers Center

This interactive art exhibition explores the veteran experience, tattoos, and the concept of the “body as home” through photography, writing, and panel discussion.

Military personnel put their bodies—the homes of their spirit and self-identity—at risk for others. Their tattoos can be a form of self-expression that allows the world a glimpse into what they cherish most or will never forget.

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-3-27-01-pmThe Things They Brought Home will amaze visitors with original and striking photographs of tattooed veterans along with their writings or oral histories. The images and stories give visitors a unique look into the experiences of military personnel. The accounts written by veterans and active duty service personnel will encourage visitors to reflect on happy and humorous stories as well as hard and difficult memories.

In addition, interactive experiences, such as a photo booth and a response board, will allow visitors to share their own tattoo stories. Tattoo artists will demonstrate tattoo designs and provide historical and contemporary context on the art of tattooing. Veteran service providers will be on hand to share information and a panel discuss at 3:30pm will feature photographers, veterans, and others speaking about their experiences.

Walk-ins welcome. RSVPs requested at


Know the Flow

By Erin Kelley

The Spirit & Place application asks you to:

Describe the flow of your event. What will the audience actually experience from beginning to end? What will they see, hear, and do? What order will things occur? No dreamy language here! Give us the nuts & bolts details of how you envision your event actually working.

In 250 words, we want to know what the audience will actually and physically experience at your event.

We ask this for two reasons. One reason is to encourage you to thoughtfully consider, from the earliest stages, how you will create a welcoming and inclusive environment from the moment guests hit your door to the moment they leave. We also ask this question so that the Selection Committee can picture in their minds what will happen during your event compared to other events. This helps them curate a well-rounded festival filled with a variety of experiences.

ISO Event 072015-90

Here’s a good example from the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s 2015 application:

Flow: Following an introduction to the historic Hilbert Circle Theatre, participants will be divided into their self-designated groups: performers and audience members.  

Performers will be greeted by Metropolitan Youth Orchestra faculty and members of the MYO (ages 10 – 18) who will sit side-by-side with the participants. Each guest will receive a violin, viola or cello to play for the night. Our guests and their student helpers will take the stage to learn the basics of holding their instruments and playing a few key notes. Guests who are rusty but have played before will be given more advanced parts to match their appropriate skill levels and will receive additional instruction with an MYO faculty member during the rehearsal.

While the performers are on stage rehearsing, their guests will be in another part of the building getting behind-the-scenes insights into the world of professional music making. 

Following a one-hour rehearsal, all will reconvene in the concert hall as orchestra and audience for a performance of the Canon in D on the stage of Hilbert Circle Theatre. Professional violinist and MYO teacher Jesse Hawkins, will perform as soloist. 

In celebration, we will adjourn to the lobby for a toast and reception.

A tool you might use in helping you think through the event space and how it will be used is the “Venue Checklist” we created. Find it on our Partner’s Resource page.



Venue Checklist:

Partner’s Page: