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]

WFYI Essay: “HOME” by Carla Salle, spoken-word artist

I have moved 48 times in my life. That is more times than years I have been alive.

I have been homeless 5 times in my life.That is five times more than anyone should ever bear.

I have lived home free once. For those of you who don’t know what that is; we’ll get to that later.

Webster defines home as:

  1. The place (such as a house or apartment) where a person lives
  2. A family living together in one building, house, etc.
  3. A place where something normally or naturally lives or is located

If home is a location then I must’ve died 6 times so far because I existed nowhere.

If home is a family living together in one building then all the times I was separated from my mother as a child or all the years I lived alone as an adult must’ve meant I didn’t exist for much of my lifetime.

If home is a place where one lives that must mean I have 48 identities wrapped up into just one word.

Words are powerful aren’t they? Like, when I say homeless … Do I look like the ideal of that word in your mind? What do you see? It doesn’t look pretty does it? Your image might be unclean, unkempt, begging, annoying, smelly, a nuisance or a myriad of other adjectives that don’t add up to being human.

But, what happens when I say an individual who doesn’t have a place to live right now…? It kinda changes things, doesn’t it?

The first time I was homeless was when I was 11 years old. My mother just left an abusive relationship and we moved from shelter to shelter and ate from dumpsters in between. We found that Dunkin Donuts bagged all their day old donuts separately from their other trash so that became a regular meal. We lived in Florida at the time so showering was easy. You just had to walk to a lawn that was being watered. The only trick was to make sure chemicals weren’t being added through the sprinkler system.

Most of the time we got kicked out of shelters because my stepdad somehow found us and it posed a threat to the other families. Once we got kicked out because I cried. Not just a little cry, but a for the first time in 6 years type of cry because I wasn’t going to let my abuser see me cry type of cry that wasn’t done until it was done type of cry that was considered unstable and a nuisance.

Before that, my mother worked three jobs and rode her bike to every one of them. You just can’t do that when you have nowhere for your child to be while you’re doing it.

There were nights like the first one on the streets when someone stole our shoes while we were sleeping that I swear my mother looked at me with resentment for showing the social worker my bruises.

Then, there were others, like Charlie. He was a sweet old man who taught us things like how to use your shoes as pillows so they won’t get stolen and the places to stay away from because they snatch children for the market round there and you’ll lose more than your shoes if you’re not careful.

Eventually we found an address back to where our roots began in Indiana.

Then, when I was sixteen I found my dad. It’s funny how as a kid you think that your father, however absent he may be, will be the hero of your life story. When I found him he was home free. He chose to live on the streets comfortably. It is where he felt most safe.

When he was a kid, home was with his mother, but the state didn’t see it that way. Every foster home they put him in was a chance for him to escape and find her.

When he came back into our lives he was more concerned with my mother than me. They got back together and moved my grandmother in and consequently, me out on the streets.

And you can’t rent a car or sign a lease at 17 so having a job wasn’t as much of a safety net as you might think. So here I was sleeping at the drive-in, living in my car, taking $5 showers at the nearest truck stop and life was hard.

Now mind you the weather was turning cold and I wasn’t quite yet eighteen years old. And I still didn’t have a roof over my head. That was, at least, until this man asked me to marry him. Now I asked God to turn a deaf ear as I said I do because I was marrying a man that I barely knew. And this man turned out to be as crazy as the man my momma married before. For that man beat me senseless and kept me under a locked door.

And just when I thought I couldn’t get out of this mess that man went to jail overnight and I fled. And for the first time in my life found myself home-free. As it turned out having an address wasn’t worth the price it cost me. The streets are sometimes safer and more comfortable than staring at a ceiling at night. Sometimes the elements are less abrasive to your health than your family.

But no matter how angry I was at my dad, during that time, I felt more connected to him than ever before. Suddenly and abruptly, I understood him.

I felt more at home disconnected from all that was supposed to support me than I did anywhere in the world. I found on the streets that home is not an address, but a state of mind. It is a connection to who you are. It is knowing what you will deal with and what you are willing to give up to walk away from places you thought were home in order to keep your sanity.

Home is the place you see inside your mind when you meditate.

When I was a little girl before I ever questioned what home was, when my stepdad used to hurt me, I would drift off in my mind to safety.

There was a big tree in the middle of a green field full of purple flowers and dandelions where a tiny white dog would pull on my lacy white dress and we would run and play until we couldn’t breathe anymore. We would seek refuge under that tree as the sun would begin to set and peek through its branches. It was there that I knew I was with God. It was under that tree where I would fall to peaceful slumber every night and through every fight and every physical pain, every element my body has weathered. Through 5 losses of existence, one stint being home free, and 48 identity crises.

Home has always been just like old man Charlie said – What you make it.

When my son asks me what home was like when I little I will tell him of the adventures of a little girl playing in a field with her little white dog until the sun set through her favorite tree.

= = = =

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

Yelp Salutes Our Troops

November 11th is Veterans Day, and Yelp Indy wants to salute those who have served our country by highlighting 11 local businesses that honor our military community. Did you know that military families will move up to 2x more than average families? With Yelp’s Salutes Our Troops initiative, our goal is to connect the local military community with local businesses by helping them discover military discounts within the Indianapolis area.

Check out these local businesses below that offer discounts to our fellow veterans:

Photo from incycleindy.com

Photo from incycleindy.com

 

 

InCycle

Need to relieve some stress and burn some calories? InCycle offers a diverse blend of classes to give you the best challenging and rewarding work out. With the blend of weight training, core work, and cycling, you better bet you’ll sweat!

Military Discount: 20% off InCycle ride packs. *Must show Military ID.

Photo by Yelper Katie U.

Photo by Yelper Katie U.

 

Conner Prairie

Take a day trip to one of the largest attractions in the region and one of the most visited outdoor museums in the country. Guests can ride in the hot air balloon that is lifted 350 ft above the ground, take a nature walk through the woods and water, or enjoy front row access to the working farm at Conner Prairie.

Military Discount: Active-duty, retired, and veteran military get in free, while immediate family members get a 50% discount. *Must show Military ID; only applies to general daytime admission.

Photo from littlegypsie.com

Photo from littlegypsie.com

LittleGypsie Boutique

From headbands to oversized jewelry to maxi dresses, this bohemian-inspired boutique offers a fun and unique experience to express your inner beauty. The LittleGyspie studio is located in Noblesville and is open Thursday through Saturday.

Military Discount: 10% off anything online with some exclusions in store to veterans. *Must be 18+, excludes a few hello apparel, poppy & pout beauty products. Must show military ID.

Photo from indianamuseum.org

Photo from indianamuseum.org

Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites

Explore the exhibits and participate in hands-on experiences at this world-class institution that highlights the stories and individuals who have shaped the history of our state.

Military Discount: Active military can receive free admission year-round, while their families can get in at a group rate.

Photo by Yelper Chris F.

Photo by Yelper Chris F.

General American Donut Company

Made with only the freshest and finest ingredients, these donuts are like no other. General American Donut Company handcrafts their donuts daily and uses no preservatives or pre-made mixes. You donut want to miss out!

Military Discount: Any active military or veteran can receive a free donut.

Photo from Avalon Executive Transportation of Indiana Facebook page

Photo from Avalon Executive Transportation of Indiana Facebook page

Avalon Executive Transportation of Indiana

Cruise around the city in style with Indy’s reliable and high-quality executive transportation service. No matter what the occasion, Avalon Executive Transportation can get you there!

Military Discount: 15% off total price of ride. *Must show military ID.

Photo by Yelper Jared C.

Photo by Yelper Jared C.

CrossFit Infiltrate

Recently named the 15th best gym in America by Men’s Fitness, CrossFit Infiltrate is located right on the canal in Indy. Challenge your strength and ability with Indy’s CrossFit classes that offer top of the line equipment and coaching.

Military Discount: 15% off services.

Photo by 240sweet on Yelp

Photo by 240sweet on Yelp

240sweet

By blending local and fresh ingredients, the owners, Samantha Aulick and Alexa Lemley, satisfy their customer’s sweet tooth with their handmade treats.

Military Discount: 20% off any purchase.

Photo by Yelper Sylva Z.

Photo by Yelper Sylva Z.

Cardinal Spirits Distillery

Sip sip hooray! Cardinal Spirits is Bloomington’s first artisanal distillery that makes whiskey, gin, vodka, rum and liqueurs on-site with high quality and local ingredients.

Military Discount: 15% off tours, bottles, merchandise and food. *Must show Military ID. Must be 21+. Offers are valid for military professionals plus one guest.

Photo by Yelper Anna O.

Photo by Yelper Anna O.

Stone Creek Dining Company

With a blend of comfort and charm, Stone Creek Dining Company in Zionsville provides customers high quality food and service. From sandwiches and salads to steaks and chicken, they have it all.

Military Discount: Free entrée. *Must show Military ID.

Photo by Yelper Brian A.

Photo by Yelper Brian A.

Homewood Suites by Hilton Indianapolis Downtown

Need an escape from reality? Visit the Homewood Suites to receive top quality service and care. With big rooms, full kitchens, tall ceilings, and beautiful decor, you won’t want to leave!

Military Discount: Exclusive savings on their best available rates for active duty, veterans, and retired military service members, spouses and family members in the United States or Canadian Military. *Must show Military ID at check-in. Rate is valid for leisure stays only. Not valid for official government or military travel.

For more information, follow @yelpindy on social media! #YelpSalutesOurTroops

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Rebuilding the Home

Written by Emily Djabi, Community Outreach Coordinator: Center for Victim and Human Rights

Gina and Matt had been separated for a few months when Gina bought a house for herself and her two sons, Cameron and Jacob*. But Matt soon moved back in, and the abuse Gina had previously endured began again. This time, though, it would be different: her boys would be threatened.

On the night that Gina decided would be the last one Matt wielded his power over them, she sacrificed her body to protect her sons from his rage, sheltered them as he physically tore apart their home, and covered their ears from his threats to burn down the house as they sat trapped in the attic.

ginaAfter the terror of that last night, Gina needed help navigating the complicated court systems. After the seemingly endless civil hearings and criminal trials, though, she had to find a way to rebuild her home for her family.

For Gina, Cameron, and Jacob, rebuilding became a process of renovating their home and lives together. The boys frequently said, “Daddy broke our home,” and while they were referring to the physical damage throughout the house—the broken beds, walls, and doors—there was a much deeper brokenness. Matt had destroyed not just the physical aspects of the house, but also the feeling of safety a home should provide.

Gina started in the boys’ bedroom, where the incident escalated, by repainting and repairing the excessive damage, but this was only the beginning of a long process. Gina knew that in order for the boys to feel safe again, the three of them had to communicate and trust one another, a process helped in large part by praying together.

Rebuilding and repairing the physical damage also allowed Gina and her boys to work through their emotions and restore their family. It hasn’t been easy, but Gina wants her boys to understand that, while there are consequences for Matt’s actions, forgiveness is crucially important. It doesn’t mean that what he did was okay, but to heal they have to be able to forgive, too.

For Gina, Cameron, and Jacob, rebuilding was not just about fixing the brokenness they saw, but rebuilding the emotional and psychological damage that had been done. Rebuilding was about their family coming together to reestablish their home and, most importantly, their lives.

They are no longer victims, but survivors of domestic violence.
*Names have been changed to protect the identities of those involved.

The Center for Victim and Human Rights (CVHR) is a legal services organization providing services to victims of crime and human rights abuses in Indianapolis.  The CVHR learned of “Gina’s” story when they represented her in a case for a protection order.  For more information on the CVHR’s work and services, please visit cvhr.org.

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How Many Slaves Do you Have Working in Your Home?

My name is Rev. Libby Davis Manning, and I am a Lutheran pastor serving Christ the Savior Lutheran Church in Fishers. We are increasing the conversation around the horrors of Human Trafficking in our community of Indianapolis and our world, and are planning to host a Spirit and Place interactive event in 2018.

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Until then, we invite you to go to this website and learn more about human trafficking in our community by taking an 11 question survey about your lifestyle:  www.slaveryfootprint.org

Based on the responses you offer, the survey will create a number for you to indicate how many people are trafficked in the world to support your home and lifestyle,  and throughout the survey, you will be educated to make smarter consumer choices for your home.    After each question and answer, you will learn a bit about the commoditization of women and young girls and why certain products in your home support more human slavery than other products.

For example, do you wear cotton, drink coffee, or carry a smart phone?  Those three products are responsible for a tremendous amount of human trafficking in our world.   By learning about the products that drive the evil of human trafficking, you can make different consumer choices and decrease the demand for those products. Together, the choices we make for our home can change the lives for many.

Back to the original question.  When I took the survey, my number was 52.  52 people live in slavery because of the choices I make for my home.  And I don’t hang out in strip joints, and I’m not involved in the sex trade.  And that’s my point.  All of us are complicit in human trafficking because of the products we buy, which drive the demand.  And just as true, we can change the products we buy to decrease demand.  Because let’s be honest, even 1 is too many.

And I and others in our community are doing something about this.  We are consumers and we can leverage our purchases to end slavery. We want all Hoosiers to know their footprint, and to buy with freedom.  Go to www.slaveryfootprint.org and invite others to get educated too.  Then, I’ll see you at Spirit and Place Festival, because Home is a place where everyone should be free.

Questions about Home

I like questions. I was the child in the backseat of the car who asked their parents every ten minutes “are we there yet?” because mostly I liked to see what kind of answer I would receive. Sometimes my parents would answer me honestly with the time left in our trip, other times they would sigh and exasperated, they would tell me that we were ten minutes closer than the last time I had asked. Quite frequently, my sister would roll her eyes and try to move her body as far away as she could from me and my relentless probing. If I was a child today, my parents would probably have bought me a GPS just to get a break. My sister would have contributed financially.

This questioning nature has perhaps become less obnoxious as I’ve aged but I still find myself asking many questions every day. I think that’s why I like this year’s Spirit and Place theme so much because it has challenged me to come up with endless inquiries about what home means. So, what is home? Is it a place, or a person, or a feeling? Is it a physical house or an emotional state of being? Does it have to be the place where you live or can it be somewhere you feel comfortable like a church, or a park, or a bookstore? On an even more basic level, is it just someplace where you feel safe and protected?

Refugee family at Indianapolis airport - provided by Exodus Refugee Immigration

Refugee family at airport – provided by Exodus Refugee Immigration

The recurring theme that I seem to keep coming back to through all of these questions is welcome. To me, home is where you feel welcome and where you can welcome others. Which, of course, leads me to an entirely new set of questions on how does one do this? How do you welcome others into your home, your city, or your community? Is it through a handshake or a hug, picking a refugee family up at the airport, providing a meal and a bed to a weary traveler, or by having a genuine conversation with others? As for me, I bet you can guess, when I welcome someone, I tend to ask a lot of questions.

I hope you will join me in seeking out answers to these inquiries and more by attending the 21st Annual Spirit and Place Festival on November 4th-13th. Are we there yet?

Katie Bulloff is the Social Media Coordinator and Stewardship Associate at Northminster Presbyterian Church. Along with Exodus Refugee Immigration, The Polis Center, and Yardbox Films, Northminster is pleased to be presenting Refugees Welcome on November 12th from 2-4pm as part of this year’s Spirit and Place Festival.