My Community

by Brandon

Right outside my narrow penitentiary window is a vibrant never-ending landscape just beyond my reach. Every day, I sit and watch the world move and shake with the grind of living in this new day and age, and I remember.

I am almost two decades removed from my era and the world that I knew. I remember a time when things were different, when my parents listened to grown folk music like Al Green, Sam Cooke and B.B. King and threw late night house parties and got drunk. They did dance routines while I drew pictures and told jokes, and it was all good fun for everyone as I wafted through liquor fumes and cigarette smoke. I remember a time when kids were made to go outside and play. I remember my sister and I would debate all the awful things that would happen if we dared drink.

Then, I remember when it all ended: when court-cases heartaches separated my friendships, when gang banging became my way of life, when the Department of Corrections became my plight, where guns transformed into knives, and wrongs replaced my rights.

I cannot forget solitary confinement and realizing how far down the rabbit hole that I went. Surrounded by the suicidal swings of being buried alive and someone still trying to keep a glimmer of false hope inside, even after my Daddy and sister died. I struggle on, remembering where I came from, what I lived through, and the future that I’m headed toward.

I am meant for greatness. I’m meant for more. I can’t wait until the day I can only remember looking out of this narrow caged-in window with the shitty view and instead embrace the feeling I had leaving behind a mountain of misery that kept my soaring spirt shamefully glued to the floor and having pride with my head held high, leaving out the oppressive penitentiary door.

Brandon A. is an inmate currently living at Plainfield Correctional Facility. He is a participant of Indiana Prison Writers Workshop. Once released, he plans on pursuing a career in culinary arts by operating a food truck while continuing writing.

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Happy Birthday

by Phil

Can you believe that at age 29, I’ve never had a birthday party? Sucks, right? Imagine being seven or eight years old, going to your sister’s birthday party, or even a friend from the neighborhood and not having a party of your own. No cake or ice cream. I’ve never made a wish. I’ve never blown out candles. I don’t know what that feels like. I’ve always wondered: what do people wish for when they blow out the candles while they’re making their wish? I wish I had a birthday party.

Phil is an inmate currently living at Plainfield Correctional Facility. He is a participant of Indiana Prison Writers Workshop. Once released, he plans to start a not-for-profit for performing arts helping minority youth. I’d like to show them the alternatives to running the streets.

Why should you apply for the 2017 Spirit & Place Festival?

The application guidelines for the 2017 Spirit & Place Festival are online! Why should your organization consider applying?

Following the 2016 festival, event partners told us being involved in the Spirit & Place Festival allowed them to:

  • Shine a light on new topics and innovative speakers
  • Re-engage stakeholders on important issues
  • Work with new community partners
  • Hone professional skills
  • Develop new frameworks of engagement

We appreciate what one of our partners in particular said of her experience, “Spirit & Place added legitimacy and a new platform to learn from, engage, and empower our [constituents].”

That’s awesome!

Speaking of awesome, Spirit & Place will again this year offer a $1,000 “Award of Awesomeness” to the festival event that best exemplifies the characteristics and values of Spirit & Place. (Congrats again to Ebenezer Baptist Church for their 2016 winning event, “Riverside Speaks!”)

Check out the application guidelines today and reach out to Erin Kelley, Spirit & Place Program Director, with any questions. She’ll be happy to work with you to brainstorm ideas, talk about event design, connect with potential collaborators, and find a venue, if possible.

Download the application guidelines HERE & mark your calendars for the Application Deadline: Friday, April 21 at 5p.m.

We look forward to seeing your event ideas to make this year’s Festival a great one!

What Kind of Events Does the Festival Want?

Spirit & Place wants unique events that engage the mind and heart. We want events that invite reflection and discussion related to the yearly theme. We want you to partner with others so that multiple perspectives inform all aspects of your event. We want you to help create bridges of understanding. We want you to use the festival as an opportunity to stretch yourself creatively, collaboratively, intellectually, and spiritually.

We want your best. And, yeah, we know that’s a lot!

The Spirit & Place Festival provides you the opportunity to help 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 and meaningful ways all the while elevating the work you and other arts, humanities, religious, and/or community organizations do.

That’s the power of Spirit & Place.

When submitting your event application . . .

DO:

  • Be inventive and collaborative. We love to see innovation and risk-taking!
  • Put the theme front and center. Be clear on how your event is connected to the theme and how the audience will experience/reflect upon the theme. (2017 theme is POWER.)
  • Demonstrate your capacity. Challenge yourself to create something unique, but keep it focused enough so that you can accomplish your goals.
  • Remember the arts, humanities, & religion. Use one or more of these disciplines as a vehicle to help you explore your idea.

DON’T

  • 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 festival@iupui.edu.

Remember, event applications are due Friday, April 21 at 5p.m.!

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

 

 

28th Joseph T. Taylor Symposium: It’s not foreign. It’s U.S.

 

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As a nation of immigrants, the U.S. is one of the most diverse societies in the world. Yet, history and modern times are rife with examples of cultural misunderstandings that stand in the way of a truly integrated society.

Language is the key to overcoming moments of difficulty, facilitating the transition of new Americans, and bringing harmony to our remarkable mosaic of cultural traditions and experiences.

BE SURE to save the date so that you can join us for the 28th Joseph T. Taylor Symposium: “It’s not foreign. It’s U.S.”

When: Thu., Feb. 23, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
Phone: 800-933-9330
Email: iuconfs@indiana.edu
Price: Morning session: Free; Lunch: $35 each, if purchased by Feb. 2 or $40 after Feb. 2.

Register here: http://liberalarts.iupui.edu/index.php/signature/C70/