Family-fun events for all ages in the 2018 Festival

The 2018 Spirit & Place Festival will be held from Nov. 2-11. The festival this year will explore the theme of “intersections.” Intersecting lines can be found anywhere from the cross and cloverleaf, to crossroads and connections. They represent collective creativity and deeper understanding, as well as points of division or conflict.

The festival will kick-off with an “intersections” themed opening night Nov. 2 from 6 to 9 p.m. There will be 32 unique events this year that will take place across 27 venues and feature a variety of presenters, speakers and performers. This year’s festival includes many fun-filled events perfect for bringing families together and inspiring sustained conversation.

Visit the website at www.spiritandplace.org for the full festival lineup, including these family-friendly events below:

EVENT INFO:

Friday, November 2, 6 – 9 p.m.
Opening Night: Intersections!
Presented by Spirit & Place and Harrison Center.
Harrison Center—1505. Delaware St. 

Kick off this year’s Spirit & Place Festival during an INTERSECTION themed night at the Harrison Center. The Harrison Center serves as a home for artists of all races, ages, social groups, neighborhoods, faiths and more to intersect with one another – and you! Bring the family out for a fun night of discovery to meet with artists. Explore how styles, mediums, colors and shapes collide and blend to create Indy’s vibrant arts community.
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Saturday, November 3, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Explore Art-omotive!
Presented by Ivy Tech Community College, Ivy Tech Automotive Garage, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, Social Sketch Indy and Marian University
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum—4790 W. 16th St. 

Explore Art-omotive! will delve into the relationship between art, design and the history of automobiles. Participants will watch a virtual engine build competition, participate in a “car parade,” design their car of the future and explore the history of automotive design in this family friendly event.

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Sunday, November 4, 2—4 p.m.
Crossing: A Neighborhood Walkway
Presented by artist Lauren Ditchley, Meridian Kessler Neighborhood Association, A Taste of Philly Pretzels and College Avenue Branch Library
College Avenue Branch Library—Parking Lot—4180 N. College Ave.       

This event is a way to help a community gather and create a visual representation of a “desire path” between the pretzel shop and the library—a literal intersection between the buildings that is missing! Visioning sessions hosted at the library over the summer inspired the mural design and you get to help make it a reality. This pavement mural will not only help reclaim the street, but will encourage drivers to slow down while approaching the intersection.

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Monday, November 5, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
The Score Awakens
Presented by Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and Indy Lightsaber Academy
Hilbert Circle Theatre—45 Monument Circle
Cost: $5 

The Score Awakens showcases the intersection between music and story by exploring the role John William’s score has in creating the iconic Star Wars universe. Indy Lightsaber Academy will demo how the music inspires epic battles, and everyone will get to learn some sci-fi swordplay.  

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Monday, November 5, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Hummus & Happiness
Presented by CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center, Muslim Alliance of Indiana, Jewish Community Relations Council and the Center for Interfaith Cooperation
Indiana Interchurch Center—1100 W. 42nd St.

Hummus & Happiness is an event that encourages our audience to consider how film and food can create spaces for the exploration of complex issues and diverse viewpoints. Guests are invited to a hummus-tasting competition, where you can sample (and then vote on) hummus recipes from around the world, prepared by local hummus-makers, who will share their narrative and the story of their recipe. The winner will be announced after the film screening of “Life and Hummus,” followed by a short panel discussion and audience Q&A.

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Saturday, November 10, 8:30 a.m. —2 p.m.
Spirited Chase
Presented by WFYI and its community partners
WFYI & Mystery Locations—1630 N. Meridian St.
Cost: $9

Spirited Chase is a unique event offering participants the opportunity to renew their spirit through discovering new people and places in our community. Throughout the day, participants will visit five mystery Indianapolis destinations, located at different physical intersections around the city. At each mystery destination, participants will engage in a brief presentation or conversation as they learn about the many ways people, places and programs intersect to create and support our community. 

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Powerful discussions part of 2018 Festival

The 2018 Spirit & Place Festival will be held from Nov. 2-11. The festival this year will explore the theme of “intersections.” Intersecting lines can be found anywhere from the cross and cloverleaf, to crossroads and connections. They represent collective creativity and deeper understanding, as well as points of division or conflict.

There will be 32 unique events this year that will take place across 27 venues and feature a variety of presenters, speakers and performers. This year’s festival includes a variety of events centered on powerful literature and panel-style discussions. These discussions are intended to inspire conversation and delve into current and historical events that are relevant to citizens across Central Indiana.

Visit the website at www.spiritandplace.org for the full festival lineup, including these discussion events below:

EVENT INFO:

Saturday, November 3, 1:30—4 p.m.
Niki’s Honor: Violence Against Girls & Women Needs to Stop
Presented by author Laila Anwarzai Ayoubi and Nur-Allah Islamic Center
Nur-Allah Islamic Center—2040 E. 46th St.

Through the lens of a native Afghan woman and author of Niki’s Honor, Dr. Laila Anwarzai Ayoubi, this event invites attendees to discover that violence against women is not confined to any one religion, culture, geographic area or age group. Told against the background of the death of a young Afghan girl as described in the pages of Niki’s Honor, the interactive components of this event will deepen understanding of how these abhorrent acts hurt women everywhere.
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Sunday, November 4, 2:30—5 p.m.
Reimagining the Spiritual Text through Watercolor
Presented by artists Bianca Dudeck-Mandity and Monica Bergers
Marian University—Library—3200 Cold Spring Rd.
Cost: $10 

This event is a collaborative experience joining the power of words, music and art. Attendees should bring a copy of spiritual text meaningful to them as well as writing materials. Painting supplies will be provided. Participants will be guided through a series of free-writing, discussion, music listening and painting exercises. By exploring inner beliefs, painting techniques, and sounds and music, attendees will broaden their understanding of how a spiritual text can engage multiple senses at once. Participants will leave with an abstract watercolor that expresses their multi-sensory experience of the spiritual. 

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Monday, November 5, 6:30—8 p.m.
A Crossroads of Nations
Presented by artist Lauren Ditchley, Meridian Kessler Neighborhood Association, A Taste of Philly Pretzels and College Avenue Branch Library
Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art and Indiana Historical Society —Clowes Court—500 W. Washington St.

Indiana has a rich history predating its 1816 statehood. What is now known as Indiana was inhabited by tribal nations including the Miami, Potawatomi, Wea, Shawnee, Kickapoo and Delaware. Learn from a panel of experts, including Miami, Delaware and Potawatomi voices, on how the St. Mary’s Treaties of 1818 affected Indiana’s first peoples, the future settlement of their land and how and why treaties are still relevant today.

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Monday, November 5, 6:30—8:30 p.m.
Where Freedoms Collide
Presented by ACLU of Indiana, Exodus Refugees and Jewish Community Relations Council
Indiana Landmarks—Cook Theater—1201 Central Ave. 

How do we balance minority and majority rights? America’s history is full of intersections where the rights of the minority conflict with the rights of the majority. Where the promise to protect individual liberty conflicts with the promise to protect our communities from harm, foreign and domestic. Join the ACLU for a moderated conversation about the intersection where competing rights, and competing values, must be resolved.

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Monday, November 5, 6—8 p.m.
Bringing Science to Life: Medical Ethics & Literature
Presented by Indianapolis Public Library, Indiana Humanities and March for Science
Central Library—Clowes Auditorium—40 E. St. Clair St.

Although 200 years apart, the two books guiding the panel, Frankenstein and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, both explore the intersection of science and literature. One is a horror novel and the other a biography, but both examine human characteristics, emotions and stories of scientific explorations into what it means to be human.

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Tuesday, November 6, 7—9 p.m.
Race Matters: Faith & Philanthropy in the African American Community
Presented by Lake Institute on Faith and Giving, Christian Theological Seminary and Mays Family Institute on Diverse Philanthropy at the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
Christian Theological Seminary—Shelton Auditorium—1000 W. 42nd St.

Featured panelist Starsky Wilson has led congregational activism through his work at Saint John’s Church in St. Louis, including leadership on the Ferguson Commission. Similarly, Brad Braxton, Director of the Center for the Study of African American Religious Life at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, is committed to courageous social justice activism and compassionate interfaith collaboration. Aimée Laramore serves as Philanthropic Strategist for the first PhD program in African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric at Christian Theological Seminary. All three panelists are experienced religious leaders who have navigated the work of philanthropy and social justice in their communities. Hear their stories and learn from their insights.

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Wednesday, November 7, 6—8 p.m.
Mapping Lost Intersections
Presented by IUPUI University Library, Indiana Historical Society and Herron School of Art & Design Library
Indiana History Center—450 W. Ohio St. 

Using multiple archival sources, guests are invited to investigate lost, demolished and re-developed Indianapolis intersections. From the relocation of Greenlawn, the city’s first cemetery, to reconstruction of White River State Park, and finally stumbling upon an early 20th century red light district, local library experts will showcase how the Indianapolis built environment has changed over time and consider what this change meant for people then and now. Participants will be guided on how to use digital collections, formulate research strategies when doing local history and will be invited to share memories of lost spaces and places in their communities. 

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Thursday, November 8, 6—8 p.m.
Lonesome No More Through Faith Communities
Presented by Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, Congregation Beth-El Zedeck, and National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) FaithNet
Congregation Beth-El Zedeck—600 W. 70th St.

This event looks at the ways in which loneliness is present in religious communities and the strength, structure and support that churches, synagogues and other faith communities can provide. Through this moderated discussion, arts event and book signing, the event will share knowledge and connect people of all faith backgrounds in an effort to curb loneliness. 

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Thursday, November 8, 7—9 p.m.
INspired to Give: Women, Faith & Philanthropy
Presented by Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy (IUPUI), Center for Interfaith Cooperation, Family Promise of Greater Indianapolis and Indescribable Gift
Indiana Interchurch Center—Krannert Room, 2nd Floor—1100 W. 42nd St.

Hear stories from women of different faith traditions and take part in small group discussions to explore the role faith has and can have on giving. The panelists will share sacred text important to them and engage attendees in using their own stories to continue exploring in interfaith settings and how to fuel a culture of giving. Attendees may also visit with partnering organizations in an exhibit area before and after the event. 

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Friday, November 9, 6—8 p.m. (arrive by 5:45 p.m.)
From Auschwitz to Indiana: Medical Ethics through History with Eva Kor
Presented by CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center and Indiana Medical History Museum
Indiana Medical History Museum—3045 W. Vermont St.
RSVP required due to limited seating here.

The intersection of medical ethics, the Holocaust and Indiana’s history with medical malpractice come together in this engaging lecture and panel discussion. The Holocaust is often viewed as a subject removed from the U.S.; in particular the Midwest. This event looks at the connections between medical studies (including eugenics) and how these inhumane experiments actually originated in Indiana and were later used by Nazi doctors. Eva Kor will share her personal story of perseverance after being treated as a subject rather than a human being.

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Sunday, November 11, 3:30 – 5 p.m.
23rd Annual Public Conversation
Presented by Spirit & Place, Indiana State Museum, IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, IUPUI University Library, IUPUI Center for Service and Learning, IUPUI Office of Research and Administration, IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute, IUPUI School of Public and Environmental Affairs, The Polis Center, Centric and Kheprw Institute
Indiana State Museum—650 W. Washington St. 

Featuring Zeynep Tufekci, this year’s Public Conversation will discuss the intersections of social media, politics and our everyday lives. Zeynep Tufekci is a techno-sociologist who focuses on social movements and civics, privacy and surveillance and social interactions. Tufekci’s latest book, Twitter and Teargas, thoughtfully examines both the positive and negative ways digital platforms support the work of social change.

Spirit and Place Festival 2018 events announced

Annual 10-day Festival connects Central Indiana to the theme of INTERSECTION
Spirit & Place Festival returns for its 23rd year November 2-11

INDIANAPOLIS – The 2018 Spirit & Place Festival celebrates, explores, challenges and reflects on the meaning behind “intersection” in its 23rd year. The Spirit & Place Festival is Indianapolis’s largest collaborative festival that uses the arts, religion and humanities as a tool for shaping individual and community life through 10 days of events designed with community partners, individuals and communities.

During the selection process this year, event submissions that exemplified key traits of the Spirit & Place Festival were nominated for an “Award of Awesomeness.” The winning event will receive a $1,000 award at the end of the festival. A preview of these events, as well as information about this year’s signature events, is outlined below. A full listing of events is available here.

SPIRIT & PLACE FESTIVAL 2018 – SIGNATURE EVENTS

Opening Night: Intersections!
Friday, November 2, 6 – 9 p.m.
Harrison Center
1505 N. Delaware St.
FREE 

Kick off this year’s Spirit & Place Festival during an INTERSECTION themed night at the Harrison Center. The Harrison Center serves as a home for artists of all races, ages, social groups, neighborhoods, faiths and more to intersect with one another – and you! Bring the family out for a fun night of discovery to meet with artists. Explore how styles, mediums, colors and shapes collide and blend to create Indy’s vibrant arts community.

23rd Annual Public Conversation
Sunday, November 11, 3:30 – 5 p.m.
Indiana State Museum
650 W. Washington St.
FREE 

Featuring Zeynep Tufekci, this year’s Public Conversation will discuss the intersections of social media, politics and our everyday lives. Zeynep Tufekci is a techno-sociologist who focuses on social movements and civics, privacy and surveillance and social interactions. Tufekci’s latest book, Twitter and Teargas, thoughtfully examines both the positive and negative ways digital platforms support the work of social change.

SPIRIT & PLACE FESTIVAL 2018 – AWARD OF AWESOMENESS NOMINEES

Explore Art-omotive!
Saturday, November 3, 10 a.m. – 1 pm
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum
4790 W. 16th St.
FREE

Explore Art-omotive! will delve into the relationship between art, design and the history of automobiles. Participants will watch a virtual engine build competition, participate in a “car parade,” design their car of the future and explore the history of automotive design in this family friendly event.

Hummus & Happiness
Monday, November 5, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Indiana Interchurch Center
1100 W. 42nd St.
FREE

Hummus & Happiness invites people of varying cultures, religions and nationalities to join in their shared humanity and explore how Israelis, Arabs and Palestinians who may be Jewish, Muslim or Christian connect to this delicious food. After viewing Hummus! The Movie, guests are invited to sample hummus recipes from around the world while local hummus-makers share their stories. ​

The Score Awakens
Monday, November 5, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Hilbert Circle Theatre
45 Monument Circle
$5 – RSVP by November 2 

The Score Awakens showcases the intersection between music and story by exploring the role John William’s score has in creating the iconic Star Wars universe. Indy Lightsaber Academy will demo how the music inspires epic battles, and everyone will get to learn some sci-fi swordplay.

Afrofuturism in Action: A Conversation with Tobias Buckell
Friday, November 9, 6 – 8:30 p.m.
Kheprw Institute/Renaissance Center
3549 Boulevard Place
FREE

Black Panther. Parliament-Funkadelic. Octavia E. Butler. Janelle Monae. Afrofuturism is the reimagining of a future filled with arts, science and technology seen through a black lens. It’s a literary and creative genre that allows us to discuss matters of race, gender and social justice as well as model possibilities for the future.  Hear from Tobias Buckell, author of Crystal RainArctic Rising, and Halo: The Cole Protocol, and join in a community conversation where we use art, science and faith to imagine a future together.

Convergence: Connecting our Shared Experience through Performance and Prose
Saturday, November 10, 3 – 6 p.m.
The Church Within
1125 Spruce St.
FREE

The Indianapolis artistic community is a diverse group of people from all walks of life and backgrounds. Featuring many local artists, attendees will reflect on the convergence of artistry, culture and tradition through poetic prose, rhythmic dance and visual storytelling. Spoken word, visual art, dance and music will intersect during this event to showcase stories of historically silenced communities and the power of unity. It will also include a hands-on learning portion and time to interact with the performers.

About Spirit & Place:
Celebrating the theme of INTERSECTION in 2018, Spirit & Place honors the role the arts, humanities and religion play in shaping individual and community life. Through its November festival, people-centered community engagement, and year-round activities, Spirit & Place links people, places, ideas and organizations to stimulate collaboration, experimentation and conversation. A national model for building civically engaged communities, Spirit & Place is an initiative of The Polis Center, part of the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. Major partners include Lilly Endowment Inc.; Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation, Inc.; Bohlsen Group; Central Indiana Community Foundation; IUPUI; IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI; The Polis Center at IUPUI; and more than 200 other community partners and donors. For more information, call The Polis Center at (317) 274-2455 or visit www.spiritandplace.org.

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Intersections in Performance/Life: A glimpse of artist and teacher Gerry Trentham

By Lani Weissbach, MFA

With others, how are we transformed, imprisoned, or set free, by our habit selves, our natural and constructed environments? Can we embrace the unknown to learn beyond division (of culture, art form, nationhood)? How do we, together, in our individual distinctiveness, negotiate with integrity in order to share resources and life, not only as human nature, but Nature’s human?” 

 — Gerry Trentham

When I first saw Gerry Trentham perform, he wasn’t doing any fancy tricks. He was pushing a squeaky wheelbarrow loaded with tree branches across the stage, pausing only to acknowledge the humor of the moment by looking directly at the audience and sharing a giggle with them. At that moment, I thought, “I gotta spend as much time in this guy’s presence as possible.”

My calling in life has been to teach, create, connect and transform through the art of dance/movement. From the early, formative years back in the late 1980’s to the present, I’ve been incredibly blessed to have many brilliant teachers. I only call a few of them mentors – teachers who continue to inspire me and help me discover my path. Gerry is definitely one of them. His artistry appeals to my love of contradiction, unapologetic presence (no matter how messy,) and poetic processes that move us into deep and revelatory places. Indeed, something profound happens with this kind of work – as a participant or audience member – that defies definition and is utterly compelling.

Although Gerry’s entire 30+ year international career has been devoted to dance and theater, (perhaps we can say his work is the quintessential intersection of those forms,) there’s a lot more to it than that. Gerry’s creative work and teaching is truly an original approach to performance, blending “written/spoken poetic text, dance, human gesture, sound, music, and visual and media art” in a way that is both striking in the moment and resonates deeply over time.   He describes his teaching as “sourced in his art-making and his eternal interest in his own and others’ potential presence in performance.”

This November, Indianapolis will have the unique opportunity to experience Gerry’s work firsthand. The Indianapolis Movement Arts Collective (IMAC), NoExit Performance and Indy’s District Theatre have invited Gerry Trentham to be a featured presenter for a two-week interdisciplinary residency from November 4th – 18th, 2018, with generous support from the Arts Council of Indianapolis. Gerry’s residency this fall is the inaugural OPEN Indy event, an annual IMAC and NoExit Performance collaboration designed to bring top-notch interdisciplinary teachers and artists to our community for training geared toward all levels of experience, from the novice to the professional.

The programming during the two weeks this November speaks directly to this year’s Spirit and Place theme of intersection, as it is designed to connect our theater, dance, vocal performance and visual arts communities and to encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration in the region. Gerry will lead a series of workshops that introduce artists of varied disciplines to each other’s community and to interdisciplinary practice. But the theme of intersection doesn’t end there. This project encourages sharing not only between disciplines but between nations. Gerry is the artistic director of lbs/sq” based in Toronto, and senior director of the company’s Fulcrum Project (for which I am an associate artist.) His Indy residency will help to foster a bi-national exchange and dialogue between our two cities and nations, encouraging us to find new ways for both American and Canadian artists to share their vision and markets.

“Sharing our artistic practice is more necessary than ever if we are to survive the current political climate that does not celebrate the arts as a necessity to building healthy communities,” Gerry says.

There is going to be something for everyone with OPEN Indy, so get out your calendar and plan to bring your OPEN, curious mind!

Workshop Experiences: There will be two community workshops for the beginner/mixed level, and two for more advanced performers. For information and to register, visit: www.indymovementarts.org

Performance Experiment: Sign up to participate in a one-of-a-kind opportunity! With Gerry as our guide, we will co-create a performance piece that integrates trained and untrained performers alike. The piece will be part of the Residency Performance on November 16-17, 2018, described below. For more information and to register, visit: www.indymovementarts.org.

Residency Performance: In a shared show with local artists, Gerry will perform Yellow Scale, a 40-minute solo from his full-length work Four Mad Humours, which earned him a Toronto Dora award in 2011. Performances will take place at the District Theatre on Friday & Saturday, November 16-17, 2018. For tickets, visit: http://www.indyfringe.org/theatre-show/open-indy-district-theatre

Lani Weissbach serves as Director of Artist Residencies and Embodied Learning for the Indianapolis Movement Arts Collective (IMAC) and teaches a variety of workshops and classes throughout the region. For more about Lani, please visit: www.laniweissbach.com.

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.

Intersection

by Debra Des Vignes

Nobody warns you that empathy is an unraveling; that familiarity becomes untied when you’re no longer familiar to yourself – like when you arrive at a place where life gives new meaning. This happens to me each week in prison. I place my keys, purse, and book bag on a scanner for the first guard to search. I pass a second guard station. Then, I walk along a cold concrete floor where emotions are bare, where guard-inmate relationships are distant. I assume the felon position; arms outstretched and sign in with the purpose of my visit. Sounds of steel doors reverberate like a 12-guage shot gun. I settle in a classroom alone, locked in, waiting for eleven men to share their ideas, hopes, thoughts, dreams, and vulnerabilities with me. When I’m having a bad week one offers this advice, “While other people may be able to stop you temporarily, you’re the only one who can stop you permanently.” It’s true, and I use the advice through the week and it gets me through the next. They are at a crossroads in life but so am I.

My students wear tan-colored jumpsuits that button up the front over white T-shirts. Sneakers are all white. My job is to teach them how to write, so I make a list of prompts, but by the second class I find that I am the one learning too. “Scratch” means “money,” “wiped down” means “robbed,” “a dime” means “ten years.” And “The Slam” is the staple food of correctional institutions: Ramen, peanut butter, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, and ranch dressing, and I learn how to connect papers by tearing off the ends to make a staple. I ask them to describe an everyday noise that drives them crazy. A favorite holiday. Their first love. Amazed by the ease with which they open-up and their willingness to share secrets – then I lose two students along the way to early release dates – and I feel the loss harder than I expected. And I ask myself, was there more I could have taught them?

Author Samuel Johnson said, “Everything that enlarges the sphere of human powers, that shows man he can do what he thought he could not do, is valuable.” More than the humid smell of eleven bodies joined in a room each week – what permeates this place isn’t the stench of suppressed energy, testosterone buzzing like a thousand-volt live wire – it’s the sacred space we create – a sense of home that moves us beyond these prison halls, away from our past, and away from our troubles – into a place where only light grows.

Under the Mat

by Phil

Two inches of cotton wrapped in plastic, formed and fitted to resemble a mattress placed on top of a steel frame is where I lay my head every day with two sheets and two blankets and a pillow that wasn’t issued. Nope, I had to make it. That pretty much describes every bed in prison – just to give you a little insight on how we’re living. But, what makes each bed different? It’s not how the bed looks. It is what’s under the mat: a lot of legal mail and paperwork from the courts, pictures of loved ones showing support, swimsuit magazines and hood books of all titles, state envelopes, newspapers, some version of the Bible, a fairly new jumpsuit only to be worn to visits that is creased and neatly folded to give that “fresh” appearance, request slips to counselors that will never get a reply, broken down razors for a haircut and a line. And there’s that one thing we all hate to see: a calendar. But for some reason we still take a peak – that itself gives us a reason to never come back and put the things we cherish most, under the mat.

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.