Sharks and Butterflies

By Chris L.

The analogy of the menacing and the majestic is a common theme throughout the observation of nature – be it human or animal kingdom. A convicted felon is labeled as a “menace to society,” but a butterfly can also be a prisoner, when trapped inside a caterpillar.

The allegory of a cell being a cocoon of evolution can easily get overlooked – especially when popular thought is to keep a shiv sharp…or get shiv’d by a shiver of sharks. A room full of incarcerated men were asked if they’d rather be a shark or a butterfly. These hardened criminals reacted in a mini uproar of tangible sighs, razzberries, and dismissive hand waves with disdain and disbelief that they were even asked such a preposterous question.

Their collective mind fixated on the thin fin cutting thru the water – and that extra row of teeth revealing itself when they’re about to sink into the flesh of their prey. It was unanimous that the guys saw themselves as sharks. It was then explained that those big fish go stir crazy after they’ve been in confinement, and they can’t even swim straight upon release.

Butterflies on the other hand…they are better for their confinement. They went into it as crawling caterpillars and came out with wings and flying colors. The activity within a chrysalis is a programmed mix of destruction and growth. Some cells die, and body parts atrophy. The same is true for a cellhouse in the penitentiary.

Nevertheless, there are certain cells in this majestic creature in the making – as well as the rare diamond in the rough residing in a cell – that have been in place since birth, ready to rapidly expand.

The butterfly reveals itself as completely transformed, with the ability to fly over the limitations of its past. Setting its own standard for newfound freedom.

Family-fun events part of 2017 Spirit & Place Festival starting Nov. 3

22th Annual Spirit & Place Festival Focuses on POWER Nov. 3-12

WHAT: The Spirit & Place Festival returns in 2017 to explore the meaning behind “power” with 37 unique events throughout 10 days. These events take place across 32 venues with over 70 presenters, speakers and performers on Nov. 3-12. This year’s festival includes a selection of free, family-fun events.

Visit the website at for the full festival lineup, including the family-fun events below:


Friday, November 3 – 6-9 p.m.

Superhero’s Bash: Opening Night Kick Off!
Presented by Spirit & Place, Harrison Center for the Arts and the Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center

Harrison Center for the Arts – Gymnasium, 1505 Delaware St.
Geek out with Spirit & Place as we kick off the 2017 Festival with a Superhero’s Bash! Dress as your favorite superhero or other empowering character you love for a night of games, art, music and fun. Activities include mask designing, photo booths, testing your game-playing skills and more.


Saturday, November 4 – 11-2 p.m.

The Almighty Pollock Paint Launch Affair

Presented by Garfield Parks Art Center, Ivy Tech Community College Central Indiana and Social Sketch Indy

Garfield Parks Art Center – 2432 Conservatory Dr.

Science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) come together in this gloriously messy and thrilling day of paint and catapults. When again will you have the opportunity to create large paintings using paint soaked pom-poms hurled from trebuchets, catapults and slingshots? Join in on this family-friendly event that demonstrates the innovative power of combining the arts and engineering sciences.


Sunday, November 5 – 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

PRESSing Matters: Man vs. Machine

Presented by Arts for Learning, Ivy Tech Community College Central Indiana, Cat Head Press, Indianapolis Art Center and Insight Development Corp. (Indpls Housing Agency).

16 Park Community Center – 546 E. 17th St.

Local printmakers, working with schools and businesses, will hand carve large-scale images onto relief blocks. Ink will then be rolled over the blocks and run over by a steamroller to transfer the images to the cloth. Visitors can take part in hand-printing stations where they can imitate the steamroller process on a smaller scale by creating smaller relief prints that can be taken home.


About Spirit & Place:

Celebrating the theme of POWER in 2017, 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; Indiana Landmarks; The Indianapolis Foundation, a CICF affiliate; IUPUI; IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI; The Polis Center at IUPUI; WFYI Public Media; and more than 200 other community partners and donors. For more information, call The Polis Center at (317) 274-2455 or visit

Join the 2012 #SPIndy Twitter Team

By Deeksha Kapoor, PR & Social Media Specialist, The Polis Center

Calling Indy Social Media Junkies.

If you are a social media addict, then WE NEED YOU!  We invite you to join our Twitter Team and showcase your tweeting skills.

The 17th annual Spirit & Place Festival is just weeks away and we hope you are all as excited as we are to witness this year’s 40 stellar events that will embellish our community like never before.  It gives us immense pleasure to see that conversations around #SPIndyhave already started warming up on Twitterverse.

Capturing #SPIndy Conversations

Capturing #SPIndy Conversations


Spirit & Place Festival is all about stimulating community conversations and as part of the festival’s Twitter team YOU will be a catalyst for such conversations.

As a #SPIndy tweeter, you’ll have the privilege to be the official tweeter of the festival. You will live-tweet and provide real-time updates about the amazing content you experience at our events, share your personal voice, and help enrich the community dialogue.

All you have to do to become a part of our Twitter Team is follow us @spiritandplace and send us a tweet to let us know you’re interested in live-tweeting.

So treat yourself to a soothing hand-massage as your thumbs are sure to get a workout sharing tons of content during our festival.

Let’s gear-up for live-tweeting and let the conversations begin!

Laughter Comes in All Forms

Laughter Comes in All Forms

By Jennifer Gilles, Program Coordinator, Spirit & Place Festival

Image Courtesy: Daily Spiritual Tools

“I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose.”  –Woody Allen

Experts say laughter reduces stress, relaxes the whole body, boosts the immune system, and triggers the release of endorphins. Laughter is an emotional and physical release. But most of us don’t need to “learn” this; we just know it. We feel GOOD when we laugh. We NEED to laugh.

Laughter comes in all forms. We all have those friends with the fantastic, contagious laugh that comes so easily–really loud and from the depths of the soul. A belly laugh. A guffaw. It often includes an involuntary snort or two. My sister and I call this the “Roxanne” laugh, after our good friend with THE best laugh you will ever hear!

And sometimes laughter is an eye roll. My husband says he knows his day is successful if he gets someone to laugh (usually at his own expense), but he knows he’s at his best when those laughs come in the form of an eye roll and a groan! I look forward to the end of the day when I can listen to the retelling of his “successes,” and he laughs again.

Sometimes laughter is quiet. In fact, my own biggest laughs include long periods of silence. Don’t get me wrong–I can and do laugh out loud–but when something strikes me as extremely funny, I can barely breathe, my face gets hot, tears stream from my eyes, and I can’t speak or make a sound. My family says that when we talk on the phone and I laugh this hard, they wait to hear my “squeak”–my intake of air–to confirm that I am indeed still on the phone; that we haven’t suddenly been disconnected.

I think we intrinsically need and seek out laughter. How else can you explain why we pay professional entertainers to make us laugh? In the last few years I have been fortunate to see some incredibly funny comedians–Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart, Kathy Griffin, Carol Burnett, Peter Sagal, and Jimmy Fallon. But on a day-to-day basis, I have a no-fail, go-to solution–tuning in to reruns of Friends and Seinfeld.

I set a premium on laughter. It’s important. My life is full of friends, family, and entertainment that make me laugh. So what makes you laugh? Another person? An episode of Modern Family or An Idiot Abroad? How do you incorporate laughter in your daily life?

This year, the Spirit & Place Festival theme is PLAY. With laughter and play so integral to each other, I have been given a gift–permission to spend this entire year laughing and playing at work. Lucky me!

Keeping ‘Humanity’ in Human Anatomy

Keeping ‘Humanity’ in Human Anatomy By Ernest Talarico, Ph.D., IU School of Medicine – Northwest , Associate Director of Medical Education and Course Director of Human Gross Anatomy and Embryology

If, as Madonna once sang in her hit song “Like a Prayer,” life is a mystery, then death is the proverbial mystery wrapped in an enigma.  But does it have to be? At IU School of Medicine – Northwest  in Gary, our first-year medical students are introduced to the human body with the understanding that death need not be an impenetrable riddle. Through the generosity of those who donate their bodies to medical science and the respectful cooperation of their loved ones, medical students in our innovative gross anatomy program have the rare opportunity to communicate with the family members of their “first patients,” anatomical body donors.

This interaction, while perhaps initially awkward, often turns into something beautiful.  From family members, students learn more about their patients’ lives than what is traditionally practiced at other medical schools, and learn more about becoming better physicians.

Ms. Rita Borrelli, wife of donor Russell, attends a memorial service at the IU School of Medicine – Northwest in recognition and remembrance of her husband

Knowing details like their patient’s nickname, their profession, and their favorite sports teams or foods, students’ understanding of their donors transcends the physical facts of their anatomy and grants them greater appreciation of their patients as people. This knowledge gives students additional insight into their donors’ previous ailments or causes of death. At many other schools, these issues are not thoroughly researched, and newfound information is not shared with the family.

My students and I see the value in this communication—it helps to develop smarter doctors and pushes them to research conditions that might have been unknown to them. Just as importantly, interaction with families teaches students lessons not always found in a textbook:  empathy, compassion, and respect.

Nor is this two-way communication merely self-serving; we have found the process often becomes an essential part of helping family members work through their grieving process. Through tears and laughter, the donors’ families share precious moments from their loved one’s lives. Teachable moments like these show medical students that their donor is not just a specimen but once was a father, a daughter, a friend.

The Body, the theme for the 16th annual Spirit & Place Festival, November 4 – 13, is a wonderful opportunity for issues like these to be discussed, debated, and challenged.

And, while I respect that human anatomy may be taught in many ways, I strongly believe in keeping ‘humanity’ in human anatomy.  At the end of (your) day, wouldn’t this be your preference?