Mo*Con Intersections

by Maurice Broaddus

Coming up the weekend of May 4th, I will be hosting my twelfth Mo*Con. For the uninitiated, Mo*Con is a mini-writers conference that I host (“Maurice Convention”), bringing together speculative fiction writers from across the country for a weekend of conversations—sometimes hard conversations—all done over food. In a church. The conceit being that the church should be a safe place where people could question and discuss things.

Mo*Con exists in intersectionality. It began as a place to explore the intersection of faith and speculative fiction. The first Mo*Con featured horror writer Brian Keene giving his testimony of unbelief: how he has always struggled with the idea of God, why he has, and how it has played out in his fiction.

What I mean when I say intersectionality is that we are intersectional people, we exist in multiple dimentsions. I can’t separate me as a black man from the role faith plays in my life or how both impact my art. The sociological theory behind intersectionality recognizes that an individual’s identities overlap—age, race, sexuality, health, religion, etc.–and discrimination can follow. We can get caught up pursuing the interests of “part” of us while ignoring—or worse, at the expense of—another “part” of us. Which is why we’ve had Mo*Cons revolving around sexual identity and Christianity, mental health and the artist, atheism and art. Because to move forward, we have to realize we are all in this together, all parts of our identity.

This year Mo*Con will be held at the Switchboard, a community co-working space in Fountain Square. The event brings together partners such as Spirit & Place, the Kheprw Institute, and gROE Inc. Our guest of honor line up this year includes Lynne and Michael Thomas (editors of Uncanny Magazine), speculative fiction author/black feminist/social media icon Mikki Kendall, horror author John Urbancik, and agent Jen Udden. As a community, we’ll be discussing race, feminism, the business of art, fluid fiction, and protest through art. Which is how I see Mo*Con: at the intersection of faith and social justice; community and continued conversation.

Find more information about Mo*Con at this link.

A pre-Mo*Con event featuring Mikki Kendall and Chesya Burke will be held Thursday, May 3. Find more information and RSVP here.


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!

2017 Theme: Power. November 3-12, 2017!

POWER can be disquieting, discomforting, and oppressive; it can also be illuminating, inspiring, and hopeful. How do our social, political, cultural, and spiritual perspectives shape notions of power? How do the arts, humanities, and religion fuel our inner life and empower communities? How has the use, misuse, and abuse of power shaped our individual and collective lives? What new sources of energy can power our lives together? How can we give voice to communities that have historically lacked power? How can we bring diverse groups together to examine power structures in our own communities?

How do you want to explore POWER in 2017?


Cultural, faith-based, educational, health and human service organizations, libraries, community centers, civic institutions, artists, musicians, and others are invited to create innovative events for upcoming festivals. Application guidelines are posted at the beginning of the year.

Contact Program Director Erin Kelley at 317-274-2462 or or click here to learn more.   

What did HOME teach you?

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]

The Moderator or, “Ten Thoughts I Thunked”

by Kevin Armstrong

Longtime Spirit & Place Public Conversation moderator Kevin Armstrong created this top ten list to help you plan a well-moderator discussion. Check out the partner’s resource page for the extended version!


  1. The moderator’s principal role is to allow each panelist to be his or her best self.
  1. If at all possible, talk individually with the panelists before the event and talk together with the group for at least an hour before the presentation.
  2. Avoid formal introductions.
  1. Stand up for the audience and involve them.
  2. Be neutral and objective.
  1. Be informed and prepared.
  2. Ask the question everyone has on his or her mind but is not asking..
  1. Once you’ve asked a question, look at the audience and look at the other panelists.
  2. Be attentive to three things at once: The conversation that is going on. Where the panelists seem to be taking the conversation. How the audience is responding.
  1. Say Thank you.

Attended our Signature event – Public Conversation in the past? What tips do you have?