Public Conversation History 

Did you know the first Public Conversation in 1996 featured Kurt Vonnegut, John Updike, and Dan Wakefield in a conversation at Clowes Memorial Hall about the relationship between "spirit" and "place?" 

25th Annual Public Conversation
featuring Pádraig O'Tuama and Manon Voice

Presented by Spirit & Place and The Church Within.
In conjunction with the John D. Barlow Lecture in the Humanities.

Do we have it within ourselves to begin a genuine journey of reconciliation? One where the harms caused by systemic injustice are truthfully acknowledged and the work of repair can begin? Join theologian and poet Pádraig O’Tuama and local spoken word artist and activist Manon Voice as they explore the relationship between poetry, faith, and reconciliation.

RSVP here. (This is a virtual event.) 

Leading up to this event, we'd love to hear from you. What does "reconciliation" mean to you? What are your experiences with doing the work of reconciliation? Click here to share your thoughts

Activities are made possible in part by the Indiana Arts Commission, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

About the speakers:

>>Poet and theologian, Pádraig O’Tuama’s work centers around themes of language, power, conflict, and religion. Pádraig presents Poetry Unbound with OnBeing Studios and in late 2019 was named Theologian in Residence for OnBeing, bringing art and theology into public and civic life. In his book, In the Shelter (2015), O’Tuama interweaves everyday stories with narrative theology, Celtic spirituality, and poetry to reveal the transformational power of “welcome.”

>>Indianapolis native Manon Voice is a poet and writer, spoken word artist, hip-hop emcee, educator, social justice advocate and practicing contemplative. Manon has appeared on stage with David Whyte; is a Pushcart Prize in Poetry nominee; a featured 2020 Art & Soul Artist; and the 2020 Robert D. Beckmann, Jr., emerging artist fellow with the Arts Council of Indianapolis.

Manon will debut a newly commissioned poem by Spirit & Place in honor of its 25th anniversary theme, ORIGINS!

24th Public Conversation featuring Nikole Hannah-Jones
The 2019 Public Conversation asked the community to join together–Civic Saturday style–around history, poetry, and music to explore why it is time to revolutionize the way we talk about our past and how it is a moral imperative we re-frame conversations on history, society, and race in order to address systemic injustices. America’s traditional origin stories don’t work for everyone and now is the time to wrestle with the meaning of who we are and who we want to be in order to bring America closer to its promises. Leading this conversation was Nikole Hannah-Jones is an award-winning investigative reporter covering racial injustice for The New York Times Magazine. A 2016 Peabody Award winner for her series on school segregation for “This American Life” and 2017 MacArthur Fellow, Hannah-Jones was most recently the lead journalist for The 1619 Project.

2018 Public Conversation featuring Zeynep Tufekci

Techo-sociologist and author of Twitter and Teargas, Zeynep Tufekci focused on social movements and civics, privacy and surveillance, and social interactions. She examined both the positive and negative ways digital platforms support the work of social change. Tufekci, a leading expert on algorithmic decision-making, also spoke on the moral and political implications of  Facebook, Google, Twitter, and others on society. (Think: Facebook and Cambridge Analytic.) Tufekci does not believe these platforms are neutral players and should be held accountable for the spread of false information. In a recent TedTalk she argues, "We need a digital economy where our data and our attention is not for sale to the highest bidding authoritarian or demagogue.”

2017 Public Conversation: Reflections on Race

Featuring Indiana historian Dr. James Madison, poet Dr. Maria Hamilton Abegunde, SongSquad, and actors with Indiana Historical Society’s Museum Theater program, the 2017 Public Conversation used historic documents, images, and music to help the community reflect on the history of race. Attendees heard fresh insights from thoughtful thinkers and doers, but they were also challenged to use their power to tackle intractable issues like race. By bringing the past alive through music, dramatic readings, interactive opportunities, and meaningful reflection, we connected attendees to opp
ortunities, inspired an open minds, and strengthened conviction to engage in critical conversations.

2016 Public Conversation: Home
The 2016 Public Conversation brought together Harvard sociologist and MacArthur Genius Matthew Desmond, author of  New York Times bestselling book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in an American City; Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz, the artist behind the "Homeless Jesus" piece outside Roberts Park UMC downtown; and Allison Luthe who serves as the Executive Director of the Martin Luther King Community Center (MLK Center) located in Butler-Tarkington. The event was moderated by Terri Jett, Associate Professor of Political Science and Special Assistant to the Provost for Diversity and Inclusivity at Butler University.