Building New Worlds 
Series Finale of the Corona Dialogues
Wednesday, March 24 (6-8 pm)
Register in advance for this meeting

Sunday, March 28 (2-4 pm)
Register in advance for this meeting

Food lines that stretch miles. Violence in our nation’s capital. 500,000 people dead and rising. The COVID-19 worldwide pandemic has become a mirror of who we think we are as a society. This crisis reveals both the best and worst of American life and forces us to ask the question, “Where do we go from here?” Utilizing the arts and humanities as a springboard, join Spirit & Place and its many community partners to brainstorm around Building New Worlds and reimagine the future after Covid-19. All discussions are free and will take place virtually. 

These community brainstorming sessions will place participants in groups based on their interests - such as Policy and Systems Change, Equity and Racial Justice and more - to create new solutions and working models for the future. During these sessions we will work together to create a Pandemic Plan for Community Change
, which works to create a sustainable and just future for all. What comes from this will be shared publicly as a framework anyone can use for future work towards systemic change. There will be two opportunities to participate.

Depending on community interest and the facilitators available each session, the following interest groups will be created for the breakout rooms:

Arts & Culture
Community Wellness: Religion & Spirituality (March 28 only)
Community Wellness: Violence Prevention including Child Abuse & Domestic Violence
Economic & Equitable Development
Equity & Racial Justice
Food Systems & Access
Youth Development

Thanks to our facilitators!
Dountania Batts, Pam Blevins Hinkle, Phyllis Boyd, LaShawnda Crowe Storm, Jill English, Maria Hamilton Abegunde, Dalila Huerta, Keri Jeter-Lewis, Heather Johnson-Banks, Erin Kelley, Quay Kester, Mark Latta, Julia Muney Moore, Val Tate, Ann Tragessar, and Manon Voice. 

Thanks to our partners! 
The Corona Dialogues is made possible with support from our partners: Community Action of Greater Indianapolis; Asante Institute; Medical Humanities & Health Program in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI; The Indianapolis Foundation, a CICF affiliate; and Indiana Humanities, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

PHASE I (Sept/Oct 2020): Past Prologue, Future Tense. Participants will discuss an excerpt from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union speech and reflect on civic life in uncertain times, then and now. Each dialogue will have a different set of facilitators offering new approaches to explore the topic. 

PHASE II (Oct 2020): Dreaming of New Worlds Science Fiction Workshop. Local science fiction author Maurice Broaddus will lead a workshop for community members wishing to build a new future together. Maurice will use the power of the literary arts to transition the Corona Dialogues into a phase where participants can image new possibilities and action steps.

Phase III (Mar 2021): Building New Worlds.
 This phase will pivot and bring participants together in groups based on their interests to create new solutions and working models for the future. See above.

Past Community Engagement Initiatives
In 2016, Kheprw Institute and Spirit and Place ran an 8-month community conversation series focused on gentrification called Gentrify: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. With more than 400 participants city-wide, this series highlighted a variety of voices: community activists, city officials, development professionals, and residents. Working and learning together, participants created a space to dig in deeper on the complex issue of gentrification and its impact on community.

A spin-off of Gentrify emerged in 2017 that aimed to move learning to action. From the Ground Up met monthly at Kheprw Institute and invited the community to dive deep into projects that THEY wanted to launch or expand. The meetings at Kheprw helped community members develop strategies and discover how to best develop and use their social capital and relationships.

Also in 2017, Spirit & Place and the Kheprw Institute launched 
Equity in Action. Topics tackled during this speaker/community conversation series included:

Liberty & Justice for All? Legal and Criminal Justice    
Something from Nothing: Economy & Social Capital
Public Dollars for the Public Good?
Prisons, Re-entry and Modern Day Slavery
Environmental Policy in the Post Obama Era
Red Lining, Housing Discrimination and Gentrification
The Color Line: Arts, Equity & Inclusion

From late 2017 through 2018, Spirit & Place conducted a series called Powerful Conversations on Race. This monthly community discussion series explored the themes set out in the text Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism and Racial Violence.

Community-based facilitators trained by Spirit & Place in the civic reflection dialogue method focused on text and other source materials to catalyze community conversations about race and racism in America. These community dialogues provided an opportunity to engage in deep conversations, listen to each other, and be pushed to our growing edge.

Learn more about lessons learned and future plans here.

Community Engagement Philosophy

Our Philosophy

Beginning in 2015, Spirit & Place reevaluated and began to move away from an outreach model of working within the community towards one rooted in community engagement. Some of the major changes in how we are moving deal not only with a perspective shift, but in incorporating new strategies in working with our community. Our engagement approach can be viewed from three broad categories:  
People-Centered Engagement
Adaptability and Flexibility
Capacity Building and Collective Impact
Embracing Emergence

People-Centered Engagement
We’ve reoriented our perspective from “outreach” (which assumes a center/source and a target) to “community engagement” (which embraces reciprocal and ongoing relationship / community development that builds trust). In this model, time is the most critical investment to successfully build effective, collaborative relationships and programs. Being present at crucial community conversations is important, as well as listening without expectation or agenda. In being present and listening to learn and understand, community concerns are in the driver seat and approaches are people centered.

Adaptability and Flexibility
Flexibility is essential to effective community building and civic engagement work in order to accommodate its many forms, which range from bringing together disparate groups with similar interests and compatible skills to pairing a more established group to mentor a start-up group. It is also important for Spirit & Place to have a presence in current events and issues. 

Capacity Building and Collective Impact
We continue to explore what it means for Spirit and Place to fulfill its mission via a collective impact approach or bringing our “A Game” to support community capacity building around civic engagement. In this approach, weaving together new relationships and collaborations leads to exciting opportunities for unseen voices to emerge and new ways of seeing and doing. It may also mean that we use our work in community and in program design to support our community partners as they move forward to looking at new ways of working in the community.

Embracing Emergence 
Centering “emergence” in our work simply means embracing the unknown and looking forward to the journey instead of focusing simply on the destination>; following the doors that open and carving new paths. Most importantly taking a risk to embrace and celebrate what may emerge from the process of working with, centering, and valuing our community. This principal often manifests simply by showing up and seeing what happens, who is there, building bridges, network weaving and then finding ways to move to action. 

Next Steps:
For more information about upcoming Community Engagement derived programming, click here for the Year-Round Events Page.

LaShawnda Crowe Storm
Community Engagement Director, Spirit and Place Festival
Email: (best option)
Phone: 317.274.2463

    Since 1996, the festival
         has engaged over 
    1,000 civic organizations