Past Event Highlights

Active in the community year-round, Spirit & Place's activities are varied and abundant!
Civic Reflection Dialogue Training, 2017

Beginning in 2015 Spirit & Place made a strategic shift to expand its impact thoughtfully and intentionally beyond the November festival. While still firmly committed to the annual Spirit & Place Festival, Spirit & Place is busy making a difference in Central Indiana in a myriad of ways.

Our tools—arts, humanities, and religion—are always with us in these endeavors.

We are proud of our community efforts outside the Spirit & Place Festival and invite you to reminiscence with us on our past events.

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Past Events


Laugh in Peace Comedy Tour
Hosted at Central Library, the “Laugh in Peace” comedy tour featured the comedic trio of Muslim comic Gibran Saleem, Rabbi Bob Alper, and Rev. Susan Sparks. Coming from different religious backgrounds, these three incredibly funny comics promote interfaith dialogue through laughter. The show encourages audiences to think, laugh, and leave with a different view on the world. (5/19/22)


Unpacking for “The Hill We Climb”
Indy spoken word poets Manon Voice and Tatjana Rebelle; pastor of The Church Within Darren Chittick; and public historian Erin Kelley unpacked Amanda Gorman’s poem “The Hill We Climb” as a civic call to action. Presented by The Church Within in partnership with Spirit & Place.

Corona Dialogues (Phase III)
In the final stage of the Corona Dialogues, the public gathered to create a “Pandemic Plan for Change.”

Living Stories: An Evening with Elaine Pagels
Poet and scholar Maria Hamilton Abegunde and religious studies scholar and best-selling author Elaine Pagels joined in a spirited conversation that delved into how sacred stories shape our understanding of ourselves but also need to be re-interpreting so that they might continue to help us in challenging times. Presented by Spirit & Place; Community for Contemplation and Justice of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church; IUPUI Senior Academy; and Religious Studies Department, IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. This event is made possible through the generous support of Lilly Endowment Inc.

Story Mindset: Event Strategizing Workshop with Sally Perkins
Award-winning storyteller Sally Perkins guided attendees through the process of understanding why stories matter on both an intellectual and emotional level, what a story is and isn’t, what the “best” stories all have in common, and how to apply a storytelling framework when designing an event. Presented by Spirit & Place and Storytelling Arts of Indiana.


Growing up Black and White in America told by Charlotte Blake Alston and Bill Mettler
Presented by Storytelling Arts of Indiana in partnership with Spirit & Place and the Madam Walker Legacy Center. Set largely against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam War and the militancy of the 1960s, Charlotte Blake Alston and Bill Mettler – black and white storytellers respectively – shared an exploration of their respective journeys in America.

Corona Dialogues (Phase I & II)
Corona Dialogues was a virtual discussion series that explored the impact and ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic using an excerpt of FDR’s “Four Freedoms” speech. In follow-up workshops led by speculative fiction writer Maurice Broaddus, we pivoted to tap into our imaginative “world-building” powers. Working from the ground-up to discover innovative solutions across silos, Spirit & Place reconvened these sessions in 2021 to build a “Pandemic Plan for Community Change.”

More Highlights

Unspoken History told by Anne Shimojima and Dovie Thomason
Presented by Storytelling Arts of Indiana and in partnership with Spirit & Place, this event featured a pair of nationally acclaimed storytellers, Anne Shimojima & Dovie Thomason. Even though the war may be over and the wild west tamed, the damage done to oppressed groups cannot be undone, and should not be understated. Anne & Dovie shared personal stories about reconciling with the past in the hope that it may lead to a better future. (1/12/19)

2018 witnessed the launch of Powerful Conversations on Race, Civic Saturday, and a Community Innovation Lab project with EMCArts, Kheprw Institute, and Groundwork Indy. But that’s not all! 2018 was a year of massive co-creation and co-promotion. Spirit & Place proudly collaborated on the following:

29th Joseph T. Taylor Symposium – Invisible Indianapolis: Race and Heritage in the Circle City with the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI and the IUPUI Department of Anthropology.

Secret Cures of Slaves: People, Plants, and Medicine in Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World lecture by Dr. Londa Schiebinger with the IUPUI Department of History’s History Talks! Series.

Mohican Songs of the Spirit featuring Grammy-winning Stockbridge Mohican artist and musician Bill Miller with the IUPUI Department of Religious Studies, Eiteljorg Museum, IUPUI American Indian Program, and IUPUI Arts & Humanities Institute.

Seeing Ourselves in Each Other hosted by IUPUI student groups Students for Justice in Palestine, Black Student Union, Native American Student Alliance, Dreamer’s Alliance United as One, and the Muslim Youth Collective.

MoCon intersection-themed event, An Evening with Mikki Kendall & Chesya Burke. (MoCon is a speculative fiction writers conference organized by Maurice Broaddus.)

15th Annual Thomas H. Lake Lecture featuring Scott Harrison, founder and CEO of charity:water, on “Reinventing Charity.”

Community Café: Can Social Media Build Real Social Connections? Spirit & Place invited community change leaders to participate in a world-café style dialogue themed around the work of Zeynep Tufekci. Special thanks to host Broadway United Methodist Church and friends at The Learning Tree.

Equity in Action
Equity in Action was a partnership between Spirit & Place and the Kheprw Institute focused on learning how we can make Indianapolis more equitable. 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.

Birds of Longing: Exile and Memory
Spirit & Place supported the opening reception of Birds of Longing: Exile and Memory — an exhibition at the Indiana Interchurch Center by the New York-based fiber artist, Laurie Wohl which intertwined Muslim, Jewish, and Christian poetry and spiritual texts from the period of the Convivencia in Spain and from contemporary Middle Eastern poets.

28th Joseph T. Taylor Symposium: It’s not foreign. It’s U.S.
Spirit & Place served in an advisory capacity for the Taylor Symposium which in 2017 explored how, as a nation of immigrants, the U.S. is one of the most diverse societies in the world. Yet, history and modern times are rife with examples of cultural misunderstandings that stand in the way of a truly integrated society.

Knock it Out of the Park: FREE Event Design Workshop
The workshop focused on imaginative yet practical advice from Indiana Disability Rights on how to create more welcoming and accessible events; a presentation by Spirit & Place Program Director Erin Kelley on why articulating goals and sweating the small stuff matters; discussion with Congregation Beth-El Zedeck Education Director George Kelley on what it takes to select and prepare event panelists and moderators; and, finally, dramatization and role playing activities with Bonnie Mill, Nick Carpenter, and Andrea Lott Haney with the Sapphire Theatre Co.

An American Conscience: The Reinhold Niebuhr Story
The Center for Interfaith Cooperation, in partnership with Spirit & Place, screened the documentary An American Conscience: The Reinhold Niebuhr Story. A panel conversation featuring Dr. Lewis Galloway, Second Presbyterian Church senior pastor; Tim Swarens, Indianapolis Star opinion editor and columnist; Rev. Marilyn Gill, Indiana Christian Leadership Conference executive director; and Ray Haberski, IUPUI professor of history and American Studies director followed the film.

What We Need is Here: Hope, Hard Times, & the Human Possibility
Spirit & Place proudly served as a promotional partner with St. Luke’s Methodist Church for a concert with Carrie Newcomer and Parker Palmer, who came together to create an evening concert designed to encourage a new kind of conversation—one that bridges our divides and helps restore civic community. (10/6/17)

Polio: A Look Back at American’s Most Successful Public Health Crusade
Pulitzer Prize winning author of Polio: An American Story and New York University professor David Oshinsky spoke about the largest public health experiment in American history in this “History Talks! Engage the Past, in the Present, about the Future” lecture presented by IUPUI Department of History, with support from IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute, IU School of Medicine, Spirit & Place, and JBS Society.

Before I Die Festival
End-of-life discussions can be downright awkward. Many of us avoid these conversations despite the fact several decisions need to be made at the end of someone’s life. Spirit & Place proudly partnered with the IU School of Nursing from April 15-17, 2016 on the United States’ first ever “Before I Die Festival.” Through book discussions, panel conversations, film screenings, cemetery tours, clergy training, music, art, and even death café’s we sparked conversation for almost 800 attendees at 20+ events. 4/15-17/16)

Civic Challenge
In partnership with Indiana Humanities, Spirit & Place launched an initiative that encouraged nonprofit organizations to engage voters in nonpartisan activities in 2016 and beyond. Through a series of trainings, Spirit & Place led the way on educating 501(c)(3) organizations on how to engage their audiences, staff, and boards to bolster a culture of voter participation.

Gentrify: The Good, The Bad, the Ugly
It can be difficult to have honest conversations about gentrification because of how mired it is with issues of class, politics, race, and human impact. Spirit & Place and the Kheprw Institute partnered in 2016 to launch Gentrify: The Good, The Bad, The Uglya community discussion series that explored the impact and ramifications of gentrification above and beyond displacement. The series culminated with the Spirit & Place Festival event, “From the Ground Up: A People-Centered Approach to Community Development.”

Spirit & Place also hosted a game night at Sun King Brewery earlier that summer. By tweaking a few classic tabletops games such as The Game of Life and Jenga, we created an engaging way for the public to learn about and begin discussing gentrification.

City Suppers: Spirit & Place Edition
Spirit & Place was proud to have partnered with the Harrison Center and City Gallery on its 3rd Annual City Suppers in October 2016. Aimed at building stronger community bonds, City Suppers encourages friends, family, and especially neighbors to share a meal–at home–and to really get to know each other. In celebration of the Spirit & Place 2016 festival theme, HOME, we encouraged participants to use these home-inspired conversation starters during dinner.

History Talks!
History Talks! was an inaugural program of the IUPUI Department of History with support from the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, Spirit & Place, and Indiana Landmarks in which historian James Madison presented “Two Centuries of Hoosiers” at the Indiana Landmarks Cook Theater. Madison provided an overview of the state’s past, from Hoosier pioneers through the Civil War to the 21st century. His illustrated talk highlighted connections between past and present to help us think about the future.

Talking About Freedoms without Freaking Out
Talking about Freedoms was an an IUPUI discussion series powered by Spirit & Place with support from the IUPUI Office of Community Engagement, Indiana Humanities, IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law, Center for Interfaith Cooperation, and The Center for Civic Literacy.

During the summer of 2015, Spirit & Place worked to connect the public with legal scholars and others in an exploration of which freedoms the First Amendment does – and does not – protect. Sessions included:

Hate Speech and the First Amendment:  Values in Conflict

Can We Talk about RFRA without Talking Past One Another?

Trivia Night at Sun King

Spirit & Place
IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI
425 University Blvd., CA 003B
Indianapolis, IN 46202

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