A Subsidiary of Provocate.org

Welcome to IndyBuzz

IndyBuzz provides information about Central Indiana's most stimulating and thought provoking events -- discussions and conferences, art exhibitions, films, music performances. It tells you what's happening … explains why you should be part of what’s happening. More than an events calendar, though, IndyBuzz tries to make events more meaningful for participants by suggesting an article or two to read before the event, recommending books or websites that will be sources of further information after the event, and pointing out related events that are worth attending.

Visit IndyBuzz's sister site, http://www.provocate.org/, which provides a context for the clusters of the events discussed in IndyBuzz.

Seven Simple Rules for Designing Your Own Spirit & Place Schedule

For civic-minded and culturally challenged wannabe-intellectuals like me, Spirit & Place turns the first couple of weeks in November into a carnival of brain-buzzing delights, a grand wonkathon. So many stimulating events featuring so many excellent speakers, so many opportunities to learn things I didn’t even know I didn’t know. S&P is chance to meet new collaborators and work with new partners. For thinktankers and ordinary citizens alike S&P is like that eleven day period from December 23 to January 2 … no matter what your faith, there are more opportunities for fun than can be comfortably consumed.

A big challenge is to continue the discussions begun at S&P into the months ahead, to turn new friendships into partnerships. The intense interest in various social issues unleashed by S&P events has to be channeled into innovative problem-solving coalitions. IndyBuzz will have a lot to say about this long term challenge, especially as this clunky blog is transformed into a real website that explores the intersection of impersonal information technology and sustained civic engagement.

The immediate challenge of Spirit & Place, however, is trying to cram too many high quality events into just a few days. Some IndyBuzz readers have asked which of the scores of Spirit & Place events they should attend. Rather than say “You have to attend Event X” or “For pity’s sake don’t attend Event Y!” here are Seven Simple Rules for Designing Your Own Spirit & Place Schedule.

Simple Rule #1: Use the Spirit & Place website

Spirit & Place’s website has a nifty scheduling feature that allows you to separate out events by format (lecture and discussion, concert, workshop, etc.), theme (arts, humanities, or religion), and location. It offers a pretty good description of events, bios, maps … IndyBuzz looks at it with envious admiration and thinks: “We could poach some of those features, if only we were not technomorons.” You should click on S&P events to build your own personalized S&P schedule. Note that even though you can register on the site it won’t save your schedule, so you need to print it or e-mail it to yourself. And the S&P scheduling feature is oblivious of the laws of time and space so it doesn’t tell you when you schedule more than one event at the same time. That could lead to trouble if many fine events happen at the same time. But ignore that problem and go to Simple Rule #2.

Simple Rule #2: Let your fancies fly freely, at least on your first pass

My first pass through the S&P schedule yields this very exciting schedule.

Reverence for Life Discussion Series 11/3/2005 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM United States of Mind
Naturalization Ceremony at the 2005 International Festival 11/4/2005 3:00 PM - 4:15 PM Indiana State Fairgrounds
Cafe Cinema: Hotel Rwanda 11/4/2005 7:00 PM - 9:30 PM St. Luke's United Methodist Church
The Absence of Our Presence: Symposium on Issues in Native American Fine Art 11/5/2005 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM The Eiteljorg Museum
Kabbalah for the Rationalist: Jewish Mystical Tradition and the Spiritual Imagination 11/5/2005 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM Congregation Beth-El Zedeck
Creation in Time and Eternity: Ecology and Orthodox Christianity 11/5/2005 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM Christian Theological Seminary
Stories, Songs, and Poems: A 10th Anniversary Gala with Wendell Berry and Tim Grimm 11/5/2005 7:00 PM - 9:30 PM The Indiana Repertory Theatre
A Public Conversation with Wendell Berry, A’Lelia Bundles, and Rabbi Lawrence Kushner 11/6/2005 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM Clowes Memorial Hall
Public Conversation Dinner Table Dialogue 11/6/2005 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM Butler University
Madam C. J. Walker and Indianapolis: An Enduring Legacy 11/7/2005 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM Butler University
Immigration in American Life: A Midwest Perspective 11/7/2005 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM President Benjamin Harrison Home
Working Our Way Home: An Evening with Wendell Berry & Friends 11/7/2005 4:00 PM - 8:00 PM Ransburg Auditorium at Univ. of Indianapolis (plenary gatherings at 4:00 & 7:00 p. m.)
Where Have All the Farmers Gone? 11/8/2005 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM Center for Agricultural Science and Heritage
Hotel Rwanda: An Evening with Paul Rusesabagina 11/8/2005 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM St. Luke's United Methodist Church
Migrations of a Melody 11/8/2005 7:30 PM - 9:30 PM Cultural Arts Center at the Hasten Hebrew Academy
Women in the Professions: Who Moves, Who Stays, and Why Some of Us Choose to Stay Home 11/9/2005 8:30 AM - 10:00 AM The IUPUI University Library
Moving and Staying in a Global Indy 11/9/2005 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM Marian College
The Diaspora and the Homecoming: A celebration of survival in music, story, and dance11/9/2005 7:30 PM - 9:30 PM Jewish Community Center
Moving into The Next Generation in Education 11/10/2005 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM Ivy Tech Community College
Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow, 1905 and 2005: Waltzing at the Edge of the Abyss 11/10/2005 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM Meridian Music Co.
"As Fast As Circumstances Should Permit": Abraham Lincoln's Move Toward Equality 11/10/2005 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM Indiana History Center
Becoming a Peacemaker 11/11/2005 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM Unity Church
Generations of Immigrant Experiences: Poetry Reading and Historic Walking Tour 11/12/2005 1:30 PM - 4:00 PM The Athenaeum
Crossroads Ensemble in Concert 11/13/2005 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation
Sacred Circles, Public Squares 11/13/2005 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM Glendale Library
An Intimate Taste of Mass Avenue 11/14/2005 5:30 PM - 9:30 PM Elements/R Bistro/The Scholars Inn Gourmet Cafe & Wine Bar
"Staying at the Heart of Belief; Moving Toward One Another in Openness" Interfaith Peace-Prayer Service 11/15/2005 7:30 PM - 8:30 PM Carmelite Monastery
How Leaving and Staying Affects Our Philanthropy 11/16/2005 11:30 AM Marott
Twenty Years of Interfaith in Indianapolis 11/16/2005 6:45 PM - 9:30 PM Unitarian Universalist Church of Indianapolis
Gravitating Towards Indianapolis 11/17/2005 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM Indianapolis Art Center
Writing from the Center: With Carrie Newcomer 11/18/2005 9:30 AM - 4:00 PM Indianapolis Center for Congregations
Time and Timelessness: A Conversation with Stewart Brand and Witold Rybczynski 11/19/2005 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM Indianapolis Museum of Art
The Truly Moving Film Series 11/20/2005 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM Indianapolis Art Center


There it is, 33 events in 16 days. Music, lectures, discussions, dining, art inter-faith worship … By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, just think how cultured and smart and virtuous I’ll be! The problem is that I feel like I did when I was a kid, paging through the Sears Christmas catalogue, marking every toy I desperately wanted as a present … and winding up circling seven-eighths of the enticingly displayed items in the toys-for-boys section. No sense of priority, regard for reality. Such too is the case with my initial free-flying schedule. This brings us to Simple Rule #3.

Simple Rule #3: Once you’ve allowed your fancies to fly freely, check the laws of time and space

My initial S&P schedule starts Thursday Nov. 3rd with an interfaith discussion of faiths happily getting along with one another … always a classic theme for Spirit & Place, and this should be interesting.

Friday the 4th gets a bit more complicated. My schedule shows me visiting the International Festival to witness a mass naturalization ceremony in the afternoon. The Grand Theme of S&P in 2005 is “Moving and Staying,” so many later events deal with immigration, what better way to prepare myself for these discussions than getting up-close and personal with my fellow Hoosiers just at the moment when they become Americans? Then drive from the State Fairgrounds to St. Luke’s to watch the film “Café Rwanda” … Paul Rusesabagina (the person on whom Don Cheadle’s movie character was based) will be in town on the 8th, and it’s always better to see a film with a group rather than just on DVD.

So far so good with my schedule. But now events start to collide.

Saturday the 5th is obviously impossible, sabotaged by those pesky laws of space and time. Eiteljorg is hosting a day long symposium on Native Americans and fine arts that looks fascinating. But in the afternoon there will be a talk about the Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism, and another talk about Eastern Orthodoxy’s view of nature and the environment. Finally the evening concludes with a gala celebration for Spirit & Place’s 10th anniversary. Tough choices have to be made, but that’s why Spirit& Place’s website has buttons. scheduling of an Orthodox Christian and a Jewish event for the same time seems reminiscent of Exodus, where Moses and Aaron smacked-down Pharaoh’s court magicians in a contest of whose god was more powerful … whose S&P event is more powerful? I’ll refuse to make that choice between two fine and worthy religious traditions. Instead I’ll attend the Native American art symposium at the Eiteljorg. After all, I spent eight hours putting together the IndyBuzz blurb for that event, poring through examples of the Eiteljorg Fellow’s artworks and writings … it would be a shame not to put my newly acquired quasi-expertise to good use.

Time to start clicking some buttons on my schedule.

(The time conflict between Jewish mysticism and Eastern Orthodoxy raises a question of theodicy: can a Master Scheduler who allows such conflicts be both all-powerful and all-good?)

No other event on my schedule conflicts with the Spirit & Place tenth anniversary gala. No surprise there, the gala promises to be a big fundraiser for Spirit & Place. But after a day of earnest brow-furrowing over Native American artists’ relation to the mainstream artworld, am I really going to be up to a gala? Even at the best of times I am not exactly gala material, and while this is a very worthy cause it does come at a price ($50 per person, $100 for dessert). So for now let’s treat the gala Saturday night as a “maybe.”

Sunday the 6th will be spent at Butler University where the confluence of S&P and Butler’s 150th anniversary will produce an all time great day of wonkish delight. Spirit & Place’s highpoint (when there is no gala fundraiser) is the Public Conversation, featuring three nationally renowned public intellectuals discussing all the issues great and small that cross their minds. As always, I expect to be reminded that possession of sound and realistic ideas about foreign policy isn’t a prerequisite for being a nationally renowned public intellectual. The Public Conversation is always at the same time exhilarating and exasperating, and everyone ought to attend this year’s meeting of the minds of A’Lelia Bundles, Wendell Berry, and Rabbi Lawrence Kushner.

But this Sunday the Public Conversation won’t be even the most exhilarating and exasperating event on Butler’s campus that day. In the evening, Bill Clinton is speaking as part of the University’s 150th birthday party. When Clinton unexpectedly and unilaterally declared that he would be coming to Butler on the same day as the Public Conversation, S&P organizers faced the prospect of 3500 people coming to Clowes Hall for the Conversation in the afternoon, then streaming off campus to find dinner, then flooding back to Hinkle Fieldhouse with an additional 7000 Clinton devotees. To simplify matters, S&P is offering a Dinner Table Dialogue sandwiched (so to speak) between the Public Conversation and Clinton’s talk. What a nice idea! Now all IndyBuzz has to do is score a ticket to Clinton’s talk. (Hint, hint.)

Back to preparing a personalized S&P schedule. Three events on Monday the 7th seem almost tailor-made to fit nicely together. In the morning it’s back to Butler to hear A’Lelia Bundles talk about her great-great-grandmother Madame CJ Walker. (Can someone explain why this event isn’t in the Madame Walker Theatre?) Then over to the Benjamin Harrison House for a discussion of immigration in the Midwest. Then head south to the University of Indianapolis for an evening with Wendell Berry and several hundred mutual friends. And no worries about dinner since the evening spent with Wendell is intended to help us better understand what and how to eat.

At this point, alarm bells warning about impending conflicts are clanging in my head … could my schedule for Monday really be this snug and simple? The answer is “no,” but let’s push on.

Tuesday the 8th includes an enormous conflict. At the same time is scheduled a discussion of the “slow food” movement (which does not describe service at an apathetic restaurant), the discussion of the events behind “Hotel Rwanda,” and a delightful sounding fusion of music and a beloved Yiddish story “A Gilgul fun Ningun”. What a choice! It draws attention to an essential feature of S&P. Spirit & Place is not only about finding events that seem interesting or entertaining. It is about stretching yourself, exposing yourself to new ideas and experience, about forming an ideal vision of the person you would like to become and using the events to come closer to that ideal. Who do I want to be? A serious policy wonk who seeks to prevent the sorts of genocide that occurred in Rwanda? A social philosopher of quotidian local life rooted in the “slow food movement”? Or a sophisticated aesthete who enjoys the intersection of music, literature, and cultural history that will be on display at the performance of the splendid Ronen Chamber Ensemble? I discover something about myself: I am the sort of person who chooses to postpone tough choices, and so I move on leaving in place on my schedule the impossible pile-up of events on the evening of the 8th.

Wednesday the 9th doesn’t seem to force such a difficult choice. A breakfast discussion of successful women at IUPUI (I am always looking for role models). In the evening it is select either a discussion at Marian College of globalized Indianapolis or a commemoration of the anniversary of Kristallnacht. My choice between two very worthy events is made for me: Sagamore Institute is co-sponsoring the Marian event, and that’s where I will be. Click the button for “Diaspora and Homecoming” … too bad.

Thursday the 10th again faces a big conflict, but it’s easily resolved. One event discusses the internet’s possible contributions to adult education, a vital topic to chronically undereducated adult like me. A second option looks at Lincoln, always crucial for understanding race and equality today. But for me, the Indianapolis Opera event trumps all … and not just because I am doing it. I expect this to be the most fun of all the S&P events. Years ago I fell under the spell of a book called Wittgenstein’s Vienna. So well did authors Janik and Toulmin capture the intellectual and culture ferment, the contradictions and the creativity of Vienna at the turn of the century that I spent years immersing myself in the music, the literature, the philosophy, the politics of Vienna in the first half of the 20th century. Now I get a chance to revisit Vienna of 1905 as I explore Franz Lehár’s Merry Widow with the Ensemble of the Indianapolis Opera. Sorry Lincoln, on the evening of the 10th I’ll be hanging out with my musical friends.

Friday the 11th is an easier day, no scheduling conflicts on the horizon, just a session called “Becoming a Peacemaker” with the School of Metaphysics, an organization with which I am unfamiliar. The title of the session is appealing: I probably spend three-quarters of my job seeking alternatives to conflict on local and global levels. A closer look at the event description sets warning bells pinging: “People around the world yearn for peace, yet few know how to make peace in times of trouble. This program offers five keys for making peace—Ideals, Love, Friendship, Respect, and Service. The key concepts are drawn from the lives of Mahatma Gandhi and Nobel Peace Prize winners Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, Jimmy Carter, and Albert Schweitzer. Learn about the keys, enjoy a discussion that helps you clarify your own thoughts, and write about friendship. Then crystallize your thoughts into a single statement to share with each other in a friendship circle, culminating in a ritual called a Circle of Love.” Oh no, “Circle of Love”? Are we going to try to achieve world peace through meditation? Sure, if I am in a lotus position meditating I am too busy to hit anyone or to invade any countries, but will my meditating prevent President Bush from invading more countries? Causality doesn’t work that way. I start thinking about the medieval scholar Maimonides, who blamed the fall of the ancient Israelites on their discovery of books about astrology. Not only was it a form of idolatry, he says, to imagine that the stars shape human’s destiny. “They did not busy themselves with the art of war or with the conquest of lands, but imagined that those studies [of astrology] would help them.” If Maimonides advises that I should stay home Friday night to read that big stack of books by my bed on the art of war and the conquest of lands, who am I to say “no”?

Actually, I will say “no” to Maimomides because of the fourth Simple Rule of Designing a Schedule for Spirit & Place.

Simple Rule #4: Push yourself out of your comfort zone

Joining the “Circle of Love” with the School of Metaphysicians definitely is way outside my comfort zone, so I’ll be there. Will I discover workable approaches to peacemaking? Probably not, but I won’t know unless I check it out, and S&P gives us a great opportunity to check out new things.

Returning to my S&P schedule, I find another tragic choice the afternoon of Saturday the 12th. I can learn about German immigration to Indiana through poetry and an architectural walking tour, or learn about the local Sikhs through food and music. Indian food and music? Sorry Giles, I’ll see you the 12th, KP.

Another dilemma Sunday the 13th. A discussion of local religion and public life with rising star Art Farnsley and an all star cast of civic thinkers? Or “Latin rhythms, Israeli and Sephardic (Spanish/Jewish) folk songs, and Jazz elements” with the Crossroads Ensemble? Resolution is made easier by the S&P website’s handy map function: Art’s talk is at Glendale Mall, three minutes from my house. I’ll keep the Crossroads Ensemble event on my schedule, but depending on how burnt out I am by that point of the S&P period I may allow my car to make the decision.

An excellent event is on my schedule for Monday the 14th. Mass Ave has joined 86th and Ditch as one of the city’s culinary hotspots, here’s a chance to sample food from the three best restaurants and to talk with the architects who designed three dining spaces that are in very different ways quite innovative and comfortable. Spirit & Place at its best.

In fact, scanning through the rest of my S&P schedule, I don’t see any more time conflicts. On Tuesday the 15th go to the Carmelite Monastery for an interfaith peace prayer (see Simple Rule #4). Wednesday the 16th a discussion of multicultural philanthropy in the morning, and another interfaith discussion in the evening. An important discussion of the future of the arts in Indiana the evening of Thursday the 17th. Become friends with singer and activist Carrie Newcomer on the 18th. Chat about design and architecture with Stewart Brand and Witold Rybczyński on the 19th, and conclude with the uplifting film Alan and Naomi on the 20th.

Looking at this smooth schedule, I keep thinking that I must be forgetting something. As O-ren Ishii says to the Bride: “You didn’t think it was gonna be that easy, did you?” Consider the Fifth Simple Rule.

Simple Rule #5: Don’t forget that outside of Spirit & Place you have a job, a family, perhaps even a life.

Oh yeah, that’s right, I have a job at a think tank that requires me to do things like give talks and teach. And the Colts play New England. And my all-time favorite basketball player has been released from his cage, and so I should try to watch the Pacers before Artest loses it and is banished from the sport. That explains those warning bells that kept clanging in my head.

I would never think of skipping the elaborately and spontaneously choreographed dinner and discussion with Wendell Berry and other post-hippies on the 7th. But I did commit to going to Ball State to talk about the tragic and avoidable collapse of the Free Trade Area of the Americas that evening (and I am looking forward to talking with the BSU business students), so I guess my snug schedule for that afternoon is shot (and I’ll listen to the Colts on the radio driving back from Muncie).

My existential dilemma Tuesday the 8th vanishes when I remember that I teach a class on Middle Eastern Politics that evening. So I guess I don’t have to choose what kind of person I want to be. (I had considered taking the class to the Jewish Community Center for a sampling of Jewish food from around the world with the author of a book about the subject. But we had a Palestinian meal at Khoury’s, remember? Sometimes my kids do have to sit in a classroom like real students.)

Tragedy strikes on the 14th when my life rams into the S&P dining/architecture evening on Mass Ave. The University of Indianapolis has invited me to a panel discussion of the United Nations that evening. I am honored to be invited, it should be very interesting and enjoyable, but the thought of missing out on food from Elements, R Bistro, and Scholars Inn is likely to make me kind of cranky that evening … so expect a rousing defense of John Bolton.

A fascinating and important discussion such as the cursed debate about the UN at the University of Indianapolis is a reminder that most of the local groups that put on interesting events don’t go on hiatus during Spirit & Place.

Simple Rule #6: There are fine non-S&P events in town, so check IndyBuzz.

Checking my S&P schedule against IndyBuzz’s more comprehensive list of essential events around Central Indiana reveals a universe riddled with scheduling conflicts. Curse this city with its lively intellectual life and wonderfully diverse opportunities for cultural enrichment! Here are some of the complications that arise.

Nov. 7th the last of the three events that seemed to fit so snugly in my S&P schedule is bumped by lunch featuring a talk by President’s AIDS coordinator, Randall Tobias.

Nov. 9th there is a commemoration of Kristallnacht and holocaust in readings and songs exploring the idea of Diaspora. Too bad it conflicts with the Globalized Indy discussion at Marian college.

Nov. 13th a talk by Jeff Halper, an activist on the far reaches of the Left of the Israeli peace movement, threatens to displace an already unresolved dilemma between Art Farnsley and the Crossroads Ensemble. But I’ll be hosting Halper the next day at Sagamore Institute, so I’ll pass on the Christians for Peace and Justice event on Sunday. That day another tempting possibility has popped up: NPR personality Diane Rehm.

It’s on the 15th and 16th, days that seemed so deceptively uncluttered on my S&P schedule, that the worst conflicts and the toughest choices become evident. Asiaphiles like me have to choose on the 15th between two excellent dinner discussions: either a discussion of Chinese currency devaluation at the World Trade Club; or a talk about Korea by the ever insightful former Ambassador Donald Gregg at the Indianapolis Committee on Foreign Relations. (For me, my Middle East politics class trumps either of these talks as well as the interfaith ceremony I had hoped to attend.)

The 16th is even worse, resembling a pile-up of cars in a Northern California fogbank … they just keep smacking in. To the celebration of 20 years of interfaith in Indianapolis is added a screening of the anti-Wal-Mart movie by the cool kids at Big Car Gallery; a discussion with the architect selected to build the new memorial and towers on the World Trade Center’s space; and the Indiana Council on World Affairs celebrates its 50th anniversary with a talk about global corruption. I’ll be with the ICWA, 50 years is a long time, and it will be nice to help the Council kick off its next 50.

This brings about the final Simple Rule for Designing You Spirit & Place Schedule.

Simple Rule #7: Remind yourself that Spirit & Place is just a first step, a beginning rather than an end

The learning just starts in the next few weeks. The search for solutions is what matters even more than being enlightened and entertained. If you miss an you very much want to attend event (and obviously I will miss many) don’t worry, chances are one of the fine organizations in town will organize another soon.

Oh yeah, what about my final schedule for the next few weeks? It should look something like this:

Thursday Nov. 3:

Thursday Nov. 3-6:

Friday Nov. 4:

Saturday Nov. 5:

Sunday Nov. 6:

Monday Nov. 7:

Tuesday Nov. 8

  • Middle East Politics Class (students: remember my sacrifices when you will out the course evaluation!)

Wednesday Nov. 9:

Thursday Nov. 10:

Friday Nov. 11:

Saturday Nov. 12:

Sunday Nov. 13:

Monday Nov. 14:

Tuesday Nov. 15 Middle East politics class

Wednesday Nov. 16:

Thursday Nov. 17:


Friday Nov. 18:

Saturday Nov. 19:

Sunday Nov. 20:

I’ll look forward to hearing about the events I miss. Thanks.

No comments:

Who is IndyBuzz?

Provocate strengthens the intellectual and civic fabric of Central Indiana by connecting global & local, entertainment & education, culture & policy