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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.

Sept. 17-24: My Daily Constitution -- What is it, and why is it so important?

My Daily Constitution ... over the course of one week, we have an opportunity to attend some 19 events about different aspects of the US Constitution, a chance to to inform ourselves, to provoke discussions, and I hope to excite our passion about democracy. More importantly, we have an opportunity to jump-start dozens continuing conversations about what these issues should mean for our everyday lives.

When: Sunday, September 17 to Saturday, September 24

Where: Just about everywhere! Coffeeshops, bookstores, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Indiana State House, Indiana Rep ... check the schedule. Or look at the beefed-up schedule in IndyBuzz.

You can read a critical Pre/View on the politics and art of My Daily Constitution at http://views-pri.blogspot.com/.

“My Daily Constitution” (MDC) started as a public art project by Linda Pollack, included in the exhibition "Democracy When?" at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions in Hollywood in May, 2002. The project brings together leading innovators, the People, and the U.S. Constitution, providing an opportunity for the U.S. Constitution may to be brought to life through Constitution Cafés and other programming. The series has been held in Cincinnati, Los Angeles, New York City and Seattle. The project was a response to the political and cultural climate in the United States after the initial shock of 9/11 and the passage of the USA Patriot Act.

“The idea,” says Pollack, “is to break away from the dynamics of the large
lecture hall and create a space where individuals and communities can become
active participants in a dialogue about our democracy. Our Constitution, our
democracy, is about interpretation-- and interpretation means a collective,
active dialogue, not just passive consumers and lawmaking producers. The U.S.
Constitution is a living document, part of our quotidian life, influencing us in
both large and small ways daily."
During the early 1990s, working in Europe, Pollack witnessed both the brutal collapse of democracy during the civil war in former Yugoslavia and the work of NGOs such as the European Cultural Foundation to strengthen civil processes. She saw both democracy’s fragility and its less newsworthy day-to-day effectiveness. Back in the U.S., as she watched the rapid changes in American law and culture post 9/11, Pollack became convinced that dialogue and citizen engagement are requirements for a vital, high-functioning democratic society.

A Constitution Cafe, a term especially developed for the series, is an event designed to break away from the dynamics of the large lecture hall, and the invisible 'wall' of the panel discussion, to create a space where individuals and communities can become active participants in a dialogue about our democracy. Constitution Cafés are led by discussion leaders who will briefly speak about the issues for a portion of the event. Thereafter the floor is open for questions, sharing comments and experiences, and for listening.

For MDC Indy, a slew of Indianapolis-based discussion leaders have been recruited to share their knowledge, ideas and expertise addressing different issues affecting our Constitutional Democracy. Readers of IndyBuzz will be sure to recognize a few names, others may be new to you. Facilitators will also play a role in the discussions. Their mission is to keep the discussion space open, respectful and productive.

To help you get the most out of MDC, the IndyBuzz blurb for each event offers some useful background readings for the discussion topic. If you have the opportunity, feel free to acquaint yourself with these issues, and become a better-informed participant. If you want to learn more, leave a comment at the bottom of the IndyBuzz blurb. Experts are standing by to answer your questions.

The founder of My Daily Constitution, Linda Pollack, is an artist and organizer who has exhibited and presented her work in Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and the United States. She studied finance and economics in Pennsylvania and studio art in the Netherlands and in California. She got her chops developing cultural policy and putting it to practice while working for the Amsterdam based European Cultural Foundation. While there she set up the Foundation's first arts mobility fund to respond to Europe's East / West cultural divide post 1989. She also set up initiatives addressing culture and war in the former Yugoslavia, working with the Sarajevo Theatre Festival, Balkan rockers “Leb i Sol”, and others.

My Daily Constitution continues Pollack's investigation into the cultural and visual signifiers and practices of democracy, following ‘German Parliaments,’ created during her residency at the art center Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany. ‘German Parliaments’ examined the built environment— the plenary halls of state and federal parliaments— to see how a society ushers in democratic practice post German unification.

With MDC, Pollack turns her attention from the physical architecture of German parliamentary halls to the political and moral framework of the American constitution. Where ‘German Parliaments’ examined the static spatial structure of policymaking, MDC creates new, fluid spaces where citizens can come together to discuss the challenges and possibilities of our shared civic life.

With MDC, Pollack proposes to go beyond the visible symbols of patriotism, beyond flags flapping on cars, and invites us to explore the less visible— yet no less important— world of civic ideals and community engagement.

Themes for My Daily Constitution fall into several distinct clusters:

Overarching events addressing the Constitution as a whole

Constitution Cafés discussing free spech and its limits

Constitution Cafés discussing the struggle to be included in "We the People"

Constitution Cafés discussing tensions between private property and the social good

Constitution Cafés discussing the Constitution in a time of war and terror

Attend one, attend them all ... but get to these discussions, they will be worth the time.

For complete details on topics, discussion leaders, times and locations please refer to the MDC-Indy schedule. The topic list is by no means exhaustive, as Constitutional Democracy is a never-ending story, but it should get the ball rolling! It is up to us in Central Indiana, after the end of this very event-full week, to keep the ball rolling. It's up to us to sustain the conversations, and to use these conversations to transform our civic life.

For the IndyBuzz schedule of MDC events, clink here.

Return to Navigating IndyBuzz in September

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