Sunday, April 25, 2010

"Chew on this" on May 4

One night. 15 locations

300 mouths chewing on Indianapolis’ food issues today and in the future.

May 4, 2010, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Eat, think and talk with neighbors, friends and new acquaintances at one of 15 different locally owned restaurants or community venues around the city. Over dinner, a facilitator will lead a conversation about “From local to global: How can we use Indiana’s strengths in agriculture and artisanal foods to position Indiana globally?” based on the book Caught in the Middle: America’s Heartland in the Age of Globalism by Richard Longworth. Each location will be limited to 20 people to encourage an intimate, yet fruitful conversation. Reserve your seat today.

Prices for a prix fixe menu may vary based on location. Free potluck options will also be available. This event is part of the IndyTalks series, a citywide collaboration dedicated to fostering a sense of community through respectful and creative civic dialogue. Facilitators include chefs, gardeners, self-professed foodies and local community leaders, such as Neal Brown, Michelle Griffith, Laura Henderson, Rob MacPherson, Michael Twyman and Bob Whitt. To reserve your spot, complete this form, and e-mail it to, or call Gail Payne at 317.985.5523. Reservations are limited, and are due by April 30.


Indiana Humanities Council (Free/pitch-in)
1500 North Delaware Street Indianapolis, IN 46202
Facilitated by Rosemary Dorsa, Vice President for Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives, CICF, and Indiana Humanities Council board chair
The Indiana Humanities Council encourages Hoosiers to think, read ­and talk. How? By creating its own programs, such as Community Workshops, Evenings at the House and Novel Conversations; by providing grants for humanities programs throughout the state; and by providing a space—physically and digitally—for people to connect and converse.

R Bistro ($50/person)
888 Massachusetts Avenue Indianapolis, IN 46204-1633
Facilitator: Erin Kelley, Public Programs Coordinator, Indiana Historical Society
Read R Bistro reviews from here
Zing ($30/person)
543 Indiana Avenue Indianapolis, IN 46202
Host: Michael Twyman, program officer, Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust
Read reviews of Zing from here

Chef's Academy ($40/person)
Bob Whitt, Director, White River State Park


St. Luke's Methodist Church (Free/pitch-in)
100 West 86th Street Indianapolis, IN 46260-2316
Host: Cassie Stockcamp, President, Athenaeum Foundation

Recess Restaurant ($50/person)
Host: Michelle Griffith, Community Volunteer
Read reviews of Recess from NUVO here


University of Indianapolis (Free/pitch-in)
1400 East Hanna Avenue • Indianapolis, Indiana 46227
Host: Christine Beckman, director, conference and scheduling, University of Indianapolis

Host: Neal Brown, owner, Pizzology
Read reviews of Santorini's from here

Stone Creek Dining Company ($40/person)
911 North State Road 135, Greenwood, IN 46142
Host: Pam Blevins Hinkle, director, Spirit & Place festival
Read reviews of Stone Creek at here


John H. Boner Community Center (Free/pitch-in)
2236 East 10th Street Indianapolis, IN 46201-2098
Laura Henderson, market master, Indy Winter Farmers' Market

5614 East Washington Street Indianapolis, IN 46219
Host: Rob MacPherson, Vice President for Development, Central Indiana Community Foundation

Irvington echoes throughout Indianapolis as the Sleepy Hollow of the Eastside. Historic houses, winding brick roads, and old magic meld together to form a community dripping with stories and legends. The Benton House and Butler University, the Irving Theatre, the D.C. Stevenson House, Ellenberger Park, and the circles; all are part of the history and mystery of Irvington.

The Loop Bar and Grille ($25/person)
8220 Brookville Road Indianapolis, IN 46239
Host still a mystery


Jewish Community Center (Free/pitch-in)
6701 Hoover Road Indianapolis, IN 46260
Host: Patti Dorson, Community Volunteer

Todd Jameson, owner, Balanced Harvest Farms, president, Slow Food Indy
An Indianapolis icon, Rick's is a palatial full-service restaurant and bar that serves superb quality coupled with service excellence. Winning multiple awards, including best crab cakes at Zoobilation 2009, we offer something for everyone!

Dawson's on Main (app. $25/person)
1464 Main Street Indianapolis, IN 46224-6526
Host still to be determined
Read Reid Duffy's review of Dawson on Main here

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Overview of "7 [+2 or 3] Lecturers on Globalization & the Arts"

Wednesday February 24 will witness one of the most original discussions of globalization ... well, ever. As part of IndyTalks, Big Car is organizing an event unlike any other. Ten prominent members of the Indianapolis arts community will come together to present their points of view on the subject of Indianapolis arts and globalization. (The original plan was to have seven speakers, but there are way more than seven local artists and desigers with important things to say, so the numbers have grown.) What this already interesting presentation even more so is that the featured speakers will be talking at the same time. Each Members in the audience will have the ability to control each presenter’s volume and “listen in” on their preferred snippets.

Seven Ten Nine Simultaneous Lectures
Wednesday, Feb. 24, 7 p.m. Free
Local cultural experts will simultaneously present short lectures with powerpoint on the topic of art and culture in Indianapolis and its role in the global scheme of things. Yes, these lecturers (in two groups of five) will present at the same time. These two rounds will be followed by a moderated discussion/conversation with the panelists and the audience. This is part of the IndyTalks series and is the first of Big Car's Made for Each Other events this winter and spring at Central Library in partnership with IMCPL and Know No Stranger.

Says Big Car's Jim Walker: "Overall, this project relates to Big Car's love of spontaneity, improvisation, audience involvement, collaboration, experimentation — and experiencing the joy that comes from creating a big, stressful mess and finding the happy accidents that can only come from that mess."

All Talking at Once!

Who are these guys, part 2

Details about presenters the Feb. 24 IndyTalks event, "7 Simultaneous Speakers about Globalization and Art." More like 10 simultaneous speakers, nine smart people (plus Provocate's John Clark). Get there early and be ready to crank up the volume on your favorites.

Gautam Rao: professor of art at Butler, artist, iMOCA board member.Self described "Artist. Designer. Cow-Enthusiast":
I’m an Assistant Professor of Art at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana.  I earned my MFA from the University of Pennsylvania in 2002 and my BFA from Boston University in 1999.  I’m on the Board of Directors of the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art and was a founding Board Member of Herron High School in Indianapolis.  Some of my distinctions include a Susan Coslett Cromwell Traveling Fellowship, and awards from the Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation and the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts.

Kelli Mirgeaux: Executive director of the International Film Festival, Fountain Square Arts Council
A member of the IIFF board since 2006, Kelli has worked in various roles with the festival before taking on the position of Executive Director in November, 2009.  Kelli is also an active volunteer in her neighborhood of Fountain Square, helping establish the Fountain Square Arts Council and serving on the public space and marketing and development committees of South East Neighborhood Development.  A graduate of Ball State University with a degree in Business Management, Kelli is currently employed as an Account Executive with Williams Randall Marketing.

Andy Fry: designer, artist and musician based in Fountain Square, Big Car collective member. Member of the band Pravada:

PRAVADA "Someone Else" from Marshall J. Baumgartner on Vimeo.

Craig McCormick: owner of Method Architecture, president of the Harrison Center board, photographer and Big Car Collective member.

Craig McCormick was born in Bethesda, Maryland in 1970. He learned photography from his father, who was a photojournalist in the US Marine Corps. He received his bachelor of architecture degree from Ball State University in 1993 and Master of Architecture degree from Rice University in 1998. While at Rice, he studied photography under Geoff Winningham.

Michael Kaufman: runs Asthmatic Kitty record label, artist and musician, Big Car Collective member.

Michael Kaufmann, an experimental artist, mirrors that free-form aesthetic naturally as A&R of Asthmatic Kitty. Asthmatic Kitty is probably best known as the home for singer/songwriter and label co-founder Sufjan Stevens, a record label that broods over a diverse array of artists spanning a wide array of tastes and Kaufmann gets to sign them. Kaufmann was raised in Escondido, California, a suburb of San Diego that he says was pretty disconnected from art and music. It wasn’t until his Sunday school teacher from Truman’s Water, an early 90’s band opened his eyes to the endless possibilities in music. The band opened for experimental rock heavyweights such as Sonic Youth and the Boredoms. It was these shows that pushed Kaufmann to find the musical tastes he craved. After a semester in college Kaufmann went to live with his parents in New York City: “I would just go through the Village Voice and look for the weirdest things I could find and go to them.”  That led to occasions at the Knitting Factory where he witnessed the “weird, free improv jazz” of Charles Gale or the avant-garde experiments of John Zorn.

Wil Marquez: Architect and community leader.

Marquez is the director of A2SX, the digital design branch of Indy architecture firm A2S04. His range of work includes retail centers, businesses, private interiors and, more recently, chairs and handbags. Before that, he was a graduate architect with A2S04, working on skyscrapers in Abu Dhabi and loft buildings in Indianapolis, and traveling to locales as diverse as Morocco, Argentina – and Minneapolis.

A Northwest Indiana native and long time Indianapolis resident, Wil Marquez is currently employed with A2SO4, an Indianapolis based, international architecture firm. He acts as both a senior designer and the director of A2SO4’s exploratory design initiative, A2SX.  A 10K Design Competition will call out to others to help cast a new vision embedded with ideas of modernity, connectability, and maintained growth in the Devington Neighborhood. 

Flounder Lee: Artist and professor of photography at Herron.

I grew up on a farm in Alabama, got my BFA from Florida in 2003 and my MFA from Cal State Long Beach in 2007.  I now work as an assistant professor at Herron School of Art in Indianapolis.  My work has been shown both nationally and internationally including Art, Technology, and Society at the Digital Media Center in Santa Ana, Ca; Documentation: Photography as Witness at the University of Maine; the WRO Media Biennale in Wroclaw, Poland and the Santiago International MicroFilm Festival in Chile. Overall my work has generally dealt with the intersections and interactions between things.  The intersections between public and private, art and life, history and the present, among others, have always informed my work.  I use mapping and indexing to recreate/reconstruct the space-time surrounding my life.  
Anna Landsman: artist based in Lafayette and Chicago. Big Car Collective member.
From her PK presentation, The Visual Archiving Center of Narrative and Myth of the People Videre Archivum Nararre MythosVolk”:

Anna Rae Landsman was born in Chicago, currently working on her thesis work at Maine College of Art. With 'home base' located in the east side of Indianapolis' "Moon Block Building,"  the Visual Archiving Center will host a collection site for anyone in Indianapolis to share their personal myth and narrative.

Richard McCoy: conservator at Indianapolis Museum of Art, IUPUI instructor, also helped start Wikipedia Saves Public Art
Richard McCoy is Assistant Conservator of Objects at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, where he conserves artworks across all areas of the collection. McCoy's research extends beyond the technology and structure of artworks to include artistic intent and execution as it relates to the preservation of contemporary art. His current research includes the investigation of interior channels in African Songye power figures and making conservation public through social media. A former Fulbright Scholar to Spain, McCoy studied journalism and political science at Indiana University, Bloomington, and received his MA from NYU's Institute of Fine Arts Conservation Center. He received a Samuel H. Kress fellowship to work at the IMA prior to joining the conservation department in 2005. In 2008 he became a Professional Associate of AIC.

John Clark: (not the Big Car John Clark) teacher, world affairs expert, cultural and political community builder, driving force between

John Clark, First Among Equals and creator of Provocate, is recognized as one of Central Indiana’s leading experts on international affairs. Until 2005 he was a senior fellow at Hudson Institute, and Director of the Center for Central European and Eurasian Studies. In 2005 he helped establish the Sagamore Institute for Policy Research, a think tank in Indianapolis. He is the author of more than a hundred books, articles and reports about topics such as the collapse of communism, environmental policy, welfare reform in the United Kingdom, economic development in Central Asia, and immigration in Indiana. He teaches graduate courses on globalization for Indiana University’s School of Environmental and Public Affairs. He is currently helping build up Marian University’s Richard G. Lugar Franciscan Center for Global Studies, and is working with dozens of other local organizations seeking solutions for global problems. The Indianapolis Star has called him “the foremost public intellectual in Indiana” (which he thinks cannot possibly be true). Clark is the only person to receive NUVO’s Cultural Vision Award and commendations from the FBI and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for contributions on counter-terrorism.

Moderators: Jim Walker -- Big Car collective founder and curator, managing director of Second Story youth writing project, writer and artist Michael Runge -- artist and founder of the Know No Stranger art collective, Herron senior.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

"Civil dialogue fosters sense of community"

The news media buzz for IndyTalks grows, with this nice article in the January 10 edition of the Indianapolis Star by Erin Kelley of the Indiana Historical Society and Cassie Stockamp of the Athenaeum Foundation.

[The same issue of the Star has a crisply edited version of an article by John Clark, "Clear Thinking about Hard Choices Facing the Heartland." You can read a longer version of the piece at The Unofficial IndyTalks Blog, and an even longer version at]

"Civil dialogue fosters sense of community"
By Erin Kelley and Cassie Stockamp

Civics is the study of good citizenship and what it means to be a member of a community. Civics is not about partisan politics, but rather our (little "d") democratic rights and duties. One of those duties is to be an informed and thoughtful participant in community matters. We don't have to agree with each other, but if Indiana and America are to remain strong in the 21st century, we need to open our minds, converse with those outside our comfort zones, connect ideas and create solutions.

Many of Indianapolis's nonprofit and cultural organizations work to enhance community life and have missions that support civic learning and engagement. Whether based in the arts, humanities or religion, these groups strive to engage people in relevant ways. In many cases, they also serve as community centers that encourage thoughtful discussions.

With all of this in mind, several local organizations gathered a year ago to discuss what was being done to elevate civic dialogue in Indianapolis. They met to explore how resources could be shared and audiences broadened by creating fresh and even provocative opportunities for meaningful -- and civically minded -- conversations. The book "Caught in the Middle: America's Heartland in the Age of Globalism" by Richard Longworth soon became the focus of conversation.

A native of Iowa and longtime Chicago Tribune reporter, Longworth takes an unflinching look at the Midwest and how states like Indiana can easily fail in a global economy. Using his book as a launching pad into a collaborative venture to strengthen civic dialogue in Indianapolis, IndyTalks was born.

IndyTalks is a citywide effort designed to foster a sense of community through respectful and creative civic dialogue. Some of the city and state's most active organizations will examine Indiana's future from their own unique perspective in fresh ways through this initiative. Whether using the context of history, art, religion or even food, the goal of IndyTalks is to help people converse, connect and create.

These programs are conversations about important issues that are rooted in the belief that good citizenship begins with good conversations. Visit to learn more and then get ready to converse, connect and create.

IndyTalks partners include the Athenaeum Foundation, Indiana Historical Society, Indiana Humanities Council, WFYI, Marian University, Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library, Big Car Collective, Arts Council of Indianapolis, University of Indianapolis Center for Aging & Community, Christian Theological Seminary, IUPUI Common Theme Project and the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, and Spirit & Place.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

IndyTalks and "Caught in the Middle"

Talk about globalization makes many Hoosiers nervous. They think of local jobs lost to companies employing cheap workers in China. They feel vulnerable to financial crises outside our borders, to mysterious economic forces made less understandable by so-called “experts” on TV news or talk radio who seem most interested in scoring partisan points.

Fortunately, globalization’s impact on the Midwest is clearly analyzed by Richard Longworth’s splendid book, Caught in the Middle: America’s Heartland in the Age of Globalism. Think Thomas Friedman’s “The World is Flat” meets the really flat states. Longworth looks at shuttered shops in small towns and failing public schools in big cities, at state-of-the-art biofuels plants and struggling family farms. Combining personal anecdotes and economic statistics, he sketches a sobering picture of the challenges Midwesterners face.

For nearly sixty years, the family farm has been vanishing, unable to compete with the astonishing productivity of gigantic scale agribusiness. Rural depopulation slowed a bit three decades ago when companies built factories in small towns. But this manufacturing is most vulnerable to global competition, and now boarded-up factories add another sad touch to a bleak rural landscape.

The most distressing feature of globalization may be that its victims seem unable to understand the real causes of their problems. During the 2008 election, whether to tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement emerged as a hot Midwestern issue. But NAFTA has been a net economic benefit for Indiana and other heartland states, and the real threat to local manufacturing jobs is not Mexico but China. The answer is smarter investing in education and encouraging innovative collaboration at home, not restricting trade. But “stop NAFTA” is a convenient slogan for saying “stop globalization,” not a solution.

Immigration is another issue that seems to cloud our ability to think clearly. Food processing plants are keeping many small town afloat. But these towns have experienced such a flight of their young people to cities at the first opportunity that a massive inflow of hard-working immigrants from south of the border has been necessary. Rather than an infusion of fresh blood, locals see "Illegals" and "Mexicans" who threaten hometown values and the rule of law.

Longworth focuses attention on the Midwest's major research universities, which are increasingly dependent on attracting the "best and brightest" from around the world to hold their own against rivals on the coasts (and increasingly in Asia). Local companies that can compete globally will themselves need to attract and retain these foreign-born brains.But to many in the Midwest, these newcomers are a source of concern. They crowd out native-born students from universities, they speak strange languages and practice religions that might be dangerous.

Global competition, Longworth reminds us, has not always been scary for the Midwest. In the first half of the 20th century, the Midwest generated more patents than anywhere else. Our factories used the best technologies, our workers and farmers were the most productive in the world. We were the cutting edge.

Our problem today is that yesterday’s successes make it tough to think clearly about hard choices we must make for the future. Political leaders and citizens in Indiana and its neighbors are blinded by a complacent belief that, on the whole, we really are all right. The worst case of this myopia in Longworth’s book is Cleveland, where he says leaders not only have no idea what the answer is, they have no idea what the questions are. But Indianapolis could be headed that direction. Unless we think creatively and talk seriously about how we want to live in a rapidly changing world, he argues, the years ahead will be rough for Indiana.

We can think and talk creatively, and enjoy ourselves in the process.

IndyTalks kicks off at noon Wednesday January 13 when WFYI FM 90.1 interviews Longworth. Read his book, hear what he has to say — and listen to what he doesn’t say. Longworth identifies many of the human assets and regional resources that could help us meet those challenges. IndyTalks focuses on our hidden strengths that even such a sharp-eyed observer might miss.

Longworth, for instance, rightly claims the Midwest’s major research universities can produce future breakthroughs and innovations. But in addition to Purdue, Indiana University and Notre Dame, more than 30 small, independent liberal arts colleges are scattered across Indiana. For many towns, these colleges can be vital sources of ideas and talent. Goshen College is helping Northern Indiana integrate the rapid influx of Latino immigrants. The University of Evansville’s Institute for Global Enterprise in Indiana is reshaping local business strategies in the south.

On March 18, Marian University hosts “Backyard Pundits: Public Leadership and Ethical Questions for Indiana’s Future,” an IndyTalks event highlighting the importance of small liberal arts colleges. More than partisan “talking heads” on TV or shrill “shock jocks” on the radio, local public intellectuals can engage the community in a civil and constructive discussion about how the world is shaping local life, and how local groups in Indiana can help make the world better.

Expect more from IndyTalks than conventional lectures and panel discussions. On Feb. 24 at the Central Library the surrealist art collective Big Car puts on “7 Simultaneous Lecturers: Indy Arts and Globalization.” Seven experts will share the stage, all speaking at the same time about our global challenges. The audience will vote whose microphone is turned up or down. This is how Washington-based pundits sound to us in the heartland, loud voices struggling to be heard. All too often we in the audience respond by tuning out messages we dislike, listening only to views with which we agree.

(Don't worry if this sounds too much like a piece of performance art, IndyTalks will feature a more conventional discussion of "What the Arts Mean to Indianapolis" on July 22, hosted by the Indianapolis Arts Council.)

Many of the features of Midwestern life that could be seen as obstacles to prospering in the world of the 21st century could be assets, if only we are clever and flexible. Consider that most homey and provincial of epithets, "Hoosier." Our challenge in Indiana is not that immigrants will cause us to lose our Hoosier values of generosity, trust, hospitality, and so on. Our challenge is to be able to tell newcomers the story of what it means to be a Hoosier -- explain to them what makes us special -- in a way that makes them want to join us. We also need to listen to newcomers tell us why their cultures and values are also special so that we can incorporate the best from around the world into what it means to be a Hoosier. We can start discussing what this means at the Indiana Historical Center on June 15, when Prof. James Madison of Indiana University asks "Is It Good to be a Hoosier?"

Farming is a major issue in Caught in the Middle, and it's no surprise that food turns up twice as topics for IndyTalks. A product of small town Iowa, Richard Longworth knows that even though manufacturing is the economic heart of the Midwest, agriculture is its soul. Corporate mega-farmer in the Midwest produce more than anyone else, anywhere on the planet. In order to compete the rest of the world, in fact, is being forced to adopt consolidated farming practices developed here ... we can still be at the forefront of globalization.

The problem is that no one likes the idea of corporate mega-farming. Longworth believes it has fatally destroyed the lives of small towns across the Midwest. He sees glimmers of hope in thriving niches of non-corporate small-scale local farmers using less industrial methods. The glimmers may be brighter than he thinks. The :locavore" movement in Central Indiana is driving the blossoming of urban gardening and farmers markets. More generally, many families appear to want to think about what they are eating, and how the food got to their tables. May 4 IndyTalks takes on this desire with "Food for Thought." The Indiana Humanities Council will set up venues across the city for pitch-in dinners where people can share food with one another, and informally discuss the meaning of what they are putting in their mouths.

The issue of food and globalization turns up again on September 30, when celebrity TV chefs Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert come to Clowes Hall.

IndyTalks will succeed only if it delivers on its name, only if it gets us talking and listening to one another about how to meet our common challenges.

Inside scoop on "7 Simultaneous Lecturers" format

Jim Walker of Big Car sends this overview of the February 24 Big Car event at the Central Library:

The idea is we'll have seven local cultural experts -- artists, leaders, thinkers -- who will simultaneously present short lectures with powerpoint presentations on the topic of art and culture in Indianapolis and its role in the global scheme of things.

These seven lecturers will present their lectures at the same time. They'll stand on the stage, facing the projections (backs to the audience). Each of the lecturers -- who will be wearing headphone monitors so they can hear themselves -- will be assigned a number. People in the audience will have a set of numbers they hold up. Intermittently, the audience will vote on which of the lecturers they'd like to hear over the p.a. system. Then we'll turn the one or ones selected up through the p.a. system. Sometimes one will be amplified at a time, sometimes more than one.

The simultaneous lectures will happen for about 10 minutes as an audio/video performance art piece. Then I'll lead a panel discussion/conversation with the panelists and the audience. We plan to record all of the individual lectures to put out as podcasts.

Sounds like pecha kucha staged as an iron cage death match ... should be fun.

Twitterers come to theTweetup with IndyTalks Jan. 13

Today's 21st century vocabulary word: Tweetup. Says PC Magazine: "A gathering of users brought together via Twitter. For example, at conferences, Twitter is used by attendees to arrange to meet after the show for discussion, cocktails and parties. Also called a "Twestival" (Twitter festival). See Twitterese." NASA has pioneered the use of major tweetups ... its tweetup for the shuttle launch last November attracted beings with hyper-developed thumbs form as far away as New Zealand, Morocco, and Bejor.

Whether you tweet or still communicate the way people have since the dawn of time (by cell phone), you can come to the Indiana Humanities Council to hang out wiht other fans of IndyTalks:

Join us for a Tweetup listening party to kick off the IndyTalks initiative, on Jan. 13. We’ll meet at 11:45 a.m. (brown bag lunch optional) in WFYI’s community room and listen to the kick-off event: an interview with globalization expert and author Richard Longworth. (Twitter ID not required, though encouraged!)

Longworth is a senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and Distinguished Visiting Scholar at DePaul University. He is the author of the book, Caught in the Middle: America's Heartland in the Age of Globalism, which explores the new realities globalization has brought to the Midwest and what they mean for the region – and the country. The book is being used as a starting point for the IndyTalks initiative.

WFYI 90.1 FM HD1 will broadcast the interview at noon, so please arrive by 11:45 a.m.

Any questions? DM @INHumanities or e-mail Kristen at

Friday, January 8, 2010

From NUVO: "Indytalks tackles the future of Indiana"

"Indytalks tackles the future of Indiana"


Posted in NUVO on Jan. 6, 2010 by Jeff Cox  

Indytalks, a social think tank formed by collaboration between the Athenaeum foundation, the Indiana Humanities Council, the Indiana Historical society and several other local organizations, begins its first in a year-long series of events aimed at getting Hoosiers involved in state issues. Its purpose is to stimulate intelligent and thoughtful conversation on topical social issues in an effort to support a sense of community among the people of Indiana.

Indytalks’ creators seek to bridge the gaps between major social, economic and artistic communities. “The notion was how do we bring intellectual conversation to the community,” says Cassie Stockamp, President of the Athenaeum Foundation and one of the principal players behind Indytalks. “We realized that they’re already going on in the city, but they’re being done in islands.” The solution, they figured, was to formulate a series of forums where civic dialogue could thrive and average Hoosiers could get direct answers about issues facing them for the future.

“As we talk about the career professional out there, how do we get them engaged, how do we get them involved in Indianapolis? [We want] to make the city feel more contemporary, consistent to what’s happening on the East and West coasts,”says Stockamp.

Indytalks’ creators are not alone in feeling that a city like Indianapolis, right in the center of the Midwest, could stand a stark look at itself in comparison with its coastal neighbors. Richard Longworth, former Chicago Tribune writer and author of Caught in the Middle: America’s Heartland in the Age of Globalism, makes supporting arguments in his recent book.

Longworth’s book focuses on many issues, but one theme keeps coming up — the need for the Midwest, a traditionally small-town-family-farm area, to adapt in order to fit the stringent realities of our economic and social future. Indytalks’ organizers feel the book’s principles could help guide Indianapolis’ future and inspire participation in many of the series’ events. This is most clearly shown in the first event — a Jan. 13 WFYI interview with Longworth to kick off the conversation and set a tone.

The next event, on Feb. 24, is perhaps the most intriguing concept Indytalks has planned in order to attract a wider variety of participants. “7 Simultaneous Lectures” is exactly what its name says. Seven well-known members of Indy’s art community lecture on the state of the arts in Indiana in the age of globalization, all at the same time — but audiences are able to adjust the speakers’ volume during the talk. “I’m looking forward to seeing something that most of us will never have sat through before,” says Stockamp. “It’s going to be interesting to see the speakers respond when someone gets up in the middle of their lecture.”

Other events spanning the year include “What the Arts Mean to Indianapolis”, “Is it Good to be a Hoosier?” and an evening presentation by television chefs Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert. The last event is scheduled for Oct. 7, but Stockamp does not think Indytalks will necessarily end there. “Our goal is, if it works, if people are responsive to us, sure; if not, let’s tweak it and see what we can do to make this even more meaningful.”

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Who are these guys?

Easily the most intriguing event scheduled as part of IndyTalks is the collaboration between the Library and Big Car on February 24, "7 Simultaneous Lecturers: Indy Arts and Globalization." The Big Car Collective, one of Provocate's favorite groups, developed an off-beat and creative partnership with the Central Library in fall, providing improv music for showing of classic silent films such as "The Cabinet of Dr Caligari" and "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde," lectures by experts on screwy topics such as Sasquatch and more. Here's the Library's description of the IndyTalks event:

As part of the community-wide "IndyTalks" dialogue series and IMCPL's own "Made for Each Other" interactive series of programs, seven prominent names representing the city's arts community will discuss the future of Indianapolis arts in the face of globalization. However, there's a twist - the lecturers will be speaking at the same time. Audience members will be able to arbitrarily raise or lower the volume of each speaker as the talks progress, creating a frantic, unstructured whirlwind of words and ideas. Following the lectures, the audience will be encouraged to express ideas and feelings generated by this surreal presentation in a facilitated discussion period. The "Made for Each Other" series is presented by Big Car Gallery and Know No Stranger.
OK, perhaps this isn't the most off-beat approach ever to a serious discussion of globalization. In the mid 1990s the short-lived "Paula Poundstone Show" aired this bit: "Paula ... sends a group of economists to the Santa Cruz boardwalk and asks them business questions while they're spinning in the teacup ride." Still, this sounds pretty damn cool, and Provocate's John Clark will be in the audience to crank up the volume on Big Car's John Clark (even if he doesn't dance).

Provocate knows Big Car, Provocate aspires to have an impact on the community comparable to Big Car's. But who are these other guys? What's up with "Made for Each Other" and "Know No Stranger"?

Made for Each Other is a very exciting project between Big Car and several artists and community groups large and small, intended to draw residents of Indy neighborhoods into collaborative exercises of creativity. You can read more about the plans here and here.

As always, when I hear about these great ideas from Big Car it makes me wish Provocate had thought of it first. Learn about how you can be part of Made 4 Each Other's projects here.

How about the other new name on the schedule for the "7 Simultaneous Lecturer" IndyTalks event, Know No Stranger? According to the website, "KNOW NO STRANGER is a collective group of friends, students and artists set on making the city they live in a more enjoyable place by giving the community a good time with inexpensive, local entertainment." And the goodies you'll find on the website are worth the visit.

Teaser for Optical Popsicle DVDs coming soon from KNOW NO STRANGER on Vimeo.

A good piece about Know No Stranger is at the excellent arts blog, Outposts from the Material World.

As always, getting sucked into the gravity well of Big Car reveals many cool initiatives and projects happening around Indy. More on the February IndyTalks event as details emerge from the spontaneous and surrealist caldron.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The basic IndyTalks schedule for 2010

Want more details? Visit

Jan. 13, 12 noon
WFYI Radio Interview with Richard Longworth, author of Caught in the Middle: America’s Heartland in the Age of Globalism

  • Location: N/A (on air)
  • Organized by: WFYI
  • Contact: Gail Thomas Strong (Outreach Director),, 317-636-2020, ext. 0451

Feb. 24, 7 p.m.
7 Simultaneous Lecturers: Indy Arts and Globalization
Seven prominent names of the city’s art community join in panel to discuss the future of Indianapolis arts in the face of globalization. However, there’s a twist—the lecturers will be speaking at the same time. Audience members will be given the power to arbitrarily raise or lower the volume of each speaker as the talks progress, creating a frantic, unstructured whirlwind of words and ideas. After the lectures, audience members will be encouraged to express the ideas and feelings generated by this surreal presentation in a facilitated discussion period.

Mar. 18, 7 p.m.
Backyard Pundits: Public Leadership & Ethical Questions for Indiana’s Future
In a world where immediate access to information is the expected norm and the Internet and cable news dominate, it is often hard to hear the experts in our local communities. Not quite the same as the television pundits we’ve grown familiar with, these public intellectuals – backyard pundits – have an important role to play as communities struggle to balance global concerns with local realities. This panel discussion and public conversation focuses on how public leadership should be guided by ethical inquiry and by increased engagement with the community. We will ask: “What role should the Indiana public intellectual serve in engaging ethical issues that affect all Hoosiers?” and “What are some ethical concerns specific to the character of Indiana and Indianapolis now and for the future?”

  • Location: Allison Mansion, Marian University, 3200 Cold Spring Road, Indianapolis
  • Organized by: Marian University
  • Contact: James Norton, Ph.D. (Dean, Liberal Arts) or Vickie Carson (Administrative Assistant) or 317-955-6132

Apr. 21, 6:30 p.m.
When Did I Get Old?
The 21st century will not only be a time of a growing global economy, but also a time when aging Baby Boomers will retire. How can this generation deal with the aging process in the age of globalization? A local video production crew travelled Indiana to explore the lives of older adults in a wide variety of settings and situations. These stories, along with insightful conversations with a panel of leading experts, make up the DVD “When Did I Get Old?” The audience will have the opportunity to watch one segment of the DVD and participate in a thought provoking discussion about minimizing the rough spots in the aging process and maximizing the opportunities unique to our older selves. Participants will be coached on how to use the DVD and Discussion Guide to facilitate future discussion within their own significant groups and organizations.

May 4, 6-8 p.m.
Food for Thought
Eat, think and talk with both neighbors and strangers about issues central to Hoosiers, many of which are inspired by Richard Longworth’s book Caught in the Middle. Each table will have a specific question to
spark conversation and a table leader will help guide you through a thoughtful discussion while dining on a delicious meal. In addition to face-to-face conversations, we will investigate digital options for during the event, and afterwards to continue the conversation.
  • Location: Various restaurants around Indianapolis, including locations in Broad Ripple, Irvington, Fountain Square, etc. The Indiana Humanities Council will also host an event at 1500 N. Delaware Street, Indianapolis. At the Indiana Humanities Council, we will invite people to a “pot luck” dinner and host our own conversations.
  • Organized by: Indiana Humanities Council
  • Contact: Nancy Conner (Director of Grants) or 317-638-1500, ext. 128

June 15, 7 p.m.
Is It Good to Be a Hoosier?
What is a “Hoosier?” Where did Hoosier traits and notions come from and how has Indiana been shaped by them? Noted Indiana historian James Madison (The Indiana Way, Lynching in the Heartland) will facilitate a conversation on traditional Hoosier viewpoints and, through the lens of history, explore whether these traits are an asset or challenge to Indiana in the 21st century.

July 22, 6-8 p.m.
What the Arts Mean to Indianapolis
  • Location: Indianapolis Arts Center, 820 East 67th Street, Indianapolis
  • Organized by: Arts Council of Indianapolis
  • Contact: Janet Boston (Director of Regional Services & Community Relations) janetb@indyarts.orgor 317-631-3301, ext. 214

Sept. 30, 7 p.m.
An Evening with Anthony Bourdain & Eric Ripert
Two chefs. Two unlikely friends. Two very different careers and philosophies. Hear them share stories and muse on the place of food in our personal, community, and global life.
About Anthony Bourdain   –   About Eric Ripert

Oct. 7, 7 p.m. (CTS) or Oct. 14, 12 noon (IUPUI)
Hoosier Values: Can we reconcile independence and the common good?
Hoosiers value their independence and self-reliance, but they also value their families and communities. A provocative panel will engage the participants in conversation about where these values intersect, where they compete, and how “Hoosier values” and ethics should (or should not) help shape Indiana’s future.