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.

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