Thursday, September 30, 2010

Plenty of ‘Food for Thought’ at this year’s Spirit & Place Festival, Nov. 5-14, Central Indiana

Central Indiana will provide plenty of food for thought – literally and figuratively – when the 15th annual Spirit & Place opens Nov. 5, 2010.

“Food for Thought” is the theme of this year’s event, which annually stimulates conversation, collaboration, community building, and civic action based on the artistic, spiritual and civic traditions that inform community life. Unlike most festivals, which have tangible borders and entrance/exit gates, Spirit & Place engages more than 100 organizations offering nearly 40 programs at various times from Nov. 5-14.

“The point of Spirit & Place is to bring people together, and nothing brings people together like food,” says Pam Blevins Hinkle, festival director. “You can learn about food, play with food, hear music made from food, and of course eat! This year’s festival features celebrity and local chefs, creative artists and zany musicians, prominent authors and award-winning entrepreneurs, and much more.”

The 2010 line up ranges from the Midwest premier of Austria’s Vienna Vegetable Orchestra on the opening weekend to the 15th Annual Public Conversation, a traditional favorite, on the closing weekend. In between are 40 programs to choose from: concerts, exhibits, films, provocative conversations, neighborhood tours, storytelling events, and “how to” workshops that explore the role of food in our lives.

For the first time, the festival will include a community service component. “It makes sense to leverage community interest in this theme to give back and make our world better,” says Hinkle. Patrons at participating restaurants will be invited to pay $1 for a glass of water during the festival. Proceeds will support UNICEF’s clean water initiatives world-wide. The local initiative is organized by Spirit & Place, Indiana Restaurant Association, Café Patachou, and Congregation Beth-El Zedeck.

Festivities begin on the eve of the festival, as local favorite Steven Stolen and special guests serve up tasty tunes on the “Food for Thought” theme (including Stolen as the effervescent Julia Childs singing recipes and snippets of culinary wisdom). “Savory: Flavorful Songs with Steven Stolen” takes place at the White Rabbit Cabaret, Indianapolis, on Thursday, Nov. 4, from 7-8:30 p.m. Tickets are $75 per person; proceeds support Spirit & Place.

Opening Weekend: The Signature Series

The festival kicks off officially with the 2010 Signature Series, which offers three diverse expressions of the “Food for Thought” theme:

Mindful Eating
Nov. 5, 7:30 p.m.
Congregation Beth-El Zedeck, Indianapolis
$10/person, $75/patron (reserved seat, program mention, tasting reception with Dan and Krista)
Krista Tippett, former diplomat and award-winning host of American Public Media’s Being, interviews Dan Barber, co-owner and chef of Blue Hill Restaurant in New York, about the ethics of food. Do we eat to live or live to eat? Does our eating reflect our values? Barber is an author, the 2009 James Beard Outstanding Chef and one of Time magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people. Presented by the Alan & Linda Cohen Center for Jewish Learning and Living in partnership with WFYI and the Center for Faith and Vocation at Butler University.

Play with Your Food
Nov. 6
1:30-2:30 p.m., Terry Border workshop
1:30-2:30 p.m., Uncle Eye and Miss Melody, Learning Curve
3-4 p.m., Chef Antonio Frontera
Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library’s Central Library
Cooking, art and musical theater come together in laughter and learning when children 8 and up create food art with Terry Border, local artist, while younger kids stay amused with an interactive veggie western with Uncle Eye (as seen on PBS Kids Jakers!) and Miss Melody. They all come together with the grown-ups for a demonstration by Chef Antonio Frontera, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, Kids in the Kitchen.

Vienna Vegetable Orchestra
Nov. 6, 7 p.m.
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Tobias Theater
$18 public/$15 IMA members
Yes, they play vegetables – a pepper trumpet, a leek violin – and the sounds are stunning. Sample these one-of-a-kind sounds at Before or after the concert, take part in a gently used cookbook swap. Presented by the Indianapolis Museum of Art with support from the Indiana Humanities Council.

Closing Weekend:
The closing weekend dishes up opportunities for conversation and
community service.

Michael Pollan
Presenting Sponsor: Wishard Health Services
Nov. 12, noon-1:30 p.m.
Scottish Rite Cathedral
For ticket information, visit

Author Michael Pollan will talk about the places where nature and culture intersect: on our plates, in our farms and gardens, and in the built environment. Named to Time magazine’s 2010 list of the world’s 100 most influential people, Pollan is the author of four New York Times bestsellers, including Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual.

Pollan’s presentation kicks off the Perpetual Pitch-in Project, 48 consecutive hours of community meals Nov. 12-14 that will help combat hunger. Register your group at

15th Annual Public Conversation
Saturday, Nov. 13, 7-8:30 p.m.
Emmerich Manual High School, Indianapolis

This year’s Public Conversation features Will Allen, former professional basketball player, founder/CEO of Growing Power in Milwaukee and named by Time magazine as one of 100 people who most affect our world; Harrell Fletcher, internationally known visual artist whose work on community-supported agriculture farms have found expression in his artwork, and whose socially engaged collaborative projects have shown internationally; and Frances Moore Lappé, author of Diet for a Small Planet, co-founder of Food First: The Institute for Food and Development Policy and winner of the 2008 James Beard Foundation’s Humanitarian of the Year award.

Allen, Fletcher and Lappé will have a spontaneous, frank discussion on critical social justice issues such as how the world guarantees equal access to nutritious food, and how we ensure that the way we grow and distribute food meets our needs both for nourishment and sustainability. The conversation will be moderated by Rev. Kevin Armstrong, senior pastor at North United Methodist Church.

For details on these and all Spirit & Place programs and events, visit

The Spirit & Place Festival promotes civic engagement, respect for diversity, and public imagination through collaborations among arts, religious, and civic organizations. Spirit & Place is a collaborative community project managed by The Polis Center, part of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. Major financial contributors include Lilly Endowment Inc.; Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation, Inc.; Wishard Health Services, The Indianapolis Foundation, an affiliate of CICF; Eli Lilly and Company; IUPUI/IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI; and the University of Indianapolis, as well as more than 200 other community partners and donors. For more information, call The Polis Center at (317) 274-2455 or visit This year's festival takes place Nov. 5-14, 2010.

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