Saturday, February 26, 2011

Indy talks

We routinely scan newspapers looking for free or cheap events. (We have not found a single "what's on" source.) This week we went to Indy Talks events. Indy Talks' purpose is to create a "sense of community through respectful and creative civic dialogue" The "respectful" sounds so Malaysian.

We first attended "The Indianapolis Immigrant Experience" at the Jewish Community Center. (As an aside the JCC facility is impressive, especially its fitness center. We would join in a heartbeat if we lived closer.) The panel included natives of Senegal (high school French teacher), Russia, Mexico, Pakistan/India (a Sikh), and Kurdistan (a former U.S. military translator). The elephant in the room was Indiana's proposed Arizona-like immigration bill. A reporter asked the panelists how they would feel if the bill passes and is signed. Their answers were in the next day's Star and on Sunday was the subject of a long editorial in the Sunday paper. Next, each table had a facilitator and four discussion questions. Our table just began chatting about our international experiences and being immigrants in one way or another. Our table consisted of the daughter of Swedish immigrants (they immigrated 80 years ag0), a recently arrived teacher from Turkey (he teaches Turkish in an Indianapolis high school), an African American couple who previously lived in Mexico, and the facilitator who adopted a daughter from Kazakstan. Did the evening create a sense of community? Possibly so - I met interesting people and if we meet again we can continue our conversation.

On Thursday we went to a symposium, Imaging and Imagining the City, at IUPUI. The transportation panel reported on plans for an integrated transportation system, but at the end one panelist mentioned that most of the planned components are unfunded. Most discouraging is that the bus system has had to use its capital budget to meet operating costs. 75 percent of bus riders are bus dependent - most depend on the bus to get to work.

Our last stop was a poster session. I wandered with a woman I met during a break - a retired teacher from Detroit. She is one of 11 children (number 3) and her mom had 20 children! I hope that I run into her and hear a bit more about family life. As a fellow retiree she gave me advice about where to go to learn about what is on and venues for music programs. Doug's eye went to a poster with a picture of More with Less, a Mennonite cookbook that his mother urged on us.

I'll let Doug fill in the details: What struck me was this was a cookbook Liz and I purchased at the Friends Yearly meeting at Ghost Ranch in 1978. We still have it but it is full of stains (a sign of a well used cookbook). BTW, the pizza dough recipe is easy and good, especially if you use olive oil in place of the vegetable oil. We spoke at length with Helen Sanematsu, the instructor about the posters. (Helen took the picture and sent it to us! Speaking with Helen made me think about the role of photography in changing the perceptions of the photographer.) We were struck with the lack of a "political view" in the posters. However that may be due to the differences in ages between the students and us. Another poster exhibit was presented by a sociologist who spent a year taking pictures of people at a soup kitchen. Rather than being an intrusive activity, the subject used the opportunity to have family pictures taken with typical stylized portrait poses.

The final note of this adventure was the article in the Dining section of the New York Times. The article "Indianapolis, The World Comes to Eat" which describes an area in the city where immigrants have established a foothold with a wide variety of eateries. As much as Indianapolis has seen a large growth in immigrant population, it is only a small portion of the total population.

1 comment:

  1. Your single source for events should be! Plus our sister sites: Provocate—Haiti at; more IndyTalks events and related connections at (or; Make Music Matter at The Provocate Review of Books will be recreated shortly. In addition to the events that Provocate organizes or partners on, we aspire to have information about every potentially enlightening conversation in town ... which means we need Liz & Doug to be part of them. See you,

    John Clark