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IndyTalks series sparks citywide conversation

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Last May - IndyTalks: "IndyTalks & Leaders Listen"; (left to right) Brian Payne - (CICF), Malina Jeffers (Madame Walker Theatre Center) and Michael Kaufmann - (Health & Hospital Corporation). - SUBMITTED PHOTO
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  • Last MayIndyTalks: "IndyTalks & Leaders Listen"; (left to right) Brian Payne(CICF), Malina Jeffers (Madame Walker Theatre Center) and Michael Kaufmann(Health & Hospital Corporation).

Now in its third year, IndyTalks is a series of events aimed at sparking creative, open dialogue around current civic issues. Numerous local organizations are involved, including the Athenaeum Foundation, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana Historical Society and IUPUI.

The theme of this year's series, "Indy at a Crossroads," spotlights the question on many minds now that the Super Bowl has departed: "What now?"

"The Super Bowl was great, it showed how much we can do, but there's still a lot that Indianapolis needs to do in order to be a great city — to be all that it can be," says Erin Kelley, director of education and community engagement at the Indiana Historical Society. "And when it comes to many different kinds of issues, we are at a crossroads as a community.

"How are we going to deal with mass transportation needs? How are we going to deal with existing racial inequality in the city? How are we going to deal with environmental issues? These are all key issues for Indianapolis to deal with, and that's what we're going to try to talk about this year."

Series highlights

One institution that stands prominently at those crossroads is IUPUI. With upwards of half a million students walking through its doors over the past forty years, the school has certainly shaped the community — some might say even more than a certain national sporting event — and vice versa.

With that in mind, IndyTalks collaborates with IUPUI for the first large-scale series event of 2012, the Joseph Taylor Symposium. In its twenty-third year, this year's symposium is titled "The Campus for the Community," and will consider the connections that have formed between the university and the city. Panel discussions will cover topics including the impact an urban university can have on both the community's education and its economy, and the day will close out with a luncheon address by Charlotte Westerhaus, acting president of Martin University.

Two other series highlights may seem to be completely opposite on the surface, yet both address the important task of not letting the city's resources go to waste: one through housing and the other through design.

The first, a program hosted by the JCC in March called Our City Under the Radar, will bring together architects, city leaders, artists and attendees together to discuss abandoned housing in Indianapolis and the future of neighborhoods, city-wide.

The second, hosted by the Indianapolis Museum of Art in May, is a conversation titled Planet Indy: Zero-Waste is Sexy. Featuring up-and-coming designer Timo Rissanen of Parsons School of Design and People for Urban Progress (PUP) director Michael Bricker, the discussion will focus on design — be it fashion design or urban design — that literally wastes nothing.

Engaged in a project re-purposing old Bush Stadium seats into attractive bus-stop resting stations, PUP's next task is, coincidentally, the recycling of fabrics left over from the Super Bowl — turning what could be seen as a one-time attraction into a sustainable resource for the city.

PUP's Bricker describes these leftover fabrics "a mixture of vinyl, cloth and mesh. We are still prototyping the products, but it will likely be a mix of messenger bags, grocery bags, shower curtains, wallets. We have 49 pallets total... estimated around 5 miles of fabric."

Mass transit stays in the conversation

Indiana History Center's Kelley admits she's especially excited for the series' June event because it will address a topic that is hot on the minds and lips of the entire city: mass transit.

"The Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority and the Indiana Citizens Alliance for Transit are doing a program on mass transit — which unfortunately looks like is going to stall yet again in a general assembly this year to come up with some funding for actual, real-life mass transit in this community. So I think that's just a crucial conversation that stays in the mix and stays on people's radar, so that we can keep trying to fight for some 'crazy' things like busses."

Hosted by the Athenaeum and titled Indy Transit: The Missing Link, this event is bound to attract Hoosiers of all ages and backgrounds, initiating connections that mass transit could help foster and grow into the future.

IndyTalks has several more events planned for the second half of 2012, including a dialogue on racial inequality hosted by the Indiana Historical Society and the Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center in July, and in September, a walking/biking/driving tour, in conjunction with Big Car, that will encourage people to explore Indy's literal crossroads.

More information is available here.

Indytalks, 2012

The Joseph Taylor Symposium: The Campus for the Community

A day-long seminar considers the impact the university has had on the city since its founding in the 1960s. Speakers include prominent professors in areas ranging from anthropology to engineering, as well as a luncheon address by Charlotte Westerhaus, acting president of Martin University.

When: Feb. 29, 8 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Where: IUPUI Campus Center, 420 University Blvd.

Cost: Free (Registration required; Lunch $35)

Organized by: IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI with the Department of History

The Lasting Legacy

Attendees will have the chance to be a part of a live taping for a WFYI show with Mark Miles and other city leaders as they discuss what happens now that the "Big Game" is over.

When: March 13, 6 p.m.

Where: WFYI Community Room, 1630 N. Meridian St.

Cost: Free

Organized by: WFYI

Our City Under the Radar

Architects, city leaders, and attendees address the issue of abandoned housing in Indianapolis and the future of its neighborhoods.

When: March 28, 7 p.m.

Where: Arthur M. Glick JCC, 6701 Hoover Rd.

Cost: Free

Organized by: JCC in conjuction with Herron School of Art & Design's Couched Constructions: Part 2 exhibit

Creativity, Collaboration and Compassion at the Crossroads

Social entrepreneurs such as nonprofits, churches and high schools, artists, and college students are converging at the city's crossroads more than ever. Attendees will discuss just how the city can go about harnessing this collective energy to become a leading "humanitarian hub."

When: April 11, 6 p.m.

Where: IUPUI Campus Center, Room 450, 420 University Blvd.

Cost: Free

Organized by: IUPUI Common Theme

Planet Indy: Zero-Waste is Sexy

Fashion designer Timo Rissanen and People for Urban Progress director Michael Bricker lead a discussion on sustainable, no-waste design and the impact it can have on the city.

When: May 17, 7 p.m.

Where: Indianapolis Museum of Art, Tobias Theater, 400 N. Michigan Rd.

Cost: $5 public, $3 IMA members

Organized by: Indianapolis Museum of Art

Indy Transit: The Missing Link

ICAT and CIRTA bring Hoosiers together to discuss owning the future of Central Indiana and what steps to take towards effective mass transit.

When: June 21, 6 p.m.

Where: The Athenaeum, 401 East Michigan St.

Cost: Free

Organized by: The Athenaeum in partnership with the Indiana Citizens Alliance for Transit and the Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority

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