Past Festivals

See links at right to view past festivals events.

Past Festival Themes / Public Conversationalists

  •  2018: Intersection - Zeynep Tufekci, techno-sociologist and author of Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest
  • 2017: Power - Dr. James Madison, Thomas and Kathryn Miller Professor of History Emeritus at Indiana University Bloomington, Dr. Maria Hamilton Abegunde, Visiting Lecturer in the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies at IU-Bloomington, SongSquad, and the Indiana Historical Society Museum Theater program.
  • 2016: Home - Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty & Profit in the American CityAllison Luthe, Executive Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center, and Timothy Schmalz, sculptor ("Homeless Jesus")
  • 2015: Dream Marshawn Wolley, Director of Partner Relations at VisitIndy, Rev. Anastassia Zinke, Senior Pastor of All Souls Unitarian Church, Phyllis Boyd, Executive Director Groundwork Indy, and David Sklar, Director of Governmental Affairs of the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council.
  • 2014: Journey - bestselling writer and journalist Gail Sheehy, author of Passages and Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos Into Confidence; cancer survivor and New York Times #1 bestselling author/poet Mark Nepo; and Dr. Timothy E. Quill, Director of the Center for Ethics, Humanities and Palliative Care, University of Rochester School of Medicine. 
  • 2013: Risk - Scott Jones, ChaCha CEO & cofounder; Sarah Fisher, professional race car driver & team owner; Philip Gulley, author & minister; and David Baker, jazz performer & educator.
  • 2012: Play - Jane McGonigal, author, futurist, game designer; and Susan Sparks, professional comedian, former trial lawyer, senior pastor of the Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York City.
  • 2011: The Body - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, basketball icon; Anita Diamant, author; and Thomas Lynch, poet.
  • 2010: Food for Thought - Will Allen, CEO of Growing Power; Frances Moore Lappe, author; and Harrell Flectcher, gardner/international artist.
  • 2009: Inspiring Places - Former Indianapolis Mayor William Hudnut III, and Braddock, Pennsylvania Mayor John Fetterman.
  • 2008: Exploring Imagination - Producer, writer, and director Julie Dash; author, songwriter, and pastor Brian D. McLaren; and essayist and journalist Richard Rodriguez.
  • 2007: Living Generously - Patty Stonesifer, CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Nathan Dungan, president and founder of Share Save Spend; and Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, singer, composer, founder of Sweet Honey in the Rock.
  • 2006: Tradition & Innovation - Author and human rights activist Sr. Joan Chittister, author and scholar Manning Marable, and Hoosier film writer/producer Angelo Pizzo.
  • 2005: Moving & Staying - Poet and novelist Wendell Berry, writer and humorist Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, and award-winning journalist A'Lelia Bundles.
  • 2004: Building and Belonging - Author Andre Dubus III, educational reformer and psychologist Howard Gardner, and theologian Renita Weems.
  • 2003: Remembering and Reconciling - Editor Jim Wallis, author Charles Johnson, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Betty Williams.
  • 2002: Breaking Silence - Novelist Mary Gordon, journalist Barbara Ehrenreich, and critic bell hooks.
  • 2001: Crossing Boundaries - Scholar Cornel West, novelist Jane Smiley, and author Rabbi Harold Kushner.
  • 2000: Growing Up - Jonathan Kozol, Terry Tempest Williams, and Martin E. Marty.
  • 1999: Changing Landscapes - Barry Lopez, Sister Helen Prejean, and Kathleen Norris.
  • 1998: A Gathering of Voices - Peter Matthiessen, Reynolds Price, and Maxine Hong Kingston.
  • 1997: Leaving and Returning - Thomas Keneally, Clifton Taulbert, and Joy Harjo.
  • 1996: Thinking Out Loud about Indianapolis - Kurt Vonnegut, Dan Wakefield, and John Updike. 

    Essays on the 2015 theme: DREAM : Listen to these essays
  •  Cindy Booth, Executive Director of Child Advocates - "What Do You Like About Being White? What Do You Like About Being Black?"
  • John E. Waters, President of Leave it Better Than We Found It, LLC. - "Leaving it Better Than We Found It."
  • Dr. Lewis Ferebee?, Superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools - "Fresh and Bold Vision for Indianapolis Public Schools." 
  • Untitled essay by Katherine Souchet-Downey, Immigration Liaison and Latino Outreach    Coordinator for the Office of Congressman André Carson and a Board Member for The Latino/a Youth Collective of Indiana. Listen.
  • Dream by Sr. Norma Rocklage.  Listen.
  • Perchance to Dream by David Bodenhamer, executive director of The Polis Center. Listen.

  • Essays on the 2013 theme: RISK
  • The Honorable Sarah Evans Barker, U.S. District Court Judge - “When the high cost of higher education is too high" (listen here)
  • Dan Carpenter, Freelance writer - “A healthy fear of the risk-free life” (listen here)
  • Ken Honeywell, Creative Director, Well Done Marketing /Editor, - “On Holding One’s Breath for Thirty Years” (listen here)
  • Dr. Robert L. Manuel, President, University of Indianapolis - "Risk" (listen here)
  • Dr. Kent Millard, Retired Pastor - “Hearts of Hate to Hearts of Love” (listen here)
  • Troy Riggs, Indianapolis Public Safety Director - “I Had No Idea!” (listen here)
  • Cory Williams, Musician - “Taking my chances on the outcome” (listen here)

    Essays on the 2012 theme: Play
  • Neal Brown, Chef - “The Playful Side of a Dish” (listen here)
  • Dane Clark, Musician - “The Unsung Heroes” (listen here)
  • Bernie DeKoven, Author and ‘play’ expert - “The Need to Play” (listen here)
  • Marianne Glick, Artist and Philanthropist - “Increasing the Fun Factor” (listen here)
  • John Green, Author - “John Green’s essay on Play” (listen here)
  • Felipe Martinez, Associate Executive Presbyter at Whitewater Valley Presbytery - “Play. Love. Repeat.” (listen here)
  • Polina Osherov, Photographer and Editor - “To Play or Not to Play, That is the Question” (listen here)
  • Chris Stanton, Writer and Designer - “Character Creation” (listen here)

    Essays on the 2011 theme: The Body
  • Jody Bahre - “My Body on Drugs”
  • Rhonda Fox-Waltz - “Homebody”
  • Richard Gunderman, MD PhD, Professor, Schools of Medicine and Liberal Arts, Indiana University - “Cutting Dad's Meat”
  • David Hochoy, Artistic Director, Dance Kaleidoscope - “My Body is My Instrument”
  • Nick Reich, Basketball Coach, Indianapolis Metropolitan High School; Director of Youth Services, Goodwill Industries - “The Sense of Smell”
  • Michael Saahir, Imam, Nur-Allah Islamic Center - “Partners for Life: Mind, Body, and Soul”
  • Wayne Zink - “No Worries, I’ll Just Push Through”

    Essays on the 2010 festival theme: Food for Thought
  • Ibrahim Khalil AlGhani, Husband and Father - “Halal Food”
  • Katy Marquez Carter, Food Blogger - “Blueberries”
  • Joshua M. Edwards, Emmerich Manual High School, STAR Academy, FFA Vice-President - “A Smorgasbord of Friends and Food”
  • Louise E. Goggans, Registered Dietitian, MS, DMSc, and Independent Consultant - “Soul Food: My Legacy”
  • Warren P. Henegar, Farmer and Monroe County Councilman - “Eating Seasonally and Locally in South Central Indiana”
  • Amy Norwalk, Proud mother and daughter and Corporate Communications Manager at Ernst & Young LLP -“It's My Mom's Fault”
  • Mike Redmond, Writer and Eater - “To Everything There Is A Season. Including Dinner.”
  • Jeff Simmons, President, Elanco - “Opportunity Knocks - Feeding a Hungry World”
  • Ann Stack“From Cock-a-Doodle Creek to Provence”

    Essays on the 2009 festival theme: Inspiring Places
  • Maurice Broaddus, Horror and Fantasy Writer - “The Oddest Places”
  • Gloria Gaither, Gaither Family Resources and Gaither Music Company - “Michigan”
  • Edgar Huang, Associate Professor, IUPUI School of Informatics - “Serendipity”
  • Meghan McCormick, Co-Founder, Green Piece Indy - “Bloom Where You're Planted”
  • Kevin McKelvey, Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Indianapolis; Board of Directors, Second Story - “Barns”
  • Vop Osili, Architect, Founding Partner and Principal, A2SO4 - “Asa Dam”
  • Brian Payne, President, Central Indiana Community Foundation and The Indianapolis Foundation - “A Long Steep Hill”
  • Rob Smith, President, Eli Lilly and Company Foundation - "Cosmos, Consciousness, and Community"
  • Joyce A. Sommers, President Emeritus, Indianapolis Art Center - “Confluence”
  • Aaron Spiegel, Rabbi, Information Technology Director, Indianapolis Center for Congregations - “Sanctuary"

    Essays on the 2008 festival theme: Exploring Imagination
  • Jon Adland, Senior Rabbi, Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation - “The Next Place on the Journey”
  • Maxwell L. Anderson, President and CEO, Indianapolis Museum of Art - “Active Imagination”
  • Frank Basile, Professional speaker, author, and philanthropist - “Achieving What I Imagined”
  • Jeanne Farah, Principal Consultant, Excelleration, Inc. - “Cultivating Imagination: Embracing Your Possibilites”
  • Carolyn Hadlock, Creative Director, Young & Laramore Advertising - “Someplace Pure”
  • Eric M. Meslin, PhD, Director, Indiana University Center for Bioethics - “Bioethics and Imagination”
  • Betty Perry, Founder and Director, Metropolitan Youth Orchestra - “The Mustard Grain”
  • JoEllen Florio Rossebo, President and CEO, Young Audiences of Indiana - “Catching the Big Fish”
  • Kanwal Prakash “KP” Singh, Architectural artist, author, and public speaker - “A Gateway to Wonder and the Unknown”
  • George Srour, Director, Building Tomorrow, Inc. - “$1.81”
  • TitleDateTimeLocation
    84 Charing Cross RoadSaturday, November 3, 20078:00 PM - 10:00 PMOaklandon Civic Theatre
    84 Charing Cross RoadFriday, November 9, 20078:00 PM - 10:00 PMOaklandon Civic Theatre
    84 Charing Cross RoadSaturday, November 10, 20078:00 PM - 10:00 PMOaklandon Civic Theatre
    84 Charing Cross RoadSunday, November 11, 20072:00 PM - 4:00 PMOaklandon Civic Theatre
    84 Charing Cross RoadFriday, November 16, 20078:00 PM - 10:00 PMOaklandon Civic Theatre
    84 Charing Cross RoadSaturday, November 17, 20078:00 PM - 10:00 PMOaklandon Civic Theatre
    A Festival of PeaceSaturday, November 17, 20078:30 AM - 9:00 PMThe Church Within
    A Festival of PeaceSunday, November 18, 20073:00 PM - 6:30 PMThe Church Within
    Against All Odds: Stories of Survival and StrengthThursday, November 15, 20076:00 PM - 8:00 PMIndianapolis Urban League
    All God's Critters Got a Place in the ChoirSaturday, November 17, 20075:00 PM - 7:00 PMPark Tudor School
    All God's Critters Got a Place in the ChoirSunday, November 18, 20075:00 PM - 7:00 PMPark Tudor School
    And He Ran ScreamingFriday, November 16, 20077:00 PM - 9:00 PMThe Church Within
    Cajun/Creole Culture: Lessons in HospitalityThursday, November 8, 20076:00 PM - 8:30 PMNorth United Methodist Church
    Can Tzedakah, Tithing, and Zakat Save the World?Wednesday, November 7, 20077:00 PM - 8:30 PMMartin University, Gatheratorium
    Carrie Newcomer and Phil Gulley: Gifts of Spirit in Song & Story - SOLD OUTSaturday, November 10, 20077:30 PM - 9:30 PMFirst Friends Meeting
    Climate Change and Faith CommunitiesSaturday, November 10, 20079:00 AM - 12:00 PMFirst Congregational Church-United Church of Christ
    Covenant: Scenes From an African American ChurchWednesday, November 14, 20077:00 PM - 8:30 PMIndiana State Museum
    Creating a Climate of Generosity: A Community Conversation - UPDATEDSunday, November 18, 20072:00 PM - 4:00 PMButler University Atherton Union
    Defining the Third Sector: Exploring the History and Future of PhilanthropyMonday, November 5, 20078:30 AM - 11:30 AMIUPUI, University Place Conference Center and Hotel
    Embracing the Gifts of Children and Adults with DisabilitiesSunday, November 11, 20072:30 PM - 4:30 PMSpeedway United Methodist Church
    English as a Second Language: Become a Volunteer TutorSaturday, November 10, 20079:00 AM - 12:00 PMIUPUI - Cavanaugh Hall
    Flute Fest: Teaching, Learning, and Playing TogetherSaturday, November 3, 20078:00 AM - 5:00 PMHilbert Circle Theatre
    From Julieanne's Garden to the Underground Railroad: Oral Histories and FolkloreFriday, November 9, 20076:30 PM - 9:00 PMIndianapolis Art Center
    Gathering the Stories of Everyday HeroesSaturday, November 17, 20072:00 PM - 4:00 PMIndiana History Center
    Generous Spirit or Pushing Faith? Sharing Religious Convictions Amid DiversityWednesday, November 7, 20074:00 PM - 6:00 PMButler University Center for Faith and Vocation
    Get On BoardThursday, November 8, 20078:00 AM - 7:00 PMIndiana Historical Society
    Gifts of the FreethinkersFriday, November 9, 20076:00 PM - 8:00 PMCenter for Inquiry Indiana
    Gifts of the FreethinkersSaturday, November 10, 20072:00 PM - 4:00 PMCenter for Inquiry Indiana
    Gifts of the FreethinkersSunday, November 11, 20072:00 PM - 4:00 PMCenter for Inquiry Indiana
    Give It Away: A Conversation with Bill and Gloria GaitherSunday, November 11, 20077:00 PM - 8:30 PMSt. Luke's United Methodist Church
    Grace and Mastery: An Evening with Poet Mark DotyThursday, November 15, 20078:00 PM - 9:30 PMUniversity of Indianapolis
    Hearing Voices (Speaking in Tongues)Thursday, November 8, 20077:30 PM - 10:00 PMSaints Peter and Paul Cathedral
    Hearing Voices (Speaking in Tongues)Friday, November 9, 20077:30 PM - 10:00 PMAll Saints Episcopal Church
    Hearing Voices (Speaking in Tongues)Saturday, November 10, 20077:30 PM - 10:00 PMWheeler Arts Community
    Helen Keller: Beyond the Cover - UPDATEDThursday, November 8, 20072:00 PM - 4:00 PMPresident Benjamin Harrison Home
    Helping Hands FestivalSaturday, November 10, 20079:30 AM - 4:00 PMThe Orchard School
    Heroines, Housewives, and Harlots: Biblical Women Who Inspire GenerosityThursday, November 8, 20077:00 PM - 8:30 PMSt. Luke's United Methodist Church
    Hidden in Plain Sight: Discovering Community TreasuresSaturday, November 10, 20077:00 PM - 9:30 PMBroadway United Methodist Church
    Home: A Parable of Beatrice and NealSaturday, November 17, 20077:00 PM - 9:00 PMCentral Christian Church
    Hoosier Hospitality: Transforming the World One Handshake at a Time - UPDATEDTuesday, November 6, 20074:30 PM - 6:00 PMKiwanis International
    Indiana Opens to the World: Making a Map, Seeing the ConnectionsSaturday, November 17, 20071:30 PM - 4:00 PMChristian Theological Seminary
    Inlaws & Outlaws: Marriage From the Inside and OutFriday, November 9, 20077:00 PM - 9:30 PMJesus Metropolitan Community Church
    It Was Everybody's WarWednesday, November 14, 20077:00 PM - 9:00 PMFrank and Katrina Basile Theater, Indiana History Center
    Jam with CreationSunday, November 11, 20072:00 PM - 3:00 PMChildren's Museum of Indianapolis, The
    Jesus, The Bible, and HomosexualitySaturday, November 3, 20071:00 PM - 4:00 PMNorthminster Presbyterian Church
    Living Generously When You Are One Paycheck AwayThursday, November 8, 20077:00 PM - 9:00 PMLockerbie Central United Methodist Church
    Living Generously: A Public Conversation with Nathan Dungan, Bernice Johnson Reagon, and Patty StonesiferSunday, November 4, 20072:00 PM - 4:00 PMButler University Clowes Memorial Hall
    Living Green: Living Generously with EarthMonday, November 12, 20077:00 PM - 9:00 PMFirst Congregational Church-United Church of Christ
    Living in Nature's PlaygroundSunday, November 11, 20072:00 PM - 5:00 PMConner Prairie
    Loz Invenzivlez: Our Invincible YouthSaturday, November 3, 20075:00 PM - 7:00 PMIndianapolis Museum of Art
    Making Memoirs, Making SenseSaturday, November 3, 20071:00 PM - 4:00 PMIndianapolis Art Center
    Messages to Me: Words Collected on the Road to SilenceFriday, November 2, 20071:00 PM - 3:00 PMOne Body Studio
    Music and Mentoring: The Gift of Big Band MusicThursday, November 15, 20076:30 PM - 9:30 PMAmerican Cabaret Theater
    Not Your Ordinary Montana Logging and Ballet Company: Closing Night CelebrationSunday, November 18, 20077:30 PM - 9:00 PMSt. Luke's United Methodist Church
    One Pen, One Pad, One Voice, One ClassFriday, November 9, 20077:00 PM - 9:00 PMMartin Luther King Center
    One Pen, One Pad, One Voice, One ClassFriday, November 16, 20076:00 PM - 8:00 PMIndianapolis Urban League
    One Stitch at a TimeSaturday, November 3, 20071:00 PM - 3:00 PMEpworth United Methodist Church
    Opening Night Celebration at Harrison Center for the ArtsFriday, November 2, 20076:00 PM - 9:00 PMHarrison Center for the Arts
    Pop Culture, Orthodoxy, and Joyful LivingSaturday, November 3, 20071:00 PM - 4:00 PMChristian Theological Seminary
    Praying in ColorThursday, November 8, 20079:00 AM - 4:00 PMIndianapolis Center for Congregations
    Reconciling Community Need and Donor InterestWednesday, November 7, 20074:00 PM - 6:00 PMChristian Theological Seminary
    Setting the Welcome Table: A SongTalk about the African American Freedom Struggle - SOLD OUTSaturday, November 3, 20078:00 PM - 9:30 PMUniversity of Indianapolis, Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center, Ruth Lilly Performance Hall
    Sharing the Journey: Immigrants’ Stories - UPDATEDTuesday, November 13, 20075:30 PM - 8:00 PMIUPUI, Office of International Affairs
    Slavery, the Courts, and the Underground RailroadThursday, November 15, 20077:00 PM - 9:30 PMIndiana State Library
    Small Change, Huge DifferenceWednesday, November 7, 20076:30 PM - 8:30 PMCentral Christian Church
    Social Capitalism and Corporate ResponsibilityTuesday, November 13, 20077:00 PM - 8:30 PMLiberty Fund, Inc.
    Something To Blog About: Sharing Stories and Building Communities on the WebSunday, November 11, 20072:00 PM - 4:00 PMIUPUI
    Spiritual Giving and Receiving: An Interfaith Peace-Prayer ServiceTuesday, November 13, 20077:30 PM - 9:00 PMCarmelite Monastery
    Sporting a Generous LifeWednesday, November 14, 20076:00 PM - 8:00 PMHawthorns Golf & Country Club
    The Abundant Childhood: Nature, Creativity, and Health - SOLD OUTThursday, November 8, 20076:30 PM - 8:00 PMIndianapolis Museum of Art
    The Business of Advertising: Logos, Brands and CashMonday, November 5, 20075:00 PM - 6:30 PMRobertson Hall, Ford Salon
    The Challenge of Health Philanthropy: A Conversation with Patty StonesiferMonday, November 5, 20073:00 PM - 4:30 PMIUPUI, University Place Conference Center and Hotel
    The Collector of Bedford StreetThursday, November 8, 20077:30 PM - 9:30 PMArthur M. Glick Jewish Community Center
    The Healing Gifts of Prayer, Intention, and JournalingTuesday, November 13, 20076:30 PM - 9:00 PMSt. Luke's United Methodist Church
    The History of Prayer in AmericaThursday, November 8, 20076:30 PM - 8:30 PMChristian Theological Seminary
    The Jazz State of IndianaSunday, November 11, 20072:00 PM - 3:30 PMIUPUI, Multi-Media Lecture Hall
    The Jazz State of IndianaMonday, November 12, 20077:30 PM - 9:00 PMIUPUI, Multi-Media Lecture Hall
    The Most Famous Man in America: A Conversation with Henry Ward Beecher Monday, November 5, 20077:00 PM - 8:30 PMSecond Presbyterian Church
    The Power of Children: Making a DifferenceSaturday, November 10, 200710:00 AM - 5:00 PMThe Children's Museum of Indianapolis
    The Spirit of Women: Rooted in Generosity, Engaged in Social ChangeMonday, November 12, 20075:30 PM - 8:00 PMMadame Walker Theatre Center
    Three Faiths: One VoiceWednesday, November 7, 20077:30 PM - 9:30 PMCongregation Beth-El Zedeck
    Volunteering Abroad - UPDATEDFriday, November 16, 20077:00 PM - 8:30 PMFranklin College
    VolunTourism: Travel + ServiceThursday, November 15, 20076:00 PM - 8:30 PMMarian College
    With Glad and Generous HeartsTuesday, November 13, 20077:00 PM - 9:00 PMChristian Theological Seminary