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Spirit & Place Festival explores origins

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The 2020 Spirit & Place festival will make people think critically about origin stories and myths that help shape the way things are today. From religion to society to individuals, understanding the beginnings can help make sense of the present.

This is the 25th anniversary of Spirit & Place, a collaborative festival that incorporates the arts, religion and humanities.

Erin Kelley, the festival’s program director for the last six years, said it’s important for people in Indianapolis to consider these different types of origins, especially since 2020 is also the city’s bicentennial year.

“There is no one single origin story,” she said. “In this country there are a multitude of origin stories. We all approach life from our different perspectives.”

Most of the events this year are virtual because of the pandemic. It was a difficult transition for the organizations involved, Kelley said, but it could also be an opportunity to reach more people. Kelley said she received emails from people who live outside of Marion County, as well as elderly people who don’t like to drive at night, about how virtual events are more accessible.

One of the events is Deep Roots, hosted by Keep Indianapolis Beautiful (KIB). Deep Roots is a continuation of an event in October when KIB invited faith leaders to share their respective prayers about caring for nature. Some of those faith leaders will talk about what their faith traditions say about spirituality and the natural world.

“Every major faith and spiritual practice has something to say about caring for the world around us,” said Jeremy Kranowitz, president and CEO of KIB.

Indianapolis has more churches and religious sites per capita than any other city in the country, according to a study from PropertyShark, and there are many faith traditions represented.

Everyone has a shared moral obligation to take care of the planet, Kranowitz said, and he hopes people who attend the event understand there are steps they can take individually or as a group to help their community’s environment.

Deep Roots is 3-5 p.m. Nov. 11 on Zoom. Learn more at spiritandplace.org.

Another event, Beyond the Big Chop, will explore how Black hair can shape a sense of beauty and identity.

Patricia Jordan, who will co-host a pre-recorded lecture, said it’s important to understand how hair can affect a person’s physical and mental health, especially as women try to meet society’s beauty standards.

Beyond the Big Chop refers to the “big chop” Black women make to cut off their relaxed or straightened hair and go natural.

“It’s almost like starting over,” Jordan said.

The virtual event includes an interactive session about maintaining health by controlling the ingredients used in hair. Jordan said there is research that shows chemicals for perms and relaxers can go beneath the scalp and into the bloodstream, which can impact the body’s pH balance and estrogen levels.

There are a limited number of supply kits for at-home hair care.

Beyond the Big Chop is 5:30-7:30 p.m. Nov. 13. Register at spiritandplace.org, which is where you can also find a list of all Spirit & Place events.

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

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