June 8, 2010
IndyTalks: Is it Good to be a Hoosier?

By Erin Kelley, Public Programs Coordinator, Indiana Historical Society

Earlier this year several organizations, including the Indiana Historical Society, Indiana Humanities Council, WFYI, and the Athenaeum, launched the “IndyTalks” series. The goal of IndyTalks is to promote (creative) civic dialogue in the city. Using Richard Longworth’s Caught in the Middle: America’s Heartland in the Age of Globalism as our touchstone, each organization has or will create a different program that explores Indiana and globalization. Using the unique perspectives our organizations have, we hope to explore Indiana’s future in thoughtful and provocative ways.

On June 15 at 7 p.m. the Indiana Historical Society will host a conversation centered around the question, “Is it Good to be a Hoosier?” Historian James Madison (The Indiana Way) will briefly discuss his thoughts on where our Hoosier-ness comes from and, through the lens of history, explore whether these traits are an asset or challenge to Indiana in the 21st century. Most of the evening, however, will involve small and large group conversations between audience members. We will use a series of quotes and questions to prompt these conversations.

EX: “I myself will get an obituary in an Indianapolis paper when I die because I am related to people who used to own a chain of hardware stores.” – Kurt Vonnegut, 1981. QUESTION: Is self-deprecation a noble or foolhardy Hoosier trait?

EX: “While the community claims to value education, they tend to disdain academic learning. Teachers are tolerated but not welcomed into the civic life and governance of the city.” – Robert & Helen Lynd, Middletown: A Study in Contemporary American Culture, 1929. 

QUESTION: Have and do Hoosiers adequately value education?

We intend for this program to generate serious and thoughtful conversations, but at the same time don’t want it to be full of Indiana-bashing! (I’m a life-long resident who has chosen to stay in Indiana and proudly call myself a Hoosier!) This will be a provocative conversation, but a conversation that also explores Indiana’s opportunities to successfully position itself in an era of globalization.

Everyone is encouraged to attend. The conversation is free and rumor has it there will be pie from the Best Chocolate in Town …

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