Chew on This

Chew on This is a program designed by Indiana Humanities to use the power of food and drink as a convener of people and catalyst for conversation to inspire thoughtful discussion on engaging topics.

Chew on This

Chew on This is a program designed by Indiana Humanities to use the power of food and drink as a convener of people and catalyst for conversation to inspire thoughtful discussion on engaging topics. Topics have included: how we know what we know; the 25th anniversary of the Pan Am Games; ethnic identity and food; agriculture; and Prohibition.


Chew on This: Who Belongs Here? 

In literature and pop culture, Midwesterners are sometimes depicted as friendly and hospitable, while at other times we’re seen as closed-minded and suspicious of newcomers and immigrants. To put it another way, sometimes we’re Leslie Knope, rolling out the welcome wagon, and sometimes we’re the townspeople in Hoosiers, turning a cold shoulder to the new guy and skeptical of his new ideas.

What’s the reality of the community where you live—are you more of a Pawnee or a Hickory? How welcoming is your community to people who come from somewhere else, whether another country or just over the county line? What do we mean when we say someone is or isn’t part of a community? Who decides? Why does openness matter—and how can your community be more welcoming? This statewide conversation was held in 7 cities and 10 restaurants. 

Chew on This: What Divides Us?

Sometimes it feels as if we’re coming apart at the seams. The conclusion drawn from the near-constant polling, media commentary and academic analysis of the last few years is that Americans are polarized—divided along geographic lines or by race, by generation or by socio-economic status.

Historians Kevin Kruse and Julian E. Zelizer say it all goes back to 1974, when Watergate, the end of the Vietnam War and anti-busing riots were among the many crises that rocked America. Journalist Bill Bishop, working from reams of sociological and political science data, says we started to sort ourselves into camps in 1965—between June and October, to be exact. Others go back to the 1920 census, the first to show that the majority of Americans lived in cities and towns, rather than rural areas. This statewide conversation was held in 9 cities and 10 restaurants.

Chew on This: Will Machines Replace Us?

When’s the last time you spoke to a teller at your bank? To a travel agent? When you go to the grocery, how often do you have an actual cashier check you out? We see the effects of automation all around us, from service and manufacturing, to the legal profession and trucking. Though only 6% of adults report losing hours or a job to automation, according to the Pew Research Center, another report by McKinsey Global predicts that 400 million jobs will be displaced by automation by 2030.

There’s no doubt that artificial intelligence and robotics are relieving workers of some kinds of repetitive, tedious and maybe even back-breaking labor. What may be less clear is what new jobs will arrive to provide income and a sense of purpose for those displaced by technology. Can new jobs be generated to replace those that are displaced? Is automation safe? Can we imagine income without work—and if so, what will we do with all this new free time? This statewide conversation was held in 5 cities and 7 restaurants. 

Chew on This: Are We Our Data?

The advent of powerful computers means it’s possible to track and analyze so many human behaviors—what we read and say online, where we drive or walk, what we purchase, who we talk to, and more. The possibilities are exciting—better targeting healthcare interventions to the people and places that need them most, uncovering evidence of a criminal conspiracy and preventing it before it happens, even the serendipitous delight of a great suggestion for what to read next on your Amazon page or Twitter feed. But there are no shortage of concerns about privacy and consent, about ownership and profit off our personal data. This statewide conversation was held in four cities at six restaurants. 

Chew on This: Are You Sure?

How do we know if something is true? What counts as evidence? How we answer these questions as individuals and as a society affects the choices we make—everything from how we read the news and vote, to how we choose the foods we eat and make healthcare decisions, to how our leaders set policy for the economy, the environment and more. This statewide conversation was held in five cities and seven restaurants.

Chew on This: Latinos & The Next Indiana

Indiana is home to 314,501 immigrants, more than half of whom are from Latin America. In Indianapolis, the number of immigrants is on pace to double within the next 10 years. Attendees contributed to six simultaneous conversations around Indianapolis about the changing demographics of our community and the vital role Latino Hoosiers are playing in the future of Indiana education, business, arts and culture, and our shared civic life.

TMI: A #chewonthis for the cyber savvy generation

Kids between the ages of 13-17 joined us for a special “Chew on This” event for the cyber savvy generation. In small groups, teens had dinner and conversation – the face-to-face kind – about the pros and cons about texting, tweeting and other technology. The chat was informal, parents-free and led by a fellow teen.

Chew on This: Crossroads 1987

A series of dinner conversations at 10 venues around Indianapolis to discuss the success, failures and lasting impact of the Games on its 25th anniversary. In the early 1980s, Indianapolis was at a crossroads. Civic leaders boldly developed a vision that set the city on its path to becoming the Amateur Sports Capitol of the World and turned its citizens into “professional” volunteers. Much like Super Bowl XLVI, the 1987 Pan Am Games put Indianapolis on the map.

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Chew on This: Why Does Local Reporting Matter?

Investigative reporters and public interest journalism keep our elected leaders accountable. Feature writers and sports journalists, with their regular updates on happenings around town and the ups-and-downs of hometown teams, forge a sense of community. And, as 2020 has proven many times over, reporters put massive, world-changing events (a global pandemic, an economic crisis, nationwide protests, a presidential election) into a local context and explain how distant or abstract issues play out in residents’ lives.

Yet local journalism is under threat. The business model of ad-supported print media has collapsed. News is consolidating, journalists are getting laid off, and reporters are being asked to do more with less. No one knows a community like the local reporters, yet there are fewer of them every day.

How do you get your news? How often do you seek out—and pay for—local reporting? What kind of stories are or aren’t told when we lose local journalists? What’s the connection between thriving local media and a healthy, engaged community? How do journalists make decisions about where to put to their focus, and what do they really think of the comments section?

Indiana Humanities, in partnership with the Hoosier State Press Association, is excited to dig into these and other questions during Chew On This: Why Does Local Reporting Matter?, a statewide virtual dinner party on Sept. 22. Sign up for one of these fun yet in-depth conversations facilitated by Indiana journalists:

Group 1: Kaitlin Lange, The Indianapolis Star, and Ryan Martin, The Indianapolis Star

Group 2: Adam Wren, Importantville/Politico/Indianapolis Monthly, and Ebony Chappel, Open Lines and What’s Good with Ebony Chappel (Indianapolis)

Group 3: Terry Anker, Current in Carmel, and Nate Feltman, Indianapolis Business Journal

Group 4: Don Hurd, Hoosier Media Group, and Ray Cooney, The Commercial Review (Portland)

Group 5: Richarh Tyson, Channel 27 (Marion), and Jeff Kovaleski, Kokomo Tribune

Group 6: Scott Agness, Fieldhouse Files (Indianapolis), and James Boyd, The Times of Northwest Indiana

Group 7: Michael Puente, WBEZ Chicago/Northwest Indiana and Indiana Pro SPJ President, and Michael Wanbaugh, South Bend Tribune

Group 8: Scott Underwood, The Herald Bulletin (Anderson), and Katrice Hardy, The Indianapolis Star

Group 9: Kathy Tretter, The Ferdinand News and Spencer County Leader, and Max Jones, Tribune-Star (Terre Haute)

This program is part of the “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” initiative, made possible thanks to the generosity of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and in partnership with the Pulitzer Prizes.


Contact Leah Nahmias, 317-616-9804, or email