Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

October 30, 2013

Value of 'risk' up for debate at Spirit & Place Festival

Public event is Nov. 10 at Indianapolis' Central Library


Hendricks County Flyer

---- — The public is invited to eavesdrop on a spontaneous conversation among four of Indiana’s nationally known risk takers who will chat together about the role of “risk” in individual and community life.

Speakers include Scott A. Jones, chairman, CEO, and co-founder of ChaCha; Sarah Fisher, professional race car driver and team owner; David N. Baker, iconic jazz performer, composer, and educator; and Phil Gulley, Quaker pastor and author. The group will consider subjects including how our city and state respond to risk, how society’s various sectors contribute to a risk-taking culture, the best ways to explore risk-taking, and whether it’s fair to conclude that Hoosiers are afraid to take risks. A public reception and Q&A will follow.

The 18th annual public conversation will close the 10-day Spirit & Place Festival 5:30 p.m. Nov. 10 in the Indianapolis Public Library Central Library’s Clowes Auditorium. The central Indiana festival begins Nov. 1.

Now celebrating its 18th year, the city’s largest collaborative festival is an extensive civic celebration engaging upwards of 20,000 people throughout central Indiana in dozens of programs presented in partnership with more than 100 organizations. A project of The Polis Center, part of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, the festival’s mission is to stimulate conversation, community building, and civic action through creative collaborations among the arts, religion, and humanities. Inherent in the human experience, risk will be explored during the 2013 festival as a follow up to the 2012 focus on play. A broad range of events will explore risk through the lens of culture, faith, history, education, and more.

Jones is an American inventor and serial entrepreneur. He attended North Central High School, and graduated with honors from Indiana University in 1984, earning a bachelor of science degree in computer science. At the age of 25, he co-founded his first company. At Boston Technology, he obtained patents for technologies that now enable telephone companies worldwide to offer voice mail on a massive scale. Subsequently he founded Internet-based music service company Gracenote, now utilized by Apple, Yahoo, and Sony. Gracenote services are accessed globally at the rate of 24 billion times per year by applications such as iTunes. This company was sold to Sony in 2008 for $260 million. Presently he is chairman, CEO, and co-founder of ChaCha, a real-time answers service.

At 19 years of age, Fisher became the youngest woman to qualify for the Indianapolis 500. She became the first woman to win a pole position for a major open-wheel race when she qualified fastest for the 2002 Belterra Casino Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway. Her lightning-quick lap of 221.390 mph remains the fastest lap on record at that track. After compiling the most Indianapolis 500 starts of any woman in history, Fisher struck out as a team owner in the IZOD IndyCar Series when she formed Sarah Fisher Racing in 2008. The team scored its first victory in October 2011 with driver Ed Carpenter, and Fisher became the first female team owner to win a race in the IZOD IndyCar Series.

Gulley is a Quaker pastor, writer, and speaker. He has written 17 books and received two Emmy Awards for his work hosting “Porch Talk with Phil Gulley” and “Across Indiana.” His books include the acclaimed Harmony series of novels chronicling life in the eccentric Quaker community of Harmony, Ind., and the bestselling Porch Talk series. Other writings include the memoir I Love You, Miss Huddleston: And Other Inappropriate Longings of My Indiana Childhood; If Grace Is True and If God Is Love, co-authored by James Mulholland; followed by If the Church Were Christian and The Evolution of Faith, which propose a fresh direction for Christianity. In 2010 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree by his alma mater, Christian Theological Seminary.

Baker, Jr. was born Dec. 21, 1931, in Indianapolis. He is distinguished professor of music and chairman of the jazz department at the Indiana University School of Music. An award-winning performer, composer, and educator, he is the recipient of many honors, including the National Association of Jazz Educators Hall of Fame Award, the National Endowment for the Arts American Jazz Masters Award, the Indiana Historical Society’s Living Legend Award, and an Emmy Award for his musical score for the PBS documentary “For Gold and Glory,” about African-American race car drivers in the 1920s. He is the conductor and artistic director of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and has performed all over the world with bands that featured Quincy Jones, Stan Kenton, Maynard Ferguson, and Lionel Hampton. His compositions, which include jazz, symphonic, and chamber works, total more than 2,000 in number.

For details on these and all Spirit & Place programs and events, visit the website at spiritandplace.org.