January Social Justice Calendar 

Celebrate King, think green

Keeping the dream

The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be remembered in several free MLK Day observances ranging from the festive to the formal.

Peace Learning Center’s 10th Annual MLK Fest, Jan. 19, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Christian Theological Seminary, features the arts and community outreach. According to the center’s Lisa Jones, Act Out Ensemble will present a play reimagining the present day as if King were still present. The festivities also include Blair Karsh’s spoken word/poetry workshop, local band Peace Jam and a drumming session.

Jones emphasizes the interactivity of the festival, noting, “It’s very community-oriented and kid-friendly. [Attendees] can be 2 or they can be 90 and still get something out of it.” For more information, call 317-297-8500.

The University of Indianapolis plans several interrelated observances around the holiday, including a celebration featuring African humanitarian activist Samuel Pieh. Sierra Leone native Pieh is a UIndy alumnus descended from the leader of the Amistad slave rebellion. His presentation, “The Amistad: Timeless Values in the Footprints of History,” will take place at noon Jan. 21 in the Ransberg Auditorium, followed by a reception in the Schwitzer Student Center.

The celebration continues with the UIndy Department of Music’s Faculty Artist Series, featuring tributes to the music of African-American composers. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Christel DeHaan Center.

University spokesman Scott Hall notes that class schedules are adjusted on King Day each year to allow students and faculty to attend. “This year is special,” he says, “because our featured speaker, aside from having a really interesting personal story, is an alumnus, and he reflects the international flavor that we try to cultivate here.”

Currently executive director of the Christian Health Association of Sierra Leone, Pieh has worked extensively with non-profits that foster a higher quality of life in Africa. In preparation for the program, UIndy will host a screening of Amistad at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 20 in Ransburg Auditorium. More information is available by calling 317-788-3298.

The third annual Freedom Walk on the Avenue starts at the Indianapolis Urban League at noon Jan. 21, proceeding down Indiana Avenue to the Madame Walker Theatre, where a one-hour commemorative celebration will “Keep the Dream Alive.”

According to Walker Theatre’s Bruce Williams, the commemoration is a reminder of community interdependence. “It’s important that that particular message echoes throughout the theater: We need each other,” he says. “The celebration also reaffirms our commitment to the betterment of our community through civility and service.”

While the keynote speaker is yet to be announced, the schedule includes the Walker/Flanner House Youth Chorale, along with a 25-piece wind ensemble.

Walker Theatre President Cynthia Bates notes that political and business leaders are expected to be in attendance, and in past years the late Julia Carson was a prominent guest. Bates plans a special recognition of Rep. Carson’s life’s work. More information is available at www.walkertheatre.com.

The Indiana History Center hosts its MLK Day Celebration Jan. 21, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. with crafts, performances and films at the Indiana History Center. The celebration is followed by the Martin Luther King Center’s annual awards ceremony in the Basile Theater. Performers include Kenyettá Dance Company, Asante Children’s Theatre Kwanzaa Choir, Write Me Project and Metropolitan Youth Orchestra.

Also at the center, beginning Jan. 14, an exhibition called Sharing the Dream: Indiana Acts for Civil Rights will explore King’s ties to the Hoosier state. Through March 31, visitors can learn about the key players who worked to improve race relations in Indiana. More information is available at www.indianahistory.org.

Resolving to be green

Two environmental films and a green building conference start 2008 off with a sustainability focus.

Jan. 17, 7 p.m., Lockerbie Central United Methodist Church will host the Indiana premiere of King Corn, a new documentary about the high price of the nation’s addiction to corn. Film director Curt Ellis, who also stars in the documentary, will be on hand for a post-screening discussion.

According to organizer Mike Oles, the church’s monthly documentary film forum centers around issues of social relevance, particularly for Indy and the Hoosier state. He says, “I’d been reading reviews about King Corn and I thought it made sense for Indiana, the belt buckle of the corn belt. We depend so much on corn, but what are the consequences of that dependence?”

The film shows Ellis and co-star Ian Cheney planting an acre of corn and following their product’s path through the industrial food system. They visit cattle feedlots where cheap corn is consumed by some 100,000 cows. They go to the laboratory that makes high fructose corn syrup, which is partly to blame for the obesity and diabetes epidemic. More information at 317-354-3207.

The Irvington Green Initiative brings environmental film Kilowatt Ours to Irvington’s Snips Salon and Spa Jan. 21, 7 p.m. This documentary takes a journey from the coal mines of West Virginia to the solar panel fields of Florida, exploring solutions to America’s energy-related problems. Viewers discover how they can save hundreds of dollars annually on energy bills.

Organizer Laura Hildreth acknowledges it is easy to become intimidated by the fact of mounting environmental crises. She says, “What do you do in the face of intimidation? One thing is get more knowledgeable. There are simple things we can do in own lives.”

She notes that she first saw the film at Lockerbie Central UMC. “We want to inspire people to bring it on home to their own neighborhoods. That’s what we’re trying to do in Irvington.” Call for more information: 317-357-6328.

The second annual Indiana Building Green Symposium takes place Jan. 31-Feb. 1 on the IUPUI campus, promoting sustainable design efforts. With a tagline of “building green values,” the conference promises to bring together nearly 400 building professionals.

Mac Williams of the U.S. Green Building Council Indiana Chapter says that “values” refer to both solid principles and financial worth. The “dollars and cents” of green building will be a prominent theme.

The event includes a keynote presentation by Environmental Building News Editor Alex Wilson and a showcase of “the greenest building in the world in terms of LEED,” according to Williams. Organizers also intend to green the conference itself through carbon offsets and waste reduction measures.

Early bird registration ends Jan. 14. For more information, go to www.IndianaBuildingGreen.org.

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