November Social Justice Calendar 

Looking through their Viewfinders

Students in the Viewfinder Project, a local nonprofit relating art to life lessons, have been learning to look more deeply at their surroundings. The kids’ photographs will be on display this month at Harrison Center for the Arts, starting with an opening reception at 6 p.m. this Friday.

According to director MaryBeth Jackson, the Viewfinder Project’s premise is to use various media, in this case photography, to empower youth ages 11 to 18. “The idea is to get them to think creatively about how they can impact the world around them,” she says.

More information:

Lending a helping hand

Six years ago Global Gifts organized the first Helping Hands Festival in an effort to link less established fair trade sellers with the public. This year’s crafts fair, part of the Spirit & Place Festival, again features the work of artisans from around the world, along with international entertainment and food.

A presentation and exhibit by documentary photographer Ida Benedetto promises to be a highlight. Benedetto lived with and photographed Indian tea growers and Guatemalan coffee growers, using the photographs as postcards to facilitate correspondence between the two communities. Fair Trade: Postcards in Solidarity documents the two cooperatives’ parallel struggles.

According to Global Gifts’ Sam Carpenter, Benedetto’s project fits hand in glove with the mission of the Helping Hands Festival. “The two communities are achieving some of the things they’ve been fighting for through fair trade,” he says. “They’re no longer in a silent struggle.”

This free event takes place Saturday at St. Richard’s School, 33 E. 33rd St. Kicking off the festivities at 9:30 a.m. is Benedetto herself, unveiling her exhibit. More information:

Assessing indoor air quality

From dust mites to craft supplies to cleaning products, the home can be a hazardous place for those with breathing problems. The American Lung Association’s Master Home Environmentalist Program aims to train a volunteer fleet of indoor environment assessors.

As the ALA of Indiana’s Meghan McNulty explains, graduates of the program are equipped to assess a home’s indoor environment, recommending low-cost changes to improve air quality.

While anyone can benefit from improving the indoor environment, the program is especially geared toward people susceptible to health problems related to air quality, such as children, the elderly and those with lung disease. The free training is open to all. Graduates are expected to provide at least four home assessments.

The Peace House is the setting of the trainings, which take place from 1-5 p.m. both this Saturday and Dec. 13. Preregistration is required. Contact or 317-819-1181.

Listening to youthful dreams

Indianapolis teenagers will have the chance to share their visions for a sustainable community Saturday.

Youth Imagine a Just, Sustainable and Peaceful Community, cosponsored by several organizations dedicated to the cause of social justice, will give expression to the peace and justice-oriented dreams of the young. After a private morning workshop facilitated by the Peace Learning Center, the students will unveil their collective vision for the general public in the afternoon. A panel of local luminaries including Judy O’Bannon will respond, followed by a Q&A session with the youth and panelists.

Kim Manley Ort of cosponsoring organization Earth Charter hopes that participants come away with a more holistic vision of sustainability. “It’s not just environmental [issues],” she says. “It includes justice and peace, too. I hope we look at ways in which our own community could live up to that ideal better.”

The public is invited to attend Youth Imagine from 1-3 p.m. Saturday at Christian Theological Seminary’s Shelton Auditorium. More information:

Founding the food co-op

A year after beginning an intensive planning process, the board of Indy Food Co-op is hosting a founding membership drive for people interested in starting a downtown food co-op.

Board President Kyle Hendrix says providing access to quality food is the objective of the nonprofit. “All the [grocery] options for people on the near-Eastside are closed,” he notes. “There are 40,000 people in this area who aren’t served by a grocery store that would be considered local.”

Left with the inflated prices and low quality of convenience store food, near-Eastsiders are the co-op’s likeliest member-customers. But the all-volunteer board is targeting all of Central Indiana, citing the lack of a storefront cooperative outside of Bloomington and Richmond.

The meeting is at 6 p.m. Saturday at Earth House, 237 N. East St., and features the music of local songstress Sarah Grain. More information: or 317-631-2220.

Speaking for peace

Two men uniquely impacted by the Iraq war are appearing at Veterans Day speaking engagements sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).

Raed Jarrar, an Iraqi political analyst living in Washington, D.C., and Chicago native Eugene Cherry, an African-American Iraq war veteran, will discuss their experiences in Iraq and their perceptions of the current political situation. Their “Speak for Peace: U.S. Veterans and Iraqis Creating the Way Forward” tour reveals the hidden side of the Iraq war: the displacement of Iraqi citizens, the experiences of Iraqis and U.S. soldiers exposed to continual violence and the prospects for a peaceful future in Iraq.

Jarrar is an architect with a background in community-based post-war reconstruction, currently engaged in advancing discourse between Iraqi leaders and members of the U.S. Congress. Cherry, a victim of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of serving in Iraq, will share his experience of going AWOL for 16 months.

The duo will speak to classes at North Central High School Monday, Nov. 10, and at Indianapolis First Friends at 6:30 p.m. Additional appearances are scheduled in Bloomington and West Lafayette. More information:

Learning from the old ones

In honor of National Native American Month, the Indiana State Museum will be the setting for a demonstration powwow Friday, Nov. 14.

Organizer Rusty Green says the annual event started in 2004 as a tribute to her mother. “My mom had always wanted to educate Indiana on Native American issues and just let people know we’re still here,” she says. “We never left.”

Members of the Potawatomi, Miami, Choctaw and Delaware tribes will be dancing in traditional regalia, drumming, demonstrating beadwork and other crafts, and teaching children and their teachers about Native culture.

The event is open to the general public with admission, and takes place from 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

Imagining a global city

A Nov. 16 Spirit & Place event at the Indianapolis Museum of Art will explore African healing traditions through a sampling of African artwork. Following an optional tour of the African collection with curator Ted Celenko, participants of “Imagining a Global City: Visions of Indianapolis and the World” will focus on three specific pieces as a starting point for conversation with several African transplants to Indianapolis.

John Clark of sponsor Provocate says, “We need all the perspectives on the problems we’re facing we can get, including new ways to look at community, new ways to face traumas, new ways of making decisions and new ways of thinking about the environment and nature.” He hopes that the connection between Hoosiers and Africans will spawn a creative synergy that enriches both parties.

IMA’s Deer Zink Pavilion is the setting for the free Nov. 16 event. The tour begins at 1 p.m., and the discussion is at 2 p.m. More information:

Changing the world

Many Hoosiers are working to transform the world in surprising ways. That’s the premise behind a Nov. 19 Provocate event intended to highlight local individuals and organizations who lend a hand to those in need across the globe.

Elsie Rotich of the IU-Kenya Partnership will be one of the speakers, sharing not only the work of the partnership but also the conduit it provides for area congregations, classes and service clubs to offer their help to Kenyans.

Provocate’s John Clark notes, “When you see a connection to the bigger world, you create a sense of obligation.” Meeting that obligation in mutually beneficial ways is the focus of the Nov. 19 presentation, which is part of the Mid-North Shepherd Center’s “Domestic Decisions” series.

The meeting is at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 19, at North United Methodist Church. An optional lunch follows the meeting. More information:

Showcasing queer cinema

The best of queer filmmaking will be on tap once again during the eighth annual Indianapolis LBGT Film Festival, Nov. 14-16.

According to organizer Mark Harper, “Queer cinema is one of those modes of filmmaking that kind of defies genre. It constantly reinvents itself year after year, and it straddles the line between mainstream and indie and avant garde.”

Robert Gant of television’s Queer As Folk will be on hand at the Nov. 14 premiere party. Gant plays the main character’s love interest in the feature film Save Me, centering around a Christian ex-gay ministry. The film screens at 8 p.m.

The IUPUI Campus Center is the venue for this year’s festival, which is part of the Spirit & Place Festival. More information:

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