February Social Justice Calendar


Bongisa Seminar

In the wake of newly revised estimates of 5.4 million people dying in the Congo, local advocacy groups are coming together to raise awareness among young people.

The Feb. 9 Bongisa Seminar, taking place from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at the International School, will teach students about the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the plight of the Congolese.

“Bongisa” means to build or repair in the Congolese language of Lingala, according to Woody Collins, president of Congo Helping Hands.

Collins and the other organizers hope to build the relationship between Indiana and the Congo, and to create advocates for the troubled nation among local youth. They plan to use a multimedia presentation to stimulate discussion. For a taste of the culture, they will serve up Congolese music and food.

Calling it the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II, Collins says that although the crisis rarely makes news headlines here, “It’s really something we should know about and do something about.” He adds, “Less than 1 percent were killed by violence. Most starved, or died of malaria or diarrhea. These are all preventable deaths.”

The seminar and reception are open to all but geared toward teenagers. For more information, call 317-698-7643 or go to www.CongoHelpingHands.org.

Sustainable  Living Workshop

Just what does it mean to live sustainably? The Jewish Community Center will offer a two-session workshop on Feb. 9 and 16 to explore this question with Albert Schinazi of Integrative Solutions.

Schinazi, who studied architecture with a focus on sustainable community development, will teach tenets of sustainable living, including green building, energy efficiency and healthy homes.

According to JCC’s Director of Continuing Education Larry Rothenberg, the event reflects the Jewish tradition of tikkun alum, or repairing the world. “It is all of our responsibilities to help God in repairing the world,” he says. “We always try to incorporate that into our programming. Nowadays environmentalism is a big part of that.”

The workshop is the latest in several environmental endeavors by the JCC. The center is also partnering with Congregation Beth El Zedeck to promote the Low Carbon Diet, in which participants work to reduce their carbon footprint.

The workshop, which runs from 1-4:30 p.m. both days, is open to the public but registration is required. For more information or to register, call 317-251-9467 or go to www.jccindy.org.

“Leave No Child Inside”

In an age when most children spend their free time in front of a screen, families need a little encouragement to get outdoors together.

That’s the reasoning behind an upcoming family event at Fort Harrison State Park, sponsored in part by the Peace Learning Center. The Feb. 16 “Leave No Child Inside” program builds on the premise of the book Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv, who spoke in Indianapolis during the Spirit & Place Festival.

Peace Learning Center’s Tim Nation explains, “We have always been about getting people out in the woods for good learning and experiences. We think connecting with the woods helps spur creativity. [For] kids who are kind of locked in the city in front of computers, it shows them the beauty and possibility of outdoor places.”

The intent of the event is to spur ideas for outdoor family wintertime activities, he says, such as animal tracking, bird watching and possibly exploring life in the “subnivian” level (between the ground and snow). If there is snow, sledding will also be an option after the official program.

Registration is required for the Feb. 16 event, which takes place from 1-4:30 p.m. To register, call 317-562-1338 or Email nrec@dnr.in.gov.

Safe Sex in the City

Whether you’re coupled up or going it alone these days, come celebrate Valentine’s Day, National Condom Awareness Week and all things ’80s at Planned Parenthood Young Leaders’ Safe Sex in the City ’80s Prom.

The event will be held on Valentine’s Day, Thursday, Feb. 14, at Talbott Street from 8 p.m.-midnight. Prizes will be awarded for best ’80s hair, best ’80s style and best ’80s dance moves. Tickets are $15. For more information, contact Hannah Day at hannah.day@ppin.org or 317-637-4350.  

Planned Parenthood Young Leaders’ mission is to empower young professionals to serve as protectors of reproductive health and choice for the next generation. NUVO is a sponsor of the PPYL ’80s Prom.

2008 Food, Farm and Energy Gathering

With the local foods movement and a concurrent push for self-reliance both gaining ground in Indianapolis, the time is ripe for a conference of small farmers, gardeners, alternative energy users and local foods enthusiasts. On Feb. 23, the Food, Farm and Energy Gathering will bring together such likeminded people at the State Fairgrounds.

Organizer Steve Bonney of Sustainable Earth explains, “The quest for small farmers who market directly has always been to establish connections with consumers. Consumers have always had difficulty with locating sources of food that are labelled honestly.” Thus, the face-to-face connecting offered at the event.

Local Chef Wendell Fowler headlines the event, which also includes a trade show. Breakout sessions will cover small-scale solar and wind power, suburban organic farming and backyard chicken flocks, as well as home delivery of local food.

Bonney hopes the event will inspire new ways of thinking about self-reliance, particularly in urban areas. “That’s part of this green movement, to be more self-reliant and food- and energy-independent,” he says.

To register or learn more, go to www.sustainableearth.net.

Butler hosts Omnivore’s Dilemma author Michael Pollan

What do you know about the food you eat? Michael Pollan, author of the acclaimed book The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, will address this question during his Feb. 25 lecture at Butler University.

Stuart Glennan, professor of philosophy, says the author was selected in part because of increasing interest in local foods throughout the city. Additionally, “We wanted to bring him in because the issues he talks about, sustainable agriculture and appropriate eating, are important in terms of a variety of ecological issues, global warming, the obesity [problem] and a whole range of issues.”

The relevance of Pollan’s findings in an election year can’t be overestimated, Glennan notes. “Michael Pollan has talked about farm subsidies distorting the entire agricultural industrial system, which is important here in Indiana.”

The free lecture takes place at 7:30 p.m. in Butler’s Atherton Union Reilly Room. For more information, call 317-940-9890


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