Center for Interfaith Cooperation

Hoosiers of Many Faiths in Community

André Zhang Sonera on the eagerness of citizens to talk

In a country where religion is often the topic of heated debates, it is not very common to see a park colored with the different spectrums of religions. The Indiana Veterans Memorial Park served as a canvas, where different religious entities harmonized their differences with the sole mission of bringing the community together for the 2015 Indianapolis Festival of Faiths. While the crowd explored and learn more in-depth regarding the different faiths at the festival, inside the Indiana War Memorial a group of the city’s brightest scholars and civic leaders gathered for a unique exchange.

In the room, eight circular tables were ready to engage participants in a provocative discussion. Each one lead by adroit in the topic contained a unique atmosphere that sparked the minds of the attendees. The discussions ranged from hot issues such as The Threat of TerrorismCommunity Violence & Racial Tensions and the controversial RFRA and Marriage Equality, to more optimistic tones like Environmental Responsibility, and The Future of Indiana.

The event was set-up as a “civic engagement-speed date,” meaning that participants were able to interact with four tables for twelve minutes each. During the time period participants were provided a space to exchange their ideas and thoughts surrounding the different issues. Many of them passionately shared their personal experiences and opinions, while others carefully soaked the new pieces of information that were presented, all of these as the room ambiance intensified with each thought-provoking prompts.

The affair concluded with each of the thought leaders and experts sharing their findings and annotations with the rest of the attendants. The participants then had the opportunity to learn the issues/aspirations of their fellow citizens regarding the eight different topics. The caliber of the event was characterized by the eagerness and motivation of the attendants, whom despite being from different races, beliefs, and background, came together as a collective to formulated the different ways for solutions regarding the different topics.