Sunday, November 15, 2009

Publically Conversing: Spirit & Place and Me

This afternoon, St. Luke's hosted the closing event for the Spirit & Place Festival, a ten-day series of events designed to encourage collaborations and other programmatic intersections of the arts, humanities, and religion. The 2009 theme for Spirit & Place was "Inspiring Places."

Today's public conversation, heralded as the climax of this year's festival, sounded great in concept: bring together two nationally known public leaders -- former four-term mayor of Indianapolis Bill Hudnut and current mayor of Braddock, PA, John Fetterman -- and have noted Indiana author Scott Russell Sanders lead them in a discussion about "place." Then, engage in a "sonic exploration of space" with a half dozen local choirs performing sacred music in a variety of settings.

Unfortunately, the pay-off was only about 50% -- from my perspective, the conversation part was "meh," but the musical part was really very good. (Full disclosure: I was an active participant in the musical part.)

Mayor Hudnut is smart and articulate, and he did a lot of good for the City of Indianapolis, but I found him to be arrogant and dismissive, prone to oneupsmanship and name-dropping. Mayor Fetterman is innovative and committed, and the people of Braddock are lucky to have him, but I found him to be surly and inaccessible (although, to be fair, if I had to share the stage with Mayor Hudnut, I might shut down noticeably, too).

But I did learn a lot today. Want to hear it? Here it goes:
  • Events with three VIPs never run on time, especially when two of the three VIPs like to hear themselves talk.
  • I would not be interested in dinner or drinks or coffee or whatever with any of the three men engaged in this afternoon's public conversation.
  • As I get older I have a much lower tolerance for pomposity than I used to.
  • As I get older I have a much lower tolerance for surliness than I used to.
  • As I get older I have a much lower tolerance for arrogance than I used to.
  • If you've told a joke more than 1,000 times over the last 40 years, you still have to tell it right if you want people to laugh.
  • If you're trying to be folksy, you are not actually folksy.
  • Neither Mayor Fetterman nor Mayor Hudnut thinks highly of Facebook or Twitter, and they shared their opinions freely and derisively, despite the repeated mentions of a "Twitter section" at the event.
  • I am either far less smart than I think I am or far more smart than I think I am, and I will probably never, ever stopping asking, "How did I get myself into this?"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Agreed, agreed, agreed, but I'll add one more thing: if there was supposed to be a "Twitter section," I find it odd that there were only about 30 tweets out of the 2 hour event! (But search #sapconvo to read some very nice comments about our singing!)