From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, 2019, I was honored be asked to be the official "tweeter" of Indiana Humanities' INseparable theme event, "Chew on This: What Divides Us?" at Rooster's Kitchen in Indianapolis.
Here is the original April 4, 2019 press release announcing the event:
Statewide dinner parties invite Hoosiers to explore what divides us“Chew on This: What Divides Us?” will feature simultaneous conversations in restaurants on April 23 as part of Indiana Humanities’ INseparable themeINDIANAPOLIS (April 4, 2019)—Dig into some tasty food and deep conversation as Indiana Humanities invites Hoosiers across the state to explore the extent to which Americans are divided along urban and rural lines.On April 23, the organization will offer simultaneous dinner conversations from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. called “Chew on This: What Divides Us?” at 10 restaurants in Bargersville, Batesville, Carmel, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, New Albany, Rensselaer, South Bend and Warsaw.The events are part of Indiana Humanities new two-year INseparable initiative, which invites Hoosiers to explore how we relate to each other across dividing lines and consider what it will take to be inseparable, in all the ways that matter.“Nothing breaks down the barriers among us like sharing a meal around a common table,” said Keira Amstutz, president and CEO of Indiana Humanities. “With INseparable, that’s exactly what we want to do—encourage people to talk with each other rather than at each other and promote understanding and empathy across boundaries.”Among the topics of conversation will be whether or not Americans are more polarized and divided than in previous generations. Historians Kevin Kruse and Julian E. Zelizer say yes, and that current divisions can be traced to 1974, when a combination of the Watergate scandal, the end of the Vietnam War, and anti-busing riots were among the many crises that rocked America.Others look back to the 1920 census, which was the first to show that the majority of Americans lived in cities and towns, rather than rural areas.At the dinner conversations, an expert facilitator will guide the conversation and help participants consider not only the sources of division in our society, but what can be done to bridge divides. Among the facilitators will be history teacher Dan Hawthorne in Rensselaer; Tory Flynn, Hillenbrand’s director of communications, in Batesville; Tim Swarens, a journalist and opinion writer based in Indianapolis; and Rima Shahid, executive director of Women4Change, in Carmel.Ticket prices range from $20 to $30, which includes a meal, a non-alcoholic drink, tax and tip. Alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase for an additional cost at most locations. Space is limited and registration is required at https://cotwhatdividesus.eventbrite.com.Chew on This is a program designed by Indiana Humanities to use the power of food and drink as a convener of people and catalyst for conversation to inspire thoughtful discussion on engaging topics.Participating cities, venues and facilitators are:BargersvilleRestaurant: Taxman BrewingFacilitator: Dana Monson, CEO, Johnson County Development Corp.BatesvilleRestaurant: The ShermanFacilitator: Tory Flynn, director of communications, HillenbrandCarmelRestaurant: divvyRima Shahid, executive director, Women4Change IndianaFort WayneRestaurant: PróximoFacilitator: John Christensen, Fort Wayne magazineIndianapolisRestaurant: AmbrosiaFacilitator: Terri Jett, professor of political science, Butler UniversityRestaurant: Rooster's Kitchen
Facilitator: Tim Swarens, journalistNew AlbanyRestaurant: Pints & UnionFacilitator: Roger Baylor, bloggerHost organization: ArtSeedRensselaerLocation: Carnegie CenterFacilitator: Dan Hawthorne, history teacherHost organization: Jasper Newton FoundationSouth BendRestaurant: TapastrieFacilitator: Micah Towery, writer and scholarWarsawRestaurant: ruaFacilitator: Brenda Rigdon, development director, Kosciusko County Community FoundationAbout INseparableINseparable is a two-year Indiana Humanities initiative that invites Hoosiers to explore how we relate to each other across boundaries, real or imagined, and consider what it will take to indeed be inseparable, in all the ways that matter. Learn more at www.IndianaHumanities.org/inseparable.About Indiana HumanitiesIndiana Humanities connects people, opens minds and enriches lives by creating and facilitating programs that encourage Hoosiers to think, read and talk. Learn more at www.IndianaHumanities.org.
I was invited to live-tweet the event by Claire Mauschbaugh, events and communications associate at Indiana Humanities. Here is the "Tweeter Guide" sent to me:
CHEW ON THIS: WHAT DIVIDES US?TWEETER GUIDEThanks for live-tweeting Chew on This: What Divides Us? Your role is basically that of note-taker, but so much more fun!During the conversation, tweet out big questions, interesting quotes and observations, and pictures of delicious food and engaged participants. This conversation is the first of our INseparable-themed Chew on This events. In March, we launched INseparable, a new two-year thematic initiative exploring how we relate to each other across boundaries, real or imagined, and consider what it will take to indeed be inseparable in all the ways that matter.The theme of this evening asks participants to look at divisions between Hoosiers. If our goal is to work together, it’s important to name the barriers that prevent collaboration, community or neighborliness. We hope that this conversation starts a productive dialogue about how and why we disagree, and how we might start to breach the boundaries that divide us. #chewonthis @INHumanitiesWHAT TO TWEET:As our live-tweeter, your goal is twofold: 1) Document what is occurring during the event, and 2) Involve those who are not there. Things to keep in mind to successfully live-tweet an event:1. Prepare as much as possible. Make sure you know the names of facilitators, etc. (and how to spell them) and the Twitter handles of everyone involved with the event. See the chart at the end of this guide.2. Use the right hashtag and use it in every live tweet or at the beginning of a tweet thread— #chewonthis3. Mix it up! Tweet memorable quotes from speakers and guests, intriguing questions posed, photos of the group and the food, or fun, short videos.4. Make every Tweet count. Post only clear photos and be selective about quotes or insights you post.5. Don’t attribute quotes to participants. We want to keep the discussion a safe place. Feel free to attribute to the facilitator. You can use a quote, just don’t connect a name to it.BELOW ARE SOME POSSIBLE DISCUSSION PROMPTS OR FACTOIDS YOU CAN SHARE OVER THE COURSE OF THE NIGHT:QUESTIONS• Recent Pew Research Center polling finds that 53% of urban dwellers believe that the values of rural Americansdiffer from their own, while 58% of rural Americans feel as though their values differ from people living in urbancommunities. Do you feel as though your values differ from your urban/rural/suburban counterparts?• Are we divided along urban/rural/suburban lines? Why do you believe this is the case?• How is your community, specifically, divided? What’s causing tension within your community?• Is it harder connect today than it used to be? Why or why not?• What role does the media or social media play in our ability to connect across difference?• What do we need to do to be less divided?FACTOIDS + STATS(If applicable to the conversation)• According to @PewResearch, rural population loss is largest in the Midwest with a majority of rural counties (especially farming counties) losing population since 2000.• Older adults are a higher share of the population in rural areas than in urban and suburban counties. Urban and suburban counties are becoming more racially and ethnically diverse at a much faster pace than rural counties.Data from @PewResearch.• Most urban and rural Americans say people in other types of communities don’t understand the problems people in their community face, according to @PewResearch.• About 4/10 Americans say they don’t feel attached to their community. Rural residents are more rooted in their community says @PewResearch.• Urban Hoosiers are less likely to rate Indiana as an excellent place to live compared to their suburban and rural counterparts, according to the @BallState’s Hoosier Survey: https://bit.ly/2Ip5SSa• What unites us across rural, urban and suburban lines? According to a @richard_florida survey, all communities have a desire for high-quality public schools.
Here are the descriptions of the event itself:
Thanks for signing up for Chew on This: What Divides Us? The fun starts at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23. Feel free to arrive a few minutes early to mix and mingle, order a drink and get comfortable. We will conclude between 8 and 8:30 p.m. (depending on how talkative your group is!). Your ticket price includes a meal, non-alcoholic beverage, tax and tip. If you plan to order beer, wine or cocktails, please bring an additional form of payment (cash recommended).Rooster’s Kitchen888 Massachusetts Ave, Indianapolis, IN6:30-8:30 ESTOn Tuesday night we’ll be talking about what divides us and how we might start to breach the boundaries that divide us. We’re curious to hear what you have to say, as well as learn from our expert facilitators. Open to a little homework? Read ahead:· This op-ed from the New York Times explores why people leave, stay or return home to a community.https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/08/opinion/sunday/urban-rural-america.html?mc_cid=77a25387b2&mc_eid=d8140a6257· This report looks at how demographic shifts are impacting rural, suburban and urban America.https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/05/22/what-unites-and-divides-urban-suburban-and-rural-communities/· This podcast features historians discussing about where they believe the fault lines emerged.-The Indiana Humanities Team
And here is a summary of the event after the fact:
Thank you for joining Indiana Humanities for Chew On This: What Divides Us? Tuesday night's event brought together more than 150 Hoosiers in nine communities around the state for an evening of great food and insightful conversation. Chew On This: What Divides Us? was part of our INseparable initiative, which invites Hoosiers to explore how we relate to each other across boundaries, real or imagined, and consider what it will take to indeed be inseparable, in all the ways that matter.It's a leap of faith to show up and talk about big ideas with strangers. A few themes emerged in nearly every location: the need for courage and vulnerability to talk even when we disagree, the importance of honesty coupled with laughter as we tackle tough topics, and the power of food and neighborliness to bring people together. Click here to read through some of the comments and observations of those who took part across Indiana. Thanks to the facilitators for leading interesting and meaningful conversations and the tweeters who captured what happened.
Here is a description of the INseparable theme:
INseparable is a two-year Indiana Humanities initiative that invites Hoosiers to explore how we relate to each other across boundaries, real or imagined, and consider what it will take to indeed be inseparable, in all the ways that matter.AboutWhether due to real or perceived differences, Americans see each other differently depending on whether they live in rural, suburban or urban communities. The conclusion drawn from the near-constant polling, media commentary and academic analysis of the past two years is that America is culturally divided by its geography. In 2019 and 2020, Indiana Humanities invites Hoosiers to dig into these divides, exploring how Hoosiers relate to each other across boundaries and considering what it will take to indeed be inseparable, in all the ways that matter.Over the next two years, INseparable will address the ways we’re the same and the ways we’re different; how we benefit from working together and when we’re fine on our own; the barriers we build and the ways we look beyond our differences; the progress we’ve made and our persistence to endure.We’ll explore how Hoosiers and Americans have thought about urban, suburban and rural differences over time and what we think about them today. We hope to spark conversations about the ways in which the futures of urban, rural and suburban Hoosiers are linked and what might be preventing us from working together.As a proven convener and conversation starter, Indiana Humanities will push Hoosiers to look beyond the demographics of the urban-suburban-rural divides to consider the people behind the data. With programming that facilitates discussion, self-examination and fresh perspectives, Indiana Humanities will seek to help residents from all settings cross boundaries and gather to explore the opportunities and challenges we share.WHY THIS THEME, WHY NOW?We believe the humanities can help individuals and communities make sense of the real and perceived differences between urban, suburban and rural Hoosiers. They can provide context and lenses for analysis, as well as create space for critical inquiry, open-ended consideration and reflection.To that end, we’ll use these animating ideas to guide our work:How can the humanities help Hoosiers frame and understand the real and perceived differences across urban, suburban and rural lines?What’s the particular history of how Hoosiers have related to each other across lines of urban/suburban/rural difference? How have these tensions or differences played out politically, socially, culturally, economically or environmentally?How has Indiana responded to larger national and transnational movements (civil rights, Great Migration, industrialization, urbanization, immigration, etc.) that have shaped urban, suburban and rural communities?What are the factors that lead some communities to embrace change and others to resist it? What lessons can we draw from the past or from across Indiana and the U.S. today?How can the humanities help Hoosiers frame and understand the complex challenges facing communities, such as outmigration, changing job markets, the opioid crisis, talent attraction and retention and quality of life?We are not alone in asking these questions. For instance, a 2017 Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation poll of rural Americans found that 7 out of 10 rural residents said their values differ from those of city dwellers. Conversely, 48 percent of urban Americans said their values differ from people in rural areas or small towns.Several significant anniversaries and commemorations that tie to our theme, as well as the next presidential election, come during 2019-2020. These include:the Indianapolis bicentennialthe 50th anniversary of Unigovthe 50th anniversary of the administration of one of the nation’s first black mayors, Gary’s Richard Hatcherthe 60th anniversary of legislation that led to the major wave of rural school consolidation in Indiana in the late 1960sthe centennial of the 1920 census, which was the first to show that a majority of Americans lived in cities and towns.
Sometimes it feels as if we’re coming apart at the seams. T he conclusion drawn from the near-constant polling, media commentary and academic analysis of the last few years is that Americans are polarized—divided along geographic lines or by race, by generation or by socio-economic status. Historians Kevin Kruse and Julian E. Zelizer say it all goes back to 1974, when Watergate, the end of the Vietnam War and anti-busing riots were among the many crises that rocked America. Journalist Bill Bishop, working from reams of sociological and political science data, says we started to sort ourselves into camps in 1965—between June and October, to be exact. Others go back to the 1920 census, the first to show that the majority of Americans lived in cities and towns, rather than rural areas. So what’s true? Are we more divided than ever before? If so, why is that? What, exactly, divides us? We dug into these and similar questions on Tuesday, April 23 during a special INseparable-themed Chew On This.
And here is a link to a PDF of all of my tweets from the night:
Chew on This: It Was a Sellout!More than 140 Hoosiers took part in our Chew on This: What Divides Us? dinner conversations, selling out 10 locations in nine cities on April 23. The food was great and so were the conversations, as we explored issues of race, age, poverty, immigration, the rise of social media and more. Thanks to our restaurant hosts, moderators, tweeters and everyone who attended the events in Bargersville, Batesville, Carmel, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, New Albany, Rensselaer, South Bend and Warsaw.