Enjoy nature and literature through virtual programming


Staff Reports

This month, short films, virtual experiences and essays will help Hoosiers find renewal, refuge, relaxation and reflection in nature.

The activities, presented by Indiana Humanities, are inspired by its award-winning program called Next Indiana Campfires. In previous years, the events were conducted in person and ended with conversations around a campfire, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are going virtual.

“During this unprecedented time, it can be difficult to take time for ourselves, to slow down and to find joy in the small constants in life,” said Keira Amstutz, president and chief executive officer of Indiana Humanities. “That’s why over the next month, we’re encouraging Hoosiers to pause and connect with the Indiana landscapes that have inspired us for generations.”

There are five ways people can participate:

Register and attend a Next Indiana Campfire virtual event

Watch a short film featuring Indiana landscapes

Record a one-minute long “Slow Moment” film

Read weekly essays by Indiana authors and follow along on social media for inspiration regarding the themes of renewal, refuge, relaxation and reflection

Purchase a book compiled of selected readings and record the trek and talk experience in a journal

On May 17, Indiana Humanities will offer a tour of Mossy Point Nature Preserve and White River Bluffs, two central Indiana Land Trust properties that are typically closed to the public. The virtual event will be conducted in the style of a traditional Next Indiana Campfire trek and include short readings and group discussion in addition to a naturalist pointing out features of the sites.

Spots are limited, and preregistration is required. The event costs $5 per household, and all proceeds will go toward Indiana Humanities CARES Grants, which provide operating support to humanities organizations facing financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. Register at virtualcampfire.eventbrite.com.

At any time, Hoosiers can go online to watch a meditative, exploratory short film that takes place on a wooded hillside next to a river on an early spring day in Indiana. Filmed in the “slow TV” style, it creates an immersive experience for those who can’t easily spend time in nature due to COVID-19. Indiana Humanities worked with Noblesville-based 12 Stars Media to produce the 15-minute-long film.

The film can be viewed at nextincampfires.org. The website also includes discussion prompts and readings and instructions for how to create your own “Slow Moment” and be entered to win a prize pack.

Each week, a short essay by an Indiana writer will be published online that focuses on the key themes of renewal, refuge, relaxation and reflection in nature, and on social media, followers will find literary quotes, discussion questions and more to help them think, read and talk all month long. Featured writers include Susan Neville of Butler University and Kevin McKelvey of the University of Indianapolis.

Finally, “Next Indiana Campfires: A Trail Companion,” published last year, is a collection of readings from the Campfires series, along with a trail journal to record thoughts and observations. Everyone who purchases the book this month will receive a link to a second “slow moment” film shot in Meltzer Woods, a Shelby County old growth forest.

Next Indiana Campfires is made possible thanks to the support of the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust.

Indiana Humanities connects people, opens minds and enriches lives by creating and facilitating programs that encourage Hoosiers to think, read and talk.

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For information, visit nextincampfires.org or indianahumanities.org.


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