INDIANAPOLIS — During the month of May, 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 held 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 CEO of Indiana Humanities and a Hamilton native. “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 in May:
• 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; and
• purchase a book compiled of selected readings and record the trek and talk experience in a journal.
On Sunday, 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 held in the style of a traditional Next Indiana Campfire trek and will include short readings and group discussion, in addition to a naturalist pointing out features of the sites. Spots are limited and pre-registration 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.People can register at https://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 www.NextInCampfires.org. The website also includes discussion prompts and readings, as well as instructions for how to create your own “Slow Moment” and be entered to win a prize pack.
“Whether on your own, with family and housemates sheltering in place with you, or with friends online, we hope Hoosiers participate with us and use the film as a springboard for contemplation and conversation,” Amstutz said.
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 during May 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 generous support of the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust. Learn more at www.NextInCampfires.org.