Indian Summer Festival brings brain and heart together with 5X15 event

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      We like to think we live in a world where ideas mingle like never before. Even the social-media blood sport that now passes for politics seems to reflect this sense of mental free-for-all in a realm of Everything.

      But it’s become clear that most ideas expressed online just rattle around inside bubbles with similar ones. Perhaps, for truly open meetings of minds, we still need to get together in a room (floor, walls, ceiling, at least one door) from time to time, just as we’ve done since the cave days.

      The newest edition of the English-born, globetrotting talk series 5X15 is set to land at this year’s Indian Summer Festival, and it’s all about eclectic face time. When it takes place on Saturday (July 7) at the Imperial, the format and rules will be the same as they are for every 5X15 session, whether in London, New York, or Milan: five figures from an array of backgrounds will take their turn at the mike, each holding forth on a topic or personal experience close to their heart. No scripts allowed, and no speech longer than 15 minutes.

      That last rule could be seen as a concession to the pace of our distracted times. But the variety and openness of 5X15 are bound to create exchanges that happen too rarely between online avatars.

      The roster will feature Indigenous scholar and CBC Music host Jarrett Martineau; Sunshine Coast author Charlotte Gill; New York writer, poet, and journalist Amitava Kumar (arriving just ahead of the publication date for his new novel, Immigrant, Montana); author and ethnobotanist Wade Davis; and a yet-to-be-named special guest. Local writer and comedian Kamal Pandya will host the evening.

      No trolls, no grifters, no hacks or ideologues—it should be a welcome break from screenworld.