A Road Trip For Thinkers: The GameChanger Ideas Festival

Confession alert: I’m obsessed with “Orange is the New Black”. Ob-sessed. (Taystee and Red’s story arcs are my current favorites, but that always changes.)

So I’m kind of giddy to get the opportunity to meet Piper Kerman, the author of the book that inspired the Netflix show at the GameChanger Ideas Festival in Bismarck, North Dakota on September 23.

If you’ve never been to this event, it really is a game changer. It brings experts, academics, artists, writers, thinkers and the community together around a single topic in order to illuminate it and examine it from as many angles as possible and to start a dialogue about the subject that will hopefully continue well after we all leave the auditorium. It’s one of those rare events that can nudge us out of our comfort zone and help us see things from a new point of view.

This year’s GameChanger festival examines the concept of justice and the thorny question of why the U.S. contains less than 5% of the people in the world and almost 25% of the world’s prisoners. The event will launch a larger conversation about racial inequality, the effects of poverty, issues around mass incarceration and other issues from a variety of perspectives.

The line-up is a good one. In addition to Kerman, attendees will also hear from U.K. policy advisor and author Tom Gash (“Criminal: The Truth About Why People Do Bad Things”) and the event’s moderator, New York Times bestselling author, Pulitzer Prize finalist and investigative reporter Eric Schlosser. (If you’ve read “Fast Food Nation” or “Reefer Madness,” then you’re already familiar with Schlosser’s work.)

Oakland writer, rapper, actor and Deputy Sheriff J. Piper will perform his one man show, “Cops and Robbers,” at the festival as well. I’m both a writer and a former working actor, so I’m doubly excited about this performance. The screenplay version of the show was accepted into the 2017 Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab, which speaks highly of its quality.

So are you excited yet? Seriously, you should be. It’s fantastic to have thinkers and artists of this caliber in North Dakota. And the event really is a wonderful way to re-connect with people across the state, have some very relevant and necessary in-depth conversations and to stretch your mind a little.

I’m excited to offer a pair of tickets to this event to one lucky Prairie Style File reader! You can enter by commenting below this post or by liking, commenting, Tweeting and sharing the post on social media, so there are lots of ways to play. (Just make sure you tag me so I can see your entries!)

The contest ends at midnight on September 21, so spread the word. Good luck!

GameChanger Ideas Festival
September 23
Belle Mehus Auditorium
201 North 6th Street
Bismarck, ND

Just so you know, the North Dakota Humanities Council is a sponsor of my “North Dakota Beer: A Heady History” Book Tour. As always, all opinions are my own.


What about you?
Who would you bring with you to GameChanger?
Which part of the line up are you most excited about?
What tips do you have for people attending GameChanger for the first time?
What should people see when they’re in Bismarck-Mandan?
Also, who is your favorite “Orange Is The New Black” character? (No spoiler alerts, please!)

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