Great Foundation Plaza Festival: It's amazing how the most innocuous public totems soon overtake the land around them and become places for socializing. Thus is the evolution of the fountain at the Richardson Civic Center on Arapaho and Central. Each year Richardson organizers plan their community celebration with just that touch of fountain spray to keep things cool. The Great Fountain Plaza Festival features a wide range of low-exertion, high-spectacle activities that are the perfect way to say farewell to summer '95. There's a children's midway of scale-size rides; a race course; fishing from the fountain; a newspaper toss; elephant rides; the comic stylings of Poppy & Bonkers; the Austin P. Roadman armadillo puppet show; and a main stage that features live music from The Panhandlers and Brad Thompson and His Undulating Band as well as the Chamberlain Ballet, the Repertoire Drummers, and lots more. It's all free, and happens 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. at the southwest corner of Central & Arapaho on the Civic Center Fountain Grounds. Call 680-7909.
12 More Dallas Poets Talking: Ever picked up a copy of The Word, a locally printed 'zine available at various bookstores and coffee-houses? If you do, you'll know that Dallas is currently in the midst of a poetry revival. There are, literally, dozens of venues scattered in and around the city that hold regular performances and open mic nights (a sampling of which can be found every week in Observer events listings). Things have gotten so out of hand that there have been regular calls for a little more organization, a little more courtesy, and a little less ego when it comes to performance time. As good an introduction to this bountiful, chaotic harvest as you'll get can be found in "12 More Dallas Poets Talking," an all-day, informal symposium that includes both performed verse and a variety of wisdom from a panel of 13 of the top local scribes, including Sam Modica, Clebo Rainey, Gordon Hilgers, and Christopher Soden. At last year's event, more than 50 writers gathered and birthed new collectives The Writer's Garret and Wordspace as well as the aforementioned Word. Expect even more creative frisson this year. The event happens 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. at The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, 2719 Routh. It's free, and the public is invited. Call 871-2440.
Progressive Brunch: For those of us outside the Park Cities loop, a "progressive brunch" sounds like it might mean an early brown-bag meal at a Montessori school. In actuality, the word "progressive" is used here in its most literal sense - folks who indulge in such a repast progress to a different location ( be it a neighboring estate or just another wing on the summer house) for each course. The Deep Ellum Association and the Elm Street Market host their own "progressive brunch" in an attempt to acquaint you with the heretofore unsung gustatory potential of Deep Ellum. This adventure starts at 11 a.m. and sweeps through four very different neighborhood eateries - Sol's Taco Lounge, the Kaffeine Shack, The Donut Lady & K.J.'s Koffee, and Deep Java. You might eat conservatively, because there are a lot of yummies - vegetable quesadillas, homemade sandwiches, fresh donuts, and bagels - that are a little on the heavy side. $15 admission benefits both the Deep Ellum Association and Dallas "Can" Academy. For more information call 748-4332.
Gang Warfare: The McKinney Avenue Contemporary has collaborated with art critic and curator Michael Corris and his Independent Art Space in London for a vision of the New World Order as the New Pecking Order. The resulting "video theme park," called Gang Warfare, makes its American debut at the MAC and is divided into six regional segments - British, American, Brazilian, German, Croation, and Portuguese. Each nation has a station where viewers can safely witness the pleasures and pains of its national identity, as interpreted through the eyes of local, national, and international audiences. In an American culture that's currently fixated on gang memberships in our schools and neighborhoods, it's easy to remember that the example was set early on by our nation's leaders. The show opens with a reception September 8, 6-8 p.m. and runs through October 29 at 3120 McKinney. It's free. For more information call 943-1099.
Invoking The Spirit: Worship Traditions in the African World: Late last year when veteran New York times photographer Chester Higgins Jr. released his international collection of pictures spanning three decades, Feeling the Spirit: Searching the World for the People of Africa, critics in the national print media drooled over the artist's accomplishments. Here is a man who traveled wherever his sense of cultural connection led him, from Egypt to Brazil to the dusty roads of Alabama. Higgins attempted to find some common thread of gesture, mannerism, facial expression, or daily ritual that would connect African people to their continental source, no matter how much geography, time, and adopted culture had separated them. The African American Museum in Dallas hosts a collection of photos by Higgins that includes works from Feeling The Spirit as well as other images. Invoking The Spirit: Worship Traditions in the African World is on display at the Museum, located at 3536 Grand Avenue in Fair Park. 565-9026.