South East Deemed Development Worthy

I had the pleasure of attending a meeting in Fountain Square with a panel of 5 from Lacy Leadership who will be working in our neighborhood for the next several months. I’m new to the group and it seemed that the discussion was set with the goal of:

1) Increasing Neighborhood Income : In revitalizing downtown Indy and the development of Southeast corridor of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, there is fear that with the increase of housing values, will push the current residents out of the area. The idea is how can we increase the current residence income so they will not be pushed out.

2) Micro-Enterprises : This is what I understood to be the main point of focus for the evening. The idea of putting someone’s talents to use to create income completely independent from a big corporation. There is an organization in the neighborhood that told us that the neighbors they are speaking of do not have the skills for present day jobs. In all honesty, with that comment, now I’m confused.

So here we are neighbors coming together to discuss issues in our neighborhood. Issues that came up included:

‘Vacant lots needing to be mowed’

Let’s dive into this. Vacant lots do not need mowed. Vacant lots need an owner/resident.

‘Better daycare options are needed in Fountain Square.’

This one was the one that received the most post meeting conversation. I have to ask, is providing better Daycare services really the issue or is it a band-aid? In asking for better Daycare services are you in turn asking for the continued need for both parents to work (Understanding that there are probably single parent families in the neighborhood, but the example I’m referring to is from the couple who was asking for daycare services, not a single parent). The average cost of daycare in Indianapolis is $500 per month. I’m sure you’ve heard that the average middle class family is now dependent on both parents working to provide for the family. There in some cases is no longer the choice of one parent staying home to care for children. So, my thought process is on how do we work towards increasing a family’s income where they can survive off of one primary income? Perhaps the Needs assessment, or what we should be asking for, should be ‘THE OPTION TO STAY HOME’ or the option to work in an environment that is good both for a parent to earn income AND provide for their child(ren). So, what about Urban Farming? What other jobs are there that one can earn an income AND their kids be with them in an involved/active setting?

The idea of building a shared kitchen was introduced. A parent could use a kitchen to produce and sell goods, perhaps the right design to incorporate an inviting area for child care at any age. Cribs, swings, learning stations for all ages or study areas for older children perhaps.

The idea of a tool library or tool bank was discussed. This idea is intriguing to me. I’m going to Atlanta this week, I’d like to check theirs out. They only have tools available for non-profit/community projects, not for individual use.

Bicycle Hub – Someone mentioned that bicycle theft is a major issue in the neighborhood. I interjected. What if we had a bicycle hub in Fountain Square? Would making bikes available for anyone to borrow help address this issue and in some small way get you out to meet your neighbors?

Second Helpings – Creating an organization that makes sense for our community with the shared idea that they are teaching folks new skills to re-enter the workforce.

– I proposed a paid internship program – Identify key organizations in the neighborhood that are ready for growth. Offer and support internships to teach neighbors new skills. None of us are too old to learn new skills. We need to have a mindset to evolve…sometimes to circumstances beyond our control.

Social Impact Bonds. President Obama’s budget included $100 million to go towards Social Impact by the way of bonds. My understanding is that you take your idea. Define how you will measure impact. Initiate through private funding and if it’s successful, the funders will be reimbursed from this pool of money that Obama has allocated.

Should South East have its own idea think tank? Pecha Kucha anyone?

Another idea one of the folks from Lacy Leadership introduced was the idea of a Social Responsibility Network. You would put together an advisory board. Have people submit their project proposals where they could request a loan. The advisory board would then partner folks together in a team(s) of 5. Funding is allocated to one of these five ideas initially. The entire team of 5 is all held accountable for the person selected to achieve success. This includes a weekly meeting with the advisory committee. Once the first idea is proven successful and has been able to pay the money borrowed back in its entirety. The initial investment is then re-invested to idea #2 in the group where all 5 people/organizations are responsible for their success, etc, etc.

So what this all comes down to is that we have a team of 5 fantastic folks that are with us in our neighborhood with hopes of making a difference. How will our community step up to assist and contribute?

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