Last week our speaker emphasized the importance of doing projects not for people, but rather doing them with them. Throughout the semester we’ve been collecting data with the hope that we can make a difference in Indianapolis. We’ve thought about what changes we believe should be made and what we think are the best ways to improve these trails. While the work we’ve been doing is great, it has neglected one important aspect that community service work needs to consider to be successful- the people.
I’m sure the people who live in these areas we’ve been analyzing not only have their own opinions about what the trails need, but also unique skills that would help us to make them the best they can be. Even if changes are made, if you don’t have the support of the people, they most likely won’t last very long. You have to find people who actually care and have a vested interest if you hope to make any lasting changes.
Even if I don’t go into city planning, this experience has given me a lot of insight into the best way to handle projects and work with members of the community. Everyone has something to offer, and starting to view these unique skill sets as assets is key to any projects success.
Being able to listen to others is an important skill set that I think many of us often forget about. Whether we are simply trying to solve a problem between friends or whether we are trying to resolve conflicts between countries, listening is a key factor in creating solutions for problems that will continue to keep working even when the problem is not at the highlight of our focuses anymore. I think DeAmon’s presentation really shed a new light on how listening and communicating with people in the neighborhood’s around the trails can really be the key factor in making our changes sustainable. I think the most important factor in keeping the trails clean, aesthetically beautiful, and safe is to involve the residents that surround the trails in order to create emotional connections between them and the trails. For example, if a resident is a local artist who wants to have their work more known in the area, they may be interested in painting a mural in an area we evaluated that we thought there was great potential for art. If we can make this happen, and that artist/resident paints a mural or displays some of their artwork on a portion of the trail, we have established an emotional connection between that artist/resident and the trail. That way now he/she will hopefully be more inclined to keep that artwork and trail looking nicer and try to encourage others to do so as well. This could have a chain reaction on other residents who are friends of this artist or others who that artist reaches out to and so on. I think establishing emotional connections between the residents and citizens of Indianapolis and the trails is the key to successfully establishing safe, beautiful, clean, accessible, and popular trails. When people feel a connection to something they are more likely to help keep it going and the more people who have a connection to the trails the easier it will be to sustain them in the long-run and continue to improve them.
Our section of Fall Creek showed a lot of potential. A lot more potential than our section of Pleasant Run. Fall Creek had a large degree of beauty and aesthetics, along with potential to be a place where people can come to relax while enjoying the outdoors. From College to the other side of 30th street, we found a large area that was once a run down park with a few attractions such as a basketball court. Additionally, there was remnants of an old broken up trail that may have one time been the Fall Creek trail.
Getting back to the park, it is very accessible and it also has the capacity to become a much larger park which could be filled with tennis courts, swings and play sets for kids, a basketball court, slides, and many other things found in parks. Also, there is a lot of green grass and yard space that could be utilized for sports such as football and soccer. This area has the potential to become an extremely useful resource for the initiatives of R.O.W.
Additionally, the area is densely populated with people. This is a huge plus because with people, the initiative of R.O.W can have a bigger impact. My hope is that along with the ongoing construction of the Fall Creek Trail in our section, the city decides to utilize this large area to make a beautiful park that is safe for kids and families. This would not only bring people to the new trail, but would potentially attract businesses too.
While wandering aimlessly on a non-existent path was at times frustrating, one of the positives of the trek was seeing these interesting benches and picnic tables. These creations would be a great place for families to take a break from their walk and have a picnic lunch. Once the trail is completed, I could definitely see this area becoming a popular spot. While this experience demonstrated the importance of signage, it also showed me that there is so much creative possibility waiting to become reality in those “points of potential” along the trails.
Going into spring semester my junior year, I still had not enrolled in a class that would satisfy my Indianapolis community requirement. I just figured that I would take a random class (probably outside of my major) that would satisfy the ICR. Little did I know that our Environmental practicum class would do just that. Not only does it satisfy the requirement, but it also provides us an experience that incorporates our knowledge into actual real life issues in the city of Indianapolis.
I can not imagine that Butler University offers a course that better provides students with practical real-life experience. Additionally, the speakers that Professor Kesling has brought in to speak with our class has been very interesting. Each speaker has provided us with knowledge about a variety of issues all over the city. Again, this practical information is useful because for once we get to actually apply our knowledge to real life problems.
One day in the future, I look forward to seeing the progress that the R.O.W. initiative has made, and also to think that our class played a role in this process will make this class that much more of a rememberable experience.
Last Saturday, Sarah and I went to evaluate the Fall Creek path. The problem was that we could never find the Fall Creek path. As we were approaching Ivy Tech’s campus, we clearly saw the path to the left of the road but when we arrived to our section we could not seem to locate it anywhere.
We followed a sidewalk for a while, hoping it was the trail. We were definitely in confusion until we saw a group of park benches and reasoned that what we were walking on had to be the trail. We continued to walk on but become more and more unsure of where the path was.
When we turned around to walk back we saw a sign (the ONLY sign) with an arrow that pointed towards the bike trail, except for the fact that the arrow pointed into a busy road.
Needless to say, this experience demonstrates how important signage is….
As a kid, it was always fun to get down and dirty in the mud while you were playing in the backyard. Not only was it fun, but I have also heard that it is beneficial to the youngins. The bacteria, viruses and fungi in the soil can help build the child’s immune system and playing outside helps kids connect with the environment around them. BUT there are some negatives to playing in the dirt, especially for families living in or near city centers because many cities have high pollution concentrations, especially lead.
Lead was a huge part in paint, fuel and industrial factories and were used daily for decades. Today, lead usage has come to a halt but is still at very high concentrations in the soil because of the decades of lead accumulation. As you probably know, lead poisoning causes terrible issues with brain and neuron development and many studies have shown high correlations between low IQ scores and high violence in areas with high lead poisoning. If your child is innocently playing with and eating the dirt and it is actually contaminated, there can be many negative effects. A soil test is easy and many times free, contact your city for more information!