The Importance of Listening

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.

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The Potential Impact of Lead

Last week in class we had a speaker discussing the impact that environment can have on many aspects of our community and our lives. One point in particular that he discussed was impact that lead in the soil can have on the health and even education of our communities. Lead poisoning can have an extremely detrimental effect on both brain function and overall health. In fact, many residents of urban Indianapolis areas have lead present in the soil in their own backyard. Even many areas where urban farms have been placed contain lead in the soil where plants are being grown and sold to unknowing customers.

When hearing this, not only did this fact shock me, but it also made me think about how much lead may be getting into our water systems. During large storms, runoff moves chemicals from the soil to sewer systems that lead directly into our water systems. Although this water is filtered and cleaned for drinking purposes, lead running off into Indianapolis water bodies (i.e. the Canal, White River, etc) could have harmful or potentially deadly impacts on Indianapolis wildlife that interact with these water bodies. So not only is this lead directly effecting those who live on areas with lead present in the soil of their property, but it also has potential to harm wildlife populations as well.

I think it is extremely unethical for anyone who is selling a home to a family or starting an urban garden to not test the soil for lead. By NOT testing the soil, you may be indirectly or directly negatively impacting the health of many individuals.

First presentation

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with the first in-class presentation, but overall I found it to be intruiging and hopefully helpful for the project organization. I thought the speaker was very engaging and was very well-educated on the Collective Impact topics. I didn’t really like, however, how long he spoke for. I thought his presentation was interesting but I felt I was losing interest because there were so many new terms and ideas introduced. But in the end, I believe I gained some new ideas about how to organize our class group for the project to make things run a little more smoothly. I really like the idea of assigning a “backbone” group to kind of keep everything moving along and make sure everyone is doing their part. I think it would be very helpful to the entire class to have reminders about what we need to have finished and on what dates because our class only meets once a week. I hope our group can take some of the ideas from Collective Impact and really put them to good use throughout the semester!

First Walk

I felt like our first walk gave me a much greater picture of what we are really looking to evaluate for our project. I’ve walked that area of the canal many times, but have never really taken the time to stop and look at its features. There seemed to be many good areas in many of our categories including beauty and cleanliness. But other areas in some parts of our walk needed to be reevaluated such as the safety of the pathway and a few of the trail conditions. The part of the trail we observed that I felt to be the most problematic was the portion of the trail in Rocky Ripple that doubled as a road and a pedestrian pathway. Although it had the best trail condition, it really was not safe for pedestrians especially when the trail/road was too narrow to accomidate both cars and pedestrians at the same time. I’m interested to see how the other parts of the canal pathway compare to the portion we initially observed as well as how the other trails along the rest of the waterways compare to one another. Hopefully our observations and proposals for change in the long run can help improve the quality of Indianapolis trails in all categories we are observing.