By Heather Williams—
Muncie, IN—The Muncie Action Plan spent 2020 preparing for the City of Muncie’s next strategic investment planning process in combination with an update to the Delaware County comprehensive plan. The last large-scale MAP planning took place in 2009 and although two updates have been completed since, it is time to re-visit the document with another large-scale engagement effort whereby residents help create a new vision for Muncie’s growth and investment.
Representatives from the Delaware-Muncie Metropolitan Plan Commission, Muncie Action Plan board of directors and NEXT Muncie participated in a selection process that included a nation-wide Request for Proposals and live-streamed interviews with three candidates. The urban planning firm CZB was selected to provide oversight and guidance throughout the development of the next Delaware County Comprehensive Plan and Muncie Action Plan. Work will begin in early 2021 and MAP will work with CZB to find creative ways to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard throughout the process.
As we close out this year, we would like to share MAP’s successes as we approach our Annual Community Meeting on January 27th that will be both open for the public to join online and streamed on Facebook Live. Each of our five task forces will share the work completed during 2020. This is the second of five reports from our task force leaders.
The mission of Task Force 2 is to strengthen resident engagement through civil discourse and leadership development to help create positive change in our city’s neighborhoods.
2020 has been a year for the record books. Neighborhood leaders have learned to adapt to a new normal where gathering neighbors together was discouraged and meetings and cherished traditions had to be cancelled. As residents struggled to feel connected, neighborhood associations found new ways to show that they care.
Teddy Bear hunts and sidewalk chalk art walks kept families entertained from a distance. Online holiday decorating and kids’ costume challenges kept residents safely engaged. South Central organized a pizza parade, Carlton Heights hosted a Halloween parade, Minnetrista Central neighborhood held an outdoor movie night, and Southside and Industry combined efforts to create a magical Holiday light display at Heekin Park. These fun, innovative efforts kept residents connected.
Neighborhoods also adapted traditions to meet safety guidelines. The Riverside-Normal City neighborhood invited volunteers to plant trees while wearing masks and maintaining social distancing requirements. The Whitely Community Council modified their food pantry to accommodate pick-up from the safety of their residents’ cars, Thomas Park-Avondale switched their Thursday night dinner to a carry-out meal, and neighborhoods across the city of Muncie moved their monthly meetings outdoors or met online.
Funding provided by the Community Foundation of Muncie and Delaware County and the Ball Brothers Foundation supported neighborhood based projects across the City of Muncie. Old West End’s Community Circle Park benefited from a landscape overhaul, the Southside neighborhood association provided back-to-school supplies for their students, and Blaine-Southeast made repairs to the mower the association utilizes to maintain their playground and walking track. Funding was also provided to Riverside-Normal City, Minnetrista Central, Industry, Thomas Park-Avondale, Kenmore, and Gatewood to support beautification projects, public meetings and events, and marketing efforts. In total, nearly six-thousand dollars was expended in 2020 to support the work of Muncie’s neighborhoods.
Our great community is stronger because of the resiliency of our city’s neighborhood associations and in a year of great loss, they have given us something to be grateful for. We will celebrate achievements and share the struggles experienced this year at the 2021 I.D.E.A. Conference scheduled for March 6th from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Please save the date to attend either in person on Ball State’s campus at Pruis Hall or online via Facebook live. This year’s conference will look different, but it will remain a time to learn from each other and dream for the future. Now more than ever we need to come together as neighbors to build community and work across neighborhoods to improve our city for the benefit of all.
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