By Heather Williams, Task Force 2 Leader, Muncie Action Plan—
Muncie, IN—For many, the 2020 I.D.E.A. Conference was the last large in-person event they attended prior to the COVID-19 lock-down that shifted community building work over the last year. This year marked the 6th Annual I.D.E.A. Conference, which was held on Saturday, March 6th at Pruis Hall on Ball State’s Campus. This year’s event was held in-person as well as broadcasted live via Muncie Action Plan’s Facebook page. The theme of the event this year was “Thriving not Surviving” and the stories shared by the neighborhood leaders spoke to the resilience and creativity of our city’s residents.
This year’s Neighborhood Project and Neighborhood Leader of the Year are the fourth winners of these awards and the most recent addition to a prestigious list of change-makers and changes made. Our neighborhoods appreciate the continued efforts of past Leader of the Year winners: Clifford Clemons, Lezlie McCrory, and Stan Geidel and the sustained impact of the Whitely Community Food Pantry, the Minnetrista Central Urban Garden, and Riverside-Normal City’s $2 Tour of the Village.
This year’s Neighborhood Project of the Year Award was presented to the South Central Neighborhood, celebrating their efforts to remain physically distanced and socially connected. Residents treated neighbors to pizza parades, spread joy via possum yard signs, dropped Easter Eggs in kids’ front yards, held meetings outdoors, and provided funding for porch improvements to encourage folks to sit outside and engage with one another. Anthony-Northside Neighborhood’s Aaron Neff was voted Neighborhood Leader of the Year for his ongoing efforts to save the neighborhood’s historic entrance gates on Wheeling and for his advocacy and passion to preserve and enhance the Anthony-Northside Neighborhood.
Neighborhood cleanups are usually held twice a year in partnership with the Muncie Sanitary District. Due to the pandemic, spring 2020 cleanups were cancelled. However, neighborhoods turned up in force in the fall to pick up trash and debris from alleyways and streets. The Industry and Whitely neighborhoods received awards for collecting the most trash during the September 2020 cleanups.
Every year at the I.D.E.A. conference, scholarships are also presented to Shafer Leadership Academy’s premier leadership program. Emergence is an eight-week highly interactive and engaging training opportunity ideal for emerging or experienced leaders seeking to enhance their leadership capabilities. At the end of the program, participants can expect to be better equipped to lead the change they want to see in the businesses, not-for-profits, civic groups, and communities they represent. This year, three scholarships were presented to resident-leaders of the South Central Neighborhood – Debra Simmons, the Blaine-Southeast Neighborhood – Keeta Edsall, and the Forest Park Neighborhood – Chawnita Noel.
The 2021 I.D.E.A. Conference was a time to gather and to celebrate the efforts our neighborhood leaders and residents during a difficult year. This will be a year of renewal and growth. We are embarking on an exciting time as a community – a time when our voices will set the course for our community’s future. The Muncie Action Plan, in partnership with NEXT Muncie, and the Delaware-Muncie Metropolitan Planning Commission are leading the TogetherDM effort to update the Delaware County Comprehensive Plan and vision a NEXT MAP for Muncie. Over the course of the next few months you will see requests to participate in Kitchen Table Conversations and online mapping exercises. You’ll be asked to visit the TogetherDM website and share links and meeting invitations with your neighbors.
In fact, the first survey is available on the TogetherDM website now and must be completed by March 31st.
Please help us surpass our 2009 participation numbers – We want every citizen to have the opportunity to share their hopes, dreams, and challenges so that together we can build a brighter future for our city and county.
The I.D.E.A. Conference is organized by Muncie Action Plan, Shafer Leadership Academy, and Ball State University’s Office of Community Engagement and made possible in 2021 by contributions from the Community Foundation of Muncie and Delaware County, Ball Brothers Foundation, City of Muncie, Woof Boom Radio, and Ball State University.