Irvington Neighbor Spotlight: Writer, Shawndra Miller – Enjoying Nature in the City

Some would say that charming older homes, a vibrant history, and winding, tree-lined streets are the hallmarks of our neighborhood, but in any community, it’s the people who define its character. If you live or work in Irvington, most likely you know at least a handful of smart, creative, fun people — perhaps community leaders, restaurateurs, shopkeepers, servers, technicians, historians, artists, artisans, gardeners, builders, innovators, and caretakers. The following interview is the first in a series that highlights community members, whom you might or might not already know, and their thoughts about this neighborhood. Here is Irvington resident and writer Shawndra Miller talking about her connection with the neighborhood.

How long have you’ve lived and worked here?Shawndra & Marley

We moved to Irvington in late 1996, so almost 19 years ago. And since 2005 I’ve been freelancing, so I work here too — which my dog and cats appreciate as much as I do.

How did you first hear of Irvington and why did you move here?

The summer we were house hunting, acquaintances invited us to join them on their porch for drinks, and they told us all about the neighborhood. We fell in love with the old homes, beautiful tree canopy, and walkable, artsy, and friendly vibe — not to mention the affordability.

What do you do for fun?

I enjoy pretty much everything I do in my day-to-day activities, but for leisure time, it’s usually reading, connecting with friends over food (or food growing/gathering/preparation/preserving), or loving up my dog and cats. Low-key bicycling, foraging, and gardening are my outlets in warm weather. I love to bike around Irvington and pick mulberries, raspberries, and juneberries in season.

What’s your favorite walk, bike ride, block, or view in the neighborhood?

I love to walk the golf course with my dog in winter. When I’m with friends it’s a big social affair, and when it’s just my dog and me, I can pretend I’m the lady of the manor strolling the grounds. It’s gorgeous out there in any kind of weather.

If you were Mayor of Irvington for a day, what would you do first?

I would assemble a team to fan out and do an asset inventory, going door to door to learn neighbors’ interests, passions, skills, and potentially any tools or equipment they’d be willing to share in a neighborhood exchange. Also, if enough people expressed interest, I’d start a neighborhood fruit gleaning initiative.
Shawndra’s blog, “Giving Voice to the World’s Remaking in an Age of Crisis,” can be found here:


Lend Your Voice for a Healthier Irvington
Community Health Logo

The major hospitals in the area, including Community East, are collaborating on a survey of the health needs of residents to guide their planning for their community benefit programs.  As not-for-profit health care providers they must work to address public health needs, and your input can help them determine what are the most critical issues in our community.  Please take a few minutes (took me less than  five) to give them your opinions on what matters most to you and your health.  The survey can be found here.


Irvington Post Office Update
IMG_1527

As we’ve reported before, the Irvington Post Office, LLC (made up of representatives of the Irvington Historical Society and the Irvington Development Organization) are looking for a buyer for the lot at the corner of Ritter Ave. and Washington St.  But not just any buyer.  They’ve developed criteria to evaluate the buyer’s intended use for the site and a process to follow to get all the necessary approvals (IHPC, lenders, etc.).  We’re very excited to report that there are already two credible purchasers for the property.  They each have the criteria and are preparing their proposals.  The committee looks forward to reviewing their ideas for the site and starting the process towards approval. In the meantime, they are considering a lease arrangement for a food truck to operate on the site until a successful purchaser closes on the property and starts construction.  Positive things are starting to happen after our devastating loss of the building.  Stay tuned for more developments.

Pennsy Trail Update

Pennsy Trail ImageThe city’s contracted foresters will start work the first week of March removing diseased or damaged trees or those directly in the way from Arlington to Ellenberger Park.  Yes, the trail is actually coming!  There was a recent meeting between the engineers for the Coal Factory development, Bonna Ave. rehabilitation, and the Pennsy to coordinate utility and other construction work in the right-of-way.  This is great because #1, they will minimize disruption and duplication and #2 all three of these projects are going to happen this year!!  It will truly be a transformation for Old Irv, our original downtown!

____________________________________

About Irvington Development Organization

Irvington Development Organization, founded in 2002, works for the benefit of Irvington by cultivating positive business development, promoting the unique character of our neighborhood and enhancing the quality of life for residents and visitors. Irvington is a historic community on the East Side of Indianapolis known for its winding, tree-lined streets and architecturally significant homes and businesses.


read more

Guest writer: Margaret Lawrence Banning:

 

 

 

kroger-logo-300x243Shop for groceries at Kroger and pick up some love for IDO

Want an easy way to support your favorite nonprofit, IDO? If you’re a Kroger shopper, all you have to do is register your Kroger Plus card on their website to donate to IDO – at no cost to you! Kroger changed their community giving program at the first of the year, so now every time you shop and swipe the card, you’ll be earning points for IDO. At the end of each quarter, Kroger will send IDO a portion of their total charitable donation, based on how many of those points IDO supporters have racked up. The more supporters who register their cards for IDO, the more groceries purchased, the bigger share of the $500,000 pie for IDO.

Registering is super easy (come on, I did it). Go to krogercommunityrewards.com, have your Kroger Plus card handy – you’ll need the long number under the barcode on the back – and follow the directions for a new account. Once you’ve registered, sign up with the Irvington Development Organization. Our Non Profit Organization Number is 11523.

Next step: Go stock up like a blizzard’s coming. Remember to use your Kroger Plus card every time you shop and renew your registration a year from now. That’s it. Easy-peasy.

 

Preserve our history and our property values

Just over 10 years ago Irvington residents petitioned the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission to make most of Irvington a protected district (see the map here for the exact boundaries). Irvington was considered to have significant architectural and historic assets that warranted such protection. For most of PortteusHouseus, that unique architecture and historical legacy is why we moved here and why we love it so dearly.

In that time our houses have been improved, our business district has flourished, and our property values have risen.

That protection means that we have a higher standard to meet whenever we’re making changes to the exterior of our buildings – that means yours and your neighbor’s house too! The plan is pretty long and might be tough for most of us to decipher (if you want to see for yourself), so what we encourage everyone to do is “Call before You Remodel/Build/Demolish/Hang a Sign/Or Just About Anything on the Outside of Your Building.” The rules can be confusing, for instance, you can paint your house whatever color you want, but not your commercial building, so call. Or email.

The staff is really easy to talk to. They want to help you with your project. They’re not out to play “gotcha” so you don’t have to call from a pay phone and say, “I have a friend who’s thinking of adding a porch…” They’re not out to cost you a bunch of money, but yes, the permits and approvals can be an added expense to your project. They want you to do it right the first time and will help you through the process.

Call: 317-327-4406
Email: kerry.watson@indy.gov  Website: http://www.indy.gov/eGov/City/DMD/IHPC/Pages/home.aspx

 

GE DIGITAL CAMERAThinking of a Face Lift?

No, Irvington isn’t getting a new plastic surgeon. But speaking of exterior improvements! The Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) has just released their application for the 2015 Façade Improvement Grants. If awarded, the grant can reimburse eligible commercial projects at 50% of the costs for improvements to the front of the building (includes paint, repairs, windows and signage) up to $20,000. Any business property in the city is eligible so it’s very competitive. This year there is no application deadline, but you do need to complete the work in the 2015 calendar year. Contact Margaret@irvingtondevelopment.org or 317-260-0669 if you have questions.

 

Floating in the Coal Factory?

float-isopod-floatation-tank-womanA Place to Float has a tentative agreement to locate in Irvington’s new development, the Coal Factory, and will become the second floatation spa in Indianapolis. Rest and relaxation, pain management and heightened creativity are some of the benefits people Royal Spa Float Tank-Malehave experienced from float sessions. The owners expect to open later this year but are still recruiting investors.

You can find out more about A Place to Float here. If you have questions or want to know how you can get more involved with this project, contact Aaron Douglas.

 

Updates on the Coal Factory

Coal Factory RenderingAnd speaking of that exciting new development coming to the heart of Irvington, work has been progressing through these cold months with the finalization of the architectural, engineering, and utility plans. It just doesn’t look like much has been going on from the outside. Monthly updates will be given near the beginning of every Historic Irvington Community Council meetings on the third Tuesday of every month through the summer. February 17 will be the next meeting at 7:00 pm in the basement of the Irvington Presbyterian Church, 55 Johnson Ave.

_____________________________________

About Irvington Development Organization

Irvington Development Organization, founded in 2002, works for the benefit of Irvington by cultivating positive business development, promoting the unique character of our neighborhood and enhancing the quality of life for residents and visitors. Irvington is a historic community on the East Side of Indianapolis known for its winding, tree-lined streets and architecturally significant homes and businesses.


read more

Guest writers: Sarah Evans and Tammi Hughes; Photo courtesy of East 10th Street Civic Association:

In addition to informing our readers about news and happenings in Irvington, IDO is intentional about highlighting the good news that is occurring with other eastside community groups and neighborhoods. This post is a reprint from the most recent East 10th Street Civic Association newsletter. Such an exciting development!

The East 10th Street Civic Association is partnering with Stenz Corporation in the development of Dorman Square located in the Cottage Home neighborhood. The E10SCA has received $450,000 in a combination of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Home Investment Partnerships (HOME) funds from the City of Indianapolis to supplement and enhance the community’s development.

 Dorman Square is located at the southeast corner of 10th and Dorman Streets and will feature a mix of residential and commercial properties. Fourteen custom-designed, environmentally-conscious single-family homes and town homes are planned for Dorman and Stillwell Streets. Lot prices for the homes start at $35,000.Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 12.07.11 PM

A mixed-use development will front the site along East 10th Street. The E10SCA received $300,000 in HOME Funds to supplement the development of a combination of market rate and affordable homeownership.

“The East 10th Street Civic Association is proud to be a partner with Stenz Corporation. Effective community economic development is at its best when the private, public and non-profit sectors collaborate and bring creative resources and roles to the table, restyling in an innovative product,” says E10SCA Executive Director Tammi Hughes.

The $150,000 in CDBG funds that the E10SCA received will assist with infrastructure improvements and trail amenities to enhance the southern leg of Pogue’s Run Trail along East 10th Street from Dorman to Stillwell. The E10SCA is exploring a variety of creative placemaking elements.

With a mixture of price points and types of housing, the Dorman Square development sets a precedent for the Near Eastside in terms of a non-profit and a for-profit business working collaboratively to offer a variety of options for home ownership and retail development.

“It’s been a pleasure to work with the East 10th Street Civic Association, whose holistic approach to revitalizing East 10th Street has helped guide the Dorman Square project from the start. Their experience and leadership in working with the various local stakeholders has been invaluable,” says Beau Ansty of Stenz Corporation.

Construction on the residential properties is currently underway, with the East 10th Street work set to start in 2015.

_____________________________________

About Irvington Development Organization

Irvington Development Organization, founded in 2002, works for the benefit of Irvington by cultivating positive business development, promoting the unique character of our neighborhood and enhancing the quality of life for residents and visitors. Irvington is a historic community on the East Side of Indianapolis known for its winding, tree-lined streets and architecturally significant homes and businesses.


read more

Guest writer – Paula Schmidt:
Photo credit – Jenny McGinnis:

Irvington has followed a lovely tradition for 38 years.  Beginning in 1976, a Winter Luminaria has served as Irvington’s unique version of a Neighborhood Night Out!  It continues to be true to that original idea.  A time to slow down, enjoy your home and take the opportunity to celebrate your community.  There are some special events, but this is a very local affair focusing on each home, each, block and personal connections.  The Historic Irvington Community Council with the help of volunteers lights many public areas. Just like the  traditional summer version of Neighborhood Night Out, house parties pour out onto the street to light bags.  Then, there is time to enjoy the Benton House, Irving Circle and the candlelit streets.

This year, Winter begins on the day of the Luminaria, Sunday Dec 21st.  Fire light and friends have historically been a way for many cultures and religions to encourage the light and warmth of Summer to return.

Here is how you can participate:

  • Buy candle kits at one of our local businesses.  As few as 5 will be beautiful.
    Photo Credit: Jenny McGinnis

    Photo Credit: Jenny McGinnis

    • Ace Hardware (1025 N. Arlington Ave)
    • Antique Mall by Jack & Jill (5501 E. Washington St)
    • Black Sheep Gifts (5626 E. Washington St)
    • Bona Shops (202 S. Audubon Rd)
    • Deering Cleaners (1160 North Arlington Ave)
    • Your Local Deli ( 5543 E. Washington St).
  • Pick up sand, supplied by Reliable Bob’s Lawn Care, from the parking lot of Ellenberger Park after Dec 13th.  Thank you Bobbie Sponsel!
  • Volunteer to help light one of the public areas.
  • Meet your neighbors, celebrate and light up your block!  Dec 21, 2014 from 6 to 10
  • Tour Irvington and enjoy the beauty of candles at night.

_____________________________________

About Irvington Development Organization

Irvington Development Organization, founded in 2002, works for the benefit of Irvington by cultivating positive business development, promoting the unique character of our neighborhood and enhancing the quality of life for residents and visitors. Irvington is a historic community on the East Side of Indianapolis known for its winding, tree-lined streets and architecturally significant homes and businesses.


read more

Guest writer: Jessica Leck:
Photos courtesy of SIMS Boxing Gym:  

Recently, a new Boxing Gym opened in nearby Emerson Heights. SIMS Boxing Gym is located at 4615 E. 10th Street, just across from the Emerson Theatre. The gym offers an affordable rate for kids in our neighborhoods to enjoy a great sport in a local business. Sims Boxing Gym bought the building and they are here to stay!

Jessica Leck after a fundraising challenge for SIMS.

Jessica Leck after a fundraising challenge for SIMS.

They have already been involved with the Emerson Heights Neighborhood by attending several neighborhood meetings and sending 20 kids and adults to help with the neighborhood clean-up in October.

More about the Gym:

  • They have an open door policy. You can stop by anytime during open hours and watch the program.
  • Open Mon-Fri 4:30pm-7:30pm and Sat. 10a-2pm. The cost is $6 a week for children under 15 yrs old. Closed Sundays. Age of boxers is 6-55.
  • They focus on teaching children respect, discipline and responsibility. The kids are encouraged to reach maximum potential and be productive citizens in our community. Sims Boxing Gym is dedicated to teaching life skills through the art of boxing. Their mission is to provide a place in which the values of discipline, responsibility and honor are upheld and stressed.
  • Report card submittal is required every 10 weeks.
  • Encourages neighborhood pride by participating in Community Projects- clean-ups, graffiti removal, etc.
  • An average session starts with a run through the neighborhood, squats, jump rope, push ups, sit ups, etc. They use a traditional training style.

Currently the gym is looking for tutors for various subjects to help local kids in school. Please reach out to the gym at the contact info below if interested! (Background check required.) Let’s help support this local business.

SIMS Boxing Gym
Call or email Tohanna Sims for more information:
(317) 832-8984
olympianboxer@yahoo.com

_____________________________________

About Irvington Development Organization

Irvington Development Organization, founded in 2002, works for the benefit of Irvington by cultivating positive business development, promoting the unique character of our neighborhood and enhancing the quality of life for residents and visitors. Irvington is a historic community on the East Side of Indianapolis known for its winding, tree-lined streets and architecturally significant homes and businesses.


read more


footer