This month, our IDO Neighborhood Spotlight shines on Lauren Hall, who provides professional counseling services. She also founded Irvington Flower Bouquet CSA and supports the business by growing flowers at her Irvington home, arranging bouquets, and making local deliveries by bike.

How long have you lived and worked here? 
My husband Michael and I have lived in Irvington for a year and a half. We both work as therapists at Christian Theological Seminary Counseling Center. In the summer of 2015, we started our first large garden with great yield, creating Irvington Flower Bouquet CSA. One year in and the CSA is a huge success, with all memberships claimed for 2016 and 10 weddings this summer alone!

We’d like to continue to invest in this neighborhood by way of opening a counseling private practice in the fall of this year, offering sliding scale services to members of our community, and to keep creating flower bouquets, of course!

How did you first hear of Irvington and why did you move here?
I grew up in the Old North Side and attended Holy Cross throughout elementary school. A lot of my friends lived on the East Side, and I remember visiting here as a young girl. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined I would end up here as an adult!

In the fall of 2014, both my mother and Michael’s dad were diagnosed with cancer. Michael and I decided to move home to be closer to them. We really didn’t know where we were going to live, and having come from Chicago we were ready to lay our roots down. Mostly, we wanted a yard for a garden, a walkable neighborhood with good standby food spots, and kind neighbors. It was when we walked down the brick street of Layman one warm winter evening that we decided we were going to put an offer on what became our proud home!

What do you do for fun?
Oh goodness, so many things. Here’s a list: date nights with my honey, watching our blind dog Hank play, growing flowers and arranging, yoga, bike rides, fire pits, and friendship hangs.

What’s your favorite walk, bike ride, block, or view in the neighborhood?
Lover’s Lane is my absolute favorite, but those sweet twisty streets of south Irvington really have a special place in my heart and on my bike!

If you were Mayor of Irvington for a day, what would you do first?
I would have a very diplomatic brunch with whoever manages public transportation and very kindly persuade them to commit to build a rapid transit system from Irvington to downtown.  They’d of course agree, so feeling good about that, I’d contact the owners of Siam Square and Spice Nation and invite them to move into the neighborhood for some increased food options, and they’d say, “Of course!”

I’d commission young artists to create murals along the Pennsy Trail, and on their day of creating we’d celebrate with a large community picnic on the trail. My last order of business would be to hire Beyonce to perform for the annual Irvington Halloween Festival.

Then I’d take a nap!

Want to read the full May IDO newsletter? simply click here!

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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. To donate to IDO or become a member click here.


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Neighborhood Spotlight

This month our IDO Neighborhood Spotlight shines upon one of our popular Irvington Business Association and IDO members, Mechanically Inclined Auto. Owners Ted and Cheryl know what it means to give back to the community! From fundraisers for nonprofits like The PourHouse, Inc. to supporting local musicians, artists, and chefs, they take a unique approach to their business operations.

mech inclined
Photo Credit Jaime Locke Art

Tell us a little about yourselves and how Mechanically Inclined got started?

Ted has 20 years experience working on cars and became a specialist of sorts with Cadillacs after his 9 years at Lockhart Cadillac. He opened a shop on the southside with his brother in 2006. In 2012, I was working as a classroom teacher looking for other opportunities when Ted and I teamed up to open Mechanically Inclined at 5840 Brookville Road.  As a part of our business model, we believe in giving back to the community. We hold a music and movie community event every September to benefit The PourHouse, Inc. and last year, we added vendors of handmade goods and Rock-Cola Café. We feature musicians who live in Irvington and do our best to hire locally for all of our business needs, such as office treats, lawn care, dog grooming, staff lunches, and staff haircuts. We have greeted guests and raised funds and goods at the last three Alternative Gift Fairs, with all proceeds benefiting The PourHouse, Inc.  I am also volunteering independently on an upcoming fundraiser with The PourHouse, Inc. in addition to planning and organizing the annual ice cream festival for the Irvington Historical Society.

What do you do for fun?

As any owner of a small business will likely tell you, there’s not a whole lot of free time. We spend sunup to sundown operating and managing the shop in some capacity, either from home or in-house. When we aren’t at the shop, Ted has 4 children whom he’s taking to sleepovers, wrestling meets, cross-country meets, school functions, part-time jobs, or anything that a single dad has to do. I also have 4 children, most of whom have left home to attend college or join the military. The youngest, who’s still at home, keeps me busy with band, swimming, academic meets, and socializing. I enjoy reading, crocheting, and playing cards, and board games while working on the fundraising projects mentioned above.

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

We enjoy attending functions in the neighborhood, such as jazz nights at Coal Yard and Brew Fest at Our Lady of Lourdes. In the milder months, we socialize at the Irvington Farmers Markets on the second Sunday and Clustertruck on Thursday at Ellenberger Park. We see a lot of Irvington on our test drives, and Ted’s favorite route has to be the section of Audubon between Pleasant Run and Irvington Presbyterian Church with the serenity of the trees and peacefulness of the neighborhood. Cheryl’s favorite walk through the neighborhood starts with dinner at Hummingbird Café (no longer there) or The Legend, then off to Coal Yard Coffee or Wyliepalooza.



Why did you become a member of Irvington Development Organization?

We joined IDO to lend our support to the great things this organization does and to stay informed about the neighborhood.

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

If we were Mayor of Irvington, we would unite North and South Irvington and end the feud. In all seriousness, we would extend the business district hustle and bustle beyond the border of Ritter and Audubon.

If you want to learn more about Mechanically Inclined Auto, you may contact them here: 
Mechanically Inclined Auto, 
5840 Brookville Road, Indianapolis, IN 46219. 
Call: 317-351-1241 
Text: 317-653-4251: Web: 
www.mechincauto.com

Want to read the full April IDO newsletter which includes additional information on a chance to give back, the spring construction schedule, and the Annual Benton House Easter bash, simply click here!

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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. To donate to IDO or become a member click here.


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This month our Neighbor Spotlight shines on Katie Herrold, who is a new IDO board member and has taken on the task of serving as chair of the fundraising committee. She also leads a very interesting life, working at times in the Middle East. Read on to learn more about Katie!


Neighbor Spotlight: Katie Herrold

 

Katie Herrold

This photo was taken at the Ransburg YMCA swimming pool.  While the Y is technically not in Irvington, its community of members very much resembles the community that I find in Irvington – diverse, friendly, warm and welcoming.  Just as Irvington offers something for everyone, so too does the Ransburg Y pool – swimming lessons for kids, aqua fitness for older adults, quiet lanes for lap swimmers, and enthusiastic coaching for the competitive swim team.

Tell us about yourself. 

I am a researcher.  I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania, but when I attended a women’s liberal arts college in Western Massachusetts my eyes were opened to endlessly diverse perspectives.  The curiosity that I cultivated in college ultimately led me to study philanthropic practices in the Middle East.  As a PhD student I learned Arabic and conducted field research on foundations and nonprofit organizations in Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon.  Now, as a professor at IUPUI, I continue that research in Israel and Palestine and also have the privilege to teach and learn from my students.  I feel so fortunate to consider Irvington my home while still living and working for brief periods in the Middle East.

Why did you join the IDO board and its fundraising committee?

It is because of IDO’s efforts to develop the Washington Street corridor that I first discovered Irvington.  Shortly after moving to Indianapolis’s Chatham Arch neighborhood three years ago, I drove out Washington Street to swim at the Ransburg Y.  I nearly caused an accident when I reached Irvington’s “village” – what a lovely set of local shops and restaurants sandwiched between Taco Bells and White Castle chains!  Now as a resident of Irvington (Terrace), I’m excited to bring my knowledge of philanthropic strategy to IDO’s board and its fundraising committee.

What do you do for fun? 

I enjoy solitude, so I spend much of my free time alone in quiet activities.  I particularly enjoy swimming, reading, listening to classical music, and hiking.  I’m looking forward to spending IUPUI’s spring break with lots of books in a yurt in the middle of the woods in Michigan.  But I equally enjoy the adventure of my research.  There are endless surprises in the micro communities that inhabit the side streets of Middle Eastern cities, and my Egyptian, Syrian, Jordanian, and Israeli friends have introduced me to the joy that is found in more communal ways of life.

Favorite view in the neighborhood?

There is a hedge apple tree in Ellenberger Park under which I like to sit.  It allows one to watch the passersby and listen to the birds and leaves while thinking or reading.  Of course, it’s just as lovely to emerge from under that tree to the friendly smiles and waves of Irvington neighbors who are out for a walk or picnic in the park.

If you were Mayor of Irvington, what would you do? 

If I were mayor I would create a “community chest” to fund Irvington’s nonprofits and their programs.  The aim would be to streamline local fundraising and grant making and provide a perpetual source of support for local groups.

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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.To donate to IDO or become a member click here.


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Our spotlight shines on Rita Franco, owner of La Mexi-Gringa, where you can find some of the most awesome fresh authentic Mexican dishes in Indy (mmm…handmade tamales with a side of her mouth-watering guacamole and chips). Take a moment to learn a bit more about Rita and definitely visit La Mexi-Gringa. Do it TODAY!

Tell us a little about yourself and how La Mexi-Gringa started.

My name is Rita Franco. I am the owner of La Mexi-Gringa and mother of four amazing children. My children attend Irvington Community Schools, and in 2010 we moved into the area to be closer to school. 

I have sold tamales to family and friends for the past eight years. When Irvington and other surrounding communities tasted my tamales, my business grew so large that I had to make a business out of my hobby. We have now grown into a carryout restaurant in Irvington and sell a variety of fresh authentic Mexican dishes. 

Obviously I am an American gal, so you may wonder why and how I came into serving up Mexican goodness. MyLa Mexica Gringa husband is from Guadalajara, Mexico, and my best friend is also from Mexico. I’ve always been a decent cook and love truly authentic ethnic food. I lived in Mexico for a while and brought back everything I learned. We’ve been open since May and are thinking of expanding our hours and offering delivery options. I love that our restaurant is truly authentic here on the Eastside with some of the best tacos in Indy!

What do you do for fun?

As shocking as it may sound, I am a foodie. Some of my favorite things to do are find wonderful local spots to eat and tell everyone about! I also love traveling to explore places I’ve never been. Being in the great outdoors is my favorite place to be (40 degrees or higher, ha ha).

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

I adore eating at Dufours in Maria’s quaint sweet cozy cafe. Her dang French toast is an experience each time, and you’ll never get the same breads. In fact, I think I’ll go there for breakfast this morning! (note: written prior to Dufour’s closing)

The Coal Yard Coffee house is a great place to chill and see many familiar local faces. Even some famous Irvington FB folks, LOL. Baristas Nyla and Michelle always hook me up with their favorite concoctions. 

And riding my bike through the trails of Irvington from the Pennsy to Pleasant Run is my very favorite thing to do during warmer months. 

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

If I were Mayor of Irvington, I’d have more community gatherings. It’s such a fun tight-knit community. Maybe gatherings at local businesses, parks, heck on the street! Having a tight community is fun and creates a safe atmosphere. 

Come grab lunch and/or dinner (it’s that good) or call for carryout. We also cater! Contact Rita Franco of La Mexi-Gringa at 317-453-1743 or LaMexiGringa.com La Mexi-Gringa is located at 6129 E. Washington St. Indianapolis IN 46219.

To read more of the February newsletter, click here.

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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.To donate to IDO or become a member click here.


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Below is an article from our January IDO Newsletter about the large-scale tree planting that occurred in the Irvington Terrace area during the 2015 Lilly Global Day of Service event. A big thank you to the employees at Eli Lilly and Company, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Irvington Garden Club, IDO’s own Irvington Green Initiative and our wonderful Irvington and Indianapolis-area neighbors!

To read more on the Shadeland article, click here for our January IDO Newsletter where you’ll find additional articles on parking in Irvington, our Neighbor Spotlight, and new restaurant, The Mug, which will be coming to Irvington in the not-too-distant future!

Bringing the Shade Back to Shadeland

By Heidi Unger
Photo Cred: Heidi Unger and Google Earth Images

Irvington’s eastern gateway, a US 40 highway interchange that aided eastside industrial development in Indianapolis in the 1950s, has received a makeover that restores native habitat and will reduce the city’s maintenance costs by $12,000 per year — every year for the foreseeable future. This conservation project also mitigates stormwater, erosion, and heat while it sequesters carbon and other pollutants.

On Eli Lilly’s Global Day of Service in October 2015, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful (KIB) provided the resources for Lilly volunteers to plant 883 trees on the cloverleaf and adjacent triangles at Shadeland Avenue and East Washington Street. KIB, an Indianapolis not-for-profit organization that facilitates sustainable beautification through community involvement, found the size of this city-owned property ideal for a project of this scope (project funding required planting on city property) and was eager to expand an existing project in a community where it has a long-term working relationship with community members.

KIB intends to expand this tree-planting project farther south within the next two years. Nate Faris, Director of Community Forestry, says, “Our plans are, next year in the fall, to plant another 900 trees over at Shadeland and English at the interchange south of the one we just planted, and, hopefully in 2017, we’ll be planting the interchange at Shadeland and Brookville.”

Community commitment

The conservation effort began in 2009 when Irvington Garden Club member Pat Brown and her Irvington Terrace neighbors launched the first stage of this project by gaining support from KIB, Irvington Development Organization (IDO), Irvington Green Initiative, local politicians, and nearby businesses and then began planting 30 trees in the northwest quadrant of the East Washington Street cloverleaf. In the next stage of the project, they added native plants.

Brown’s plan for a prairie/woodland gateway to historic Irvington aimed to reestablish barren acreage to a diverse, self-sustaining property. She explains that “Irvington was originally established as a suburb of Indianapolis, a place to live where one could enjoy nature. Today, traveling along East Washington Street offers mostly views of concrete, commercial signs, and speeding cars.” Restoring native habitat in the cloverleaf “brings back some of the natural beauty that once existed along the Old National Trail/Highway 40.”

cloverleaf northwest

Photo courtesy of Heidi Unger

After the first trees were planted in a portion of the northwest quadrant, that portion was “taken out of mow,” which is the city’s terminology for removing a patch of grass from its grass-mowing schedule — a move that reduced the city’s grass-mowing costs and its impact on the environment. Volunteers in Irvington Terrace committed to watering the trees weekly during the months of April through October for three years (which became four years due to drought). A neighborhood volunteer bucket brigade watered trees with 5-gallon buckets filled from a water tank that residents transported with a trailer and minivan.

About four years ago, news of the planting project caught the attention of Lilly’s Global Day of Service planners, who were looking for an opportunity to train their volunteers to plant trees on slopes and found a suitable slope in the southwest quadrant. Together with KIB, Lilly developed a plan to plant and maintain the entire southwest quadrant. And in 2015, they returned to finish the entire interchange.

This is only one example of how community involvement in neighborhoods throughout Indianapolis can attract bigger and better improvements. “I think a lot of this started with Irvington Terrace being excited to plant there, and it started with small steps that built over time,” Faris says. “It made sense to keep investing there once we started.” 

Cost reduction

Now that the entire interchange is planted, the city will mow only a 30-foot swath around the edges. Faris notes that because the city spends $12,000 annually to mow a single interchange, “We’re saving the city $12,000 [every year], and we’re saving all the gasoline that’s burned to mow those areas. That’s a pretty sweet deal.”

Faris mentions additional benefits. “Trees provide a lot of services. They take carbon out of the air and sequester it. They also knock other pollutants out of the air, so they make the air cleaner. A city gets pretty hot, and trees cool the city, not only by shading the asphalt but also by evapotranspiration.” The evapotranspiration process requires heat, and removing the heat results in a cooler environment under established trees.

“Trees also intercept storm water, so they help reduce the need for larger sewers in our city, and they help reduce peak sewer flows so that less raw sewage is washed into our rivers.”

Partnerships in community development

In the early phases of the cloverleaf project, community members realized its contribution to existing neighborhood development plans. IDO’s goals to enhance the Irvington business corridor on East Washington Street, support the Pennsy Trail expansion, and improve the streetscape fit nicely with the cloverleaf rehabilitation.

The project also contributes to KIB’s goal to plant 100,000 trees across the city.

Food chain and biodiversity support

Brown’s original plan for the cloverleaf included the goal to “promote the appreciation, preservation, conservation, and utilization of the flora native to Indiana and educate the public about the values, beauty, diversity, and environmental importance of indigenous vegetation.” Planting native trees and plants is an idea that has become popular with environmentalists, and it’s one that KIB shares.

Faris explains that one advantage of landscaping with native plants is the relatively minimal care that they require. “They’ve been here for thousands of years, and they’ve adapted to our climate and soil.” Another advantage is their role in the food chain. Put simply, plants that thrive in an environment are food for insects and animals that also thrive in that environment. A tree planted in its native environment can support as many as 500 species of caterpillars. “A bird’s nest, for example, often requires a couple hundred caterpillars a day to feed the new hatchlings. So if we plant native trees, lots of caterpillars can live on that and support the birds and all the other things that the ecosystem needs. But if we would’ve planted gingko trees, which are great urban-hardy trees but are native to Asia, they support in the single digits of species of caterpillars, and far less life can be supported on trees that aren’t from here.”

On the cloverleaf, volunteers have planted native trees, including eastern red cedar, bur oak, redbud, and quaking aspen; grasses such as Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem), Asclepias tuberosa (also known as milkweed and food for the declining monarch butterfly population); and flowers such as New England aster. Cloverleaf visitors are also finding that native plants and trees that no one planted are showing up there as the prairie and woodland recover.

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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


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