The 43rd Annual Benton House Tour of Homes 49 N Sheridanis on Sunday, September 17th 2017, and the Home Tour Committee is now recruiting homeowners to showcase their homes. Consider participating, even if you’re unsure about it. Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be on the tour? Benton House board member and past tour participant Lisa Watson shares her story.

“My house isn’t ready. Maybe next year.”

“I don’t want people riffling through my things.”

“There isn’t anything special about my house.”

These are all things I have heard and possibly even said about participating in the Benton House Tour of Homes. I moved to Irvington in September of 2011 and went on my first tour that month. It was quite simply amazing on a few levels. People volunteering to open their homes up to let strangers walk through?! Now, a few years later, I know that there is no such thing as a stranger in Irvington.

In the spring of 2013, I was asked to be on the home tour and I just wasn’t ready. I said, “There is so much I want to do to the house first.” I had DREAMS! Redo this room, and that one, and that one too! The Home Tour Committee received the “maybe next year” that they so often hear.

The following spring, I was asked again. You know what? I hadn’t done any of the things I had wanted to do, but this time, I said yes.

I had a lot to do. I didn’t really have to, but I wanted to. What committing to the September date did was challenge me to get some of those wish list things done. I replaced a window with French doors and had some landscaping done.

The days leading up to the event were filled with dusting, cleaning, excitement, and a little anxiety. “What if no one likes my home?,” I worried.

The weather on the day of the tour was perfect. Slight breeze, warm but not too hot, humidity was low. Let’s get this thing going!

Friends were in place and knew a bit about my house, if there were questions asked. And then they came. A couple hundred people walked through my home. I met so many lovely neighbors.

It was so worth it. I’d do it again in a minute!

Here are some of the questions (excuses) I have heard for reasons not to be on the home tour:

“My house isn’t ready. Maybe next year.”or “We are in the middle of renovating, but haven’t finished the work.”

Homes in transition are often exactly what people like to see. Being able to see the history evolving – sometimes down to the studs – people love seeing it all! The thing to remember is, this is a home tour, so personality and a lived-in feel is wanted; it shouldn’t feel staged.

“I don’t want people riffling through my things.”

They don’t; they won’t. The people on the tour are extremely respectful and appreciative of the fact that you’ve opened your home. And volunteers keep a watchful eye as they guide visitors and answer questions.

“There isn’t anything special about my house.”

I doubt that. Your statement is invalid! Home tour houses can be large or small; professionally decorated or DIY; filled with antiques, art, or just comfy furniture; or have an interesting or unknown history. Regardless of whether your home has unique nooks or the same features as nearly every house on the block, it’s interesting to someone.

“I don’t want anyone in that room.”

Then close the door! I had child gates in the doors of the two rooms where family members asked that I not let people in them; people could see, but not go in. Others have simply shut the door.

As you can see, having your home on the tour is pretty laid back. Whatever you feel comfortable with is what people experience. All profits from the home tour go to the upkeep and maintenance of the Benton House, which is an Irvington landmark that was built in 1873 and is now restored and open to the public. The Tour of Homes is our largest fundraiser and helps us sponsor community events and maintain the home and property. Help us by showcasing your home. Contact Elizabeth Wissel by phone at 317-572-8584 or by e-mail at bentonhousehometour@gmail.com.


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rickIf you consider yourself a vinyl aficionado, you have likely met Rick Wilkerson. He owns and operates Irvington Vinyl, which shares a storefront with Bookmamas at 9 Johnson Ave.  (See a message from Rick on YouTube.)

BUSINESS OWNER

Along with two partners, Rick started his first record store, Missing Link Records, in 1994 in Broad Ripple, but it closed in 2008. He ventured into the antique business with another partner in 2012 with Irvington Vintage, at the corner of Audubon Road and Bonna Avenue. That changed focus, names, and location to become Irvington Vinyl, in 2014, where he offers both used records and new releases. Rick says, “Business is still growing, and people are still finding us.” He sees his customer base drawing primarily from the east and southeast sectors of the city, with some sales generated online.

Rick also owns TimeChange Records. He archives older Indiana music on vinyl and CD. Through TimeChange, he either reissues the music or releases it for the first time. He’s currently working with a friend from Last Four Digits to release their music.

As if he has nothing else to keep him busy, Rick is also heavily involved in the Indiana Music and Entertainment Museum. The IMEM displays Indiana music, broadcasting and film artifacts and is looking for funding so they can open a public bricks-and-mortar space. He keeps an eye open for valuable Hoosier gems to put on display in the museum.

“STREAMING IS KILLING DOWNLOADING”

CD sales used to dominate the market, but their share is plummeting and is now less than 20% of music sales. Vinyl has reached about 6% of sales, up from less than 1%, but people largely pay for streaming now rather than downloading digital files. Rick says most young consumers don’t care to own their music like generations past, mostly because they can listen to anything they want through streaming. A small percentage of people, though, still want to own their physical music, and this keeps both vinyl and CDs alive.

INDUSTRY INSIDER INFO

Currently only a handful of record pressing plants remain in the U.S., with old equipment “being held together with chewing gum and shoe strings.” The industry is slowly starting to see new production of equipment, according to Rick.

SOME “DID YOU KNOW?” POINTS

  • The cost of releasing a vinyl LP is three to four times higher than the cost of releasing a CD.
  • In 2007, 1.3 million records sold.
  • In 2015, record sales soared to 11.9 million.
  • Vinyl LPs from the late 1980s to early 1990s (including original Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam LPs) are valuable due to their scarcity and demand.

RECORD STORE DAY

In 2008, a few record store owners introduced Record Store Day (RSD) in an effort to reverse the downward record sales trend. The response was minimal for the first year. There were 15 to 20 special releases.

This year, on Saturday, April 22, Irvington Vinyl will open at 8 a.m. and offer 400 to 500 special releases just for this day. Many will be limited editions from artists in high demand and will sell quickly and then go out of print. The line stretches around the block, and Rick has to bring in extra staff for that day.

In conjunction with RSD, State Street Pub will provide live music, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., outside at 10 Johnson Avenue, as well as their Electric Breakfast.  Affordable Hi-Fi  will offer special deals on their Music Hall turntables at both Irvington Vinyl and across the street at Guitar Town.

Sales on all special releases are first come-first served, in keeping with the RSD contract. The  contract also requires that no record sell for more than 20% over list price.

Over the years and with the internet changing how consumers get their information, Rick has learned, “Customers know more than you do about what they love.” He stands ready to serve as a facilitator in getting those things into your hands!

How long have you lived and/or worked here in Irvington?

I moved to the Irvington area in 2010 and now live in Community Heights. Previously, I lived in Bosart Brown.

What do you do for fun?

I work a lot. I play the bass and guitar. I watch TV. I ride my bike to work.

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

Irvington is beautiful everywhere you go. My bike ride is basically to and from the shop. I love Ellenberger and ride through it a lot.

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

Fix the Coal Yard. It’s not for me to say that I would do something that somebody else hasn’t tried, but I know that’s a concern in the neighborhood.

What’s your connection to IDO?

I’m a member of the Irvington Business Association, which is in partnership with Irvington Development Organization.


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Irvington is known for its engaged volunteer paint traffic s cand active neighbors. If you’ve ever wondered how you too can have all that fun you hear about on Facebook and give back to this community we love so dearly, now’s your chance.

All the Irvington organizations are hosting a “job fair” for volunteer positions with our respective groups. At this one-day event, you can talk with representatives from neighborhood groups and choose the opportunities that best suit your interests, talents, and availability. And there will be snacks. Volunteer opportunities will include everything from neighborhood cleanups to planning gala events, simple one-time tasks to board memberships. Need some community service hours before graduating? Come on down. Want  extracurricular responsibilities to polish up that resume? We’ve got you covered. Want to meet new neighbors? No better way. Feel the need to contribute in a meaningful way to a cause you hold dear? There will be plenty to choose from.

On Sunday, April 23, you’re invited to attend Volunteer Irv at the Bona Thompson Memorial Center, 5350 University Avenue, from 2-6 p.m. You can meet representatives of the various committees and learn about the different volunteer activities each has to offer.

This is an opportunity to get involved and have an impact on your community!


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If you’ve ever walked along Washington Street between Emerson and Ritter Avenues on a hot, sunny day, you know there aren’t many trees to shade the sidewalks in that stretch of Irvington. On either side of Washington, we’re known for our leafy canopy. Not so much along our main corridor.

That won’t be the case a few years from now, as Phase II of the Washington Corridor Streetscape project is implemented. Almost 50 volunteers showed up on a Saturday morning this March, with staff from Keep Indianapolis Beautiful (KIB) to plant 40 trees along two Irvington streets. The tree planting on Washington Street started near Hawthorne Lane and extended west to East Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive, and the Spencer Avenue ran south from East Washington Street into the residential area.  KIB’s Youth Tree Team will keep them watered for the next few years to allow them to get established.   

We’d like to extend a  Great Big Thank You to the organizations and individuals who contributed time, labor, and resources to this project. Thank you, KIB, for donating the trees, coordinating the planting, and training the volunteers on the finer points of tree planting. (There’s really more to it than just digging a hole! Check out this informative video.) Thank you, Hart Bakery, for donating the yumdillyicious donuts that kept everybody going. And thank you to the good people from both within and outside of the neighborhood who spent their Saturday morning helping beautify our neighborhood.IDO Tree Planting c


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Irvington CSA members benefit from fresh, locally grown vegetables and fruit—and community fellowship too. You can be part of it. Here’s how!

CSA collage

Irvington Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is getting ready to kick off its 12th season! A CSA is a partnership between farmers and a local community. The farmers supply the community with fresh, local produce throughout the summer growing season, and the community supports the farmer by pre-paying.  Farmers gain economic security for environmentally friendly farming, while CSA shareholders know where their food comes from and how it was grown.

Our 35+ annual crops are farmed by Levi Fisher and family in Montezuma, Indiana. The Fisher family does not use synthetic chemicals on the soil or plants. They practice good land stewardship, sustainable farming methods and respect for biodiversity on the farm. Their produce is delivered to Irvington for families to pick up every week for 25 weeks beginning in May.

Each share is designed for a family that likes to cook or couples or individuals who eat a lot of vegetables. A full share’s value is about $25 per week. (A typical share is shown in two of the photos above.) Our produce includes vegetables (asparagus, carrots, kale, salad mix, potatoes, sweet potatoes, red peppers, broccoli, and zucchini, to name a few). We also get fruits like strawberries, blackberries, watermelon and cantaloupe. At first, shares are smaller—mostly lettuce, asparagus and berries. But as the weather warms, your share basket will overflow with corn, tomatoes, peppers and other veggies. Each week’s share gives you a chance to sample Indiana-grown vegetables.

The CSA is run entirely by volunteers, none of whom receive compensation for their services. Only our farmer and driver are compensated. This means our shareholders get great value at a reasonable price, while supporting sustainable agriculture.

Want to learn more? Join us at this year’s meet-and-greet with our CSA farmer, Levi Fisher, on Monday, April 10, at 6:30 p.m. at the Irvington Branch Indianapolis Public Library (5625 East Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN 46219).  Learn about Levi’s farm practices, the produce he’s growing and his predictions for the season.  We’ll also share information about Irvington CSA and answer questions. Come meet Levi, your fellow CSA members and the CSA Coordinating Committee.  Feel free to invite family, friends or co-workers who might be interested in being a part of Irvington CSA this year.

This year’s share price is $550 for 25 weeks. Members who pay by April 15 get a $20 discount, for a total share price of $530. Transportation is an additional fee, estimated at $100 (to be finalized in May and due in June).

Deliveries are expected to begin mid-May and continue for 25 weeks.

Want more info? Contact us at irvingtonagriculture@gmail.com and check us out at www.irvingtoncsa.com. And don’t forget to like Irvington CSA on Facebook.


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Andrea De MinkAndrea De Mink wears many hats. She has administered the Irvington Neighbors Facebook Page nearly since its inception, where she also entertains neighbors with discussions about her electricity usage. She serves on the Historic Irvington Community Council, which holds monthly meetings and participates in events throughout the year. You can see her walking through the neighborhood almost daily. Her deepest passion, however, is in helping people.

Andrea started working with individuals experiencing homelessness 21 years ago, and in 2004, she formed The PourHouse, Inc., a nonprofit organization that assists individuals experiencing homelessness in overcoming barriers to housing, treatment, and healthcare. The inspiration started with a chance encounter. While running her own IT business downtown, she met and befriended an individual who was digging through the trash for food. She devoted time and energy to knowing his goals and the goals of others in similar situations. When she realized how passionate she felt about helping others, she started the organization that, to date, has housed nearly 300 individuals since 2014.

The PourHouse feeds an average of 250 individuals twice per week, but can see numbers as high as 400 some evenings. During the week, she and her team of dedicated volunteers work to address her clients’ broad range of needs.

In January, Andrea was recognized as a Champion of Diversity by the Indiana Minority Business Magazine. And with the help of her local supporters, The PourHouse received the Indiana Members Credit Union Gives Back donation of $6,000.

How long have you lived and/or worked here in Irvington?
Andrea has lived in Irvington for over 15 years. She rented at New York and Emerson for 5 years. “I knew I wanted to stay on the east side and loved the old houses in Irvington.”

What do you do for fun?
Andrea enjoys landscaping, taking care of her koi, and anything that relates to animals, nature, walking, or biking. She is a Certified Koi Keeper, which means she has been trained to sedate and inject koi, then later revive them. She discovered through her training, when her koi become ill, how they can be treated and brought back to good health.

What’s your favorite walk, bike ride, block, or view in the neighborhood?
Andrea likes to walk nearly every day for her own health. She favors her path from Lowell to Kitley, Pleasant Run to Layman. She also likes to change up the view by going through Ellenberger Park, down 9th Street to Arlington.

If you were Mayor of Irvington for a day, what would you do first?
If Andrea were Mayor of Irvington for a day, she would “remove the parking spots in front of Ossip so you can see to pull out onto East Washington and not die.”

What’s your connection to IDO?
As an active member of the Public Safety Committee for the Historic Irvington Community Council, Andrea works closely with IDO on decisions that affect the individuals, families, and businesses of Irvington.


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