This past week, “RECLAIM,” a project that focuses on tackling unsafe neighborhood conditions on Indianapolis’ northwest side, was the recipient of a $200k grant from ArtPlace America’s 2016 National Creative Placemaking Fund.
While the 1970’s construction of I-65 and 70 was intended to provide greater connectivity to Indianapolis’ central business district, the placement of the interstates physically divided the communities through which they were routed. Like Fountain Square and the Old Northside, Indy’s northwest side suffered the loss of hundreds of homes and businesses to the construction of I-65. In the past many decades, that physical division combined with a loss of public and private investment within the area has contributed a lack of connection among residents in northwest Indianapolis.
RECLAIM project co-leaders Phyllis Viola Boyd and LaShawnda Crowe Storm have teamed up to tackle the disinvestment that has made parts of the northwest side an unwelcoming place, especially for area children. Previously, the two had developed a Safe Routes to School effort for the community, through which they discovered that children were exposed more than 70 vacant spaces within a three-block radius of their school.
With RECLAIM, they hope to transform vacant spaces along corridors traveled by elementary school children into a safe pathway filled with beauty and economic opportunity. By activating vacant lots and houses with art, they hope to increase public safety, create community developmental workshops and mentorship programs that will create increased economic growth and connectivity for northwest Indianapolis.