People Make the Place: My Personal Homecoming

People make the place.  My parents demonstrated great skill with this.  They created a feel of home in the dozen or more residences our family occupied in and around Indianapolis.  When the time came to make my own home, after four years of school in Bloomington, exploration landed me in the Pacific Northwest for eight years.  Family and a need for relaxation placed me on the Carolina coast for a few more following that.  Utterly captivating was the endless natural beauty that surrounded me.  But the personalities and convictions of people I met along the way have made the most lasting impression.  Calling Indy home again since last summer has reminded me that our local population is what truly makes this city one of America's best.

Rediscovering my hometown after over a decade abroad has been nothing short of thrilling.  Pride for our communities grows in every neighborhood.  Driving forces behind the momentum are groups like PUP (People for Urban Progress), Big Car, ROW (Reconnecting to Our Waterways) and The Patachou Foundation to mention only a few.  Their efforts have steadily enhanced the local quality of life for people.  I have been lucky to become directly involved with PUP and Big Car since moving back.  Through my work with them it is easy to attest to the sense of family that the individuals behind these organizations create.       

I serendipitously met PUP at Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago.  Since then they have included me in their devotion to our city.  At times it has led to spending as much time around the Hoosier Dome fabric as some former Colts players.  But our embodiment of a replicable model for conscious branding and post-industrial salvage expands beyond the material.  Together we have worked to employ rehabilitated offenders from RecycleForce, another outstanding local organization, in production processes.   This achieves the lofty goal of making jobs for an under-utilized division of the labor force.  Projects like this only scratch the surface of our commitment to Indy.

Big Car is a similarly progressive assemblage of regional activists.  Our quest for improved community engagement focuses on the resource of culture.  With the aid of overwhelming financial and volunteer support our team creates experiences citywide aimed at promoting creativity, self-expression and reflection.  These collective efforts hope to inspire greatness in people regardless of background or social status.  Response to our accomplishments has proven positive.

Organizations such as these are admirable because they recognize the potential of our city.  They celebrate the personal narratives attached to objects, places and individuals.  Their ideas generate national attention by expanding the possibilities of community sustainability.  Moreover they are acting stewards who take on great social and environmental responsibilities. Without them who would provide these services that our citizens benefit from?  Please appreciate the fact that groups like these not only deserve but require our support.  See in them the importance they see in you.


Drew Ballengee is one of PUP's Key Volunteers and an integral part of the processing of our materials. Not only does Drew bring a fresh energy to our shop but our dreams of bringing the  Fabrik Bank to life wouldn't be possible without him. Originally from Indiana, he has lived and worked in the PNW and North Carolina in many community roles.  His work with Big Car helped them open the Garfield Park Tube Factory art space. By helped we mean he literally built the walls.