Indianapolis Leaders Plan First Open Streets in 2013
By Mary Lauran Hall on February 13, 2013
If your city or town closed several miles of local streets to car traffic for one day, how would you want to use that open space?
That’s the question that Indianapolis leaders pondered during a daylong Open Streets Project workshop last month.
During the workshop, more than 15 organizations and agencies — ranging from a local art non-profit to the Indiana State Department of Health — came together to kick off the planning process for Indianapolis’s first Open Streets event. The upcoming event will be the second such initiative in the state.
We offered the workshop in Indianapolis as part of the Open Streets Project’s new technical assistance program. Our technical assistance services help organizations and leaders mount successful campaigns to envision, plan, market, and implement open streets events.
The morning started off with an introduction to Open Streets and the growth of initiatives across North America in the last 5 years. While some participants had never heard of Open Streets before the meeting, everyone left with an understanding of the initiatives and a desire to kick-start an event in Indianapolis this year.
Participants then broke into small groups and began brainstorming what they would like to see at Open Streets in Indianapolis. Answers included activities that would appeal to a variety of age groups and interests: yoga and dance classes, walking tours of neighborhoods along the route, healthy cooking classes and activities highlighting the unique features of Indianapolis’ neighborhoods.
Participants also used the morning session to think about potential stakeholders and partners who could help make Open Streets a reality in Indianapolis. Before lunch, each group shared their vision for a local Open Streets event, creating a collective vision to serve as a guide for the rest of the day.
In the afternoon, we created a clear set of goals for the planning process and determined next steps. The workshop again split into small groups, each focusing on one key area of planning: marketing, logistics, outreach and development. Each breakout group created goals and timelines for their work. By the end of the day, participants had formed permanent sub-committees and an Executive Committee with representation from each subgroup.
“We’re very excited about launching an Open Streets initiative in Indianapolis, and we’ve benefited tremendously from the resources and reports available through the Open Streets Project,” said Kim Irwin, Executive Director of Alliance member organization Alliance for Health Promotion. “We’ve been working closely with Open Streets Project staff over the past several months [to create this workshop]. They have been invaluable in providing guidance and the technical assistance we’ve needed to move our planning process forward and set us up for long term success.”
The one-day workshop was just the beginning for Indianapolis. Once leaders follow the steps to make Indianapolis’s first Open Streets event a reality, the city will join a growing number of North American cities that are opening their streets and creating spaces for people.
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