Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I love Indianapolis

Posted By on Wed, Apr 24, 2013 at 9:08 AM

click to enlarge ashleybusstop1small.jpeg

As much fighting as I did when crash-landing here, I must admit, I love this place. I never once, in my life, envisioned living in Indianapolis, putting down roots, learning to love. In fact, had you offered to pay me to be here even three years ago, I would've turned you down and laughed in your face. I was made for bigger and better, for flashier and more progressive. Or so I thought.

I had a friend tell me once, just a month after coming to the realization that I was going to be in Indy longer than expected, that this city is a place where you can be a part of the change, that you can be the catalyst for it and that you can have big ideas and see them to fruition. "Why go to a city like Denver, where all of the work has been done for you, when you can root yourself here and transform the city the way you envision?"

I immediately began contemplating what those things were that I loved so much about all of these other cities I lived in over the years.

And this is why I chose to get rid of my car.

When I first started writing about transit in Indy, I thought I would write mostly comedic stories that poked fun at the city. I thought that it would put me in a place to mock the daily interactions and the incapability of the city's only public transit system. I thought that I was somehow better than these people and this place and being able to voice that publically would keep me an outsider who never really had to claim this city as her own.

What I didn't think was that I would grow to care so much about the issue. That these comedic interactions would become a part of my being, that I would fall in love with the capability of the city's transportation system and that I would devote a large part of my free time to fight for the cause.

I find myself deep in the discussion purely by chance, and I have learned a lot along the way.

In this time, I have come to realize how critical improvements are for our community. The more involved I'm becoming in the discussion, the more I'm falling in love and devoting myself to it. All of a sudden I am seeing a whole side of it that I didn't know existed and appreciating it in different ways. The same is true about my feelings for Indianapolis.

However, I have learned enough to know that if we do not make investments in this city, like public transit, the city will become stagnate. A decision to say no to improvements like public transit, is saying that we are OK with failing, with hitting our plateau and being OK with status quo. I don't believe Indianapolis is that kind of city. I don't think that the people I meet every day, the ones fighting for their own causes, think that status quo is a good place to be.

If the transit bill doesn't eventually pass, it's not the end of the world, but it is a huge blow to the future of our city. Thirty years ago, community leaders began investing in Downtown, to revitalize and bring life back to the core. Had these decisions not been made, we wouldn't have Lucas Oil Stadium, the Cultural Trail, your favorite bar or restaurant. It would be the forgotten "Naptown" still, and the city would've died. I hear that even back then people fought against the investments because they didn't want to pay for something they wouldn't use. You have to see the humor in that, right?

It's often said that Indianapolis is full of people who want to help people, true Midwestern hospitality. It's clear that people want to invest in things that allow people to improve their standard of living, improve their situation, improve jobs, improve education and make this city a better and more self-sufficient one. Isn't the best public investment the one with the highest return that benefits Indianapolis at large?

So transit has unintentionally become my cause. Whatever your cause, whatever you believe makes this city better — more innovative, progressive, world-class — do it. Because you can. Because it's 2013 in Indianapolis, a city with proud citizens who clearly have things to fight for and are fortunate enough to have a platform to do so. I don't want to see Indianapolis plateau or stuck in the status quo. If we are going to improve this city for future generations and development, the time is now.

In the words of Cole, one of my fellow transit and Indianapolis-loving friends, "We have to start living like this place is important and exhilarating and not to be missed." Because it is.

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Ashley Kimmel

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