2013 CVAs: The Indianapolis Cultural Trail: A Legacy of Gene and Marilyn Glick 

click to enlarge Brian Payne, president of Central Indiana Community Foundation - MICHELLE CRAIG
  • Brian Payne, president of Central Indiana Community Foundation
  • Michelle Craig

Editors note: A ceremony to honor all 2013 CVA honorees will take place at Indiana Landmarks Center, Friday, starting at 6 p.m. with a reception. The ceremony will begin at 7:15 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Brian Payne, the founding visionary behind the Indianapolis Cultural Trail: A Legacy of Gene and Marilyn Glick, feels Indianapolis a city where you can have big ideas and people might help you make them happen.

Payne had become a vocal advocate, as a board member of the city's Cultural Development Commission, for the city's newly designated Cultural Districts. The districts, though, had a problem. They felt disconnected from one another.

Payne had taken up bicycling with his young son. He loved the energy and enthusiasm being generated by the Monon Trail.

Payne's experience on the Monon enabled him to see how a network of bike and pedestrian trails could not only connect Indy's Cultural Districts, but reinvigorate peoples' perceptions of their city.

Payne began talking with people. By his estimate, he took part in over 100 one-on-one conversations with different folks, soliciting their ideas and conveying his passion for the project. It took time. But Payne's persistence paid off, inspiring the buy-in from donors necessary to establish the project's credibility.

Ground was broken on the first leg of the trail in April 2007. The trail not only became a hub for existing and planned greenways, it also linked virtually all of Downtown's arts, cultural heritage, sports and entertainment venues. But Payne and his collaborators soon realized their project was about more than connectivity. "One of the guiding principles, up front, was for the trail to position Indianapolis as a progressive, innovative and creative city in the 21st century," he says.

Design became a leading element. "We felt that a really beautiful level of landscaping was going to be important," adds Payne. "I always figured that my favorite parts of the trail would be wherever the coolest buildings are. Now I find that my favorite parts are where the landscaping is most plush."

Over the years, as the trail has taken shape, it has helped raise the city's game when it comes to how we think about our built environment. "As the Monon created the opportunity for the trail, the trail has created an opportunity for other things," says Payne. "It emboldens people to take their ideas to another level."

For Payne, as for many of the rest of us, the trail has changed how we think about Indianapolis. "My understanding of complete streets and connectivity and place-making - I've learned much of that through the trail experience," he says. "The trail taught me. The trail became the basis for knowledge and philosophy, not the other way around."

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