The Indy Experience

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When people experience cities, they experience them emotionally. They talk about them emotionally. They leave Vancouver, Chicago and San Francisco talking about how the city made them feel. They consider the restaurants they chose or what they saw along a walk. Or if they were in New York City, perhaps, they recall the music they heard underground on the Subway. People think, talk about and experience cities with their feelings, but traditionally we plan cities with thought -- mathematical and physical considerations. But perhaps not as "thoughtfully" as we should. People's relationships with Indy are often functional. They say "it's a great place to raise a family" and it's "where I'm from." This opposed to the emotional connection and pride people from other cities feel. This additional layer on top of choosing where you live and visit is love. We love our favorite places. We love our cities. And there are proven, best practiced ways to foster that feeling of love for a place. Sometimes it's called quality of life. For Indy, we'll call it love.  

The Soul of the Community is a study via the James L. Knight Foundation that found out what makes people love their places. Beyond our basic needs, such as being safe and having enough food, the top three factors that attach people to their place are aesthetics, openness and social offerings. Peter Kageyama, in his book For the Love of Cities, discusses that senses arousal -- like smelling flowers or seeing a building design that catches the eye -- also contribute to emotional attachment to a place. Wild Oats and Android report that we value beautiful things precisely for their ability to make us feel good. This is true in architecture and housing as well as art and nature. We recognize a thing of beauty because of the way it makes us feel. Indy has pockets of beauty and amazing public art; however, it's not around every corner and, unforturnately, excellent design is not our standard.

COURTESY PLAN 2020
  • Courtesy Plan 2020

Walker Research together with Indy Hub conducted a study on the loyalty young professionals feel toward their city. They found that respondents who are truly loyal to Indy (54%) have a higher satisfaction level with their social life and access to cultural happenings. When people thought about places that are vibrant and fun, they considered cities with ample attractions and activities. Indy has an amazing array of cultural opportunities, but there's not a comprehensive means of finding out what those offerings are. Residents want to be more aware so they can participate. And, they want to participate in their own neighborhoods. One comment from Mind Mixer reports, "It often seems like I don't find out about an event until it is too late to register, or after the fact. Also, with all the web sites and social media options, it is impossible to keep track of all of them."

The Plan 2020 team celebrated their accomplishments from 2014 at a holiday party Thursday evening, Dec. 18th. The goals Love Indy has put forward are built upon these most important factors -- social offerings, beauty and more gathering places. The promise is, basically, that people will choose Indy because they have access to more places, because they can participate more in cultural offerings and because they can live in a beautiful place, among other things. It's awesome that we're basically saying that as a city, we will become more artfully inclined via cultural offerings and better design and preservation of architecture.

We'll have more outdoor cafés, more functional art and more ways to connect with our sister cities. We'll be a more playful, vibrant city. People essentially purchase places based on their emotions for it. We know that, and we think we're starting to get it right. Do you agree? I'd like to hear your thoughts.

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