Thinking New

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This is the month of setting goals, realizing dreams and determining visions, right?  It can also be a month for setting out to think about things differently too. I think that when we become more diverse in our daily lives, we broaden our horizons and expand our perspective. That's how we become a more culturally inclusive city -- we realize, individually, that we see things not as they are but as we are. No one needs another list of things to do but here are just a few things to consider in 2015.

Mali challenges readers to think about Indianapolis and all it could be if everyone were more civically engaged. - COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
  • Mali challenges readers to think about Indianapolis and all it could be if everyone were more civically engaged.

Think about how to support new local artists. I'm going to see my nephew rap or sing -- I'm not sure which one -- at a place called WestGate on Indy's west side tomorrow night. I didn't even know this venue existed, but there are at least 15 artists performing, a lot of whom are under 21. He invited fans via his Facebook, and I thought wow, I'm more engaged into our arts scene than the average Hoosier, but I've never heard of this place or these artists.  What does that say about me? And more, what does that say about the future of their careers and fan base in Indy?  Clearly there is an entire world of people who book venues and have shows and get sponsors but stay completely under the mainstream radar. Let's think about what that means.

And while we're considering that, let's think about Indianapolis and what would happen if we become more civically engaged. It's more apparent than ever, to me, that our city is what we make it. If you want to see a change made, make it. Join a board or try to sit on a committee at an organization with a mission in which you identify. We can't complain about a local music scene or emerging fine artists if we don't support local shows. How can we become more engaged and embedded into what makes the city work?

One opportunity I'm particularly interested in for 2015 is attending Courageous Conversations offered by Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center. Their convos on race and culture help to lend new perspectives so that we see the world differently. "We hope that residents from across the city will come together to engage in these open, thoughtful discussions. We know that each participant will walk away with a deeper understanding of each topic and how it affects their communities" says community organization INRC.

The last item I'm pondering is sparked by Indy-based spoken word artist, Tony Styxx.  Months ago, Styxx texted me and said (paraphrasing), "I'm walking to Monument Circle and I'm going to perform during the lunch break."  Quickly, I gathered a few coworkers and we walked to the Circle to meet him and watch while we ate. It was phenomenal. Not only the performance but the drive of the artist was phenomenal. He didn't have a mic, he didn't have a plan. He even messed up once or twice and just started again. People stopped what they were doing and sat, listened. This, I thought, is what makes Indy awesome. It's the people. It's how we impact each other and the small connections we make.  What I want for 2015 is for each of us to consider the individual artists like Tony Styxx, for example, and think about how we can support what they want out of Indy and what they're making Indy become -- more vibrant, more culturally interesting, just ... better. Here's to a magical new year.

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