Why I’m staying



"Home is where I want to be, but I guess I'm already there." --Talking Heads

I have a painting by my friend, coworker and local artist Kyle Herrington in my house. I look at it a dozen times a day as I run up and down the stairs for forgotten keys or toys for my son. It features a white outline of the state of Indiana floating over a semi-realistic universe of stars and nebulae painted in oil. Above the state are the words "Be Proud" and below, "not embarrassed." But right in the middle of the state is a large, five-pointed star. Lately, with everything going on in my home state, it's served as an important reminder.

Kyle Herrington created the relevant Painting for Hoosier Liberals in 2013. - PHOTO BY LISA K FETT
  • Photo by Lisa K Fett
  • Kyle Herrington created the relevant Painting for Hoosier Liberals in 2013.

Beyond current politics and national state-shaming, it seems like Indianapolis is in the middle of the great kiss-off of the decade. If you've lived here long enough, you've seen it before -- a whole bunch of sharp minds, great talents and interesting characters all independently decide to follow the same individualistic paths of thousands of other sharp minds, great talents and interesting characters across state lines to bigger cities, better opportunities, and, let's be honest, cooler surroundings.

From performance artists and painters to left-leaning columnists and community builders, the city has been hearing a lot and talking even more about why people might want to leave it, or why someplace else might seem more exciting. I'm not writing this to begrudge people their transitions or life paths. Ultimately, I'd rather celebrate the contributions that others make while they're here, whether they're short timers or lifers.

Indianapolis can't be about the people who have left. It's about the people who are here now and the people who want to build, experiment and develop this town into what we want it to be. I've had a lot of friends leave. I've had friends leave to come back. I've had friends leave to come back only to leave again.

The beauty of marking a city's history by when your dearest friends departed it is that you can see how much it's grown in the short time that they've been away. And the changes are even more apparent when they return for visits.

The restaurants that we used to think were amazing are now kind of bland compared to the explosion of culinary delights this town offers. Where there used to be a couple of gallery openings I wanted to go to each year, there are now world-class openings almost every month. I can't even keep up with all the music being created locally, but it feels like home.

People coming and going is nothing new for Indy. Ben Shine doesn't begrudge them, but he's here to stay. - COURTESY OF BEN SHINE
  • Courtesy of Ben Shine
  • People coming and going is nothing new for Indy. Ben Shine doesn't begrudge them, but he's here to stay.

But it's not even about that stuff. Indianapolis is never going to be Austin, Boston, Portland or New York. That shouldn't be our goal anyway. But we’ve always had a sort of insecurity that I think holds us back.

Those of us that are here should seek to improve upon what's good and address the things that aren't. In a small city like Indy, you can have influence. You can get a platform comparatively easily. You can introduce difficult topics and ask people to help you work on them. You can have a crazy idea and at least get a few people on board.

Some things never change. Some Hoosier pride from Indiana’s own The Gizmos.

I have an idea. Let's go against our nature and take this opportunity to not mourn or debase what's lost. Let's put that energy forward and create something together.

Let's hear it from you, too. Let's take this opportunity to share what connects us to Indianapolis the most in our comments and Facebook page ...

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