BY MEGAN FURST
Wolf Park • wolfpark.org/summer-camps
Wolf Park, an education, conservation and research facility located in Battle Ground, offers Summer Science and Art & Enrichment camps for children of all ages.
Two-day camps are arranged for grades K-8 and vary by theme, date and age group. For example, children in grades 4-5 will explore ecosystems, and children in grades K-1 will learn about the wonders of wildlife in their backyards and beyond.
Education and Advocacy Director Christopher Lile says, “Wolf Park’s summer camps provide a unique opportunity for youth to connect to the rich history of Indiana’s wildlife. Campers learn about wildlife conservation, animal husbandry and how to become wildlife advocates through engaging games, crafts and activities.”
There also are opportunities for teens ages 14-17 to be wildlife advocates in an 8-week volunteer program geared for those interested in pursuing a career in wildlife. An additional opportunity, called Junior Keeper Camp, is a 2-day experience that introduces youth to the field of wildlife conservation where campers will carry out daily keeper duties at Wolf Park.
Lastly, new this summer is Art & Enrichment Camp for grades K-8. Campers will use their artistic skills through nature and conservation-themed projects. The projects will serve as enrichment for several of the animal ambassadors throughout Wolf Park.
“All youth programs focus on empowering the next generation of conservation champions — their voices are essential to ‘Save Wolves, Save Wilderness,’ ” Lile says.
Dance Moves & Gymnastics (DMG) • flipdmg.com/camps
Dance Moves & Gymnastics, also known as DMG, is on Meijer Drive in Lafayette and offers several different summer camp options.
Dance Director & Marketing Manager Kaitlyn Williams says, “DMG is the place to be for summer camps, starting at age 18 months with Mommy and Me camps though school-age children.”
Three-day camps feature different themes including princess, adventure island, jungle gym and Olympic dreams. One-day Mommy and Me camps also are themed and geared for toddlers from 18 months to 3 years old.
“We have dance, gymnastics and baton twirling with fun performances. Come help us celebrate 40 years of DMG this summer,” says Williams.
For youth interested in cheerleading or baton twirling, campers have the opportunity to perform at a Lafayette Aviators baseball game at Loeb Stadium. Registration for all DMG summer camps begins in April.
Greater Lafayette Commerce Robotics in Manufacturing
Organized by Greater Lafayette Commerce and in partnership with local Boys & Girls Clubs, Robotics in Manufacturing Camp provides week-long day camp sessions to area students in grades 1-8. Sessions vary by location and grade, but all focus on educating youth about the applications of new technology in modern manufacturing.
Workforce Development Director Kara Webb says, “Robotics in Manufacturing Camp is a great summer activity for campers in our region. Campers develop and grow in their knowledge of coding and programming in a fun environment with robotics, 3D printers and more. We bring in local industry at the camps as well.”
A typical day at camp rotates children through stations that build upon what they learned the day before. Stations will cover EV3 robots, Sphero robots, littleBits, 3D printing, Scratch coding software and more. It’s a great way to get hands-on with manufacturing skills and processes while meeting local manufacturers.
“Campers get to engage with local manufacturing and logistics employers to learn about what is created and produced in their backyard, and what careers they have in the industry,” Webb explains. “I’m always fascinated by how creative and innovative the campers are!”
Civic Youth Summer Theatre • lafayettecivic.org/camps
Civic Theatre in Greater Lafayette hosts a number of camps serving youth interested in choreography, singing, acting, musical theatre, improvisation, design and performance. This summer, Civic Theatre has planned the following camps: Choreography; Theatre Intensive; Rising Stars Camp: Moana’s Island Vibes; Out of the Box; and Curtains Up Camp: Disney’s Moana, Jr.
“Summer camps with Civic Theatre are incredible opportunities for kids to develop performance skills and theatre knowledge in a fun and team-focused environment. The most beneficial takeaways the campers have shared have been the friendships, sense of accomplishment and self-confidence gained from working together towards a common goal,” says Julie Baumann, director of education and outreach.
As an example, the Curtains Up Camp will prepare camp participants for a final, full-scale production of “Moana, Jr.” with lights, sound and costumes. Technical crew members are also needed for this production. Interested teens should email Julie at email@example.com for possible tech crew openings. Positions include set construction, sound board operators and backstage crew members.
Wild About Horses • wildabouthorses.net/summer-camp-2018
Wild About Horses Equestrian Center, located in West Point, was established in 1998 by Pam Bowen Gibson. She focuses on teaching the fundamentals of a balanced rider through horsemanship, partnership on the ground, kindness and respect for horses.
Her summer camp program, going on 24 years now, includes two lessons per day in this week-long camp. The week concludes with a Friday afternoon horse show, open to camper families and friends. Children ages 7 and older are welcome and are encouraged to bring a change of clothes and boots.
Lafayette Parks and Recreation Department
lafayette.in.gov • columbianparkzoo.org
McAllister Center Summer Camp: Children ages 6-12 are welcome to the McAllister Center each summer for day camp full of fun activities. Campers go on field trips to the City of Lafayette’s aquatic facilities and parks. They’re also able to visit the movie theater and bowling alley.
Registration is available in weekly sessions, and there are discounts for households with multiple campers. Before and after care services are included in the weekly fees, and a junior counselor program is an option for 13-14 year-olds.
Columbian Park Zoo Camp: Zoo day camp programs are planned for children ages 3-14 with a variety of themes and schedules. Zoo Cub mini-camp is organized for children ages 3-4 in three-day sessions. Preschoolers experience hands-on animal encounters, games, crafts and other activities. Children also enjoy supervised outings to zoo exhibits.
Learning Adventures Camps are offered to three different age groups: ages 5-7, ages 8-11 and ages 12-14. The learning camps highlight nature-based topics alongside hands-on activities and animal
encounters. Behind-the-scenes tours are a popular addition to zoo camp as well as games, crafts and STEM activities.
The campers in the oldest age group get an inside look at what it’s like being a zookeeper. This unique week-long day camp has been offered at the Columbian Park Zoo for over a decade, and it’s perfect for those interested in animal-related careers. Campers work alongside staff zookeepers and gain experience with public speaking in front of small groups of zoo visitors.
West Lafayette Parks and Recreation Department
West Lafayette Wellness Center Summer Camp: After celebrating its one-year anniversary since opening, the West Lafayette Wellness Center is ready to host campers for a second summer. Children ages 6-11 participate in this day camp for one-week sessions. Campers get to make a splash in the indoor pool, participate in both indoor and outdoor sports and games, create crafts, go on field trips and enjoy special guest speakers.
Lilly Nature Center Camp: In addition to the camp held at the wellness center, the West Lafayette Parks and Recreation Department is also hosting a new summer camp at the Lilly Nature Center off Lindberg Road. Children will explore a new, nature-themed day camp for each week-long session. Session themes cover such topics as insects, wildlife, plants and geology.
Head Camper Program: Area teens ages 13-15 are invited to apply for a new Head Camper Program at the West Lafayette Wellness Center. Participants will gain leadership skills and work experience in a day camp setting. Head campers have to undergo an interview process and must be responsible, enthusiastic, reliable and be willing to serve as role models to the younger campers.
Boiler Kids Camp • purdue.edu/recwell/sports-and-programs
After a two-year hiatus due to Purdue’s COVID-19 policies, Boiler Kids Camp is returning this summer at Purdue RecWell. Youth ages 5-12 register for week-long sessions.
Activities include rock climbing, swimming, arts and crafts, cooking, games and visits to on-campus landmarks. Before and after care services are included, and both RecWell members and non-members are welcome.
YMCA – Camp Tecumseh • camptecumseh.org
Located on the banks of the Tippecanoe River in Brookston sits Camp Tecumseh. There are a variety of camp options for kids ages 5-12, including overnight, equestrian and day camps as well as adventure trips.
Summer day camps are themed, week-long sessions full of planned activities that include games, horseback riding, swimming, arts and crafts, archery, obstacle courses, fishing, nature adventures and more. With more than 600 acres to explore through trails, lakes and pools, there’s opportunity for a new adventure every day in this faith-based environment led by expertly trained counselors.
YMCA – Straight Arrow Day Camp • lafayettefamilyymca.org
The YMCA hosts the Straight Arrow Day Camp just outside Lafayette at Camp Treece for weekly sessions during the summer. Camp sessions are themed with related activities that include swimming, canoeing, arts and crafts, archery, obstacle courses and team building.
Campers are divided into age groups: Preschool Camp for ages 3-5, Regular Camp for ages 5-9 and Youth in Action overnight camp for ages 10-12. Straight Arrow Day Camp also offers a Junior Counselor Camp for youth ages 13-15.
Bus transportation is provided for pick-up and drop-off from the YMCA. Additionally, a pick-up and drop-off site is available at West Lafayette Elementary School. ★
BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
Everyone deserves a second chance. But for individuals in recovery from addiction, second chances can be hard to come by. A grant-funded partnership between Phoenix Recovery Solutions, a division of Phoenix Paramedic Solutions, and Valley Oaks Health provides peer-based recovery support to individuals struggling with issues related to substance abuse, mental health or homelessness.
“Our certified peer recovery coaches have lived experience and are in recovery from mental health or substance use themselves,” says Jason Padgett, the director of marketing solutions for Phoenix and one of the founding members of its quick response team (QRT), which facilitates the second chance program with support from the statewide Indiana Workforce Recovery Initiative. The QRT, which includes a warm line staffed 24/7, services nine counties: Tippecanoe, White, Jasper, Cass, Carroll, Benton, Newton, Fulton and Pulaski.
“As a person in recovery myself, I didn’t have many choices when I entered recovery 16 years ago for alcoholism,” Padgett says. “Alcoholics Anonymous has saved millions of lives, but recovery is not a one-size-fits-all journey. The beauty of peer support is that unlike saying ‘this is how I did it, you’re going to follow my same path,’ a peer recovery coach takes the view that your journey is your journey. We’re here to help show you your options and support you on your journey by connecting you to community resources. It’s up to you to decide what route to recovery you want to explore.”
One of the biggest challenges for persons in recovery is maintaining employment. Although the Americans with Disabilities Act protects addicts in recovery from a substance use disorder, relapses — not uncommon on the path to recovery — can lead to a positive drug screen, tardiness or missed work, which can lead to dismissal. Embracing a Second Chance Workforce, a new program offered by Phoenix QRT and Greater Lafayette Commerce, seeks to educate and empower businesses on how to support employees through addiction recovery.
“Our goal is to partner with local corporations, particularly manufacturing but any industry, to refer employees who test positive on a drug screen or are having trouble with mental health or substance abuse issues,” Padgett says. “The companies would contract with us to assign a peer recovery specialist to support that individual on their recovery journey. That allows the company to retain the individual on its workforce, which is much cheaper than hiring and training a new employee. There are tax incentives for companies that embrace second chance policies.”
A Lunch and Learn panel discussion held in April featured representatives from companies that embrace second chance policies geared toward people in recovery as well as individuals with felony records. As a follow up, a second chance career fair is scheduled from 1-7 p.m. May 18 at the Tippecanoe County Fairgrounds. In addition to showcasing companies embracing second chance policies, the career fair will also have representatives from community social service organizations.
“We want everyone who comes to the career fair to have access to every community resource they could possibly need,” Padgett says. “From peer support to treatment to ongoing education, they can even get help creating a resume or practice interviewing to make them comfortable speaking with potential employers.”
Holding a job is a large part of an individual’s recovery capital, the internal and external resources that can initiate and sustain long-term recovery. Phoenix, which embraces felony-friendly hiring and employs several individuals in recovery in addition to Padgett, will be among the employers represented at the career fair.
“I’ve had a relapse in recovery and I was supported by my employer,” Padgett says. “It meant the world to me. A bump in the road doesn’t have to mean going all the way back down to the bottom and starting at zero again.” ★
BY KAT BRAZ
The night of April 14, 2004, seems like a lifetime ago to Donte Wilburn, the Lafayette businessman honored as the 2021 entrepreneur of the year by the Indiana Small Business Development Center. That night, Wilburn, then 22 years old and a junior at Purdue University, sped through the streets of Lafayette, desperate to get his friend to the emergency room. The two had just been involved in a drug deal gone bad. Wilburn’s friend was shot four times.
“That night altered my life forever,” Wilburn says. “I had been living a dual life since I was in 10th grade at Harrison High School and someone taught me how to sell drugs. I continued selling in college, but that night was supposed to be my last big drug deal. I could have died.”
Wilburn’s friend survived the gunshot wounds. And eight months later, Wilburn pled guilty to conspiracy to deal marijuana, a Class D felony. He was sentenced to three years of community corrections. He went to jail but was allowed to leave to attend school and work. The only place that would hire him with his felony record was a local carwash. During that time, he earned his bachelor’s degree from Purdue.
“Underneath my graduation gown I was wearing an ankle monitor,” Wilburn says. “I asked the correctional officers if I could have one hour after graduation and they gave it to me. I took my girlfriend to Logan’s steakhouse and proposed to her. Before the food came out, I had to go back to jail.”
As a graduate and newlywed, Wilburn threw himself into his work. He wasn’t afraid of hard work, but he didn’t like what he saw in the carwash industry. Employees were paid minimum wage for grueling labor. They were treated poorly and looked down upon.
“I was complaining and thinking, ‘I’ve got to get out of here,’ ” Wilburn says. “Then I heard a small, still voice tell me, ‘Ya know, if you don’t like it, change the industry.’ ”
And that’s what he set out to do. He became a system manager and when that company closed down, he went to clean cars for Mike Raisor Automotive Group. In 2011, Raisor gave Wilburn the opportunity to reopen Premier Auto Detailing. Wilburn and his father renovated the facility, which opened on November 1, 2011, with 13 employees. Impressed with Wilburn’s tenacity and leadership in the company, Raisor offered to sell him the business and the property. Wilburn closed the deal in 2018 and became owner of Premier.
“When Mike told me he was going to sell me the business, I broke down and cried,” Wilburn says. “There were a lot of trying times, but God came to me and showed me a grand vision of how he would bless me if I blessed the people in this industry. When Mike says those words, ‘I’m selling you this company,’ I realized that the vision I had in the middle of the night in 2008 was real. It was unbelievable.”
Wilburn continued to grow the business and opened a second location in Kokomo in 2020. He now has dreams of franchising 50 locations throughout the country. In 2021, he became one of four new owners of the Legacy Courts sports complex in West Lafayette. The partners have expansion plans to create a Legacy Park that includes fields for baseball and soccer in addition to its indoor basketball courts. Wilburn and his father also invest in real estate.
Nearly 20 years after that fateful night, Wilburn can hardly believe his good fortune. He and his wife, Tesha, are the parents of three children: Trinity, 13; Titus, 10; and Truitt, 4. Wilburn never had big dreams growing up. He certainly never imagined the life he leads now.
“If one shifts their direction, it alters their destination,” Wilburn says. “If I would have known the opportunities and possibilities that lay before me when I was 18, where would I be now? My goal is to live a life that inspires others to come behind me. I want to give them hope that no matter how bad your situation is, you can come up out of it. I want my children to know that whatever they dream, they can attain.” ★
BY CINDY GERLACH
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
COLLAGE PHOTOS PROVIDED
A small name change can go a long way. For The Arts Federation — known locally as TAF — the removal of Tippecanoe actually means more gains than losses.
Tetia Lee, TAF executive director, says the name has always caused a little bit of confusion. People have been known to refer to “Taft,” she says. Or when she’s out in the field, working with artists in other counties, the Tippecanoe label seemed to fall a little flat.
Because as a Regional Arts Partner of the Indiana Arts Commission, TAF serves more than half a million residents in a 14-county area in north-central Indiana, the largest geographic area in the state. It’s much more than Tippecanoe County, and the time had come for the name to truly reflect that.
Thus with this rebranding, The Arts Federation helps to more accurately represent the counties represented by Region 4.
Since 1997, TAF has provided support for artists and is the umbrella organization for more than 200 different member organizations. This encompasses everything from vocal and instrumental music organizations — large established ones such as the Wabash Valley Youth Symphony, or smaller ones like the Jazz Club — as well as individual artists — painters, sculptors, weavers or writers. Even performance venues such as the Long Center for the Performing Arts are members, using TAF services to help them network and reach their audience, or expand to a new one.
TAF provides a physical home for those groups who need it, in their newly renovated facility, the Wells Community Cultural Center on North Street in downtown Lafayette.
The building has large and small meeting spaces, a dance studio, recording studio and craft space. TAF offers after-school arts programming for children of all ages.
Financial support also is available to member organizations, as TAF helps administer a series of grants, both state and federally funded, both for operating and project support, to its members.
The whole change began with a website redesign, Lee says. The organization knew it needed to update the site, make it more user-friendly, for ease of access.
“Our greatest change, we knew we would be overhauling our website to make it more beneficial and add some widgets,” Lee says. “We knew we wanted to do a rebrand.”
As they began to go through their style guide, emphasis fell back on the logo, which, Lee had known for a long time was less than ideal. With its multiple elements, it tried a little too hard to
represent too much, says Lee.
And a market test found that people found the old logo unrelatable. “People thought we were a manufacturing company,” Lee says.
“It was a printer’s nightmare,” Lee says. “No one would even embroider it for us.” The new logo, a more simplistic yet visually appealing design, represents the arts with a sleeker, more cohesive look.
New logo, new name — sort of — yet the same mission. And best of all, the acronym TAF is still accurate, so there’s no learning curve for longtime members. This rebranding will help better spread this message to the people TAF wishes to serve. And in the end, the new name better represents TAF’s mission and its outreach to the entire region.
“When I was out in the field, it was hard to gain trust because we had Tippecanoe in the name,” Lee says. “We are a regional arts organization.
We want everything to reflect our focus.” ★
BY KAT BRAZ
Any season is the ideal season to linger over a scrumptious brunch. Perfect for celebrating a special occasion, catching up with friends or cozying up with a good book, the leisurely atmosphere of brunch invites you to tarry a while. Whether you’re in the mood for sweet delights or savory noshes,
Greater Lafayette boasts a bevy of brunch options. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite local restaurants to indulge in seriously delicious Sunday eats (and drinks!).
201 Grant St., West Lafayette
If you’ve yet to check out 8Eleven, the culinary anchor of the recently remodeled Union Club Hotel at Purdue University, brunch is a great place to start. Its intimate setting preserved the historic building’s vintage oak paneling, sweeping Gothic windows and original stone fireplace. Soak up the classy aura as you savor farm-inspired cocktails and classic American dishes with a few French signatures.
What to try: The croque madame is sinfully delicious. The menu lists it under handhelds, but with all that silky mornay sauce, you’re going to need a fork. The nearby Boiler Up bar enhances its craft cocktails with fresh garnishes provided by the College of Agriculture. Go ahead, make it a double.
Black Sparrow Pub
223 Main St., Lafayette
Don’t be surprised to encounter a line of people waiting to dine at the Sparrow’s legendary brunch. The eclectic pub known for a mastery of craft cocktails and innovative bar food opens on the last Sunday of the month to serve up a hearty brunch. The menu changes every month and is often themed. Past brunches celebrated Lunar New Year, St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo and Oktoberfest.
What to try: The frequently featured French toast with inventive toppings (think strawberry Baileys or baklava) is sure to please. You can’t go wrong sipping a greyhound. It’s half grapefruit juice so that counts as a serving of fruit, right?
501 Main St., Lafayette
This airy upmarket bistro has anchored the downtown brunch scene for many years, serving up French-inspired fare that highlights local ingredients. Executive chef Cheyenne Buckley changes the menu with the seasons so there are always new flavor combinations to explore. Reservations recommended.
What to try: The waffle Monte Cristo with blackberry maple dip offers an imaginative twist on an old brunch favorite. A delectable menu of boozy cocktails and virgin mocktails will keep you refreshed.
Cellar Wine Bistro
1001 Main St., Lafayette
Open for brunch on the first and third Sundays of the month, the inviting ambiance at Cellar Wine Bistro creates a relaxing brunch vibe. The much-coveted window table for two allows you to watch the world go by as you dine. Chef Ethan Wise enjoys introducing atypical menu items that showcase global flavors. Reservations accepted.
What to try: For an intense
flavor explosion order the okonomiyaki, a cabbage and sweet potato pancake topped with marinated pork shoulder and a poached egg. Mimosas are a must at the area’s premier wine bar.
526 Main St., Lafayette
Billed as a casual, upscale eatery featuring seasonal French and New American plates, Folie may be the gem of Main Street. Though its brunch took a hiatus at the end of 2021, we look forward to its return this year. With a kitchen that focuses on classic preparation and draws inspiration from regional and global gastronomy, guests embark on a culinary adventure during every visit. Watch Folie’s Facebook page for updates on the brunch schedule. Reservations accepted.
What to try: The ever-popular plántanos fritos (fried plantains) are divine. When paired with a chelada (Mexican beer cocktail) the combo is sensational.
Fowler House Mansion
909 South St., Lafayette
The Fowler House Kitchen hosts brunch once a month on the second Sunday. Take in the grandeur of one of Lafayette’s most stately homes, built in 1852 by Moses and Eliza Fowler. Despite the opulence of the ornately carved woodwork and exquisitely crafted plasterwork throughout the Gothic Revival home, this brunch is a casual affair. The best part? Proceeds from brunch help fund the continued preservation of the Fowler House Mansion. Reservations recommended.
What to try: Though the menu is ever-rotating, a savory biscuits and gravy is a signature entrée. The bar serves both mimosas and bloody Marys.
Sixth Street Dive
827 N. Sixth St., Lafayette
This no-frills watering hole specializes in Tex-Mex and American comfort fare, and those flavors influence the weekly brunch menu as well. As Diverienos know, brunch specials here are truly innovative and unlike anything served elsewhere in town. If apple cinnamon breakfast tamales in a whiskey cream sauce won’t get you out of bed on a lazy Sunday morning, what will? 21+ only.
What to try: Anything on special. Truly. And if you’ve never experienced the decadent Canadian grub that is poutine (French fries topped with fresh cheese curds and gravy), this is a good place to be indoctrinated. Not only does the Dive serve mimosas, but they serve beermosas and margmosas, too. ★
BY KARIS PRESSLER
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
Over the past 10 years, several key moments have led Lindsay Mason, the founder and designer of French Knot, a knitwear company based in downtown Lafayette, to where she is now.
First, the moment in 2012 when Mason told her parents that she would like to start her own company after being laid off from her job as a knitwear designer.
Mason’s parents, Carol and Ken, quickly set to work helping to incorporate French Knot and then create space in their New England barn for Mason to design and ship 12,000 hand knit hats and handwarmers made in Nepal that first season.
The second key moment was French Knot’s big move from Massachusetts to Indiana in 2017 when Mason’s husband accepted a job at Purdue University. Mason felt immediately welcomed and supported by the Lafayette community even if there was, and still is, the misconception that Mason and her Lafayette team knit all of the products they sell.
“We’re not up here knitting. We’re shipping over 80,000 pieces a season from our warehouse on North Street,” Mason says with a smile and then explains how wool sourced from South Africa and New Zealand is first hand-dyed and spun into a vivid color palate before being knit using a two-needle technique. Once Mason’s designs — that include hats, mittens, headbands, scarves, sweaters and slippers — are constructed, many items are embellished with tasteful beading and intricate embroidery that echo vintage design elements from the 1920s.
So who knits these timeless French Knot designs?
Sunlight pours into Mason’s work area on a Monday morning in her office above Third Street where jewel-toned swatches of fringed yarn festoon her work station. Next to one of the swatches, a picture of Mason and a Nepali woman hugging and smiling while surrounded by finished French Knot products reminds Mason of her “why.”
“She’s like my Nepalese grandmother,” Mason says of the woman who leads one of the knitting groups in Nepal that bring Mason’s designs to life.
Mason looks at the photo. “She’s amazing.”
“We’ve probably done over 1,000 designs. She knows every single number in her head, every color, every single purchase order number… She always asks how my parents and my husband are doing.”
“We’re very tight,” Mason remarks of her connection to the Nepali knitting groups. “My favorite thing is going to visit them for the two weeks that I go over there every year. Every time we go there, we see their businesses growing.”
Mason, a graduate of Syracuse University’s Fashion and Textiles Design program, relies on her years of industry experience along with her artistic eye to create each original French Knot design that she often draws by hand before transferring to a CAD (computer-aided design) program. Mason began building rapport with Nepali artisans shortly after college, and she has maintained connection ever since.
“I started working with Nepali knitters about 15 years ago,” she says and explains how at that time most of the hand knit items coming out of Nepal often used earth-toned yarns, had boxy pattern shapes and geometric color work. But Mason’s pull toward soft and flowing vintage design coupled with the use of vibrant yarns allowed
her Nepali colleagues to create something new and
dynamic — something that French Knot buyers such as QVC, Sundance Catalog and Anthropologie have never seen or sold before.
For Mason, her mission is not just to make French Knot’s products noticeable, but to also make the story of French Knot and the way the items are hand knit, hand embroidered, hand beaded, and hand lined both memorable and lasting.
She’s worked hard to build and maintain trust, community and connection with knitting groups half a world away by ensuring that French Knot’s artisans are paid a living wage. Mason also works exclusively with suppliers who are certified in ethical and environmental practices. Likewise, she strives to maintain a sense of family among those who work beside her locally.
French Knot has become more than Mason ever imagined it could be.
This moment of reflection quickly evaporates. Mason closes several windows on her computer screen before joining Ryan Casucci, French Knot’s marketing and sales manager, to discuss upcoming social media posts, newsletters and the much-anticipated French Knot warehouse sale this winter season.
Several blocks away from Mason’s Third Street workspace, Chelsea Erhart, French Knot’s operations manager, along with the warehouse team, begin to process an order of hats that has just arrived from Nepal. The walls of the North Street warehouse are lined with pictures of French Knot’s artisans, adorned in bright colors and wearing wide smiles while knitting Mason’s designs. This shipment of hats, a design that Mason first imagined eight months ago, will be quality checked and processed before being shipped out again to buyers and boutiques throughout the United States, the UK and New Zealand. It’s a Lafayette layover for hand knit items.
“Did you know that Johnny Cash wrote a song about the Wabash River from Lafayette?” Erhart asks as the group begins to sort and inspect the shipment.
Linda Emberton looks up from a grid of hats she has arranged into groups of 10 and chimes in, “I heard that song on Jeff 92 this morning on the drive in.” Emberton then randomly selects a hat from each row to check that its size and appearance, including the size of the pom pom, meets French Knot’s specifications.
The group briefly discusses the song’s merits, illuminating the fact that this song is different from Cash’s “Wabash Cannonball,” a song about a locomotive train. Erhart taps the screen on her phone a few times until Cash’s gentle guitar fills the space and he croons, “If it wasn’t for the Wabash River, I’d be going out of my mind.” The group listens while working, some counting hats in time with the music’s beat.
This multi-generational warehouse team gathers almost daily in the fall to process and prepare French Knot’s orders for the holiday season. It’s too early for holiday music, so when Cash’s Lafayette-inspired song concludes, Erhart allows Cash’s next song, “I Walk the Line,” to play as she steps away to call a shipping company and inquire about an order of slippers that has disappeared somewhere between here and Nepal.
Jeni Rider, a Lafayette native, shares how she first learned about French Knot from the Sundance Catalog well before Mason transplanted her business to Indiana.
“I had been following Sundance. It’s the Robert Redford magazine, you know? It’s one of my favorite catalogs.”
One afternoon, Rider’s husband, Jeff, a local real estate developer, told Rider about meeting Mason while she was scouting properties in Lafayette before moving.
“Jeff just told me, ‘You might love what she does… She designs those hats that you like. ‘That’s all he said, isn’t that funny? ‘She designs those hats that you like,’” Rider laughs. But when her husband and their three daughters brought home items from French Knot’s annual warehouse sale where the public can purchase discounted seconds and samples of Mason’s designs every December, Rider knew she had to connect with Mason after seeing her products in person. Rider has been working in the French Knot warehouse ever since.
She feels passionate about French Knot’s brand because the products have heart. “It’s these women’s livelihood,” Rider says while looking at a photo of Nepali women knitting. “It’s just beauty,” she says of both the individuals who create the products and the products themselves.
Rider and Emberton gather the inspected hats and pack them into several boxes that Kelley Brakstad, an HR consultant with French Knot who also helps in the warehouse when needed, has placed in front of their work tables.
“It’s all hands on deck,” says Brakstad, who first met Mason several years ago while working at MatchBOX Coworking studio, where Mason serves on the board. “This is a small business, we do what we need, right?” Brakstad declares before disappearing to make more boxes and retrieve purchase orders.
Emberton makes notes on a purchase order pinned to a clipboard while Rider slides a box of processed hats over to the shipping station several feet away where Mason’s parents, along with shipping manager Jonas Bellini, prepare and palletize the packages.
The group continues its work throughout the morning as Mason, Casucci, and the French Knot intern Sarobbie Hagen, join the warehouse crew to help process and ship.
Hagen, a media and mass communications major at Purdue, dives in with fulfilling boutique orders.
“We got an email yesterday about one of our hats,” Hagen shares. “This woman was like, ‘I love your Josephine cloche. I have three colorways and I just bought two new colorways on QVC.’”
Hagen’s experience at French Knot has helped her appreciate how the company’s story makes its products mean something to consumers.
“You can tell that people telling our story care more. Before they’d be like, ‘These hats are from French Knot and they’re warm.’ Now, on QVC they say, ‘These French Knot hats are designed out of Lafayette, Indiana, by Lindsay Mason and made in Nepal by women artisans. They’re beautifully handcrafted.’”
It’s been a whirlwind week for Mason. “It’s getting real,” she muses. “It’s getting real real.”
Between prepping for the holiday season, designing, packing orders and fielding questions from QVC about expanding her line from just seasonal cold weather items to include springtime products, the cherry on top — or maybe it’s the pom pom on top — is French Knot’s slated appearance on a Friday morning Today Show “Warm and Cozy” segment.
Casucci and Mason shipped an assortment of French Knot items to 30 Rockefeller Plaza last week, and now they anxiously await to see what products will be featured as they gather alongside the team of local French Knot employees at Ripple & Company for coffee and donuts.
“We’ve never been on the Today Show before. This is big for us.” Mason says as they wait for the segment. The anticipation along with the caffeination elevate the atmosphere as the group chats while always keeping an eye on the TV.
Mason’s parents stand alongside Mason and her husband. They have witnessed French Knot’s growth from the very beginning — from when they outfitted the family barn to become a makeshift shipping operation, to now, a moment in time when their daughter’s art along with French Knot’s story will be broadcast on national TV.
Brakstad sets a matcha latte in front of Pam Guarino. Guarino came to work at the warehouse only a few months ago. “I’m fortunate that I’m a part of it,” Guarino says. “That I’m working here. I may not be knitting or helping to design or anything. It’s just, I’m a part of it. Getting to watch it. It’s exciting.”
Hagen agrees while looking around at her co-workers. “I don’t know how this business is just full of amazing people. Not one of these people doesn’t feel passionate about this brand.”
For Mason, this is why she does the work that she does – to create beautiful products, watch people grow alongside her, and celebrate, right here in the heart of Lafayette. For French Knot, not only does every stitch matter, but so does every person who has contributed to the company’s growth and continued success. ★
BY KAT BRAZ
PROFILE PHOTO BY CHRISTINE PETKOV, OTHERS PROVIDED
When Lauren Reed joined the staff at The Farm at Prophetstown six years ago as events and education coordinator, she had no idea her role would evolve into her dream job as an executive chef. At the time, the nonprofit Museums at Prophetstown was in the red, and Reed and then-director Leslie Conwell focused their energies on restoring livestock and crops to reinstate the working farm and attract more visitors.
“We needed to make money and I happened to have these skills as a chef, so I suggested we try holding farm-to-table dinners,” Reed says. “The first year, I did maybe five or six with 20 guests at each dinner. It took a couple of years but it’s really become a thing.”
Indeed it has. Chef Reed’s farm-to-table dinners, where diners feast on five courses while seated in various rooms of the Gibson farmhouse, are so popular that last season’s dates sold out within two days. A few dinners each year are reserved for members of the farm, and Reed also schedules private dinners for parties of 12 or more.
“To my knowledge, we’re the only organization offering farm-to-table dinners in a museum environment,” Reed says. “Serving on vintage china in a 1920s setting creates a special ambiance and memorable dining experience.”
Although the atmosphere reflects the ’20s — the farmhouse is a replica of a kit home sold via catalog by Sears, Roebuck & Co. outfitted with antique furnishings and decor — the menus decidedly do not. Reed describes the most notable dishes of the decade as “downright nasty” as they featured lots of mayonnaise, gelatinous concoctions and canned seafood. Instead, she draws inspiration from the seasonal ingredients — greens, starches and proteins — grown right there at Prophetstown or sourced from other local farms.
“I love using ingredients we produce here on the farm,” Reed says. “My focus is to use local ingredients as much as possible so it pigeonholes my menus in some ways. I don’t use pineapple, for example. I do bend the rules a bit; I’m not going to cook without lemon. But I don’t put a lot of extra stuff in the food because I don’t think you need to.
You don’t need 35 ingredients on a plate to make something taste good. When you use quality ingredients, the flavors will shine through.”
Reed’s passion for cooking became evident at an early age. Family lore holds that when her parents bathed her in the kitchen sink, she’d reach out one hand to the stand mixer on the counter and idly spin the mixing bowl. Growing up in Rossville as an only child, she remembers coming home from school and frying up batches of homemade onion rings at age 12. It was no surprise that her very first job was working in the kitchen at the Milner nursing home in Rossville.
“I’ve always loved food and I’ve always loved cooking,” Reed says. “But I didn’t think I would become a chef. I went to school to study food nutrition and journalism. I wanted to write about food. But I never stopped cooking.”
Reed earned her bachelor’s degree from Indiana State, cooking at commercial restaurants throughout her collegiate years. When an upscale wine bar opened in Terre Haute, she contacted the executive chef who agreed to give her a two-week trial in the kitchen. It was a trial by fire.
“It was me and a bunch of older guys; I was the baby,” Reed says. “I was the only woman. I had to climb my way up and I did. I ended up taking the grill job from the guy who was on the grill and he never spoke English to me again. He hated me after that because he had to wash dishes.”
Though her skills were undeniable, she still faced sexism in the kitchens where she worked in the form of lewd comments, unwanted touching and targeted harassment. At one point, she worked as the head grill cook at a busy steakhouse, grilling upwards of 50 steaks at a time to temperature. She’d be in the walk-in cooler unwrapping steaks and coworkers would turn the lights off on her. Once, the general manager cornered her in the dish room and a bunch of guys laughed as she was sprayed down with the dish hose. She had to finish the final five hours of her shift in sopping wet jeans.
“It’s very hard to be a woman in a kitchen, especially a male-dominated kitchen, which many of them are,” Reed says. “It takes a strong personality. You have to hold your own.
You have to work harder and you have to work smarter. It’s an unfortunate culture that I had to endure. But I’m very proud of where I’ve been able to go and now, I’m the only chef here. I don’t have anyone to disrespect me. My kitchen is my own little baby.”
When Reed first started the dinners at Prophetstown, she worked out of a much smaller residential galley kitchen that still exists adjacent to the compact commercial kitchen nestled in the basement of the farmhouse. Former Tippecanoe County Commissioner Nola Gentry was a big supporter of the farm and its mission and donated the funding to install the sleek stainless steel commercial kitchen that serves as home base for Reed and her small team of helpers who put on the dinners. After everything is served, Reed takes time to visit with every table to express her appreciation for the diners.
“I love the mission of the farm; I love what I do,” Reed says. “I want our guests to enjoy a unique experience, to talk with the other diners and maybe make a new friend. I hope they get to experience ingredients they haven’t tried before or perhaps haven’t had prepared in that way. That they experience this place and want to support what we do here.” ★
About The Farm
The Farm at Prophetstown is a historic living farm museum set on 125 acres in Prophetstown State Park complete with a 1920s Sears, Roebuck & Co. replica farmhouse, outbuildings, orchard, livestock pens, pasture and croplands. For more information about events at the farm, visit prophetstown.org.
Reserve Your Seat
Reservations for the first wave of farm-to-table dinners this year opened January 10. A second block of dinners, scheduled from August 13 to November 4 will be available for booking on April 11. Call the farm at 765-567-4700 to claim your spot.
Know Before You Go
• No more than six spots per reservation. Larger parties are encouraged to schedule a private dinner.
• Payment is due at the time of reservation. Refunds offered with cancellations made at least 48 hours in advance.
• All guests must be 21 years of age or older.
• No menu substitutions. Vegetarian options may be available upon pre-arranged request.
• Out of respect to fellow diners, please arrive on time.
• As a small kitchen using farm-to-table ingredients, cross-contamination of allergens cannot be prevented.
Prophetstown State Park requires guests to pay $8 per vehicle for park admission, which is free with a farm membership or annual state park pass.
BY ANGELA K. ROBERTS
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
If you’ve spent any time lately in the Wallace Triangle neighborhood of Lafayette, you’ve seen a number of formerly dilapidated houses rising from the ashes, with rebuilt porches, upgraded landscaping, fresh coats of paint and reglazed or replaced windows.
While it is true that several developers and homeowners have been renovating homes in the area, a significant amount of the work can be attributed to a single couple: Alec and Kenna Williams.
Owners of The Heartland Concept, a realty, renovation and rental firm, the Williamses have tackled over 20 homes in the neighborhood around their own house, an American Foursquare on Elliott Street. Like the mother-daughter duo Karen Laine and Mina Starsiak Hawk, whose adventures in fixing up their own Fountain Square neighborhood in Indianapolis are chronicled on the HGTV show “Good Bones,” Alec and Kenna Williams are setting out to revitalize their own city block, one property at a time.
The best neighborhood it can be
It all started in 2014 when the couple purchased their first home, a green duplex in the Wallace Triangle, a wedge-shaped neighborhood bordered by South Ninth, Kossuth and State streets on the southern edge of Lafayette’s Old City.
Both Purdue University grads, Alec had studied sales and management, with a concentration in entrepreneurship, while Kenna had studied management with a concentration in marketing. Kenna had worked for a home builder in town, getting to touch “every piece and part” of the business, from quality control checks to sales to design ele-
ments, before taking a job in finance at Purdue.
Alec was working in business development for a Midwest healthcare company, but he was looking for something different. An old-house aficionado, he had grown up in a Foursquare home that his dad had painstakingly rehabbed.
From nearly the first moment they had met, the couple had dreamed of building their own company. As they first tackled the one-bedroom side of their home, then the two-bedroom side, they discussed whether they could turn their avocation into a vocation. Walking their dog around the block each day, the couple noticed a lot of homes that needed some love.
“We’re very invested in this area, we love it,” Kenna says. “Alec says it best. If this is where we’re going to raise our family and have our children going up and down the street, we want this neighborhood to be the best it can be.”
Diy-ing as a money-saver
The Williamses soon got the chance to test their professional rehabbing chops when an 1868 home on 10th Street came up for sale. With a bay window, a window seat, wide painted woodwork and built-ins, the home was oozing with cottage charm. But other old-house details had become obscured under less-than-faithful remodeling efforts, like a teal garden tub with a matching toilet.
After hiring subcontractors for some of the work, the couple tackled as much as they could themselves. “Our belief was, if we’re going to make a business out of this, provide for our family, DIY-ing… that’s where you save money,” Alec says. Working late nights, early mornings
and weekends, the couple slowly turned the house back into a cozy cottage. A claustrophobic screened-in porch was torn out and rebuilt, minus the screening. Faulty wiring was replaced, and new shingles went on the roof. Layers of paint were scraped and recovered in a light yellow with white trim.
Inside, the 1980s bathroom gave way to a stand-up shower featuring subway tile, accented with a greenish arabesque. Board and batten replaced the dining room’s lower stamped plaster walls. Floors throughout were sanded, stained and top-coated, and the fireplace was painted and accented with crisp white shiplap. Inside and out, not-so-charming light fixtures were replaced with breezy ceiling fans and farmhouse lights.
Two days after the couple wrapped on the rehab, in May 2017, they accepted an offer.
Little slice of lafayette
Fast forward to 2022 and The Heartland Concept is now Alec’s full-time job. Kenna has cut her hours as a senior financial analyst at Purdue, and since the COVID-19 pandemic, she has worked from home at a small desk on their second-floor landing. As they continue work on their family home – current projects include renovating the basement and reglazing the original five-over-one windows – they continue to rehab homes and commercial properties in their little slice of Lafayette.
Their business model is simple: For each house that they renovate and sell, they buy another rental in their neighborhood, then fix up that one, and then rent or sell. Over the last few years, they’ve sustained an income with the rentals, which has allowed them to take their time with each house renovation — un-
like many developers, who have an imperative to renovate as quickly as possible in order to turn a profit.
“I really hate calling any of our houses a flip,” says Kenna. “We really renovate, we take it down to the studs when necessary. I try to incorporate with the finished design, the old features. That’s renovation to me.”
When floors can’t be refinished, the couple tries wherever possible to use engineered hardwoods for a vintage look. In bathrooms, many of which are much smaller than in newer homes, the couple can afford to use high-end finishes like penny tile floors and solid surface countertops. New light fixtures often evoke a vintage feel, like the wall sconces the couple incorporated into their own Elliott Street home.
One lesson they’ve learned: while aesthetics boost a home’s appeal, they are not all practical for long-term rentals. As a result, some of their newer rental renovations, like the tiny mint green bungalow they rehabbed, are outfitted with tub-shower surrounds that don’t need regrouting over time. Other finishes in the single bathroom, like the curved warehouse light and scalloped mirror, help maintain the vintage-modern balance.
With each renovation, whether for rental or resale, the Williamses aim to provide a level of workmanship they would expect in their own home. A case in point: the National Home the couple rehabbed outside their own neighborhood, near Columbian Park. Adding livable space in the basement was critical for resale value, and yet the basement leaked, which the couple attributed to water pooling outside the home because of a lack of gutters and downspouts.
Gutters installed, the couple went to work on the basement. Then winter came, with rains and melting snow, and the almost-renovated basement sprung leaks again.
After considering less costly and less permanent options for the exterior, the couple decided to start anew. “We both looked at it, and [said] if this is our house and our space, we don’t want an issue,” Alec says. “We tore out all the walls and electrical, having a full interior perimeter drain installed with a sump pump, guaranteed against everything, then rebuilt.”
Expanding their focus
As the Williamses continue to buy, rehab and rent or sell historic homes, they also have expanded their focus to the commercial side of the neighborhood – namely, the corner where the Wallace Triangle meets Historic Ninth Street Hill and Highland Park.
Last fall, as the City of Lafayette regraded the street and added brick pavers to help alleviate runoff, the couple continued work on the L-shaped structure. More than 100 years old, the building boasts large windows and red clay roofing tiles. Soon, its anchor spot will be the location of People’s Brewing Company. The venue will serve German cuisine, specially brewed German beers, wine and cider.
Although the parking lot along Ninth Street is ample enough, Alec and Kenna anticipate that many of the brewery’s guests will come from foot traffic, like England’s public houses. “People’s Brewery should do extremely well by how many community members around here have shown support,” Alec says.
Since moving to the Wallace Triangle nearly eight years ago, about a dozen of the Williamses’ friends have moved there as well and begun working on their own homes – a testament to the couple’s success in their one-house-at-a-time revitalization mission. “We love what we do and it’s good to have an impact in the town we live in,” says Kenna. ★
BY CINDY GERLACH
Greater Lafayette has been named Community of the Year by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. The award recognizes the community’s growth over the past decade and how it has prospered and thrived in a variety of areas, from infrastructure and jobs to beautification and quality of life.
This year’s award looked, too, for a municipality that was a shining example during a year of weathering the pandemic.
A large part of the credit for being chosen for this award goes to the various components that define our community, says Scott Walker, president and CEO of Greater Lafayette Commerce, and their ability to communicate, to plan, and to work together. As the application was assembled and written, Walker says, it became evident just how much planning had gone into the progress of the past 20 years.
“We looked back at where we’d been over the course of two decades, the evolution of the community, the trajectory, and why we should be considered for this award,” Walker says.
Back at the start of the 21st century, the community looked very different. And community, Walker says, is defined as the entirety of the area, with both cities and the county governments all working together. All these governing bodies were collaborating on a vision of what they wanted to see over the coming years. Hence Lafayette Urban Enterprise, Vision 2020 and the Downtown Development Corp. all played a role, as well as incorporating input from all three school corporations, leaders in industry, the arts and recreational facilities.
Back in 2000, the population of Tippecanoe County was at 149,000 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Walker said leadership could see that the community was poised for potential growth, but it wanted to be prepared and for the growth to be intentional.
The result was these various entities examining where the community was at the time, what the trends were, and what Greater Lafayette wanted to accomplish. A clear goal was attracting business and industry that would provide good-paying jobs that would contribute to the economy and would enhance quality of life for residents. The area has a strong manufacturing workforce, and the focus on talent and workforce retention has resulted in more than 3,800 jobs being added in the past five years. This is thanks to companies as diverse as Caterpillar, Antique Candle, Copper Moon Coffee and Schweitzer Engineering Labs, to name a few.
And along with that, Greater Lafayette needed a community that would attract these businesses; needed neighborhoods, restaurants, parks, schools, and arts and culture that would make life attractive for families. This investment came in various forms, from public projects such as Lafayette Downtown Development Plan, the Hoosier Heartland Development Plan, the Five Points Development Plan and the Wabash River Development Plan.
Quality of life projects also contributed to the community’s revitalization, including a new Loeb Stadium, upgrades to the Columbian Park Zoo and Tropicanoe Cove water park, as well as other updates to Columbian Park. The Tippecanoe County Fairgrounds underwent a major renovation, and the Wabash Riverfront is looking at a $150 million investment, including the Riverfront Promenade, which was completed in 2020.
Ultimately, Walker says, all groups came together to work toward this common goal. Today, with the 2019 population at 195,732, the growth clearly did occur. And because of the planning, the communication, the collaboration, the county was prepared to absorb and accommodate that growth. As evidence? Many school districts in Indiana are seeing a decline in sizes of incoming kindergarten classes; in Tippecanoe County, schools have all seen significant growth and kindergarten class sizes have increased, says Walker. The area is clearly a destination; the $250 million investment in education over the past five years — including the implementation of the Greater Lafayette Career Academy — has paid off.
For Walker, this award speaks, in great part, to a process. And it’s a process that involved the input of so many entities — from the cities, the county, parks departments, Purdue and the public schools, and business and industry — partnering and working together.
“It appears that the city, the county, we’re all on the same page with the same goals and objectives,” Walker says. “We’re at a point where people are working together, collaboratively. We’re all pulling on the rope in the same direction. This is a well-run region.
“It’s that planning element that we’ve embraced in this community that works so well.” ★
BY KAT BRAZ
Lafayette Urban Ministry (LUM) established its Immigration Clinic in 2014. That year, the clinic saw 70 clients, providing assistance with various issues such as citizenship, consideration for DACA, applying for emergency visas, asylum or green cards.
Over the past seven years, the program has continued to grow, offering services to clients looking to legally immigrate into the United States. These are people who have already relocated to the Greater La-fayette community and are seeking legal assistance to acquire a visa, green card or gain citizenship status.
“It’s the only clinic offering immi-gration services of its kind within the surrounding eight-county area,” says Rev. Wes Tillett, executive di-rector of LUM. “We provide aid to a variety of people of different status-es, refugees, asylum seekers, people needing a work visa or a green card. Our clients could be feeling violence in their home country or just trying to get a better start for their family in the United States.”
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 12 percent of Tippecanoe County’s population are foreign-born—that’s more than 23,000 residents. Of those, around 18,000 individuals are non-citizens, which include some people who do not consider themselves true immigrants, such as international students and expatriates from other countries.
In 2020, the LUM Immigration Clinic provided help in 120 different cases, down from 256 in 2019. Due to the pandemic, LUM was not able to hold its popular citizenship class-es in partnership with the Lafayette Adult Resource Academy. Still, a dedicated group of about a dozen trained and accredited volunteers has pressed on, under the leadership of the clinic’s two paid positions
— a full-time director and half-time assistant director — to keep the clinic operating under COVID-19 protocols.
“A lot of the work is just listening and learning the person’s story,” Tillett says. “We have to understand who the person is in front of us, where they are at and how they got here. And sometimes, the stories are just heartbreaking to hear what they are up against, what they are trying to flee or what they are working toward.”
Immigration Clinic Director Christian Gallo grew up in Bue-nos Aires, Argentina. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Cole-gio Champagnat, master in laws degree from Indiana University, and JD from Universidad Católica Argentina. Gallo has many years of experience in immigration law and speaks four languages: Spanish, English, Italian and Portuguese. His first-hand experience as an immi-grant himself enables him to quickly build rapport with many clinic clients.
“I understand what these peo-ple go through to immigrate to the U.S.,” Gallo says. “Some of them went through a lot of dangers to get here. And even if they didn’t, they arrive here and can feel kind of lost. Sometimes receiving a little help with something simple can mean so much to a person who is new to the country and doesn’t understand how bureaucracy works here.
“We are not just helping people get a better job or more income. We are changing their lives. We are giving them opportunities for themselves and for their families, for their children.”
For Gallo, every case is person-al. The needs to be met can vary immensely. Some clients might be looking for a better job or higher income, others might be trying to re-unite with a wife or child or perhaps it’s a trailing academic spouse who followed their partner to the area and now wants to establish citizen-ship or apply for a work visa.
“It’s very rewarding work,” Gallo says. “When you see the looks on their faces, that sensation of extreme happiness, it means so much. Sometimes they don’t have words, they just repeat ‘thank you’ over and over. In that instant, their life just changed for the better.”
Whether a person entered the country legally or illegally, they can still be entitled to certain benefits under the law. The mission of the clinic is to help people who are already in the area —encompassing Tippecanoe and surrounding counties — get access to those benefits, regardless of their immigration status. It’s work that aligns with LUM’s overall mission as an organization with a Judeo-Christian heritage.
“Our organization has strong Judeo-Christian roots,” Tillett says. “Harkening back to the Exodus story, there is definitely a command to be hospitable to the sojourner in your midst, because you, too, were once foreigners in Egypt. That command is still pertinent to Jews and Christians trying to obey those scriptures. From a core theological standpoint, that’s part of who we are and part of what we’re trying to do.
“On a more humanitarian level, we are simply trying to be good neighbors. We especially want
to fill the gaps in the community where no other organization is able to meet that need. Immigration is one of those areas, especially seven years ago, that LUM identified as something we could do to help our neighbors from other parts of the world who are having a difficult time navigating through the bureaucracy and getting the legal status that they need.”
The impact of the clinic is summed up by a note of thanks Jaqueline Valera wrote to LUM expressing gratitude for the assistance she and her husband, Ricardo, received from the clinic.
“Since obtaining the LUM Immigration Clinic’s help with our immigration process, my husband was able to obtain his work permit. His income has helped me out with my family and school debt. I no longer have to work two or three jobs. I no longer have to miss important family moments. I no longer have to choose work over my health. We would not be where we are today without your help.” ★
BY KEN THOMPSON
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
Jon Miner knows first-hand the magic spell Loeb Stadium has woven over Greater Lafayette youths since 1940.
In 1984, at 15, Miner stepped foot on the Loeb Stadium infield for the first time as a member of Lafayette Jeff’s freshman baseball team and as a player for Firefighters in the Colt Recreation League.
“Growing up in this community and playing youth baseball, that was always a big deal to go to Loeb Stadium and watch a baseball game (and) hopefully play there one day,” says Miner, who played two years of varsity baseball at Jeff and visited Loeb Stadium as a senior member of the McCutcheon High School team.
Miner is now the director of operations for the Lafayette Parks and Recreation Department. At the time of this interview, the renovated Loeb Stadium was just a few weeks away from opening day.
The renovation project spearheaded by Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski will make sure thousands of baseball players – and hopefully other athletes – will continue to play inside Loeb Stadium for decades to come. The renovation, which was estimated to cost $20 million, was completed on schedule for Lafayette Jeff’s baseball season opener against Central Catholic on March 31.
“The driving vision behind it, Mayor Roswarski who grew up in this community and knowing the history of Loeb Stadium, was to design and build a facility that would last another 80 years, like the old Loeb Stadium did, if not longer,” Miner says. “To give this community not just a wonderful venue for baseball but a wonderful venue for other community events.”
Roswarski’s vision for the new Loeb Stadium includes the potential to host soccer and football games as well as non-sporting events such as concerts. The new stadium has a seating capacity of 2,600.
“I think when it’s finally open and we break out of this pandemic and people are able to get into the stadium and watch an event – whether it be a baseball game, a soccer game or a concert – they are going to be really pleased with how this stadium has turned out,” Miner says.
There was much anticipation in Greater Lafayette when a front-page headline in the Journal and Courier on July 2, 1940, proclaimed “Park Stadium for Athletic and Cultural Events to be Memorial to Solomon Loeb.”
Bert and June Loeb contributed $50,000 (almost $935,000 in today’s dollars) for the construction of a 3,152-seat reinforced concrete structure inside Columbian Park. The stadium was named Columbian Park Recreation Center, which remained until 1971 when it was renamed Loeb Stadium.
“Its purpose being to serve as a public stadium for athletic, cultural and educational events of various kinds; in fact any legitimate entertainment under sun or stars,” the 1940 article stated.
With lights installed as part of the construction, the stadium was projected to not only host baseball games but softball games, boxing matches, concerts, pageants and even horse shows.
Architect Walter Scholer had the foresight to make the stadium dimensions of Major League Baseball stadiums with 333 feet down the left field line, 404 feet to center field and 322 feet down the right field line. Retaining similar distances in the 2021 renovation required some out-of-the-box thinking.
When the decision was made to rotate the field 180 degrees from its original layout, placing home plate near the corner of Main Street and Wallace Avenue, the right field area needed a few extra feet. Since moving the zoo was out of the question, architects came up with a plan to extend the stadium entrance a few feet from the original footprint into Main.
But even that idea wasn’t as simple as it sounds.
“A lot of the fiber infrastructure in this community comes right up Main Street,” Miner says. “There’s only so far you can go into Main Street before you have to get into relocating that.”
Making the most of every foot available, home plate is positioned just a few yards from the corner of Main and Wallace.
When it comes to construction in Indiana weather, nothing comes easily. Toss in a shutdown of nearly a month in April 2020 due to COVID-19 precautions and it’s amazing that the project was completed in time for the Lafayette Jeff baseball season.
“All the contractors have done a marvelous job working through the snow we had, the cold snaps,” Miner says. “We couldn’t be more pleased with their work.”
The new Loeb Stadium also will serve as the front door to the 21st century Columbian Park. Spectators will have a view of the new carousel building beyond the centerfield fence, plus Tropicanoe Cove and the water slides just past left field.
Fans sitting in the suite level will be able to follow the progress of construction going on at Memorial Island.
“It was important to build a beautiful stadium and have the viewpoints be on the inside of Columbian Park and not have the people in the stands looking out into Oakland School, the Frozen Custard and Arni’s,” Miner says. “I think it brings Loeb Stadium more into the park and it will transform Main Street.
“We’re going to have state-of-the-art lighting, state-of-the-art concession facilities. There’s not really a bad seat in the stadium to view a baseball game. Then we have the video board that is really going to add to whatever event is going on there. This is something even communities with nice baseball stadiums don’t have.” ★
BY KAT BRAZ
The Spinning Axe
Barbara Huddleston spent years growing her catering and event business. At the start of 2020, her calendar was booked with weddings, parties and corporate events. When the pandemic forced the cancellation of large gatherings, Huddleston watched her business evaporate almost overnight. During a trip to Bowling Green, Kentucky, over Labor Day weekend, she discovered a new passion — axe throwing.
“We actually went to visit Mammoth Cave, but it was closed due to COVID,” Huddleston says. “Looking for other things to do we found an axe throwing place near our hotel. About four throws in, I realized I loved it. I knew I needed to bring this sport back to Lafayette.”
That’s right. Urban axe throwing is a worldwide sport growing in popularity. The World Axe Throwing League, formed in 2017 by representatives from Canada, the United States, Brazil and Ireland, holds sanctioned tournaments year-round. Budding future champions could reside right here in Tippecanoe County and get their start at Huddleston’s latest enterprise, The Spinning Axe, 351 South St., Lafayette. After returning from her trip, Huddleston leased the location and took about seven weeks transforming a former sushi restaurant into an axe throwing venue and bar serving wine, beer, liquor and snacks such as nachos, pizza, soft pretzels and popcorn.
The family-friendly venue (they recommend ages 10 and up, depending on the physical ability of the child) accepts walk-ins and reservations, which are encouraged for large groups and on Saturdays. After signing a waiver, guests are assigned to a lane and an axe coach reviews safety precautions, gives pointers and explains different types of games that can be played. At the end of the lane, a large round bullseye painted on wooden boards serves as the target.
“I’ve been surprised at the number of women who’ve shown interest in axe throwing,” Huddleston says. “They want to do a girls night out, they want to schedule a date night. That’s been a really cool thing. Axe throwing isn’t as scary as it sounds. Our trained axe coaches will show you how to do it safely. We’re going to help you have a great time.”=
The Spinning Axe is open seven days a week. Cost per hour: Adults $22; Children $15. Military, fire and police personnel receive a discounted rate of $17/hour.
Learning to Thrive
Struggling to take your vitamins? Thrive IV Lounge, 1343 Sagamore Pkwy N, Lafayette, offers a relaxing and hydrating infusion of vitamins, minerals and nutrients directly into your bloodstream for maximum effect. Administered by registered nurses using the same medical grade supplies found in hospitals, the medspa offers an array of therapy treatments to boost immune function, bring migraine relief, reduce inflammation and even recover from a hangover.
Owner Sarah Kurtz was inspired to open an IV lounge after learning about the rising popularity of drip spas in other parts of the country. As an emergency room nurse for the past seven years, Kurtz wanted to offer preventative care that might help keep chronic condition patients out of the ER.
“There’s just not enough information out there for people to understand the importance of how to prevent getting sick,” Kurtz says. “By building the immune system, getting a lot of sleep, staying, hydrated, taking the correct vitamins and eating healthy you can prevent a lot of things from being a lot worse. After all these years in medicine, I’m just taking a different approach to help people get there.”
Once a client fills out paperwork covering medical history, medications, allergies, height and weight, the Thrive IV nursing staff checks vital signs before discussing available drip treatments. Once the IV is started, it takes anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to complete the infusion. There are three private treatment rooms as well as a large communal lounge which Kurtz hopes to open up as the pandemic slows down.
Afraid of needles? Thrive IV offers a numbing spray to help ease the discomfort. Or you can skip the IV and order an injection instead. The biggest seller is the skinny shot, a special blend of hydrating fluids and vitamins to boost metabolism. Pair it with a Beauty Blend IV treatment for a fully rejuvenating experience. Not ready to leave the house? Thrive IV’s mobile concierge service brings wellness to the comfort of your living room.
“One liter of IV fluids that we give you is equivalent to drinking two gallons of water,” Kurtz says. “Results vary depending on the type of treatment and an individual’s metabolism, but the benefits of IV therapy usually last about five days to a week.”
Memberships are available for clients who want to make Thrive IV a regular part of their wellness routine. Though Thrive IV offers a relaxing, calming atmosphere, all IV medspas are regulated by the state of Indiana and must maintain the same safety standards as medical clinics and hospitals. All medications, vitamins and supplies are FDA approved. An ER physician serves as medical director, overseeing the lounge. IVs are administered by experienced ER nurses with the critical care skills to identify anything abnormal in a client’s session and refer clients to the ER or urgent care if necessary.
Thrive IV is open Thursday through Monday. Follow them on social media for daily deals and monthly specials.
Big Woods Restaurant and Bar | 516 Northwestern Ave., West Lafayette
Originating in Nashville, Indiana, in 2009, the opening of a Big Woods Restaurant and Bar in West Lafayette marks the Big Woods Village’s 10th
location — and the farthest north. With its focused menu of signature pizzas and a selection of burgers and sandwiches, Big Woods offers a cozy sports bar environment in the location formerly occupied by The Stacked Pickle on Purdue’s campus. Cocktails of the month feature spirits crafted by Hard Truth Hills, a division of the Big Woods brand also based in Nashville. Craft beer lovers will devour the Big Woods Quaff ON! beers, such as Busted Knuckle, Hare Trigger and Yellow Dwarf.
Copper Moon Coffee | 351 Sagamore Pkwy & 225 S. University St., West Lafayette
Brothers Brad and Cary Gutwein purchased Copper Moon Coffee (originally founded in the late 1960s) in 2007 and relaunched the business in Lafayette. Now with four locations throughout Tippecanoe County and a booming retail business, Copper Moon is the largest family-owned coffee company in the Midwest. The latest two locations include a spot on Purdue’s campus inside the Agricultural and Biological Engineering Building and a standalone café in the former Salin Bank building next to Dog n Suds on Sagamore Parkway.
“We are delighted at the opportunity to continue expanding our reach into West Lafayette,” says Brad Gutwien, CEO of Copper Moon Coffee, in a January 2020 press release. “We think this in an ideal location that will be easy to access for most of the West Lafayette community.”
Reveille Coffee Bar | 835 Main St., Lafayette
The inviting French-inspired décor of Reveille Coffee Bar creates a warm and welcoming ambiance the moment you step in the door. This cozy spot with friendly baristas churns out all manner of gourmet coffees, specialty teas, decadent hot chocolates and iced brews. Featuring a rotating selection
of locally made pastries, Reveille is the ideal spot to lounge away a morning.
Ritual Cocktail Bar | 211 N. Second St., Lafayette
The intimate, classy lounge vibe at Ritual Cocktail Bar quickly garnered a reputation for one of the coolest spots in town. A streamlined food menu features upscale snacks such as almond breaded duck tenders and roasted whole cremini mushrooms. But here, craft cocktails are the main attraction. Mixologists reimagine classic drink recipes and combine house-made syrups, bitters and juices; specialty spirits and unusual ingredients to create memorable concoctions that are meant to be savored, like a ritual. Feeling extra swanky? Stop by for Rat Pack night to sip your libation while listening to Sinatra, every Tuesday before 9 p.m.
Ripple & Co. | 1007 Main St., Lafayette
Fans of East End Grill have eagerly awaited the opening of Ripple and Co., a fast-casual dining concept located across the street from the high-end restaurant and run by the same executive leadership team. The new multilevel eatery features a spacious second floor with outdoor dining and a private event space. Downstairs, the atmosphere of the lively counter-service restaurant is reminiscent of a food hall. Executive chef Ambarish Lulay brings the same elevated sensibilities found at East End to Ripple & Co.’s menu. Smoked meats, pork belly and “really good tofu” are just a few of the crave-inducing items available. With both cocktails and beers on tap, Ripple & Co. is an exciting addition to upper Main Street. Plus, a partnership with Greyhouse Coffee means you can pick up your favorite cup of joe while you’re there.
Rusty Taco | 3209 Builder Drive, Lafayette
Serving up authentic street tacos at affordable prices, Rusty Taco’s festive ambience encourages friends and family to linger over margaritas while enjoying boldly flavored tacos. With more than 30 locations around the country, each one emulates a neighborhood taco stand. An array of breakfast tacos is available all day. The handmade street taco menu features roasted pork, brisket, baja shrimp and fried chicken. Rusty’s commitment to high-quality ingredients and making food fresh-to-order ensures satisfaction in every bite. Wash it down with an ice-cold margarita and experience bliss.
Wolfies Northern Woods Grill | 352 E. State St., West Lafayette
Scott and Nyla Wolf opened their first Wolfies location in 2004. Designed for the “seeker in all things sports, nature and food,” Wolfies offers a casual sports-themed environment in the Wabash Landing site formerly occupied by Scotty’s Brewhouse. The West Lafayette location is the eighth in the state and the first to venture away from the Indianapolis area. The expansive menu is packed with sharable starters, salads, wings, ribs, seafood, sandwiches, tacos and burgers. Thirsty? Try one of the 30 local and regional beers on tap, along with a full bar featuring craft cocktails. One thing is certain, you won’t go hungry at Wolfies.
► wolfiesgrill.com/West-Lafayette ★
BY RADONNA FIORINI
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
Located west of the Marq Apartments and Old National Bank along the Wabash River, the Riverside Promenade Deck was dedicated in July 2020 and represents the first completed project in the
“Two Cities, One River” master plan designed to enhance the quality of life along the Wabash, says Stan Lambert, executive director of the Wabash River Enhancement Corporation.
The promenade is a city block long, rising above railroad tracks and the river bank. It connects on the north to the John T. Myers Pedestrian Bridge next to Reihle Plaza, and to Columbia Street on the south, says Eric Lucas, principal with MKSK, the landscape architecture and urban design company that oversaw the project. Access also is available from the Marq building.
Because railroad tracks prevent access or a good view of the river from ground level, the promenade is at bridge level and pedestrians can enjoy a good view of the waterway without obstruction. The deck zig zags a bit, meandering through the space to mimic the flow of the river.
“The whole space takes its shape from the river,” Lucas says. “Seats rise up and tilt in different angles so the space mimics the river both horizontally and vertically. It is 15 feet wide at the narrowest spot, and 30 feet or so at its widest.” The configuration includes spaces large enough to accommodate a band or other type of entertainment.
The deck is constructed of sustainable, durable hardwood slats and steel beams with stainless steel cable netting around the perimeter. Planting areas and free-standing containers have been seeded with native pollinator flowers and grasses.
Decorative pole lights line the walkway and glowing lights under the benches brighten the pathway from dusk into the night. Even the area directly under the deck has been incorporated into the overall plan, says Lucas. A few metal grates were installed so walkers can look 20-feet down and see vegetation below. Native trees and ornamental shrubs have been planted there, some of which will eventually grow up through the grates, turning the deck into a more natural landscape.
Another feature people enjoy is an Americans With Disabilities Act-accessible walkway that connects the promenade deck to Reihle Plaza and Main Street. The gently sloping walk is a favorite with bikers and those with limited mobility, allowing stairless access from the street to the deck and the pedestrian bridge leading into West Lafayette, Lucas says.
Dennis Carson, Lafayette economic development director, says, “It’s a great event space – wide and with excellent views of the river. Even though COVID has shut a lot of things down, I see people walking on the deck and having their lunch there. We’ll be able to use it more fully in the future.”
Carson calls the Wabash a “great asset” and sees lots of opportunities for public use, recreation and private development along the river. The enhancement effort along the Wabash has been underway for more than a decade, as it began in earnest in 2004 when the WREC was formed.
The last 17 years have been spent creating and refining the master plan for public and private development along the river in Tippecanoe, Fountain, Warren and Carroll counties; creating partnerships between government officials, Purdue University, and private entities; acquiring land along the river bank; and working on watershed issues, says WREC’s Lambert.
The plan envisions a time when the river becomes the “…healthy, beautiful centerpiece of a whole, interconnected community. Building on the river’s beauty, the plan seeks to restore a healthy river ecosystem and create recreation and related amenities to create a unique quality of life and make the region a place of choice—especially for attracting and retaining employees in the high technology and bio-life sciences sectors.”
With a solid road map in place, the non-profit WREC is ready to move forward with some of the proposed projects, particularly in the Lafayette/West Lafayette urban corridor, but funding is always an issue.
The promenade deck project was pushed to the front of the line in 2015 when private developers started work on the mixed-use development that now houses the Marq apartments and Old National Bank regional headquarters.
“The promenade was in the masterplan, so we had to do it concurrently (with the Old National development) if it was going to happen,” Lambert says. “We had to get the whole project completed, including fundraising, in a very short time.”
With a $2.2 million grant from North Central Health Services, $600,000 from the city of Lafayette, and $485,000 from WREC, work on the promenade began in 2016 with plans to wrap up in about a year. Several construction setbacks and COVID-19 slowdowns pushed the finish date to 2020, but the $3.2 million project is now complete.
No other brick and mortar projects are currently underway along the riverfront, but the WREC is refining plans for the river corridor and pursuing grants and private donations for remediation of some industrial sites and development of greenspaces. The WREC has purchased 28 properties along the Wabash in Tippecanoe County and will work on river bank restoration and stormwater management.
A $325,000 grant from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the United States Environmental Protection Agency awarded in March will help the corporation address water quality issues in this area of the Wabash River watershed, according to information from WREC Watershed Coordinator Shannon Stanis, who will oversee the grant.
Most of that money will go toward a cost-sharing program that encourages those living within the watershed to adopt pollution reducing and water quality enhancing practices. The grant also will fund educational and community outreach programs as well as water quality testing. A similar grant obtained in 2019 was used for such projects as rain barrel and rain garden installations, tree and native turf planting, and streambank stabilization. These efforts helped reduce the amount of nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment flowing into the Wabash.
While there may not be any flashy projects in the works, there is more interest and investment than ever in downtown Lafayette and the State Street corridor in West Lafayette, Lambert says. He cites tremendous returns from money invested in riverfront enhancement in other Indiana communities.
“These kinds of projects are costly and take a long time to do, but cities who invest in their riverfronts see a $5 return for every dollar invested within five years, and a $12 to $16 return for every dollar invested in 20 years,” Lambert says. The biggest problem is finding a dedicated funding source that is not subject to the vagaries of politics and changes in governmental policies.
He harkens back to the years-long railroad relocation effort in Lafayette that removed tracks from downtown streets. About 80 percent of the funding for that multi-million dollar project came from the federal government through earmarks in the federal budget. But that funding source was eliminated years ago, Lambert recalls.
“WREC is putting together a dedicated funding plan, looking at a food and beverage tax fund or something like that to help support and develop the riverfront,” he says. “That would spread the cost across the most people, and primarily those who are using the services.”
Any tax would have to be authorized by the state and Tippecanoe County Council, and no concerted effort to pursue such a fund is currently in the works.
If the stars align and consistent funding becomes available, Lambert sees a future for life along the Wabash River in Tippecanoe County that will include private mixed-use development, a new pedestrian bridge extending Brown Street across the river into West Lafayette, new parks and green space, small boat docks, a disc golf course, a band shell for outdoor entertainment, mountain bike trails and more.
In the meantime, why not plan a leisurely stroll along a promenade? ★
More information about the Wabash River master plan, including maps and historical perspectives, is available at wabashriver.net
Interested in partnering with the WREC on a pollution-reducing cost-share project? Visit: wabashriver.net/costshare
BY KEN THOMPSON
PHOTOS PROVIDED, FIREWORKS PHOTO BY DAVE SCHMIDT
Occupying a mere block-long stretch on Columbia Street, organizers led by Steve Klink promised a 12-hour day of good food and door prizes in front of Loeb’s Department Store.
Proceeds would benefit the Tippecanoe Arts Federation.
Offerings included knackwurst and bratwurst, Teriyaki steak kabobs, oysters on the half shell and crab puffs. All that for a $1 admission plus free Coca-Cola and a chance to win door prizes and gift certificates every hour.
Loeb’s is now a distant memory for long-time residents of Lafayette. So, too, are many of the 12 local businesses that participated in the first Taste: Alt Heidelberg, Amato’s, Sarge Oak, Hour Time, Butterfield’s, Cork and Cleaver and Don the Beachcomber’s.
Gone, too, is the $1 admission price. Today, admission to the Taste is $10 for persons 13 and older. But it’s well worth the price
Digby’s, The Parthenon, Mountain Jack’s, The Downtowner and Red Lobster are the only existing businesses that helped launch what is now a 40-year-old tradition. And what a tradition it has become.
By 1991, the event had outgrown its one-block home and attracted 22,000 people to Sixth Street. Even that space was too cramped for two stages and an ever-growing amount of restaurant booths.
With 30 restaurants and an estimated crowd of 40,000, the 20th Taste of Tippecanoe in 2001 was spread out over Riehle Plaza, the John T. Myers Pedestrian Bridge, and the downtown area between Third Street to the east, Ferry Street to the north and Columbia Street to the south.
In 2019, three stages were set up along Second and Ferry streets, Fourth Street, and Fifth and Main.
That tradition was disrupted this past summer thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Tippecanoe Arts Federation was forced to severely curtail its major fundraising effort of the year, settling for an online presence of live musical performances over Facebook Live.
Kyra Clark, marketing and events director for the Tippecanoe Arts Federation, says it’s safe to say that this year’s Taste of Tippecanoe, scheduled for July 31, may be the most important Taste since the first event.
“The Taste is our major fundraiser and the largest single-day arts fundraiser in Indiana,” Clark says. “It’s incredibly important for us to fundraise and get with the community.”
To make it as safe as possible for visitors, the Taste of Tippecanoe will be spread over a large area of downtown surrounding Riehle Plaza and the Tippecanoe County Courthouse. Also, there will be just two stages this year for live entertainment.
“We’ve increased the size of the footprint to make it a little easier for people to sit down and appreciate the food and the local restaurants that are going to be participating at the Taste,” Clark says.
“We are going to make things as safe as possible. We’re going to have hand-sanitizing stations, and all of our volunteers will be wearing masks. We will never hold an event that puts our community at risk. We are not going to be a superspreader event. We would never risk our relationship or our reputation with our supporters.”
If this year’s Taste is important to the Tippecanoe Arts Federation, it may be equally important to Greater Lafayette-area restaurants. Nearly every establishment has suffered from the government COVID-19 mandates that have kept away the usual numbers of customers.
But several local restaurants are bullish on the Taste of Tippecanoe. The Tippecanoe Arts Federation had 12 commitments by late February from Arni’s, Grilled Chicken and Rice, Corn in the USA, Dippin’ Dots, Gibson’s Shaved Ice, Indiana Kitchen Bacon, Java Roaster, Kona Ice of Tippecanoe County, Lepea, McGraw’s Steak Chop and Fish House, Red Bird Café and Thieme & Wagner.
“That’s pretty normal for this time of year,” Clark says, “but our goal is always 30 to 32 restaurants.”
The latter number is the most Clark has seen during her four years with TAF.
“This is an event where restaurants are incredibly busy, and it is an event where the majority of our restaurants sign up closer toward the event so they have an idea of staffing and timing,” Clark says.
Last year’s virtual event and the loss of revenue have forced more budget cuts than just the number of stages.
“The biggest change this year is that there will not be a fireworks show,” Clark says. “It was just something we could not fit in our budget.
“We’re saving a little bit of money, but we’re dedicating more space to the seating and the appreciation of the local restaurants. We’ve had to tighten our belt, but we’re working with what we’ve got and doing the best we can.”
Even with the pandemic still a concern, Clark is hoping that this summer’s Taste will be remembered as a celebration.
“The focus of this year’s event is celebrating 40 years of great Taste,” Clark says. “We’re super excited to be able to have an event again where we can provide local food to our community, especially at a time when our restaurants are hurting or struggling.
“This is an incredible marketing opportunity for them. Tens of thousands of people come downtown for this event. Obviously, with the COVID restrictions and the health guidelines, the attendance might look a little bit different this year, but we want that marketing opportunity and promotional opportunity for our restaurants and downtown businesses.”
For more information about Taste of Tippecanoe and updates on the event date and participating
businesses, visit tasteoftippecanoe.org. ★
BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTO BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
Last summer, tensions surrounding issues of racial injustice boiled over across the country in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. Locally, more than 1,000 peaceful protesters marched downtown on May 31 to rally for racial justice and take a stand against police brutality.
“Witnessing the energy of the young people and the memory, or the wisdom of the older people, together, that gives me hope,” says Rodney Lynch, pastor and director of the Baptist Student Foundation at Purdue University. “I was pleased with the number of people who were there. Most of them were white, that’s the demographics of this community. But standing up for racial justice is not a one-time moment; it’s a lifetime movement.”
Motivated by a desire to join like-minded community members to address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), Lynch joined the Diversity Roundtable (DRT) when he relocated to Greater Lafayette in 2016. An outgrowth of Vision 2020, a 2000–2001 community visioning project for the future of Greater Lafayette, the DRT began in 2002 when a small group of citizens started meeting to plan a Diversity Summit held in April 2003. It became a biennial event and this month, the DRT held its 10th summit. The 2021 Diversity Summit, held virtually and free to all participants, focused on Strategic Doing: Turning Conversation into Action.
In addition to the summits, the DRT meets monthly to discuss DEI issues in the community. The meetings are open to the public and co-facilitated by Lynch and Barbara Clark, who retired as director of the Science Diversity Office and director of the Women in Science Programs at Purdue in 2015. An all-volunteer group, the DRT is a committee of Greater Lafayette Commerce.
“We are the only group in the community focused on diversity in general,” Clark says. “We’re not organized in response to a crisis or an issue. We’re focused on raising awareness and educating people about the diversity issues in the community — anything from race to sexual orientation to disability — and how diversity, equity and inclusion intersect with social issues.”
Many of the monthly meetings feature speakers from the community, such as city government officials, school superintendents, police officers and university administrators who share their perspective on how DEI is supported in their respective institutions as well as identifying areas that still need to be addressed. Clark, who has served as a co-facilitator of the group since 2009, says although the same core issues may resurface, often they’ve been redefined in some way.
“An issue that we’ve discussed a number of times is ‘driving while Black,’” Clark says. “When we first started talking about that, it was somewhat surprising to the white folks but certainly not surprising to the people of color. One of the things the DRT does is develop programming to educate the community on these issues.”
One of the programs facilitated by the DRT addressed implicit bias. Lynch, who co-led the training, would ask attendees how many of them had “the talk” with their children. Invariably, white attendees assumed “the talk” centered around sexual activity. Black attendees gave their children the “police talk.”
“Black people do not have the privilege of not educating their children about how to conduct themselves when they are engaged by a police officer, so they get home safe,” Lynch says. “White children are raised to believe the police will keep them safe. Whereas we’ve seen time and time again, Black people are afraid to even call the police because our loved ones may not live through that interaction.”
The depth of implicit bias is magnified through a video experiment shown in the training that posits two men of different races in the same scenario. In one instance, a white man is shown breaking into a car in broad daylight. In the other, the man breaking into the car is Black. The white man sets off the car alarm multiple times, fishing with a wire coat hanger for 30 minutes trying to pop the door lock. A police car drives by without stopping. When the Black man attempts to break into the car, a passerby begins filming him with a cellphone almost immediately and the police arrive within two minutes. The video ends with the Black man in handcuffs surrounded by five police officers.
“It’s assumed that the white guy is just locked out of his car,” Lynch says. “But the Black guy must be robbing that car. These are examples of the implicit biases we all live with.”
The difficulty of identifying implicit biases lies in the fact that we don’t always know we have them. These unconscious inclinations often operate outside of our awareness and can directly contradict a person’s espoused beliefs or values. The danger of implicit biases is how they affect our reactions and behaviors without our awareness. The goal of implicit bias training is to help attendees understand and acknowledge the systems of privilege in place that influence these unconscious prejudices.
These conversations are difficult to have, even among members of the DRT, who, by their very presence at meetings, are more inclined to be receptive to reframing their personal perspectives and committed to acknowledging and addressing DEI issues within the community.
“One of the things that keeps people coming month after month is that they can be honest and open at the DRT,” Clark says. “They feel safe talking about issues in a group where people have different perspectives because of their lived experiences.”
Another program offered by the DRT for the past few years centers around the book Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognise Your Privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World by Layla F. Saad. The book operates as a workbook, outlining journaling exercises and conversation prompts that force white readers to reflect on the roots of their own unconscious bias, how they benefit from the systems in place and how white supremacy plays out in their everyday lives. Small cohorts of 20 to 25 people work through the book together, meeting for weekly discussions over the course of one month.
“It’s not really fair to expect people of color to educate white people on issues of diversity,” Clark says. “If white people care about diversity and want to make a change, they need to put some energy into educating themselves. That’s what Me and White Supremacy is all about. The journaling can be difficult. The conversations can be intense, but it’s all very worthwhile.”
Before the pandemic, approximately 30 people attended the monthly DRT meetings. After switching to virtual meetings last year, the DRT has seen a slight increase of participation with up to 50 attendees. Those numbers may seem small, but the impact of the DRT on the larger community is far greater.
“We’re not only touching the people who show up,” Lynch says. “The people who participate in the DRT are armed with information they can use when they encounter injustice at their job, in the community or in their family. That’s the beauty of what the DRT offers. If someone is serious about combatting injustice, DRT is a good place to start. We can inform and educate.” ★
To receive updates about the DRT and information about its monthly meetings, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit diversitytippecanoe.org.
BY KAT BRAZ
On the hunt for seasonal fruits and veggies? You’re in luck. The bounty of community supported agriculture (CSA) in and around Greater Lafayette allows consumers to buy produce directly from the grower. Area farmers markets connect buyers with vendors who can speak with authority on how plants were grown and how livestock was raised. Buying from a local source also reduces the carbon footprint required to acquire your food. Many area farmers adhere to organic practices, harvesting at peak growing season to deliver fresh food that’s both delicious and nutritious.
As COVID-19 guidelines continue to evolve, please consult websites and social media accounts for the most up-to-date information on market policies.
Lafayette Farmers Market
8 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Saturdays, May through October; Fifth and Main streets
The area’s largest open-air market, Lafayette Farmers Market dates back 182 years and is one of the state’s oldest outdoor markets. Vendors peddling produce, seedlings, flowers, meat, eggs, jams, breads, wood crafts, health and beauty items, home goods and even concessions line the cobblestones along Fifth Street every Saturday morning throughout the summer.
“Our market puts an emphasis on local-first,” says Rebecca Jones, quality of life coordinator for Greater Lafayette Commerce. “Our vendors come from within a 90-mile radius. We also prioritize vendors who sell produce to honor the market’s roots as a place of commerce for farmers and cultivators. At least 70 percent of items sold must be produced locally first-hand by the vendor. The remaining 30 percent must follow the same rules of being produced first-hand and be traceable to the maker or farmer.”
As a champion of local goods and services, the market offers programming that highlights community organizations, features local musicians and celebrates community holidays. The market also partners with local businesses to offer giveaways for attendees and incentivize giving blood when the Blood Bus visits the market. Vendors collaborate with the Veggie Drop program to provide excess goods to local food banks. The market is administered by Greater Lafayette Commerce on behalf of the City of Lafayette and sponsored by Subaru of Indiana Automotive.
“We know the market is not only a place of commerce, but gathering and idea sharing,” Jones says. “The success of our market is community driven.”
Purdue Farmers Market
11 a.m.–2 p.m. Thursdays, May through October; Memorial Mall
Organized by Purdue Campus Planning and Sustainability in conjunction with Greater Lafayette Commerce, the Purdue Farmers Market features several lunch vendors and other prepared goods vendors, such as bakeries, in addition to some floral and produce vendors.
Guests without a campus parking permit may pay to park in the Grant Street Parking Garage, approximately a five-minute walk. The 2020 market was canceled in adherence of the Protect Purdue COVID-19 guidelines. At press time, a decision about the 2021 market had not been made public.
West Lafayette Farmers Market
3–7 p.m. Wednesdays, May through October; Cumberland Park
Casual and laid-back, the scene at the West Lafayette Farmers Market welcomes shoppers to visit with its 50 to 60 vendors, enjoy dinner from local food trucks and unwind listening to live music. Started in 2005, the market showcases grown and collected goods (such as eggs, honey and maple syrup) alongside numerous crafts and body products including children’s clothing, tie-dye, jewelry, soaps and lotions.
“Our main focus is organic produce, but we have many excellent craft vendors, too,” says Shelly Foran, market manager. “All craft vendors are juried to ensure high-quality goods.”
The market makes a perfect dinner destination with a selection of prepared food vendors, food trucks and bakeries. Two local wineries rotate, serving wine by the glass. The market stipulates that 75 percent of the items sold must be produced locally, within 100 miles of the market. In addition to tips, local musicians earn a small stipend for performing, thanks to two sponsors: The Russell Company and Reliable Insurance. The market is administered by the City of West Lafayette.
Foran describes the dog-friendly market as community-oriented. “It’s a great place to visit and socialize,” she says. “Customers get to know their vendors. We have many shoppers who return each week. We want to be a destination market.”
Local farmers and CSAs
Specifics can vary among CSAs, but in general you commit to purchasing a share — a basket of produce — on a regular basis for the entirety of the growing season. Typically, you can’t dictate exactly what comes in your basket, so it’s a wonderful opportunity to experiment with cooking with seasonal ingredients you might not otherwise purchase. Some CSAs allow for half shares or split shares. Several local farmers offer direct purchase of their goods.
Beck’s Family Farm
Stop by the Beck’s vegetable stand east of Attica for homegrown tomatoes, green beans, zucchini, cucumbers, bell peppers, cabbage, onions, potatoes, cantaloupe and watermelon. It also frequents the farmers market.
This small, family-owned farm and greenhouse in West Point sells flowers, herbs and gourmet vegetables. It’s also frequently spotted at many central Indiana farmers markets.
Double M Farms
Operated by a fifth-generation farmer, Double M’s farming model is grass-based, meaning you won’t find GMOs, animal biproducts or antibiotics in any of the meat they sell. The farm offers grass-fed beef and lamb in the spring and pasture-raised pork, poultry and eggs year-round.
Highland Heights Farm
Based in Frankfort, Highland Heights Farm offers a monthly fresh veggie box subscription available for delivery to Boone, Clinton and Tippecanoe counties. The range of products includes lettuce, greens and herbs, eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, radishes and carrots.
Huffman & Hawbaker Farms
Tippecanoe County-based Huffman & Hawbaker Farms grows tomatoes, jalepeno peppers and banana peppers. Its U-pick strawberry farm usually opens at the end of May and lasts a few weeks.
Purdue Student Farm
A small, sustainable farm located near Kampen Golf Course, the Purdue Student Farm grows vegetables, herbs and cut flowers using the principles that naturally govern balanced ecosystems. Operated under the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, the farm disperses its produce to university dining halls, donations to community food pantries and through publicly available CSAs.
Sycamore Springs on Springboro
This family farm in Brookston raises grass-fed beef and pork and grows fruits and vegetables as well as organic certified garlic. Shop its in-season selection online.
This Old Farm
What started as one family’s commitment to growing wholesome food for themselves has grown into a regional wholesale distributor delivering quality ingredients to restaurants, grocers, schools and cafeterias around the state.
Families can still shop its wide selection of organically farmed meats, eggs, cheeses and other artisan products
available for pick up in Colfax.
Thistle Byre Farm
A pasture-based, sustainable family farm in rural Delphi, Thistle Byre Farm’s mission is to help encourage others to make their homes nurturing, healthy and cozy without the use of chemicals, hormones, pesticides and genetically modified organisms. Thistle Byre offers three different levels of membership for its meat and vegetable CSA.
Trinity Acres Farms
Offering certified organic chemical-free produce and animal proteins, Trinity Acres Farms of Crawfordsville offers two CSA enrollment options. The conventional box CSA features an assortment of freshly harvested produce for 26 weeks, and the shoppers CSA allows buyers to choose their products from its online store.
Wea Creek Orchard
Offering a wide variety of fresh U-pick produce including apples, nectarines, peaches and pumpkins, Wea Creek Orchard makes a perfect family outing. The market, located south of Lafayette, also stocks its own line of canned goods including jams, jellies, salsa and barbecue sauce. Check the website for information about special events.
The Weathered Plow
Featuring fresh produce largely supplied by its own family farm near Camden, The Weathered Plow, 2325 Schuyler Ave., also sells delicious baked goods, take-and-bake meals, made to order sandwiches, candies and more. ★
Parkside | 1902 Scott St.
A Columbian Park staple for decades, Parkside reopened under new ownership just last year. The recently constructed patio opened in September and is nonsmoking, just like the reimagined restaurant. Outfitted with reclaimed lumber, polished concrete and a hanging garden, the stylish outdoor ambiance is a welcome respite. With dinner specials, smoked meats and “the coldest beer in town,” we don’t need an excuse to stop by and stay a while.
Digby’s | 113 N. Fourth St.
Tucked between two tall buildings, Digby’s patio may feel like an exclusive hideaway, and spaciously positioned tables along serpentine pathways dotted with trees lend an air of privacy. Its casual atmosphere belies what is arguably the best patio view in town. Gaze at the Tippecanoe Courthouse soaring overhead as local music emanating from the outdoor stage wafts over you. Reservations accepted, and your pup can come, too.
East End Grill | 1016 Main St.
A seasonally inspired scratch menu, creative cocktails and a modern, urban vibe have earned East End Grill a reputation as one of the hottest spots in town. The restaurant has become an anchor of upper Main Street since it first opened five years ago. Weekend nights, tables are hard to come by without reservations, even more so for the few available on the small dog-friendly patio. Reservations encouraged.
Lafayette Brewing Co. | 622 Main St.
The first brewery to receive Indiana’s small brewers permit back in 1993, Brew Co. — as it’s known to locals — brews traditional ales and lagers on site. The kitchen sends out generous portions of unique pub fare that would satiate any appetite. Whether you stop by on Pint Night (Wednesday), Flight Night (Monday), Seven Buck Sunday or any other night, a good time is certain.
Red Seven | 200 Main St.
Watch the world go by from your patio seat in the heart of downtown. From small plates to seafood to steaks, this new American restaurant offers an upscale urban dining experience for everyone. The extensive line up of seasonally crafted cocktails and local brews are enough to make you linger for an evening. Dogs welcome. Red Seven accepts reservations; although patio seating can be requested, it is not guaranteed.
Sgt. Preston’s of the North | 6 N. Second St.
Is there a more popular patio in town than Sgt. Preston’s on a sunny day? The Canadian-themed bar has been a staple in downtown Lafayette for decades, serving up delicious grub backed by a full bar with weekly dinner and drink specials. Often featuring live music on weekends, your best bet is to head over early to snag a table or visit on Monday for Schooner Night. 21+ only.
Rusty Taco | 3209 Builder Dr.
Relatively new on the scene, Rusty Taco quickly impressed with its diverse menu of street tacos that pack bold flavors. With its festive umbrellas and charming string lights, the Rusty Taco patio gives off the mellow vibe of a place where you want to kick back, relax and forget about your worries for a while. Rusty says, “Tacos are the most important meal of the day,” and we can’t disagree.
Teays River Brewing and Public House | 3000 S. Ninth St.
This comfortable outdoor patio bedecked with picnic tables maintains a communal feeling even with sufficient social distancing. An extension of the laid-back scene that permeates inside, outdoor dining at Teays River features the same unique pub fare and tasty local brews. Bring Fido along; the patio is pooch friendly.
Walt’s Other Pub | 3001 S. Ninth St.
Not only does Walt’s Other Pub have a patio, you might even be lucky enough to score a seat on the balcony. Its immense menu with family-friendly options is sure to please. With 12 beers on tap, a robust wine list and a full bar, you have plenty of choices to accompany your meal. And if you go for lunch you might get served by the friendliest, most outgoing waitress in town. Everyone’s welcome at Walt’s patio, even the dog.
The Bryant | 1820 Sagamore Pkwy W
When The Bryant first opened its doors in November 2018, it already sounded familiar to longtime residents. The restaurant’s name harkens back to the much-beloved Morris Bryant Smorgasbord, which occupied the site from 1951 to 1994. After only a few years, the Bryant has quickly gained a place in our hearts, too. Its upscale, contemporary atmosphere and ever-evolving menu are enticing enough. Throw in one of the most inventive cocktail menus around? We’re sold.
Town and Gown Bistro | 119 N. River Road
Don’t overlook this gem of a place. Although located on a busy thoroughfare, the landscaped patio has been outfitted with numerous pots and planters filled with lush greenery that transform this cozy patio into a delightful oasis. Billed as “unfussy American eats” the chef-driven menu features familiar fare exquisitely executed. In addition to lunch and dinner, Town and Gown also is open for brunch and features a variety of vegetarian options. As if we needed another reason to love it.
Whittaker Inn | 702 W 500 N
The Whittaker Inn’s picturesque country setting is the ideal location to enjoy a relaxing meal artfully crafted with locally sourced ingredients. Not just for out-of-towners, the Whittaker Kitchen is the heart of this inviting B&B just minutes from Purdue. The ever-changing menu offers new delights with each season, though we’re glad to see the scrumptious butterhorn bread rolls have become a mainstay. We could fill up on those alone. Reservations required.
BY RADONNA FIORINI
While much of life slowed or was outright canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, city improvement and development projects continued, and many will come to fruition in 2021. From penguins to new planned neighborhoods, here’s a peek at what’s coming for our communities.
Lafayette’s Columbian Park continues to be a beehive of activity with new attractions slated to open this spring and summer.
The recently constructed $20 million Loeb Stadium, located at the corner of Main and Wallace streets, will be dedicated at the end of January, says Lafayette Parks and Recreation Marketing Manager Samantha Haville. Some COVID-related delays pushed the project’s completion back a bit, but everything should be ready for Lafayette Jefferson High School’s baseball home opener in the spring.
The original Loeb Stadium, built in the 1940s of concrete, was long the site for Lafayette Jeff’s home games, the Colt World Series, and more recently the summer collegiate baseball team, the Lafayette Aviators, part of the West Division of the Prospect League. The new brick stadium, which will seat 2,600 people when suites and lawn seating opens later this year, is also designed as a multi-use space where concerts and family movie nights will be planned.
“We hope to make a big splash for the first Jeff home game and for the Aviators’ opener in early summer,” says Haville. “And we’re opening it up to community partnerships for a wide variety of events.”
The newest additions to the Columbian Park Zoo are scheduled to arrive before the zoo opens this spring. Nine African penguins will be shipped from California to inhabit the penguin house constructed in 2020. Their arrival was delayed because of travel restrictions, but the hope is that these warm-weather birds will feel at home and be ready for visitors by late April.
Another exciting addition, an updated blast from the past, will be a new carousel. Construction on a permanent building to house this family favorite has begun, located between the zoo and Tropicanoe Cove water park. The carousel will feature hand-carved and painted wooden animals that represent some of those found in the zoo, along with exotic species and traditional horses. Haville says no date has been set for the opening of this much-loved ride.
While some of these new projects will not be fully used until the pandemic is under control, several planned features in Columbian Park will be open for individual use this summer.
Phase three of the Memorial Island project is proceeding apace. A new amphitheater with upgraded sound system is planned. The lagoon was drained last year, and sea walls are being rebuilt. Lots of new elements are being added to make the area accessible for folks with disabilities including boardwalks, new bridges, and ADA fishing nodes that jut out into the lagoon and accommodate a wheelchair, Haville says. The parks department is working with Purdue University and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to choose fish that will be stocked in the refilled lagoon this summer.
“We are most excited about the fact that paddle boats are coming back!” Haville says. “The boats will be located on the south side of the lagoon near the train depot. We hope to have them available
Cason Family Park
Keeping with the theme of public parks and outdoor spaces, West Lafayette has several projects in the works, says Erin Easter, director of development for the city.
Cason Family Park is a planned 14-acre prairie-style space being developed in two phases. The park, located on acreage donated by local farmer Lynn Cason at Cumberland Avenue and U.S. 231, is already home to the historic, one-room Morris Schoolhouse. Built in 1879, the school was moved to the property in 2017 and restored so it can be used for educational programs.
Construction on other park elements is slated to begin this year with completion set for 2022. Surrounding the schoolhouse will be outdoor play places, lawns and waterways. There will be picnic pavilions, public restrooms and several trails throughout the acreage.
“This will be a really fun, whimsical place to play that won’t feel forced,” Easter says. “There will be natural playgrounds with climbing rocks, wooden elements and rest areas.”
For bikers and walkers in West Lafayette, a planned 10-foot-wide pathway project will roll out this year. The path will run along Salisbury Street from Kalberer Road to Grant Street and end at Northwestern Avenue. The project will include shifting some traffic lanes and burying utilities, says Easter. Lighting and other amenities will be added during this two-year project, which will provide a safer way for pedestrians to move from the northern side of the city to the Purdue campus.
And the pathway will lead directly to the new Wellness Center just completed in Cumberland Park. This 73,000-square-foot facility houses a pool, gym, walking track, weight equipment and spaces for health classes, Easter says.
“A lot of our parks programming was put on pause in 2020,” she says. “It was difficult not to do those things last year, but we’ll have a beautiful new home (for those programs) when the time is right.” (See story on Page 22)
A New City Hall in West Lafayette
While anticipating summer activities, Easter and other city employees are spending these colder months settling into newly renovated office space at the Sonya L. Marjerum City Hall, formerly the Morton Community Center. Remodeling of the historic building began in 2019 and was largely completed in December when city workers began moving in.
The city offices have moved around for several years, but the more than $15 million renovations should allow the building on Chauncey Avenue to be a permanent home, says Easter. The name of the building was changed to honor the late Sonya Marjerum who served as West Lafayette mayor for 24 years.
“We moved into the building exactly two years to the date that construction began,” she says. “There are so many advantages to this space now. It’s ADA compliant and accessible. Four-fifths of the building space will be focused on parks or city programming and available to the community. And the new City Council chambers will serve as a true home for (the council’s) work. Before there was a sense of impermanence, but we hope this will be our final and forever home.”
City Hall’s first floor now has community space including two dance studios that can also host art programming and other activities. The first floor also houses the City Council chambers and other meeting space. The second floor is home to city staff including the mayor’s office, parks department, clerk’s office and other departments. A customer service desk is centrally located so visitors can easily get the help they need, Easter notes.
And additional community projects are planned between City Hall and the West Lafayette Public Library. Three public spaces will be added that include art pieces that also can serve as road barriers to temporarily block streets for festivals and large gatherings.
Lafayette also is completing some downtown projects and making plans for a new 70,000-square-foot public safety building and parking garage. The first public hearing concerning the facility design was held December 16, and the city hopes to begin construction this year with completion planned in 2023, says Lafayette Economic Development Director Dennis Carson.
The facility, which will be on property just east of City Hall at Sixth and Columbia streets, will house the police department and provide parking for city employees plus extra public parking spaces. The multi-story building will include open plazas for public use and be an asset to downtown living, Carson says.
Several Lafayette streetscape projects wrapped up in 2020 that have made downtown more pedestrian friendly and encouraged both investors and shoppers to see the businesses along Main Street as desired destinations. Paying attention to historic preservation and making the area more consumer friendly has paid off.
“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback and people say being downtown is now a better experience, in a safer environment that is more interactive,” says Carson. “We’ve encouraged outdoor dining, which has been so important during the pandemic, and we have more retail than we’ve had in decades.”
While the growth of brick and mortar stores is a surprise in this age of on-line shopping, Carson says there are more clothing and other retail stores downtown than have been seen in years. That trend shows that the investment in improving sidewalks, installing public art, and focusing on local businesses has paid off as people feel more comfortable lingering and shopping downtown.
“We’re very excited about it,” he says. “It’s a testament that people like to experience things (in person). We know it’s been challenging for some of these shops but we think they’ll hold up and do really well when things open up again.”
Perhaps the biggest project coming to Tippecanoe County is back across the river on the west side of the Purdue campus. As part of the Discovery Park District, the city of West Lafayette, Purdue Research Foundation and Old Town Design Group from Indianapolis have launched a planned housing development called Provenance.
Work has begun on apartments at the southwest corner of State Street and Airport Road to be followed by condominiums, town homes and single family homes, says West Lafayette’s Easter, adding that commercial and retail spaces are also part of the mix.
According to information from Old Town Design Group, this multiphase project will eventually include walking paths that connect to nearby parks, golf courses, shops and restaurants. The development includes lots for 56 single-family homes and 30 townhomes.
So grab your mask and take a drive around our communities to see the changes coming. While it feels as if our lives are shrinking, there are brighter days ahead with much to celebrate. ★
BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
This year marks the 95th anniversary of Kirby Risk Corporation, founded in 1926 when J. Kirby Risk borrowed $500 from his father and joined Otto Keiffer to open the Keiffer-Risk Battery Company in a small, abandoned blacksmith shop in Lafayette. Keiffer left the company within the year and was replaced by George Tweedie. The company became Risk-Tweedie Electric Service, and Risk was able to repay his father that $500 loan.
After Tweedie’s departure in 1934, the company was renamed Kirby Risk Electric Company, expanded into wholesale distributions of electric supplies and moved to a new downtown location in 1941. Through it all, Risk remained committed to a concept the company now refers to as sacrificial service.
Risk’s son, company CEO James Risk III, describes sacrificial service to mean placing the highest value on customers, employees, vendors and community relations.
“My father felt strongly that your life’s activities and your business should be based on integrity, respect for people and valuing others,” Risk says. “My mother and father were an amazing team. I learned by watching them that true happiness comes from serving others or enriching the lives of other people.”
The second-generation leader recalls accompanying his father to the company warehouse on evenings and weekends as a child.
“I was fascinated walking down the aisles with all of the different products, parts and equipment,” Risk says. “I didn’t necessarily know their purpose or understand how they worked.
Risk first started working at the company during summers while he was in school. After graduating from Purdue University with a degree in management, he began his career at the sales counter and worked his way up to vice president of sales before he was named company president in 1972 at the age of 30. No stranger to leadership, Risk had already served as president of the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce.
A commitment to community service is another value Risk learned from his father. According to Risk, his parents “left us a legacy of valuing others and having a sincere concern for your fellow man.” Among his many contributions to the community, the elder Risk championed bringing Junior Achievement to Lafayette and the younger Risk participated in the program in high school.
“The cornerstone to our company’s success is a commitment to long-term relationships with our employees and their families, with our customers, and with our vendors,” Risk says. “Equally important is having a presence in our communities. Our employees are encouraged to get involved in their communities, value other people and simply do more than what is expected. My parents lived their lives that way and I just tagged along for the ride.”
Eddy Del Real was 4 years old when his father, Jose, opened Del Real Auto Sales. Jose still worked at Alcoa at the time. He’d wake up at 6 a.m. to go to the car auction, report to the plant at 3 p.m. and get off shift at 11 p.m. His three sons, Alonzo, Eddy and Tony, began helping out at the lot as kids, washing cars and performing other odd jobs on weekends or after school. Now all three sons — and their brother-in-law — work for the family business.
“It wasn’t ever expected of us. We were raised to do what we love,” Eddy Del Real says. “For me, it’s an awesome opportunity. We’ve always been family oriented. We were all brought into the business. We each have investment in it. Dad showed us the ropes and we took it from there to broaden the business and expand it.”
Since its founding in 1987, Del Real has expanded into three locations. Eddy manages the flagship Del Real Auto Sales in Lafayette; Alonzo runs Del Real Auto Connection on Sagamore Parkway, Lafayette; and Tony opened Del Real Automotive Group in Frankfort.
In terms of his father’s leadership style, Eddy Del Real says Jose’s
approach has always been firm,
“There isn’t really a hierarchy of titles,” he says. “We were all raised as equals. We’ve never really had a boss. My dad has the knowledge, so we would ask him for advice and roll with it. He’s shown us that if you put your time and your investments into the business, you’ll reap the benefits. He’s done well for himself, and we want to continue that legacy.”
Eddy Del Real said one thing that sets the family business apart from other auto dealerships is the way they do business. Because their business carries the family name, the Del Reals are invested in every single sale. The company values stem from Jose’s strong work ethic and belief in transparency of the deal — no gimmicks, everything is sold with a warranty and deal the way you want to be treated. Though his sons manage the day-to-day operations, Jose is still involved in the business.
“We still go to the auction together,” Eddy Del Real says. “Sometimes we’ll talk business at the dinner table when we’re all together. It’s something that will always unite us. My mom and our wives are the ones that keep us grounded.”
Basim Hussain started hanging out at his dad’s place of work when he was still too young to be on the payroll. What kid wouldn’t want to spend all day in an ice cream shop? Sabir Hussain operates three Coldstone Creamery locations throughout Greater Lafayette. Once Basim was old enough, he sought employment at one of his father’s stores.
“He considered applying for other jobs, even interviewed for a few. But they just weren’t for him,” Sabir Hussain says. “The way we provide flexibility to young people in school and sports and other activities, we go above and beyond in recruiting and keeping young employees.”
Basim’s only concern about working for his dad? He was worried he’d be missing out on a real work experience.
“At the end of the day, your dad probably won’t fire you,” Sabir Hussain says. “But Basim gets admonished just like anyone else, and to be honest, a little bit more than others. There’s extra pressure if the owner’s son isn’t in proper uniform.”
Hussain takes a long-term approach in developing his young workers. He looks for opportunities to challenge them to see alternate perspectives. He encourages them to be problem solvers. He guides them in cultivating strong customer relations skills that could be applied to dealing with clients in almost any future career path. Basim, now a freshman at Cornell University, remained at home during the fall
semester due to the pandemic. While enrolled in online courses,
he still worked part-time in his father’s store.
“For all my young employees, I hope there is something they pick up from this job that stays with them for the rest of their life,”
Sabir Hussain says. “I truly believe
it takes a village to raise a young person. My role may not be
counselor or teacher or pastor, but at the same time, it’s not nothing. I’m not just a person who signs
their check.” ★
BY JANE MCLAUGHLIN ANDERSON
MELISSA MORRIS PHOTOGRAPHY
As we happily flip over the calendar to 2021, discover a new place to pursue wellness for mind, body and spirit in Greater Lafayette. The West Lafayette Wellness Center opened in early January, just in time to pursue your New Year’s resolutions. Located in Cumberland Park on the north side of West Lafayette, it is open to everyone, regardless of residence. A recreation and indoor aquatic facility has been on the city’s bucket list for more than 30 years; the timing couldn’t be better to build a holistic center for health. The Wellness Center has something
Wellness Center Director Kevin Noe says, “This is much more than a gym or a fitness center; we are growing a community and building relationships with a wholesome family atmosphere. You can bring your kids in and drop them off at the Clubhouse while you take a class. You can work out while your kids are at basketball practice.” Having the space to create new programs and room to grow is exciting for the West Lafayette Parks Department, which most recently operated out of the former Happy Hollow Elementary School building.
The 7,300-square-foot fitness floor includes a full line-up of strength training and cardio equipment with a view. Wrap-around windows overlook the park, outdoor playground, pond and the adjacent Michaud-Sinninger Nature Preserve, teeming with wildlife. Inviting nature to indoor and outdoor activities sparks energy and wellness, reduces stress and gives people a place to connect with others the old-fashioned way – in person.
The large hybrid pool can accommodate swimmers of all abilities. There are three different ways to enter the pool: zero depth with water features for children, traditional stairs, and a wheelchair lift. The indoor aquatic facility features four lap lanes and areas for swim lessons and group exercise. There’s even a vortex section to walk with or against the current. Dive-In Movies in the pool area are just one of the fun programs in store. Parks Superintendent Kathy Lozano says, “Swimming is a lifelong exercise and something you can do well into your 80s or 90s.”
Like to play games? Great! There are plenty of opportunities to play sports in the two wooden floor basketball-sized gyms or the multi-purpose gym striped for pickleball. A four-lane running/walking track overlooks the gymnasium and is a great way to keep moving in the winter. If you like exercising in a group atmosphere, the Wellness Center has three studios for classes. The Wellness Center will hold youth and adult sports programs and summer camps in this space, but they are not included in the membership fee.
Membership includes unlimited use of the pool, open gym, strength and cardio equipment, indoor walking track, group exercise and wellness classes, and childcare while you work out. Members receive discounts on swim lessons and personal training, along with special member-only activities. Membership is open to everyone; however, households who pay West Lafayette property taxes and active military are exempt from the joiner’s fee.
Non-residents pay the one-time fee in addition to their membership package. No contracts are required, and members may put their accounts on hold for three months a year if needed. A variety of individual and family memberships are available, as well as daily passes. See the website for details, wl.in.gov/parks, or stop by the Wellness Center at 1101 Kalberer Rd., West Lafayette.
Integrating the Wellness Center within Cumberland Park provides opportunities to commune with nature and increase well-being. A marked 5K trail weaves around the grounds of the building and through the park. Eventually, the trail will lead to the new Margerum Government and Community Center.
In its very definition, recreation is the refreshment of one’s mind or body after work through an activity that amuses or stimulates; play. The Well-
ness Center is a prescription for attaining that refreshment.
“The Wellness Center has something for every health seeker,” says Wellness Coordinator Rachel MacDougall. “It’s no secret that exercise has many benefits. The Wellness Center will be a great tool for the community to focus on physical, mental and emotional health and well-being.”
Community rooms can be rented for meetings or gatherings with a nearby warming kitchen available. There’s even a party room by the pool to host children’s birthday parties. DogStudio is commissioned to create an interactive motion-sensing art piece in the lobby guaranteed to captivate and emotionally engage visitors. Check out West Lafayette Parks’ Facebook page for dynamic news, photos and videos of the Wellness Center and all parks and recreation activities. ★
“The Wellness Center will be a great tool for the community to focus on physical, mental and emotional health and well-being.”
BY KAT BRAZ
The original idea behind Art with a Happy Heart Gallery and Studio was simple: find a way to share art and support the community at the same time. After quickly outgrowing her barn studio, owner and artist Sarah Czajkowski purchased the building previously occupied by Samson and Delilah Salon and Spa at 2139 Ferry St. in Lafayette. She set about transforming the space and opened to the public on July 1.
The gallery showcases artwork from local, regional and international artists while the studio provides an area for private art instruction, classes taught by visiting artists, seasonal craft workshops and paint parties, which is where Czajkowski got her start.
“Paint parties lend themselves to creativity and connection,” she says. “The experience fosters a real sense of self-confidence and pride. Guests are surprised and amazed that they created the artwork themselves.”
Czajkowski also offers a mobile paint party studio where she brings all the supplies to any location up to an hour away. The parties have been popular with girls’ night out groups, family reunions, children’s birthday parties, corporate events, bridal parties, church groups and fundraisers. Paint party kits are also available for purchase in the gallery. During the pandemic, Czajkowski has focused primarily on private group parties. Future plans for the venue include serving wine, beer and a small food menu on the outdoor patio and hosting live music once a week in addition to building out a full calendar of courses in fine art, pottery and jewelry making.
“To be able to do this for a living brings me so much joy,” Czajkowski says. “All I want is for people to be happy while they are here. It’s truly a magical place.”
The Art Museum of Greater Lafayette was founded in 1909 with a three-part mission to collect art, exhibit art and provide educational opportunities for individuals in the community to learn about art and experience art hands on. The museum has remained true to its mission over the years, but COVID-19 presented challenges for traditional in-person instruction. Instead, the museum quickly pivoted to a virtual environment.
“Many of our faculty members created online learning experiences,” says Kendall Smith, executive director and CEO. “We’re trying a lot of new things.”
Last fall, the museum offered virtual classes in painting and drawing for kids and adults through Zoom and Facebook Live. Additionally, watercolor kits are available for purchase through the museum shop for students to use at home while watching a series of watercolor technique videos recorded by a member of the museum faculty. The pottery studio remains open to advanced students with limited occupancy.
“The reaction from the community has been very positive,” Smith says. “Several of our online children’s art classes have sold out right after they were announced. We plan to continue to offer virtual education and create video productions to enhance what we offer in the future. We’re all learning a lot.”
» All Fired Up
In addition to its paint-your-own pottery studio, All Fired Up offers off-site parties and pottery-to-go kits with everything you need to complete a masterpiece. Items painted with pottery paints can be returned to the store for firing to make them food safe. Decorative items that do not need to be food safe can be finished in acrylic paints. Learn more at allfiredupwestlafayette.com.
» Art Museum of Greater Lafayette
Find online art activities and tutorials as well as information about virtual art classes for youth and adults at the Art Museum’s website, artlafayette.org.
» Art with a Happy Heart
In addition to private paint parties, artist-led workshops and even yoga classes, this recently opened studio and gallery holds open studio events where you’ll walk away with your own seasonal craft. Find out more at artwithahappyheart.com.
» Inspired Fire
Owned and operated by glass artist Sharon Owens, this glass studio and gallery located in Shadeland offers a range of classes for ages 6 and up with no experience required. See a complete list of class offerings at inspiredfire.com.
» Lafayette Atelier
Modeled after private art studio schools that emerged in 19th century Europe, this nonprofit art education studio was founded by artist James C. Werner. Focused on classical methods of drawing, painting and sculpture, the studio offers weekly demonstration and life
drawing nights. Find them on Facebook @classicalfinearttraining.
» LaLa Gallery & Studio
Owner Angela Taylor teaches lessons, classes, parties, groups and students with special needs starting with children (3+) to adults in her private pottery studio located in the Bindery Artist Studios. Each class offering can be customized according to the student’s interest and level of experience. For more information, visit lalagallery.com.
» West Lafayette Parks and Recreation
Everything from basket weaving to watercolor to photography is on offer through West Lafayette Parks and Recreation. All programs take place at 1200 N. Salisbury St. (site of the former Happy Hollow Elementary School). View the entire recreation brochure at westlafayette.in.gov/parks.
BY ANGELA K. ROBERTS
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY GREATER LAFAYETTE COMMERCE
When you think of Greater Lafayette, what comes to mind?
A growing startup culture and world-class manufacturing?
Accessible arts and recreation for varied interests? Friendly
neighbors and excellent public schools?
For the members of the Greater Lafayette Marketing Coalition (GLMC), these qualities and more boil down to this core message, which marketing professionals call a brand promise:
“Greater Lafayette is where progress, creativity and community thrive, so you can live expansively.”
More than two years in the making, the unmasking of the brand — unveiled in the Long Center in October to dispersed guests sporting an assortment of understated and glittered masks — includes new social media accounts, a video, a set of Greater Lafayette logos and a fresh website in a saturated palette of purple, green, orange, blue and teal. The stories that the visuals and the text tell are all designed to send the message that Greater Lafayette is not just a place that we come to; it’s a place where we want to stay.
Greater Lafayette’s brand is rooted in part in lessons learned from a major business development deal.
“We continue to hear stories of people who came here and thought they would stay for a while, but they never left,” says Cindy Murray, Lafayette city clerk. “When we were going through the process to bring in GE, what they used to choose our community, it really began to hit home that we needed to market ourselves to compete in a global economy for global talent.”
When the GE plant was built, she says, corporate officials stayed at the Holiday Inn Lafayette-City Centre and participated in a community scavenger hunt. Afterwards, the visitors met with Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski and remarked that they didn’t know the region had so much to offer. Murray says that the mayor and his staff realized that they needed to tell the Greater Lafayette story in an entirely new way. “It’s all about people, the quality of life for people that makes them give Greater Lafayette a chance,” she explains.
In May 2018, Greater Lafayette officials invited firms to bid on developing a comprehensive strategy. Ultimately, they chose Ologie, a firm that has worked with Purdue University in the past.
“They are a true branding agency who helps companies with clear, compelling and consistent strategy,” says Emily Blue, senior manager of brand, advertising and sponsorships at Purdue, who has been intimately involved in Greater Lafayette’s branding process.
The firm completed a deep dive with both qualitative and quantitative research, including an audit of economic development plans and communications materials, discussion groups and interviews with key stakeholders, and an online survey of the community. Among the constituents queried: corporations, businesses, K-12 schools and higher education, community and nonprofit organizations and government organizations.
The Greater Lafayette Marketing Coalition formed in February 2019, bringing together representatives from the City of Lafayette, the City of West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County, Visit Lafayette-West Lafayette, Purdue University, the Purdue Research Foundation and Greater Lafayette Commerce. One of the group’s first decisions was to ask member organization Greater Lafayette Commerce to coordinate the project and brand management for the coalition. Greater Lafayette Commerce promoted its marketing director, Michelle Brantley, to the role of project leader and brand manager.
Once the discovery process was complete, it was time for phase two, strategy. Against the backdrop of its research report, and with GLMC in a collaborative role, the firm identified key audiences, outlined key messages and defined a brand personality — how that messaging should look, feel and sound.
As phase three, the creative, began, GLMC again engaged in a competitive process, choosing Toledo, Ohio-based Madhouse Creative for the video, and homegrown advertising firm Dearing Group for website development. Officials also began training a small group of Lafayette business professionals, executive directors and community leaders — “An ambassador group to generate excitement,” says David Byers, Tippecanoe County commissioner.
Collectively, the identity is designed to meet three main goals: increasing the talent pool by retaining and attracting a citizen workforce; spurring economic growth by attracting business investments and elevating quality of life; and increasing positive perceptions of the Greater Lafayette region. All of that can be summed up in the nearly five-minute video, starring a former NBA dancer and her husband.
“We were challenged to tell our story as a community on the rise in an exciting way,” says Brantley. “We’re focused on prospective employees, businesses and others that we are seeking to attract to our area.” That required several messages, borne out of the constituent research: what kinds of value-addeds transplants get when they relocate here, how Greater Lafayette often exceeds newcomers’ expectations, and why the region is a great place to do business.
All that, and they were shooting during a pandemic.
After crafting a narrative, the Madhouse Creative team decided to cast a couple living in the same household so that they could shoot up close and still adhere to infection control protocols. Strategic camera angles allowed the two main characters to be shot in view of others while socially distanced from them. Filmed in August, many of the scenes take place outside.
The main character, an advanced manufacturing professional from a big city, interviews with several local companies before joining the crew at Subaru. While out running one day at the Celery Bog, she meets an agricultural tech entrepreneur. From dates at the Bryant, to bike rides, to a city hall wedding and walks with a baby stroller, we see the couple meet, fall in love — with each other and the community — and set down roots here.
Even in its fiction, the story should ring true to those who are familiar with Greater Lafayette, from the many familiar sights and sounds to the feelings that it evokes. As the protagonist muses, “When I moved here, I was looking for change. But what I found was home. This is the rich, full life I’ve always wanted. Each of us, every single person in our community, is what makes this place… greater.”
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
The Greater Lafayette Marketing Coalition held a scaled back brand launch event on Monday, Oct. 26, hosting a group of elected officials, corporate,
university and civic leaders, and brand ambassadors.
The event was planned in two parts to disperse guests and maintain COVID-19 protocol. GLMC partnered with restaurants and The Long Center for Performing Arts to provide a safe and entertaining brand premier event. Guests were asked to select their restaurant of choice and enjoy a four-course meal before the premier. Mixing and mingling at the restaurants was discouraged. Each venue was unique, providing guests with live entertainment and surprise swag bag deliveries during the dinner party experience.
After dinner, guests made their way to the Long Center for the brand premier, where they were treated to a red-carpet experience complete with a Greater Lafayette Walk of Fame. Again, mixing and mingling was minimized and guests were directed to their socially distanced seats. The program began with a dazzling performance of the Greater Lafayette brand narrative by Dance Dynamics. It was followed by short segments that revealed the elements of the new brand, including brand colors and logos, Greater Lafayette Magazine, the website and brand video.
We encourage readers to view the video at www.greaterlafayetteind.com,
the home page of the Greater Lafayette website.
BY KARIS PRESSLER
Just inside the Northend Community Center, to the right of the main entrance, is a bulletin board with a spray-painted title that reads “Community @ Work.” Guests and volunteers brush past the corkboard peppered with job announcements while heading toward meetings, the pool, the indoor PlaySpace, or any of the nonprofit organizations housed inside the building. The space around the board seems to inhale and exhale every time the automatic front doors swish open and front desk volunteers greet guests.
Several steps from the front desk Rod Hutton works in his office. As director of Northend, Hutton sees the comings and goings of almost everyone who passes through the community center.
“If you want to see a happening place, you need to visit the Senior Center,” says Hutton, while pointing to a set of doors just around the corner.
On this morning at the Tippecanoe Senior Center, more than 25 seniors play bid euchre, where cards feverishly flutter toward the center of tables, and the sound of knuckles knocking on wood echoes as players signal their wish to pass. While the groups play, several Meals on Wheels volunteers buzz about, preparing to serve the day’s lunch.
Meanwhile, tucked into a quiet corner, the Senior Center’s Art Expressions group creates. Here, Barbara German paints a landscape of a rowboat resting on calm water, while Kay Pickett puts the finishing touches on a painted replica of the quilt square that hangs from her family’s barn in Michigan.
There’s life and light, color and sound in this space, and throughout many community centers in Greater Lafayette.
This is a community at work.
“It’s one continual history,” explains Hutton, when considering the organic spread of Faith’s community centers throughout Greater Lafayette that started when Faith East opened in 2007, followed by Faith West in 2013, and the Northend Community Center in 2018.
Sharing a common connection through Faith Church, each Faith community center works to meet the unique needs of the surrounding neighborhoods. Faith East caters to the recreational and childcare needs of those living on the east side of town, while Faith West offers housing and programs for Purdue’s students, faculty and international community.
Northend, the largest community center in Faith’s network, nurtures partnerships with 13 area organizations that have dedicated space either inside or next to the community center.
Hutton explains that being able to collaborate with established organizations that serve the community well — such as Bauer Family Resources, Hanna Community Center and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Lafayette — is “a big piece of what makes the Northend tick,” because it allows everyone to connect.
At Northend, a dedicated team of volunteers known as The Care Team spends more than 50 hours a week addressing the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of community members.
“What they do is sit down and listen, hear the story, understand and build a relationship,” explains Hutton. He continues, “We need to be able to understand where people are coming from. The attitude of empathy and understanding is one of the best things we can do to actually help.” Although the Care Team may not be able to fix needs immediately, team members work to connect individuals to resources, including the organizations inside of Northend that are equipped to help.
Hutton shares that there are no current plans to build additional Faith community centers. “We want to grow what we have right now. … We will always continue to dream, but right now what we’ve been dreaming about is how can we grow and love the community with the facilities that God has blessed us with.”
River City Community Center, located on Old U.S. 231, is the newest community center to open in Greater Lafayette.
“The question that I’ve gotten from many community members is, ‘Can I use this space?’ And the answer is, ‘Absolutely!’” says Terry Gilbert, director of the community center.
“This center is about reaching out to the community, it’s about engaging in partnerships both with individuals, nonprofits and businesses. We hope that it will be like an intersection between those that are of faith, and the business and commerce world,” he explains.
The center is currently collaborating with Purdue’s School of Nursing in a service grant that aims to assess healthcare needs, and also works with Food Finders to host a bi-monthly River City Market Food Pantry. “We have the pleasure of serving 300 to 400 people out of this food pantry every month,” Gilbert says.
Whenever Gilbert needs a reminder of River City Community Center’s purpose, he recalls this story.
“This was maybe two years ago, it was summer,” he begins.
“I was here with a group of Purdue students; they’re connected through (River City Church’s) program called Chi Alpha. They were here doing some landscaping work for us, pulling up weeds and stuff like that.”
The building, a former grocery store that sat abandoned since 2005, had just been donated to River City Church, and Gilbert brought the students inside the cavernous space to share his vision for the future community center. Suddenly, a woman entered and exclaimed, “Who’s in charge of all this?”
Gilbert recalls introducing himself and gently asking the woman if there was anything he could help her with, as the 20 college students watched.
Then the woman began to cry.
She said, “I just want you to know that I’ve been living in this neighborhood for almost 20 years. And this place has been an absolute eyesore. And every time I look at it I was like, ‘This would be a great place for kids to come play.’… ‘I cannot thank God enough for you guys and what you’re doing in this community because this community really needs something like this.’” She then retrieved $1.26 from her pocket, handed it to Gilbert and said, “This is all I have right now. Can you use this?”
“That’s who we owe it to,” says Gilbert – the citizens of Lafayette’s south side who want to invest and see their corner of the city continue to develop and grow.
Walking into the Lafayette Family YMCA feels a little like walking into a town nestled within a town.
The sprawling 120,000-square-foot space located on South Creasy Lane hosts a steady stream of people en route to exercise classes, the gym, the pool, IU Health and Franciscan healthcare appointments, child care and more. More than 3,700 individuals enter the facility every day.
As Paul Cramer, president and CEO of Lafayette YMCA, gives a guided tour of the facility he opens a set of secure doors and enters Junior Achievement (JA) BizTown. Here, storefronts of familiar local businesses such as PEFCU, Caterpillar, and Kirby Risk line a miniaturized main street. Then, it suddenly becomes clear. This really is a town inside a town.
“You may want to move off the grass there, you could get a citation from the city,” jokes Cramer. He points to a painted patch of grass covering the cement floor and then motions toward the Lafayette City Government office several steps away. “There’s city council, there’s the mayors, there’s the CEOs, they’re here for the whole day,” he says of the 12,000 students who will visit this JA BizTown space throughout the school year to learn in this virtual setting.
Cramer’s energy crescendos as he explains. “So, they’re going to learn financial literacy in the preschool programs (at the YMCA), here they can learn it in the elementary, middle and high school. Then Ivy Tech takes them through the college level.”
This is the heartbeat of the YMCA – connecting people of all ages to positive programming whose long-reaching effects can spill over into successive generations. Cramer explains that the mindset at Greater Lafayette YMCA is “Infants to infinity … we want to be multigenerational in reaching and experiencing.”
After opening in December 2018, this facility has become a shining example for YMCAs across the country. “So, everything in this building was designed about partnerships and collaborations. That’s why this is a new model for the country,” explains Cramer, who says that planning for this facility began over a decade ago when leaders from Ivy Tech approached the organization hoping to form a partnership.
Building the new YMCA on a plot of land just steps from Ivy Tech’s Lafayette campus now gives Ivy Tech students everything from affordable childcare, access to the fitness center, and an invitation to join classmates in the gym when the school hosts athletic events with other Ivy Tech campuses.
In addition to working closely with Ivy Tech, the YMCA also partnered with Franciscan Health and IU Health to create space within the facility for healthcare services. More than 300 patients a day visit the facility to receive physical and occupational rehabilitation, then are encouraged to continue exercising at the YMCA once their rehabilitation goals are met.
Collaboration is key, according to Cramer. “Really I think what helped this move along so well was the wonderful relationship between the county and the city and how they work together in a collaborative way. And that’s what this is. Our theme here is, ‘We complete one another. We don’t compete with one another’… It’s really a community that works together.”
Greater Lafayette YWCA had a lot to celebrate as 2019 marked the 90th year of the organization’s presence in Lafayette, the 50th year of the YWCA Foundation, 40th year of the Domestic Violence Intervention and Prevention Program (DVIPP), and 25th year of the Women’s Cancer Program.
The organization started at a critical point in history when the first meeting was held at the Community House Association, now Duncan Hall, just months before the stock market crashed in 1929. “When the YWCA was started by this fearless group of women, this was in one of our country’s most dire times… this was a period of time when our country was in a chaos and people weren’t starting new organizations,” explains director Allison Beggs.
Through it all, the YWCA has remained a steadfast force in the local community by working to empower women and eliminate racism.
“While women are the (primary) market we serve, there are male victims of domestic violence and those who identify as transgender or other. We serve all of those populations. It really doesn’t matter where you live, who you love, what you believe; we serve everyone,” says Beggs.
The organization’s impact has extended well beyond Tippecanoe County. In 2018, the YWCA’s Women’s Cancer Program staffed by seven employees provided nearly 4,000 free breast and cervical cancer screening services to women in 41 Indiana counties. That same year, DVIPP assisted in filing nearly 450 domestic violence protective orders and provided more than 9,000 nights of safe shelter in the 30-bed facility located in the historic Rachel and Levi Oppenheimer house on Sixth Street.
Beggs praises her staff for serving with heart. “You can’t come to work every day in our domestic violence program and hear the stories, the horrible stories that these families have gone through. Or be with a family if they’re diagnosed with Stage IV cancer… our staff has to internalize that each and every day as they’re working through our client needs. It is tough work, and it takes a special kind of person to truly live out our mission.”
In addition to providing consistent comfort, shelter and support, the YWCA also provides opportunities for growth through its Culinary Incubator program, where food and catering businesses use the facility’s commercial kitchen to prep and cook. Beggs hopes that the Culinary Incubator along with a new Dress for Success program will evolve to empower domestic violence victims with training and employment opportunities.
“Ultimately… when you help one family be able to overcome an obstacle, you’ve just created another healthy family in our community that will hopefully go out and pay it forward,” Beggs says.
When considering how the YWCA fulfills its mission, Beggs praises the local agencies who work with the YWCA, such as Food Finders, Mental Health America, Willowstone, Bauer Community Center and The United Way, along with support from the local community. “In other places that I’ve been, while they were good communities, you just don’t see this kind of engagement and involvement from so many different areas of our community as you do in Lafayette…. We have a generous community.”
What spurs this generosity? In Beggs’ opinion it’s Hoosier heritage. “It’s hard working people who care about others and follow the Golden Rule, and I think they truly understand that they’ve been blessed, and they want to bless others. It’s just that simple.”
Below is a sampling of the events, programs and amenities offered within the community centers. For a complete list of services, as well as partnerships, please visit the following websites.
Faith East Community Center
Faith West Community Center
Northend Community Center
River City Community Center
Lafayette Family YMCA
Greater Lafayette YWCA
BY CINDY GERLACH
That’s the message made loud and clear by the many cultural and welcome centers in the Greater Lafayette-West Lafayette community. You are welcome, and your culture is celebrated. One thing that every group makes known: These centers are not limited to the group whose name is used in the title. Each is open and inclusive — anyone is welcome to drop by and take part in activities.
The Asian American and Asian Resource and Cultural Center opened in 2015, with the goal of providing educational and cultural resources for Purdue, as well as for the Lafayette-West Lafayette community.
Programs are in place to help provide academic support to students, with academic outreach being one of the core goals of the center. A number of courses and minors are available to students who want to pursue further study.
The center partners with other organizations across campus to sponsor programming, including speakers, movies, cultural events and panel discussions.
A number of organizations are open to students, with academic, cultural or social missions, all related to Asian cultures.
Born during the tumult of the late 1960s, Purdue’s Black Cultural Center provides a place where the entire community can be educated and enlightened about the African-American experience.
The building is designed to reflect much of that experience. Many of the design elements reflect parts of African-American culture, from the portal entrance — symbolizing the entrance to African villages — to the layout of the building, which incorporates metaphors related to these same villages. The lobby is open, encouraging community rather than exclusion. And an upper wrought-iron balcony railing represents enslaved Africans of the 1700s, who often worked in metal trades and blacksmithing, says Director Renee Thomas.
The center provides a community for all Purdue and community members who have an interest in this culture. Of particular note are the performing arts groups that are part of the BCC, including:
The BCC features a library, a computer room and space for students to gather and be social. And its location between the academic center of campus and the residence halls makes it a convenient stop for students.
“Students who have a greater sense of belonging have stronger retention rates,” Thomas says. “We try to engage them through our programming and our performing arts ensembles.”
The BCC has two very distinct personalities. There’s the standard workday atmosphere between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., when it feels like an academic department. But in the evenings, the place comes alive with a vibrant, social vibe as students take over.
“Lots of students take advantage,” says Thomas. “They really see it as their space as well.”
The International Center focuses on education about various cultures. It offers a variety of foreign language classes and conversation groups in English, which is helpful for newcomers to the United States, says Executive Director Soo Shin.
“They love coming here so they can practice English with people with so many different accents,” she says.
People come to attend language classes for a variety of reasons, from faculty planning to spend time overseas to people planning travel for leisure. The classes also focus on the cultural component and travel essentials.
English as a Second Language classes also are offered, a popular option for newcomers to the area.
Throughout the year, various social activities are held at the center. On Fridays, the Global Café is a free program featuring a speaker on a particular location. Sometimes they focus on life in the United States — how to foster pets, the rules on gun ownership — and other speakers focus on life and the culture in another country.
“People want to hear the other side of the news they never hear about,” Shin says. “It’s so good to break those stereotypes.”
The International Center is proud to host the food bazaar at Global Fest each year, featuring cuisine from nearly 25 different countries.
“When you enter this building, you get rid of the stereotypes and get to see what the real person is like,” Shin says. “This place has been a safe space regardless of where they are from. It’s amazing how word of mouth works; students go back to their home countries and spread the word.”
The Latino Center for Wellness and Education was organized to help integrate the Latino culture into the community.
“We’re promoting our culture and want to highlight our culture,” says board president Cassandra Salazar. “We want to integrate cultures. That’s part of our mission.”
The group’s largest activity of the year is the Tippecanoe Latino Festival each fall. It also features a community resource fair, whose participants include schools, churches, businesses, arts and culture, groups like Greater Lafayette Immigrant Allies and the Mexican consulate.
The event is the group’s largest fundraiser as well, providing support for its other outreach throughout the year.
But Salazar is quick to point out that the organization is not Mexican-centric — all Latino cultures are represented, with board members from all over Latin America.
The center provides resources and assistance to people, including academic scholarships, translation services (including providing translators at school events), referrals for those new to the community (doctors, lawyers, mortgage lenders), and other need-based services.
In December, a large holiday celebration is held, with activities, crafts and gifts for children. In April, Día de Niño is celebrated, a national holiday in many Latin American countries. Literacy is often a focus, with all children going home with a book.
“All of our events are 100 percent free to the community,” Salazar says. “That’s something we strongly believe in. We just want to serve as a resource.”
A welcoming and inclusive community can be found at the Latino Cultural Center, which fosters meaningful dialogue and cultural understanding of all Latinx communities.
Director Carina Olaru feels strongly about inclusion.
“One of our founding mottos is ‘All are welcome,’” she says. Which is why the center has adopted the use of the Latinx, which, while somewhat controversial, is inclusive in ways “Latino” and “Latina” are not.
“We use it here because we want to show that it’s an inclusive space.”
The center offers study space and a computer lab, a place where students can drop in. The building itself is filled with artwork and color, a visual link that clearly illustrates a tie to Latin America.
And not just Mexico, Olaru points out — the center is open to all, the campus community and the community beyond Purdue as well.
The center has a library, which is a great resource for students who are just beginning to learn about their culture and want to explore.
They have a pop-up food bank as a way to help combat food insecurity. And in back of the center is a garden, which can be a teaching tool as well as a place for relaxation.
“It allows for us to think about being mindful,” Olaru says. “Through gardening or just reading.”
The center sponsors speakers and discussions that will benefit students. Last year, for example, it partnered with the LGBTQ center on adoption of the term Latinx and all that entailed.
“What happens at the center comes from what our students and faculty needs are,” Olaru says. “We support them in how creative they want to be.”
Each fall, an open house and research fair, El Puente, welcomes students to campus. A student retreat, Conexiones, invites students to come and build community, with a variety of workshops offered.
“When people think of Latin culture they think of food, fun and fiesta,” Olaru says, “But really, we are the Latino Cultural Center, creating cultural understanding, creating a sense of belonging and creating a dialogue.”
Purdue’s LGBTQ center was organized in 2012 to help support the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students, faculty and staff at Purdue University. Director Lowell Kane is the center’s inaugural director.
Because the center serves the LGBTQ community, it crosses over into all disciplines, all cultures and all walks of life, Kane says.
“We try to show the intersectionality of the community, which is a very diverse group,” Kane says. “Our community is every community. We really are this incredibly diverse population.”
The center is open during the day, offering study space, a computer lab and tutoring for students. There also is a lounge where students can just hang out.
Kane emphasizes the center’s opening and welcoming atmosphere. There is a collection of artifacts on display, illustrating the history and struggles of the LGBTQ community.
The ultimate goal of the center is to help students be successful. The center works toward educating the university on how to create an inclusive campus environment, offering training to faculty and staff. This has created a “safe zone” network across campus, so students can find allies who will offer support.
And because students can confidentially identify as part of the LGBTQ community with their enrollment — and can change that designation at any time — the center has access to a database of grades and demographic trends, seeing where their students most need academic support.
Each fall, the Rainbow Callout is a resource fair for students; it has grown from nine tables in a room at the Stewart Center the first year to filling the Union ballrooms, with more than 1,300 attendees.
And each spring the center offers a Lavender Graduation, which includes about 60 graduates, from undergraduate all the way up through doctoral students.
“It’s very nice, coming together to celebrate the achievements of the community,” Kane says.
The center partners with various groups across campus to sponsor educational programming throughout the year. Last year, it partnered with Convos in bringing the Tony-award winning musical “Rent” to campus. And through a partnership with the College of Liberal Arts and Women and Gender studies, it brought a visiting scholar to campus, Sasha Velour from “Ru Paul’s Drag Race.” She uses her platform to advocate for social justice causes, particularly for LGBTQ women’s rights, race/ethnicity and international issues.
The Native American Cultural Center is home to Native American, Alaskan Native and Hawaiian students, faculty and staff, with more than 60 tribal nations represented.
The center is focused on providing academic support in order to foster student success. It also provides educational outreach about the United States’ indigenous cultures.
Throughout the year, a variety of programs are sponsored by the center. An open house kicks off the year, with tours of the center and a preview of the fall’s events. Students also are introduced to the various student organizations they can join that relate to their culture.
Various programs are scheduled throughout the year, including film screenings and discussions, visiting artists and historical discussions.
Aloha Fridays are a popular event; on the Hawaiian Islands, it’s a farewell to the work week, and here, programming varies, from food to discussion to arts and crafts.
Throughout November, Native American Heritage Month, the center sponsors a number of speakers on history, culture and education.
Pride Lafayette was organized 16 years ago to serve members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer community and its allies. The oldest advocacy group in the state of Indiana, says board president Ashley Smith, it hosts a variety of activities and speakers to help support its constituency.
At its downtown Lafayette location, it hosts a variety of different activities, from support groups for teens or family members, to game and movie nights.
The center is designed to provide flexibility: screens can be moved and arranged to provide privacy to support groups meeting inside; a back door is available for those who want to drop in but need or want to protect their identity as they enter — “Some people just aren’t ready to be out,” says Smith. “We respect their privacy.”
Pride’s biggest and best-known event is its annual OUTfest, a festival that takes over downtown Lafayette each August. It started in 2008 as OUT-oberfest, but over the last 10 years, the event has grown and now features food, music, resources, more than 70 vendors and family-friendly activities. Several local churches and area politicians can be counted as supporters, including the mayors of both Lafayette and West Lafayette. The event always ends in a spectacular drag show; last year’s event included a Freddie Mercury tribute.
Each November, Pride hosts a family weekend, coinciding with other Family Equality events. Families come from all the state to attend.