BY CINDY GERLACH
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY VISIT LAFAYETTE – WEST LAFAYETTE
If someone had suggested 15 or 20 years ago that you take a drive down Wabash Avenue, that suggestion may have been met with hesitation — apprehension, even.
And a suggestion to view the art? Laughable.
Today, what was formerly a hidden neighborhood, a sort of secret enclave of life along the Wabash River, is now a bright spot. And much of the credit goes to Wabash Walls.
This public art installation, a series of murals painted on the sides of buildings both residential and commercial, has breathed new life into this decades-old neighborhood, often considered on the fringe of Lafayette society.
The project got started back in 2016 and 2017, says Tetia Lee, executive director of the Tippecanoe Arts Federation and one of the curators of Wabash Walls.
“At the time, as an artist myself, I’m always looking around,” Lee says. “When I see a beautiful wall, I think a mural would look great there.”
Lee was struck by a retaining wall along Second Avenue; the wheels of inspiration started turning. She ran into Margy Deverall with the City of Lafayette at a Neighborhood Beautification Coalition meeting. She threw the idea at Deverall: Let’s do a mural festival.
“It was all very organic,” says Lee. “We were both ready to take a bigger next step.”
And, as they say, from small things, big things come. The conversation began to draw in others — Stephanie Bible with Habitat for Humanity, artist Cameron Moberg, and Dennis Carson with the City of Lafayette. A proposal was put together, and initial funding provided $50,000 for a project that would be transformative, uplifting and engaging.
The result is a project that has indeed reinvigorated and re-branded the neighborhood. Lee has seen buy-in from not just the artists, but from local businesses – Cargill Inc. came on early as a sponsor — and neighbors. Everyone has delighted in watching the neighborhood come alive with color.
Wabash Avenue has long been considered a marginalized area. The working-class neighborhood, often referred to as the “lower part” of town, is a stronghold of a bygone era. And its reputation has suffered over the past several decades.
It’s a bad rap that seems undeserved, as a current drive through the area reveals tidy houses with well-kept lawns and a diverse population, with younger people gravitating there to live and work. Not to mention a neighborhood spirit that is evident.
“The most important part is that we established a trust with a neighborhood that is marginalized and over promised,” Lee says.
The Wabash Avenue residents were quick to get on board with the project. Early on, Lee says, they opened their doors, inviting her in as the early stages of the feasibility study kicked off.
“They became the vital and most-important part of informing the neighborhood study,” Lee says. “That really demonstrates trust between the city and the neighborhood.”
People who live there can see the charm that others might not. And the murals helped highlight the beauty hovering at the surface.
“They got excited about having artwork in their neighborhood,” Lee says. And about the influx of visitors, as the artists and those who want to view the art descended on their once hidden part of town.
“That’s the real reason it’s been so successful,” Lee says.
Trent O’Brien and his wife, April, run Sacred Ground Coffee House. Like most of the neighborhood, they have seen nothing but positives come out of Wabash Walls.
“It was definitely a really good thing,” O’Brien says. “The whole area has changed.”
O’Brien has seen people getting more involved in the neighborhood, becoming more welcoming. Last year, Sacred Grounds helped host a neighborhood Harvest Festival. Years ago, maybe a handful of people would have shown up, but this 2019 festival brought out hundreds of people.
“This never would have happened 15 years ago,” O’Brien says. “I do believe the art has helped.”
This opening up of the neighborhood, this newfound sense of community is a credit to the art and the artists, he says.
“It brought people here who were out to see the art,” O’Brien says. “It has been very positive.”
In 2018, 10 murals were painted in the neighborhood; 2019 saw 11 more added. Artists featured were from all over — not just the United States, but from as far away as Australia. The onset of COVID-19 delayed the progress for 2020, but the project will expand to areas around the avenue, including crosswalk art to encourage more pedestrian-friendly zones.
Funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and Indiana Department of Health have helped the project continue for a third year.
The fun and funky murals are a boon for the neighborhood, providing beauty, conversation and a real sense of shared identity. Visitors have come from all over the city, the county, even the state, anxious to check out the project.
But the real benefits are more far-reaching. Lee says they’ve seen property values increase as the art has helped improve the area, making it a better, healthier place for residents to live and interact with one another. Once-abandoned buildings have been reclaimed and now feature murals. The micro-economy in the neighborhood has improved as the area has rebranded. It’s a huge improvement in the quality of life.
Working with the neighbors, watching the project come to life has been an amazing process, says Lee.
“Wabash Walls continues to be a highlight to my career,” she says. “I could not have asked for a better neighborhood to work in. They treat me like family. I’m an honorary resident — I love it.”
Because at the end of the day, it’s truly about people.
It’s about the artists who have spent time in the neighborhood, sharing their stories with folks who would stop to watch the work and visit for a bit. It’s about the residents who have opened their arms, welcoming and embracing both the artists and the patrons who come to see the art. It’s about businesses that have come alive and welcomed the partnership of the artists, encouraging the camaraderie among all involved.
It’s the story, Lee says, of the transformative power of art.
“More than ever, we are turning to the arts to remind us that we’re human.”
BY CINDY GERLACH
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY PURDUE MEMORIAL UNION
From the outside, the Purdue Memorial Union stands unchanged, a testament to the past hundred years. The stately brick structure, a mainstay of the Purdue University campus for the better part of a century, welcomes students and visitors alike, as a place to gather and commune.
Yet the once-familiar interior is undergoing a transformation. In some ways, it will look much as it always has, with its architectural themes remaining strong and constant. Yet in so many other ways — some obvious, some more subtle — the Union is recreating itself, thanks to a massive renovation project.
And all in the name of Purdue.
The Union, as so many students have experienced it over the past century, is much like its counterparts around the country. There was a wave of student union construction following World War I; these gothic-inspired buildings opened on campuses in the early 1920s as a monument to men and women from these universities who had fought and died in that war.
Pond and Pond, the architectural firm commissioned to build the Purdue Memorial Union, also built student unions in the 1920s at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and the University of Kansas.
The Purdue Memorial Union opened its doors in 1924. Shops, restaurants and even a bowling alley, along with offices for student services, are all housed in the Union; the Union Club Hotel opened in 1929 when the building was completed.
The basic function of the Union has not, and will not change, says Zane Reif, senior director of the Purdue Memorial Union. But some intentional rebranding has been worked into the renovations.
“We didn’t have any kind of homage to Purdue,” Reif says. “You didn’t walk in and feel like you were at Purdue.”
The $47 million project was funded in part by a gift from Bruce White, an alumnus and founder of White Lodging, a hotel property management group. An additional gift comes from the Dean and Barbara White Foundation.
The first phase of the project, which includes a renovation of the Union Club Hotel, wrapped up in August. The hotel, whose rooms had felt a little tired and dated, has reopened and now sports an updated, more boutique feel. With 182 rooms, it’s still the largest hotel in Tippecanoe County, says Reif, despite losing about 10 rooms as the space was reconfigured.
The lobby, with its new skylight, has a more open and airy feel about it. With select Purdue-themed memorabilia on the walls, the connection to Purdue is much more evident. All guest rooms have been updated; the fitness center was enlarged and reconfigured. A new lobby bar and a hidden patio add to the amenities guests will enjoy.
And, of course, the hotel is a learning lab, as students in the Hospitality & Tourism Management Program take advantage of the real-life experience of seeing an actual hotel in operation.
Epicureans will delight in the new restaurant, 8Eleven Modern Bistro — the name is yet another Purdue reference, paying tribute to two of NASA’s programs, Gemini 8 and Apollo 11. The upscale menu features an eclectic mix of American dishes with French touches, along with farm-inspired cocktails and local craft beers. And the chef’s kitchen is on display, with large windows allowing visitors to watch food preparation in a space that doubles as a training ground for students.
Bundled with the Boiler Up Bar, which features a bourbon room and signature cocktails, guests will not have far to go to relax at the end of the day.
Inside the rest of the Union, changes are in store. Pappy’s Sweet Shop and the 1869 Tap Room are closed and will not return in those locations, though parts of Pappy’s will return in a different configuration in the Union.
Some shops and restaurants are moving around. When the food court reopens, it will not feature your typical student union fast food, says Reif. Instead, 11 new concepts are coming, with Asian, Latin and European influences. Included is Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux, co-owned by Drew Brees, the first appearance of that eatery in a student union, as well as a dining option operated by Scott Trzaskus, Purdue graduate and owner of East End Grill in downtown Lafayette.
The main floor of the Union will be updated and restored. But the building will retain its original character and remain true to the architecture, Reif says.
“It will have a traditional feel, but a modern traditional feel,” he says. “We’re returning as much original stuff as we can.”
The Purdue branding will continue, he says, and the historic arch motif, visible in the windows and also incorporated into the design of much original furniture — some of it still in use — will also remain.
Terraces are being built along State Street, on the south side of the Union; doors will open from inside, giving the area a trendy yet traditional feel. This will increase space for outdoor activities, making the Union much more of a destination for locals, Reif says.
Inside, the space will be modernized. Technology will be updated; there will be better restroom placement, including family and gender inclusive restrooms.
“We will maintain the best traditions of the building while including modern technology,” says Reif.
The project is slated to be complete by January of 2022, Reif says. When the building reopens, visitors will see the same Memorial Union they have come to know and love. But they will see it slightly updated and modernized. It will be more user-friendly to all visitors — more accessible, more welcoming. It will be the perfect space for students and the community alike. And above all, it will have its own identity, Reif says.
BY KEN THOMPSON
Decades after his parents lived in Married Student Housing while attending Purdue University, Rich Michal is playing a role in a “once in a century” project that will turn the complex into a memory.
Michal, vice president of the Purdue Research Foundation, is excited to talk about Provenance, part of the $1.2 billion, long-term Discovery Park District project that will transform the west side of campus with the creation of a walkable urban neighborhood.
Provenance is the latest offshoot of the State Street Project, a combined effort of Purdue and the city of West Lafayette. The $120 million project has, during the past four years, changed traffic patterns from the Wabash River, through downtown West Lafayette and Purdue University out to U.S. 231. Purdue President Mitch Daniels saw an opportunity for the Discovery Park District to take advantage of the State Street work to find industry that would be a good fit with the university’s strengths and then
build housing and amenities for those workers.
“The original genesis was to help finance and help pay for that State Street investment but the bigger picture is this is an opportunity to attract the best student minds and faculty and to retain some of those,” Michal says. ”We’ve got 40,000 students a year, and the majority of those are gradually moving elsewhere. We want to give them a reason to stay in West Lafayette. It’s about providing that live, work, learn, play opportunity.
“Saab and Schweitzer (Engineering Laboratory) love the fact we’re going to have those homes right there where folks can ride their bikes to work in addition to all the educational, cultural and athletic opportunities the university provides.”
Old Town Design Group of Carmel has come up with a plan that will feature a combination of 500 single-family detached homes, townhomes and apartments. Justin Moffett, a partner of Old Town, says the design will hearken back to early 1900s homes with the majority of home lots having garage access through alleys. That eliminates front driveways and enhances the walkability of the neighborhood.
“They’ve done similar projects in midtown Carmel and we loved their product,” Michal says. “They are more of a traditional looking craftsman-style home. They do the front porches and the alley-loaded garages. We felt like their semi-custom product was more appealing and more original.”
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Old Town’s construction plans remain on schedule to begin this summer according to Erin Easter, director of development for the city of West Lafayette. Old Town hopes to have a model home ready by February and begin selling lots this fall.
“This is the first new neighborhood in the city limits in quite some time,” Easter says. “PRF, the city and the university worked closely on the design aesthetic for the neighborhood.”
Provenance is targeting an upscale clientele with single-family homes starting in the low $400,000 range, and townhomes starting at $350,000. By spring 2021, the first families will be able to move into two- and three-story townhomes that will have a private outdoor living area and a two-car garage.
Single family detached homes will be available this spring as well, ranging in size from 1,600 to 3,536 square feet. These semi-custom homes will have the option of master bedrooms upstairs and downstairs, as well as ranch design.
By summer 2021, Old Town anticipates the completion of 142 apartments spread out over four buildings. The following year, 108 more units will be available over five buildings. Studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units will be available.
That won’t be all of the change coming to the west side of campus.
“Between the Aerospace District and Discovery Park District, we anticipate a lot of growth in the southwest side of the city,” Easter says. “Businesses typically follow residents, so once we have a residential base, you will start to see other amenities popping up in the area,” Easter says.
Michal hopes those amenities include health care and a large grocery store, which could lead to the end of another long-standing complex.
“What I’m hoping is two things: one, work with the university to put in a micro-hospital or health care facility,” he says. “The other thing … we’d love to get a 20-30,000-square-foot grocery right there off the corner of State and McCormick. With Purdue and access to students, plus 500 rooftops, we think our chances of landing a grocery will increase substantially.
“Purdue West has been a great facility. It was a great complex and it’s helped us generate a lot of revenue over its lifetime. But it’s old, tired and there may be a better use of the land there. We’d love to have a health care facility there and right across the street, just south of Hort Park, have a grocery and some retail. And all of that will help us attract more students, staff, faculty and corporations.”
Saab, which will be manufacturing military training aircraft, is the latest corporation to buy into the long-term vision. It won’t be the last in Purdue’s effort to retain its best and brightest.
“There are folks working right now with the PRF and the university to try to attract similar businesses to Saab, aerospace and aviation companies,” Michal says. “We’ve got a great partnership with Rolls Royce. We’re also trying to re-establish a commercial service with the airport. We’re hopeful on that.
“We’re trying to help promote and support the university as it changes the world through its faculty, students and technology. We’re attracting corporations here to help them in recruiting our students and tapping into our research institutions. We want them to come here, establish roots and plant a flag on campus.”
Years from now, Michal envisions Provenance being a desirable place to live like another West Lafayette neighborhood.
“Look at Hills and Dales and how beautiful a neighborhood that is,” Michal says. “Something like that.”
BY CINDY GERLACH
If you think downtown Lafayette is looking picturesque these days, then you’ve been watching its evolution. Over the past decades, while the downtown had its share of charm, sidewalks were looking as if they needed an update, a little tweaking to enhance the ambience.
Rejuvenating Main Street, a streetscaping program that has been underway for more than 15 years, continues this summer, improving sidewalks, adding gathering places downtown and planting trees.
It’s a beautification project that not only makes the downtown scene more attractive, but it is a boon to business as well.
Plans for this project date back as far as the late 1970s, says Dennis Carson, economic development director for the City of Lafayette. Funding was made available in the mid-2000s; the first phase of the plan was rolled out in 2005.
So why the need to change the look of downtown? For decades, when people lived and worked near the downtown, it was the major shopping and business center, with retail shops lining the streets, anchored by the Courthouse, with restaurants and movie theaters. It was the shopping and business district.
The feel of downtown Lafayette began to shift and change in the 1960s and ’70s, as it did in downtowns throughout the United States. With widespread use of the automobile and people moving farther away from the city center into more suburban neighborhoods, a shift occurred. By the 1980s, many businesses had fled to Market Square or the Tippecanoe Mall; single-screen movie theaters — places like the Long Center and the old Mars Theatre — had been abandoned in favor of larger multiplexes.
Downtowns were in danger.
But, Carson says, Lafayette’s downtown fared much better than those of other, similar-sized cities.
“Fortunately, even in that time, there was a lot of interest in downtown,” he says. Along with the Courthouse, many law firms and banks remained, as well as the newspaper and other government offices.
So the city took the lead, focusing on historic preservation. Much of the downtown consisted of buildings dating back to the first half of the 20th century, and the city wanted to preserve that architecture, knowing its value.
“One of the early efforts was historic preservation, to establish the historic district,” says Carson. “They really tried to preserve the architecture we have. We lost some, too, but we’ve been able to preserve a lot.”
But the need went beyond historic preservation and into safety. The sidewalks were so old that many had the WPA stamps, dating them back to the 1930s.
“It got to a point where not only did we need to do it for aesthetics, but there were several safety and ADA issues,” Carson says.
Thus the streetscape plan for downtown was meant to enhance the district on several fronts. Clearly, part of the goal was simply to beautify downtown. Sidewalks have been widened, and the corners are larger, with benches added, making it easier for people to gather.
And with wider sidewalks, downtown restaurants were able to take advantage and add more outdoor dining space.
Bike racks encourage people to use other methods of transportation. And public art installations add visual interest.
If you’ve walked through downtown, you’ve seen the improvements. These all make downtown more accessible to people with a specific destination or those who just want to walk and browse, soaking up the small-town yet big-city aesthetic.
“One thing we really want to improve on is the pedestrian experience,” Carson says. “So they don’t park, go into the shop, then get in their car and leave. We want to encourage people to walk the downtown as much as possible.”
For summer 2020, the project expands to upper Main Street, between 10th and 11th streets. Both sides of 10th Street, from Main north to Ferry, will see the widened sidewalks, striping and tree installation. The next phase will see the same improvements on the south side of Main Street between 10th and 11th, as well as 11th Street between Main and Ferry. The final phase, wrapping up at the end of September, will take the project south on both sides of 10th Street to Columbia.
The project is paid for through Tax Increment Financing, or TIF districts. Business owners have been asked to contribute to a portion of the project in front of their buildings.
“There was a little apprehension at first,” Carson says. “But once it was done, everyone was really pleased.”
The energy and enthusiasm associated with downtown has increased over the past few years, with urban living opportunities and more retail and restaurants than ever, says Carson.
Over time, that value will continue to increase. With the variety of arts and culture opportunities, the festivals, and more shopping and dining
options, people will continue to see and enjoy the revitalization of the streetscape project.
“It’s really transformed Main Street,” Carson says. “We’ve gotten a lot of comments; it’s been pretty well received. Over time we’ll see increased property values. It helps, helps maintain these historic structures. It’s been a fun thing and it’s been well received.”
For details on the project, visit lafayettedowntownisopen.com.
While there are about 20 dog grooming businesses in the area, some newer ones focus on strengthening the human/animal bond or providing services such as doggy day care and spa experiences.
Paul Whitehurst, owner of Pooch Palace Resort, had an epiphany in 2016 when his beloved German shepherd Zoey passed away.
“She was my kid. She was everything to me,” says Whitehurst. “When she passed away … I was at a crossroads. For a long time I’d had this idea in my head to provide an upscale pet resort. I wanted to target other owners who are true pet parents.”
After 18 years in the corporate world, Whitehurst decided to pursue his dream, and in 2017 on the first anniversary of Zoey’s passing, he opened the first Pooch Palace Resort on Beck Lane in Lafayette. The business was so successful that in February he opened a second location on Sagamore Parkway in West Lafayette. While ruefully acknowledging that opening a new business during a pandemic is not the best idea, Whitehurst says many customers are grateful that the waiting lists for grooming and boarding are shorter.
Pooch Palace offers grooming, boarding, daycare and training. Dogs boarded there stay in private “hotel” rooms equipped with toddler beds and a television tuned to DogTV. The dogs get five potty breaks each day and absent owners can check in on, and even talk to, their pets through a private Webcam accessed through their phones.
The business also offers grooming and full or half-day care where dogs play in groups either indoors or out. The outdoor play park features a synthetic turf called Pup-Grass specifically designed for dogs. That means your pet will never come home muddy, Whitehurst says.
The business closed for a while as the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up, but it reopened with limited hours and services in April, and then more fully in May. Whitehurst hopes to be back to full capacity by August.
He affirms that one of the reasons his business has been so successful is pet owners are more invested in their furry friends than ever before. But a disruptive family member can bring chaos and tension into a home, so training and understanding is key to living harmoniously with a pet.
That’s where Julie Shaw and her business, Stepping Stone Animal Training, comes in. Shaw has spent her professional career focusing on animal behavior and is one of only 16 board-certified veterinary behavior technicians in the country. After spending many years in private practice and teaching Purdue vet students, Shaw became convinced that dog owners needed help understanding their pet’s behavior and learning how to work with the animal.
“Animal behavior is very complex,” Shaw says. “If owners get the information (they need) early on, it makes a big difference. We are not just treating the dog, but helping the owner understand the world through the dog’s eyes.”
Stepping Stone, located on Teal Road in Lafayette, is dedicated to strengthening and protecting the human-animal bond. To that end, the business offers programs lasting between four and eight weeks for puppies and older dogs. Puppy classes focus on training the littlest fur balls to be calm, happy and emotionally healthy pets. Small class sizes and academy-educated trainers also help older dogs that need to learn socialization skills and manners.
“All dogs have their own quirkiness and individual challenges,” says Shaw. “We encourage what is positive in them and help identify what behaviors they need to work on.”
Shaw emphasizes that the programs are not daycare, but provide a very structured environment in which the dogs are always learning, while still being allowed to be dogs.
Lafayette resident Diana Cavanaugh took her Bernese mountain dog, Jojo, to Stepping Stone in 2017, when the puppy was about three months old. The experience was a good one for the entire family and helped them work together and be consistent with Jojo’s training.
“It was great because we were able to get the entire family involved and everyone was on the same page when it came to training,” Cavanaugh says. “The team that worked with us was very knowledgeable and patient.”
While some of Stepping Stone’s services have been curtailed because of the pandemic, the company’s virtual services have taken off, Shaw says. She offers group, puppy and adult classes online that include videos, reading assignments and virtual check-ins each week.
Shaw is concerned about the many families that have adopted dogs during the pandemic and been home with little structure or opportunity for the pet to be in different situations. When school and regular work schedules resume and the house is empty, those dogs will likely have problems, she says, adding that puppies need to be socialized in their first eight to 14 weeks. In the spring, Stepping Stone began hosting pandemic puppy parties for dogs 16-weeks and younger. Once a week, the pups come to Stepping Stone for supervised play and interaction with new people and other puppies. Owners can watch the fun on their phones.
Shaw takes an holistic approach to each dog’s welfare, assessing both the animal’s physical and mental health. Some dogs have chemical imbalances in their brains and need medication, so understanding each dog’s behavior is critical, she says.
That holistic approach also informs grooming at Stepping Stone. Shaw calls the service fear-free grooming, and dogs are trained to cooperate with the groomer so that the experience is less stressful. For example, dogs are allowed to jump off the grooming table and come back when they’re ready. Each one receives a report card with suggestions for the owner of behaviors to work on.
“We are the first in the country to offer this,” she says. “You pay more because we are using behavior modification. Pain can be a factor in grooming so we are constantly grading them on their emotional and physical health.”
And another local business is training groomers in Shaw’s methods. Kerri Wagner, owner of Bark Avenue Day Spa on Britt Farm Road in Lafayette, and her staff of five worked with Stepping Stone to better understand animal behavior.
“(All dogs) teach us something,” Wagner says. “I believe all of the dogs that are scared and unable to be groomed … have taught us that dogs really do learn and react to everything so differently than us. Stepping Stone Animal Training has really helped us learn this and is teaching us how to help all the animals with their behavior.”
Bark Avenue groomers don’t usually cage dogs coming in for a bath and a haircut. Open-top kennels are used if necessary; otherwise dogs are together in the grooming room. And if Bark Avenue can’t effectively help a dog that comes in, Wagner sends that dog to a Stepping Stone groomer who helps with behavior modification.
And the word “spa” in the company name is not hyperbole. Pet parents can choose for their furry family member a variety of luxury experiences, including mud baths, blueberry facials with a mini face massage and hot oil treatments. If you live in Lafayette or West Lafayette, a groomer also will pick up your pooch from home and bring the freshly coiffed critter back at the end of the work day.
Good training and behavior bring many positives to dogs and owners alike, but some dog owners face the additional challenge of not having a fenced yard or much time for long walks. For those with high-energy animals, a trip to a dog park may be a real treat.
Dog parks give owners the chance to exercise their dogs and provide socialization with other pets and their humans, says Tracy Walder, director of operations for the Dog Park Association of Greater Lafayette. The non-profit oversees Shamrock Dog Park on Sanford Street near Lafayette’s Wabash River. The facility is supported by the Lafayette Parks Department.
“Shamrock Dog Park provides a secure off-leash area for dogs to interact and release energy,” says Walder. “Poor dog behavior is often a result of poor socialization and pent-up energy. The dog park helps owners satisfy the needs of their dogs. A tired dog is a well-behaved dog.”
The facility requires a paid membership and has an extensive list of regulations designed to keep dogs and their owners safe and happy. Dogs must be healthy and up-to-date with vaccinations. Members receive a key fob that allows them into the park.
Shamrock Dog Park enjoys good support from some local veterinarians, who help with fund-raising events and provide information about vaccinations and health issues. Two vets write monthly articles for the member Facebook page and volunteer during special events, Walder says. The volunteer board also appreciates the working relationship they have with Buckles Feed Depot and Pet Supplies Plus, Lafayette companies that support the park’s work.
Walder, who owns CritterSitters (an in-home pet care service) and is a founding member of the park, says overall the members are a close-knit community, working to make their relationships with their dogs a healthy part of their lives.
“Most people are a little apprehensive about the first time letting their dog off leash in the park, and it is rewarding to see other members assure them that it will be just fine,” she says. “Our members find that their dogs are aware when they are headed to the park and are happy to interact with other dogs. People can socialize over a shared interest and also have a sounding board when there are questions about behavior, health, veterinarian or daycare choices.”
Sarah Huber has been going to the park since she moved to Lafayette in 2016 with her dog Hazel. Hazel has since passed away, but now Sarah goes almost every day with her goldendoodles, Juniper and Ike.
“I look forward to going to the dog park as much as my dogs!” Huber says. “Walking them on leashes, even long walks, doesn’t tire them out. They are running and playing the entire time (at the park) and it brings me such joy to see them both run in big circles across the field and play with other dogs. They just seem the happiest and their best selves at the park. Both can barely contain themselves as we pull up to the park each day.”
And there are other perks. Huber wanted her pets to be comfortable around other dogs and people, so the park gives opportunities for Ike and Juniper to have new experiences. She’s made friends there and says going is a great way to either start the day or decompress after work.
“I am as happy as the dogs,” she says. “The members are great. When you go, there’s no pressure to talk to people. You can do your own thing, but if you want to chat, it’s a great group of people.”
Huber’s advice to a pet parent who has never used a dog park is to evaluate your own pet’s behavior and take it slow. If you don’t know how your dog might react to other dogs off leash, first try one of the fields that don’t have many dogs. There are fenced areas for big and small dogs, and the park offers a day pass and occasional free play days. Those dates and other information about rules and requirements can be found on the park’s website.
The park closed for more than eight weeks when the pandemic hit, but it opened again toward the end of May. To help ensure safety, communal toys and water containers have been removed and soap has been added at the water stations. Members are asked to abide by social distancing rules, wear masks and bring their own hand sanitizer.
BY ANGELA K. ROBERTS
Street food in the United States dates back to the late 17th century, when vendors in East Coast cities began selling meals from carts and street kitchens. In the ensuing 300-plus years, food-truck offerings have grown from 19th century chuckwagons to 20th century ice cream trucks and hot dog carts and now to 21st century gourmet restaurants on wheels.
Today, in towns like Greater Lafayette, a growing number of food trucks can satisfy all but the pickiest of eaters. Here, we feature six vendors along with a more comprehensive list for your culinary journey. Check each website for details.
Amber Davis grew up during what she calls the “quick food era, where most of what we consumed involved cans of cream of … boxes or jars of … frozen microwaveable things … powdery mixes of who knows what.” Thankfully, she learned where food really came from by picking vegetables and collecting eggs at her grandmother’s rural home. Now, since 2012, Davis’ EMT (Emergency Munchie Technicians) Food Truck has tended to locals’ homegrown food needs with gourmet vegetarian and vegan menu items, including salads, waffle sandwiches and lemonades crafted from homemade simple syrup and fresh pureed fruit. If you want to kick it up a notch, try the Mac Nugget Poppers, dusted in panko crumbs and fried. “I think mac and cheese is something everyone can get down with,” Davis says. Some menu items are gluten-free. Visit the truck at the West Lafayette Farmers Market, Brokerage Brewing Company and various Greater Lafayette neighborhoods.
On most Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights during Purdue University’s academic year, around the corner from the line at Harry’s Chocolate Shop, you’ll find hungry college students waiting to feast on triple-layered grilled cheese, wonton wraps and other fried goodies that pair well with beer. Begun in 1995 as a push-cart business, Famous Frank’s first sold hot dogs, Polish sausages and Bratwurst outside the original Von’s Comic Book Shop. By 2005, owner Frank Farmer had acquired his first food truck, equipped with a fryer for expanding his offerings. Later, while cooking for hungry college men at a local fraternity, Farmer created his own version of Fat Sandwiches, which he describes as “some sort of concoction of mozzarella sticks, fries, steak and sauces all on a hoagie.” For people wanting a gluten-free and vegan option, Frank’s sells falafel wraps from a local restaurant.
Avocadoes seem to be one of those foods that you either love or hate. But even if you’re firmly entrenched in the latter group, you should find plenty to savor at the Guac Box. It’s owned by chef Matt Bestich, who tested his recipes at a Purdue fraternity before purchasing a truck “fully loaded and ready to go” in 2018. Bestich’s truck specializes in modern Tex-Mex tacos named after friends and family, including the Kelly, a taco with creamy queso and crispy shoestring potatoes, and the Nick, with street corn, cotija cheese and guac. All tacos can be made gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan; the chips – which you can get with hand-smashed guacamole – are made from gluten-free corn tortillas. Currently, the truck parks regularly at Brokerage Brewing Company and has been visiting local neighborhoods during the pandemic. “Food trucks are the original curbside service,” Bestich says.
Working in a coffee shop years ago, Ashley Huff dreamed of opening up her own place where she could serve brewed drinks with a side of positivity. In 2019, when a deal fell through on a building she had her eye on, Huff decided to take her idea mobile. The aptly named Gypsy Joe Coffee Shop sells brewed coffee, lattes, chai tea, lemonade and freshly brewed iced tea. Sugar-free syrups and non-dairy milks such as soy and almond also are available. Unlike most coffeehouse social media accounts, Huff doesn’t post much about coffee at all, preferring instead to infuse her followers’ feeds with words and photos of affirmation. “You will find daily posts from my heart, so if I can’t reach you with coffee, I hope at least that starts your day off right,” she says. For some joe to go, visit her regularly on State Road 43 just outside Battle Ground.
Gary Dowell has loved coney dogs since he was a child. Back then, while riding shotgun in his dad’s fuel truck, Dowell would disembark downtown at Lou’s Puritan Coney Island to pick up lunch while his father drove around the block. Later, when he was working at a local gravel pit, Dowell spent his winter months helping out at Main Street Coney, which had acquired the Puritan recipe. When that establishment closed, the owner gave Dowell the recipe for the savory sauce made of hamburger and several spices, which he used to open a food truck business in 2019. A café at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana followed in 2020. While coney dogs made with the 75-year-old recipe are still a specialty, nacho supremes are the number one seller. Customers needing a gluten-friendly option can ask for a hot dog without the bun.
Mac and cheese with pulled pork or brisket? Why not. For smoked-meat foodies – especially those who like to wash down their meals with a pint of local beer – RTB Chefs routinely parks next to Brokerage Brewing Company, selling sandwiches, wraps and salads, most with smoked meat. Owned and operated by Jordan and Krissy Mirick, the business, which launched three years ago, grew out of a catering company in Illinois. “Chef Jordan has worked in a variety of restaurants from high-end fine dining to a local bar and grill,” the couple says. “We always enjoyed creating food to bring people together.” The truck, which also can be found at Murphy’s USA gas station on Veterans Memorial Parkway, has some vegan and vegetarian options. The meats are gluten-free without barbeque sauce.
Here are some other food trucks in the area:
WoJo’s & MoJo’s Grilled Cheese & More, LLC: facebook.com/WoJo-MoJos-Grilled-Cheese-More
By ANGELA K. ROBERTS
STADIUM PHOTO PROVIDED BY PURDUE MARKETING & MEDIA
OTHER PHOTOS PROVIDED BY PURDUE ARCHIVES
In 1922, David Edward Ross, engineer, businessman and noted Purdue University alumnus, asked Tippecanoe County Judge Henry Vinton to introduce him to another Purdue graduate of note —playwright and syndicated newspaper columnist George Ade, five years his senior.
After meeting in the judge’s chambers, Ross asked Ade to take a short drive with him. Parking at an old dairy farm northwest of Purdue’s tiny campus, they climbed uphill, then peered down into a vast natural bowl carved into the landscape.
Then, as Robert Kriebel writes in “Ross-Ade: Their Purdue Stories, Stadium and Legacies,” the engineer gave a pitch something like this:
“’Here is where we [Trustees] will put our recreational field and stadium. You’ll notice that much of the work of grading and providing a hillside of just the right slope for a stadium grandstand has already been done [by Nature]. It’s about the same size as the ancient stadium of Athens. I had a man look up the dimensions. There isn’t much difference.’”
Ade nodded in agreement, Kriebel notes, saying it did indeed seem to be about the same size as the Panathenaic Stadium, which Ade had visited in 1898. But, he wondered, what did this have to do with him?
Ross said that he hoped Ade would help him finance a stadium for the university, to which Ade responded that he’d tried to promote several projects at Purdue, but had never had much luck. He concluded, “‘To help someone else would be a great relief. So my answer is yes.’”
Ade’s words were his stock in trade, and yet it was the soft-spoken engineer who persuaded him that day. And it was Ross who convinced alumni to give half a million dollars to build the Purdue Memorial Union, who purchased land for an airport and an engineering survey camp, and who pushed for the creation of the Purdue Research Foundation to spur innovation and discovery at the university.
Of course, money talks, too, and the contributions that Ross made to the university and the community before and after his death, along with the businesses that he created, have left a lasting legacy at Purdue and Greater Lafayette.
“David Ross helped lay the groundwork that made Purdue a modern university. Almost everything about Purdue in the first 40 years of the 20th century directly involved Ross,” says Adriana Harmeyer, archivist for university history with Purdue University Archives and Special Collections. “We remember him for Ross-Ade Stadium, which itself is a wonderful legacy, but his actions as a trustee and advocate for the university created some of our most important resources, especially the Purdue Research Foundation that continues to enable groundbreaking research that changes the world.”
Born in 1871, Ross had been a tinkerer throughout childhood and wanted to study engineering at Purdue. But he almost didn’t make it to college. His father, a farmer who expected Ross to pursue an agrarian career, thought that college would be a waste of time. Thankfully, the young man’s Uncle Will intervened, offering to house Ross in his Lafayette home and pay for his tuition and books.
Ross led a quiet college life, biographers note, and he reportedly received so-so grades for most of his coursework. His graduation, however, coincided with the birth of the automobile, presenting a golden opportunity for the visionary with mechanical aptitude. Returning to his family homestead, he began creating devices in the farm shop based on ideas from technical journals.
“He applied for patents on three working parts — a differential gear mechanism, a gear-shifting device and a rear-axle differential — and got them,” writes Jay Cooperider in a biographical document published by Tippecanoe County. “About the same time, he came up with the first of a number of patentable steering gears.”
In 1906, Ross founded the Ross Gear and Tool Company with his uncles Will and Linn, both seasoned salesmen. In 1914, Ross joined the City Council, a seat he held for four years. While World War I raged overseas, Ross’ plant contributed to the effort by manufacturing steering gears for military trucks.
The year after the war ended, in 1918, the Ross family spun out a new company, Fairfield Manufacturing. In 1927, they founded yet another business, Rostone Corporation, to manufacture artificial stone from waste products such as fly ash, limestone and shale. While the company’s original product never took off, Rostone eventually reinvented itself into a manufacturer of electrical insulators.
Ross, in fact, seemed to have much more success than failure over his lifetime. All told, he patented 88 devices and made millions through his business ventures, much of that money going back to Purdue University.
“Ross’ reappearance at Purdue can be traced to 1920, when he was asked to serve on an alumni committee that since 1911 had been trying to raise money for a student union,” writes Cooperider. “When Ross joined the committee, $50,000 had been collected. Largely through his efforts, more than $500,000 was raised by the time the first part of the Memorial Union was completed in 1922.”
While soliciting alumni donations, Ross had heard grumbles that they wanted their alma mater to have a grand stadium like other universities. The newly minted board trustee got to work, and in 1924, two years after that hilltop negotiation with Ade, the Boilermakers played their first game in the new 13,000-person stadium.
Then Ross turned his attention to his true passion: university-based research and development. In 1930, several years after he began lobbying for the university to forge closer bonds with industry, the Purdue Research Foundation was incorporated. Ross seeded the venture with $25,000 in Ross Gear stock.
Later, he purchased land west of campus for an airport and another tract overlooking the Wabash River for a surveying camp and football practice field (now the home of the county-owned Ross Camp). He also spearheaded development of the university’s first long-range master plan, a process that continues today.
“His contributions touched every aspect of the university: athletics through Ross-Ade Stadium, student life through the Purdue Memorial Union, and education and research through the Purdue Research Foundation and Purdue Airport,” Harmeyer says. “This was the lasting mark he was able to leave on the world.”
When Ross arrived at Purdue as a freshman in 1889, she notes, the university had fewer than 500 students. By the time of his death, more than 8,000 students were enrolled, and the footprint of the university had more than quadrupled. “In addition to his own substantial contributions, he got to watch Purdue grow from a small, newly established university to a world-class research institution,” she says.
Ross died in 1943 after suffering a debilitating stroke the year before that left him unable to speak. His closest surviving family member was a sister.
While Ross remained a bachelor until his death, local author Angie Klink has uncovered evidence of a long-term relationship between Ross and a Purdue staffer. Klink has written several Purdue-related books, including “Divided Paths, Common Ground: The Story of Mary Matthews and Lella Gaddis, Pioneering Purdue Women Who Introduced Science into the Home.”
Klink says that Gaddis, Indiana’s first state leader of home demonstration agents in Purdue’s Department of Agricultural Extension, lived her entire life with her sister, Kate, who kept line-a-day diaries from 1906 until 1946. Diary notations throughout the years mention Lella Gaddis having dinner with Ross, going on rides with him and visiting his country home, in what is now Ross Hills Park.
“From evidence in Kate’s diaries of the amount of time Ross and Gaddis spent together, I say yes, it was serious,” she says. That evidence was backed up by information gleaned from a family member still living when Klink wrote her book.
Unfortunately, the diaries from 1938 to 1944 are missing, so it’s unclear what transpired between the two in the last few years of Ross’ life. And there’s no evidence of why they never married, if they were indeed in love. Klink wonders if it was simply because they both led high-profile lives at Purdue. “Maybe they liked their independence and wanted to keep it that way,” she says.
Ross was not a churchgoer, but the Gaddis sisters and many other Purdue folks belonged to Central Presbyterian Church, and that’s where his funeral was held. Afterwards, the university closed campus for two hours so that faculty, staff and students could attend a memorial service by Purdue Research Foundation.
Ross, who at his request was buried on a knoll where Slayter Hill is now located, left most of his estate to Purdue, Home Hospital and several relatives.
“In many ways, Purdue was his family and his home,” Harmeyer says. “I don’t think he would have chosen to be buried on Purdue’s campus if he hadn’t felt that his legacy was forever tied to the university and its success.”
BY KEN THOMPSON
With the calendar pointing to spring, there are plenty of opportunities in Greater Lafayette for people who’ve had enough of being cooped up indoors and are ready to get out and exercise.
Whether it’s running, cycling or playing a newer sport – pickleball anyone? – there’s no excuse to not get into shape. Three local groups welcome beginners as well as long-time participants and those with experience somewhere in between.
The Wabash River Cycle Club was founded in 1978, and it continues to prosper more than 40 years later because there are rides available for just about every level of cyclist. For the advanced rider, there are mountain bike trails and gravel roads. For the beginner and intermediate cyclists, there are rides featuring bike paths and roads.
Long-time club member Gary Brouillard, a member of the group’s executive board, offers these reasons for joining the Wabash River Cycle Club:
• Having a group to ride with for safety, companionship, encouragement and improving your biking skills;
• Access to the list serve for changes to calendar rides and for rides not listed on the calendar;
• Learning various safe bicycle routes; and
• The knowledge available within the membership.
As of January, there were 217 club members, a number that does not break down family memberships. To Brouillard’s knowledge, 90-year-old Gilbert Satterly is the only founding member who still belongs to the club.
Board member Molly Cripe Birt says in the past year, 280 riders logged more than 161,522 miles.
The club boasts that it provides a great social scene not just for the cyclists but for their families and friends as well. The 501c non-profit group offers annual memberships for families ($40), individuals ($30) and students ($15). To join, go to wrcc-in.org/page/join#join.
The club’s big annual event is the Wabash River Ride, set this year for Aug. 29 starting at Fort Ouiatenon, on South River Road in West Lafayette. Cyclists have a variety of routes to choose from, covering Tippecanoe, Fountain and Warren counties. Routes cover distances of 33, 47, 66 or 100 miles. In addition to scenic views of the Wabash River, riders could see area landmarks such as the Rob Roy Covered Bridge, historic Williamsport Bridge and the Fountain County Church.
Cumberland Park will host the club’s New Rider Callout in May. Cripe says the callout will include a 1- to 2-hour ride as well as a donut social and a fun lunch. Information will be available about other club activities and membership signup.
May is a busy month for the club. A weekly Wabash River Cycling Club Women’s Ride will offer rides based upon skill and speed. Within the weekly rides will be an educational feature called Stand Nights. Here, women can learn bike skills, maintenance and female-related cycling issues.
The Wabash River Cycling Club also will support Bike to Work Week activities in Greater Lafayette.
If you prefer two feet to two-wheeled transportation, the Wabash River Runners Club welcomes runners of all levels, from recreational jogger to the competitive road racer. The group was formed in the mid-1980s and in four decades membership has reached nearly 250.
Weekly group runs take place on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Tapawingo Park is the starting point for Wednesday’s group runs, beginning at 6 p.m. Saturday’s run begins at 8 a.m. from the West Lafayette Panera Bread location in Wabash Landing. An early start from Café Literato on Sunday, 7 a.m., caps the week.
When warmer weather arrives in Greater Lafayette, the Wabash River Runners Club holds two race series: a Farmers Market 5K out of the Cumberland Park farmers market and a trail race series of varying distances out of Battle Ground Memorial Park, according to club president Natalia Sanchez.
Annual membership fees are $15 for individuals, $25 for couples and $35 for families. Those who register online at runlafin.org will incur an additional $1 processing fee. Membership is not necessary to participate in a run, but club members do gather for additional workouts to improve speed, weight training and hill climbing.
The club’s website offers valuable tips for training for a 5K race, half or full marathons and trail runs.
Sponsored races include The Purdue Challenge 5K Run/Walk. The race begins and ends at Ross-Ade Stadium and all the money raised goes to support cancer research at the Purdue Center for Cancer Research. The event’s website, raceroster.com, boasts that in the previous 12 years, the Purdue Challenge has raised more than $1 million for cancer research.
Another event is the ninth annual Purdue Boilermaker Half Marathon/5K, set for Oct. 17, with the start/finish at Ross-Ade Stadium. Register at purduehalf.com.
Despite the name, pickleball has nothing to do with the condiment you might find on your hamburger. Instead it’s a game that’s been around since the 1960s when it began as a children’s backyard activity.
It’s a paddleball sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis. Like those sports, two or four players can participate in a match. Holding solid paddles, the players attempt to hit a perforated ball that might remind some of a Wiffle Ball, over a net.
The wife of one of the game’s founders, Joel Pritchard, called it pickleball because “the combination of different sports reminded me of the pickle boat in crew where oarsmen were chosen from leftovers of the other boats.”
Another of the founders, Barney McCallum, claims the game was named after the Pritchard’s dog, Pickles. The dog would chase the ball and run off with it, McCallum said.
The Lafayette Indiana Pickleball Association’s roots trace back to May 2011, according to membership official Cheryl Parker. Tom Plummer and friends Joe Yuill, Dick Wiegand, Max Fitzgerald, Vern Mayrose and Jim Ciccarelli met at Armstrong Park. They played pickleball with homemade paddles composed of cutoff old tennis racket handles and pieces of plywood.
Others saw the group playing and by winter, the roster of players reached 18. That winter, the group petitioned the Lafayette Parks and Recreation Department to paint permanent pickleball lines on the tennis courts at McCaw Park.
Today, the Lafayette Pickleball Association boasts more than 250 members and says that the sport is the nation’s fastest growing. Some proof of that can be seen at McCaw Park, which hosts a 12-court complex for pickleball that was dedicated in the summer of 2018 in partnership with the Lafayette Parks and Recreation Department.
Five sites are available for indoor play. The Lyn Treece Boys and Girls Club, 1529 N. 10th St., Lafayette, has three tiled courts available during the public school year. Cost is $2 per session or $20 a month. Portable nets and balls are provided to association members.
The YWCA, 605 N. Sixth St., Lafayette, is open to association members. Cost is $3 per session. Portable nets and balls are provided to association members. Three courts on a wood gym floor are available.
Five striped pickleball courts on a wood gym floor are available at the Lafayette YMCA, 3001 Creasy Lane. A single court can be reserved for one hour but YMCA membership is required. Guest passes are available. Also, players must provide their own pickleballs.
Faith East Community Center has two tiled courts available for play. Cost is $2. Nets and balls will be provided for association members.
Also, Purdue’s Cordova Recreational Sports Center offers multiple wood courts and nets are available, but players are asked to bring their own pickleballs. The facility is open to members but non-members are welcome to purchase a one-day pass for $7.
Annual membership fees are $30 for individuals and $50 for families. The Lafayette Pickleball Association offers lessons for beginners and supports all levels of play from recreational to highly competitive.
For decades now, local youths and young adults have learned the skill of boxing and developing into Golden Gloves participants.
Club president Terry Christian, a former Golden Gloves state champion under the guidance of club founder Sherman Depew, takes pride in the club’s history, which began as the Twin Cities Boxing Club. In addition to 1993 National Golden Gloves light middleweight champion Darnell Wilson, the Lafayette Boxing Club has produced multiple state individual and team champions while providing facilities and training at no charge to its members.
Its current home is 2423 Poland Hill Road in Lafayette.
A game that has been a part of the Olympics (a demonstration sport in 1908), the Lafayette Bike Polo club is based at Shamrock Park.
The game is just like it sounds, polo on bicycles instead of horses, with teams of three or five. The only other equipment needed is a mallet and a polo ball.
For more information, including how to participate, email email@example.com.
BY CINDY GERLACH
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
These are the words that come to mind when one pictures living in an urban downtown. Surrounded by high-rise buildings, eclectic architecture and nightlife — it’s a young sophisticate’s dream.
And it’s available right here in River City.
Downtown, right on the riverfront, a short walk to the courthouse, with stunning views — it’s the hip and happening place to live in Lafayette.
And if you want to be part of it, brace yourself: There may be a wait.
When Ben McCartney and Cathleen Campbell moved to town in 2018, downtown was their preference on where to live. McCartney actually grew up in West Lafayette. But after being away for several years living near the East Coast, he and his new wife decided they wanted that urban feel.
“When moving to Lafayette, Cathleen and I were hoping to embrace what small-town life has to offer,” says McCartney. “For us that meant walking to work, walking to church and walking to our favorite restaurants and hang-out spots.”
It’s been a perfect fit for the two of them; McCartney walks to work at Purdue University, and they’ve found their niche with places to eat downtown. They wouldn’t have it any other way.
Proximity to bars and restaurants plus the ability to walk places are all reasons given for opting to live downtown, says relocation specialist Faye Cole of Lafayette Relocation Services.
“Part of it is just the charm of living downtown,” Cole says, “A lot of my clients are younger people. They love to be able to walk to bars and restaurants, and they don’t want to risk getting a DUI.”
Downtown culture is a big draw, says Kelsey Talbot, property manager with W.H. Long. Adding to that, the allure of the uniqueness of the architecture makes it a desirable place for young professionals to get their start.
“The downtown market is hot,” she says. “The proximity to campus without being on it, that’s a really big draw.”
Plus, she says, people are attracted to the historic buildings.
“The exposed brick, the character of these buildings,” she says. “You don’t get that everywhere. The corner units with downtown views — people really like that aesthetic, being in the heart of things.”
Yet it’s not just young people who opt for life downtown.
“We see all walks of life in terms of ages and lifestyle,” Talbot says. She sees graduate students who want to be near campus, but not right in the heart of the undergraduate party scene, which can be a little loud and rambunctious. She also sees Purdue faculty and professionals who travel frequently, thus they don’t want the upkeep of a house and a lawn.
“Downtown draws a lot of different people in; so many people are here for different reasons.”
Part of the attraction of living in downtown Lafayette is the proximity to entertainment, arts and culture.
For some people, it’s the convenience of being able to walk to so many restaurants and bars. And the options don’t disappoint — downtown Lafayette is home to more than 20 eateries, with food options from hamburgers and pizza, Italian, sushi, pub fare and high-end dining with fine wines. Plenty of these restaurants offer patio seating for warm weather dining. And for people who live just up the block, these all come without the hassle of searching for parking.
And for others, it’s access to performances and nightlife. Downtown Lafayette is home to multiple art galleries, which open their doors several times each year to host downtown Gallery Walks. Many bars offer live musical performances by local bands. And regular performances by local performing arts groups are featured downtown, including Civic Theatre, the Lafayette Master Chorale, the Lafayette Symphony Orchestra and the Tippecanoe Chamber Music Society — all of which perform in downtown theaters and churches.
The Long Center for the Performing Arts and the Lafayette Theater both bring in outside programming, an eclectic variety of shows geared toward audiences of all ages.
There are multiple houses of worship downtown that also are easily accessible. Fun and funky gift shops, antique stores and bookstores — locally owned — offer fun for both buyers and browsers alike. The county library is convenient. And from May to October, the downtown farmers market offers shopping for high-quality food items from local vendors.
Downtown festivals are another big draw. The aforementioned Gallery Walks keep downtown alive on Friday evenings throughout the warmer months. Mosey Down Main Street, designed to highlight upper Main Street, also draws crowds, as it features local musical performances and eateries. The annual Taste of Tippecanoe features multiple stages with live performances and dozens of local restaurants. Lafayette’s giant Independence Day celebration also is downtown, with fireworks being lit from the pedestrian bridge over the river. And come December, the Christmas parade and Dickens of a Christmas bring a fun and festive holiday air — again, right downtown.
Downtown residents get to take part in all of these celebrations and activities — again, minus the frustration of looking for parking. It’s a perfect mix, says Talbot.
“You’re a part of downtown but not right in the middle of it,” she says. “You still have some quiet and serenity when you want it.”
For some young people, being right in the midst of things is a lifestyle choice. Talbot finds that a lot of her younger clients are committed to living more sustainably, to buying local and living in a community they know well. For them, downtown living means they drive less and frequent businesses with whom they have a relationship.
“Buying local, supporting small businesses,” she says. “You see that familiar face — it makes you want to go back and be a part of it.”
Just like the people who live downtown, the downtown residences are not all the same. From quirky lofts to high-end luxury apartments, downtown dwellings come in all shapes and sizes.
Many apartments are part of buildings that are around a century old. For example, the historic Schultz Building, 216 N. Fourth St., is a mixed-use building with businesses on the main floors and apartments above. An older building, the units feature high ceilings with an urban loft feel, some with exposed brick and vents and tall windows, giving a panoramic view of downtown. The apartments vary, from studio to two bedrooms, anywhere from 460 square feet to nearly 900. They all come with renovated kitchens with a dishwasher, garbage disposal and microwave. Plus, each unit comes with in-unit laundry facilities.
Contrast the older architecture with the Marq apartments, just a few blocks away on Second Street. The Marq is brand-new construction with more of a luxury high-rise ambience. The apartments have private balconies, walk-in closets, in-unit laundry and garage parking. Upper floors have stunning views of the Wabash River.
Multiple other complexes are scattered throughout downtown, from the Lahr Apartments — a former hotel — to Renaissance Place, across from Riehle Plaza. And all over downtown are various apartments hidden above shops and storefronts, all with a variety of floorplans and amenities.
For some people, worrying about parking might make living downtown a bit intimidating. Talbot says there are places to rent a space that are affordable. And Cole, whose office is downtown, says the lack of parking downtown is exaggerated.
“The perception is there’s no downtown parking,” she says. “In my experience, I can always find a parking space within one block of where I’m going,”
Plus, with the Connector Bus, which runs between downtown and Purdue University every 20 minutes, it’s easy to get from one place to another.
Safety might be a concern for some, with downtown areas generally having a reputation as being a bit more gritty and edgy. Also not true, says Cole.
“There is no place in Lafayette/West Lafayette I wouldn’t park my car and still get out and walk,” she says. “We’re still a better community than most of them.”
And for people who might rent in a building that does not offer standard amenities such as laundry and workout facilities, those places are all available downtown, just a short walk.
If living downtown sounds like the perfect fit for you, be prepared: Vacancies are few. Talbot says there is a waiting list, with most places near capacity.
“In the last two years, prices have shot up,” Cole says. “There’s beautiful new construction, but it’s executive housing. Affordable housing will soon be lacking.”
For McCartney and Campbell, living downtown has proven to be exactly what they were looking for.
“Downtown Lafayette has so much going for it that it’s been super easy to live mostly on foot,” McCartney says. “And with new restaurants — and the spring — just around the corner, we’re excited to continue to live downtown!”
BY KARIS PRESSLER
The United States Census, the once every 10-year count of those living in the U.S. and its territories, was first taken in 1790. Now, 230 years later, local leaders are working feverishly to help Greater Lafayette understand that the Census can impact everything from what buildings will be built, to what roads will be repaired, and what resources could be made available to our community over the next 10 years and beyond.
“The things that come out of those 10 questions is amazing,” says Cindy Murray, Lafayette city clerk. Murray has been meeting with civic groups, organizations and businesses for months helping community members realize how simple and painless participating in the Census can be.
The goal of the 2020 Census according to the U.S. Census Bureau is “to count everyone once, only once, and in the right place.” Starting this spring, the 2020 Census questionnaire will ask who was living in a home, apartment, or mobile home on April 1, along with the age, sex, ethnicity, and race of everyone identified. This demographic information will then be used to determine how much federal funding can be allocated to help build and maintain infrastructure and is also used to calculate the number of Congressional seats for each state.
“When a new manufacturer or industry wants to come to our community, they definitely look at the Census to see the demographics, and what our economy is, and the type of folks that are here. And so, the Census plays a huge role. It develops our community,” Murray says.
Jeff Zeh, chief operating officer for IU Health Arnett, says that accurate Census data are essential in providing quality healthcare throughout the region since “the Census is the best way for us to have an understanding of the population we serve.”
Zeh explains that knowing demographics related to age, race and ethnicity is important so healthcare professionals can, for instance, actively work to decrease the high rate of pregnancy-related deaths among black women, and effectively treat lupus, a chronic condition that is more common among Asian and Hispanic women compared to non-Hispanic white women.
Census data are also linked to a community’s emergency response resources, as Murray learned when a local Census representative told her that while visiting a rural fire station, a resident shared, “You know, if it weren’t for the Census, we wouldn’t have gotten the federal money to build this firehouse.”
Murray sees the Census’s impact everywhere, even when driving around town. “People don’t know that they’re actually driving on roads that the Census helped us get the money for,” she says, citing the current construction on Twyckenham Boulevard as an example. “There’s $675 billion out there that can go to communities, and that can be spent on schools, fire trucks, infrastructure, transportation … And so it is important for people to be counted.”
Jos Holman, the librarian for the Tippecanoe County Public Library, appreciates the Census’s long reach over the past, present and future. As a librarian, he values the Census for its ability to paint an accurate portrait of America over time but also knows the immediate impact that federal funding can have on a library’s resources, specifically within rural communities.
“Were it not for the Census, smaller rural libraries would not be able to do some of the things that they want to do by way of technology, and technological resources, and services to their community,” he says.
“The hardest part is getting folks to not be afraid,” says Murray, when reflecting on people’s reluctance to participate in the Census. Although information reported to the Census must by law remain confidential, it remains difficult to convince everyone to participate.
“It’s not unusual for people who are poorer, people of color, and children to be undercounted,” explains Holman. He continues, “People of color who are in lower economic situations, they’re reluctant to share information … If I’m living in poverty, (taking the Census) is not high on my priority list. It’s not. It’s about my next meal, it’s about taking care of my kids, it’s about keeping my job, it’s about paying my rent.”
For this reason, Holman and Murray are collaborating with area organizations such as the YWCA and Greater Lafayette Commerce (GLC) to organize and sponsor events that can teach the public why participating in the Census is vital to the community’s success and its future. At these events Census workers will also be present to help attendees fill out and submit their household’s Census form.
“It’s not a difficult process,” explains Sana Booker, West Lafayette city clerk. “It’s not hard to do if we can get people to see the meaning of it … I think one of the things that the Census has not been very good at in the past is explaining why they are important.”
Murray agrees, and she has noticed a shift in how the Census has engaged with the public. In 2010, Census marketing materials – cups, pens, and bags emblazoned with the Census logo – inundated Murray’s office. But this time around, Murray appreciates how the Census has focused on making print and online materials available that clearly explain the Census’s purpose and impact. The Census Bureau also has invested in making the questionnaire more accessible. This year, for the first time, Census forms can be submitted either online, by mail or by phone. The questionnaire also will be available in 13 languages.
Murray is passionate about the Census’s direct connection to Greater Lafayette’s future. “It’s important that everybody participates no matter your age, your race, or ethnicity, your financial status … Because those numbers do count.”
When Booker, a woman of color, holds up a 2020 Census pamphlet and looks at it, she breaks into a wide smile then declares with a hint of awe, “I see me … for the first time.” On its cover, the pamphlet showcases a kaleidoscope of skin color. “This feels personal,” she says.
The addition of various skin tones on the Census’s promotional materials is one indicator of how far inclusion in this country has come.
“African Americans were often uncounted because they were not considered human. And so, when I think about the Census today, and in my lifetime, I should say, it was important to know who was present. And we were, but we were treated as invisible people. So, it is important on a very personal level to me that all people are counted. All people.” Booker pauses before continuing. “Everybody counts, every person has a story, and we all have a message.”
The GLC Diversity Roundtable has selected the motto “We all count” for its upcoming community-wide event that will aim to raise awareness and boost Census 2020 responses. Holman, who’s been a member of the Diversity Roundtable for 17 years, says that this event will celebrate the connection we all have to each other by living in the same geographic region. “We believe that if we can bring people together based on a Census event … where we do some hands-on things, but we also do some basic education, that is an opportunity to…allow people to join together, to bond,” he says.
“We are not counting things,” Booker shares with conviction when anticipating the impact that the 2020 Census will have on the community. “We are counting human lives that matter, who are the reason why education matters, the reason why hospitals matter, these are things that serve people.” And for this reason Booker hopes that everyone will participate in the 2020 Census and celebrate their role in making Greater Lafayette a thriving community that will continue to flourish for decades to come.
Whether you prefer sourdough bread or frosting-stuffed cupcakes, vegan cheesecake or flourless chocolate tortes, Greater Lafayette bakeries offer something for nearly every taste and dietary restriction. After contacting shop owners and asking locals for recommendations — and trying some on our own — we compiled a list of some of the best baked goods around.
Sandra Hufford and her sister, Sheryl, started the Flour Mill Bakery in 1996 in Hufford’s house, “literally in the middle of the cornfield,” she says. While the sisters had not intended to sell donuts, word had gotten around town that a donut shop was opening, and so they added them to the menu. “Donuts have always been our biggest seller,” Hufford says. “We sell approximately 450 dozen per week.” After Hufford’s sister moved on to other ventures, Hufford sold the business in 2016, only to repurchase it three years later. At its current location on State Road 26 in Rossville, the bakery sells donuts, pies, cookies and angel food cakes, along with homemade salads, soups, espresso drinks and deli meats and cheeses.
As a young girl in Wolcott, Indiana, Brittany Gerber loved watching her mom decorate wedding cakes and began dabbling in the art as soon as she was old enough. After attending Purdue University and working in customer service for several years, Gerber purchased the Lafayette Gigi’s franchise in 2019, where she serves up cupcakes, cakes, cookies stuffed with frosting, macarons, cheesecakes, cake truffles and miniature cupcakes. Three gluten-friendly options are on the menu every day, including the GF Triple Chocolate Torte. Custom cakes and vegan options are also available by special order. An annual sponsor of the Cupcake Run/Walk for the Public Schools Foundation of Tippecanoe County, Gigi’s donated 1,248 cupcakes for race participants in 2019.
Thirteen years ago, Jerry and Janet Lecy were working in a Christian non-profit organization when they decided to buy the local Great Harvest franchise. Within two years, the bakery’s sales had doubled, and the business has continued growing since then. Great Harvest specializes in made-from-scratch breads using flour that is ground in-house with a stone mill. The bakery also offers cinnamon rolls, muffins, scones, cookies and bars, along with fresh granola and sandwiches. “Most of our breads are vegan, the basic bread having five basic ingredients — fresh-milled flour, water, yeast, honey and salt,” Jerry Lecy says. All six of the couple’s children have worked at Great Harvest over the years.
Started in 1961 by Mary Lou and Steward Graves, Mary Lou Donuts changed hands several times before being purchased in 2017 by Jeff Waldon, who has seen a growth in sales and is considering expansion. The bakery specializes in donuts, cream horns, apple fritters and cookies, and also serves danishes, brownies and cupcakes. The cream horns are vegan. Mary Lou produces several thousand dozen donuts weekly, providing all the donuts for Purdue’s Universiy’s dining halls and retail locations on campus. This fall, the bakery — and its Donut Truck, which regularly visits campus — will be featured on the Big Ten Network’s program “Campus Eats.”
After immigrating to the United States, Sergei Dhe and Natasha Vasili worked in the food service industry while crafting pastries and cakes on the side. In 2014, with their daughters’ encouragement, the couple launched their own business. They currently share a space with City Foods Co-op on Main Street in Lafayette. Scones and Doilies specializes in European-style baked goods using original recipes, including seasonal items such as decorated Easter cookies and Greek Easter bread. “Our goal is to share the same excitement and creativity we have for food with our community,” says Vasili. Signature items include scones, rugelach, biscotti, galettes and specialty cakes. Several gluten-free pastries are regularly available, and gluten-free cakes and vegan items can be made to order. The couple supports the International Center at Purdue University, participating in such events as 2019’s Summer Supper series.
If the name of this newish bakery sounds familiar to you, that’s on purpose: This artisanal bread shop pays homage to the old Smitty’s Foodliner, which served customers for five decades at the corner of Northwestern and Lindberg in West Lafayette before closing in 2005. As the story goes, when veteran Journal & Courier editor and reporter Dave Smith decided to turn his breadmaking hobby into a business, he received permission to use an updated version of the grocery’s logo. Ever the wordsmith, Smith gives his bread creations one-of-a-kind names like Amber Wave and Kalamata Olive Pain au Levain, and occasionally blogs on topics like friendship, travel and farmers markets. Along with breads, the shop offers a rotating selection of cinnamon rolls, croissants, Danishes and morning buns, noted on the daily schedule online. If you have your heart set on a particular goodie, however, the shop advises that you call ahead. Smittybread also serves up soups and sandwiches, including the B.E.S.T. (bacon, egg, spinach and tomato) and Farmers Market (ham, salami, provolone and veggies), all made on house-made bread.
Bacon-wrapped pastries, anyone? For the Stone House Restaurant and Bakery in Delphi, last year’s Indiana Bacon Festival was the perfect occasion for dispensing more than 800 crème-filled, maple-iced long johns covered in bacon — and that was despite the blistering hot weather. “We don’t let the heat stop us,” says owner Lisa Delaney, who opened the shop nearly 20 years ago after purchasing an existing bakery in town. On regular days, Stone House serves up more traditional offerings, such as cookies, pies and specialty brownies, many based on recipes from Delaney’s grandmother. Sugar- or dairy-free options are available with 24 hours notice. The bakery, which also offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, crafts all of its own sandwich buns, bread and rolls onsite, including its newest addition, dill pickle bread.
Passionate about baking since she was a child, culinary school graduate Sarah McGregor-Ray worked in the industry for more than a decade before joining forces with her brother, Jonathan, and her mom, Debbie, to launch a bakery of her own. After selling at local farmers markets and festivals, McGregor-Ray opened a brick-and-mortar bake shop in 2017 next door to the Knickerbocker Saloon. Sweet Revolution offers daily seasonal pastries, quiches and pies, baked fresh with all-natural ingredients. Gluten-free, keto and vegan options are available, including keto vanilla cheesecake, vegan and gluten-free apple cinnamon muffins and flourless chocolate torte. Customers can wash down their treats with cold brew coffee and chai tea, among other specialty drinks.
Randy Griffin and Chad McFally began their catering business by tailgating for Purdue football games, which eventually led to graduation parties and weddings and then to selling their goods at local farmers markets. When a commercial kitchen became necessary, “those two guys,” as their customers called them, began using the YWCA’s facilities. In late 2019, Griffin and McFally purchased the Klein Brot Haus Bakery in Brookston, where renovations are currently underway. Once reopened, the bakery will serve cinnamon rolls, cheesecakes, cookies, brownies and cakes along with pies and specialty breads made from original Klein Brot Haus recipes. Their specialty item is the Big Daddy, a peanut butter cookie stuffed with a brownie and a peanut butter cup and drizzled with chocolate. If you’re not so hungry, you can get the Little Mama, a smaller version of the same concoction.
BY CINDY GERLACH
For some, a visit to an international grocery store is about acquiring the proper ingredients to create authentic ethnic cuisine. Yet for others, it’s a way to feel at home.
Jenny Hwang, manager of Hana Market in West Lafayette, says shopping at Hana Market evokes fond memories, where shoppers can be surrounded by the familiar sights and smells that remind them of home.
“We try to carry lots of food for students,” she says. “They’re far away from home.”
The presence of Purdue University, and its population of international students – one of the highest for a major university in the country – means that grocery stores that cater to that population are plentiful. Yet the stores are also popular for people with an epicurean streak, as it’s possible to get the best possible ingredients for one’s culinary endeavors. The stores feature authentic items – some fresh, some frozen, some ready to eat – and right in your own backyard.
210 SAGAMORE PARKWAY, WEST LAFAYETTE
957 SAGAMORE PARKWAY, LAFAYETTE
Maybe you don’t know that shopping at Aldi is actually a German supermarket experience. This explains why you must pay a deposit, or pfand, when you pick up your shopping cart, which is refunded upon its return. Shoppers are encouraged to bring their own bags; Aldi does have plastic bags, but customers are charged for them – another German practice.
Aldi, a no-frills supermarket, carries standard grocery items, but many of them are European brands. Its housewares are a hit, but as regulars at Aldi know, you can’t depend on finding items from one week to the next. At Christmastime, Aldi is the best place in town to find traditional German holiday treats, such as mulled wine, or Gluhwein, and chocolate advent calendars.
2400 YEAGER ROAD, WEST LAFAYETTE
Asia Market caters to multiple ethnic palates. Aisles are clearly labeled, noting food items from Africa, India, Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, China and Taiwan. Fresh and frozen meats, rice in bulk, and frozen items are all available, as are spices, sauces and easy-to-prepare foods. Dishes and housewares are also available.
402 BROWN ST., WEST LAFAYETTE
Better World Market is hidden just off the West Lafayette levee, tucked in behind Tapawingo Park and Wabash Landing. A fairly large supermarket, it carries a variety of items that cater to its Asian clientele. The store carries a variety of vegetables, from lotus root to Japanese yams. Customers can find everything they need to cook their dishes, such as bulk rice, fresh meat and spices, or they can find easy-to-prepare ramen noodles and frozen items.
Some toiletries also are available, with translated labels, making it friendly for those unfamiliar with English.
The store also offers local delivery and free pick-up.
As a bonus, there is a small restaurant hidden in the back of the store, offering authentic Chinese cuisine.
3457 BETHEL DRIVE, WEST LAFAYETTE
From its inauspicious frontage in a strip mall, Hana Market appears to be tiny. But upon entering, it’s a large space, filled with rows of items that cater to its audience. The store is about 80 percent Korean items, says Hwang, with some Japanese and Chinese items.
It’s a haven for those far from home, Hwang says, a place where they can find familiar items – especially for students, who long for the comforts of home.
“It’s a hangout for them,” Hwang says.
The store offers a variety of grocery items – from staples for cooking to quick items, easy to heat up and prepare, which are popular with students. People can pick up snack items or their daily supplies, such as rice and kimchi.
The market also tries to keep up with what is trendy, Hwang says, which appeals to both students and U.S. customers, who, thanks to the Internet and social media, have often heard of particular items and are anxious to try them. Currently, very spicy items are en vogue – and Hana is sure to have them.
People often come in and ask Hwang about particular items that are trending. And she is happy to lend assistance.
“If I’m not busy and someone asks about the recipe, I can explain how to make it,” she says.
237 E. STATE ST., WEST LAFAYETTE
Khyber Supermarket offers a selection of Middle Eastern items. Located near the Purdue University campus, it’s convenient for students and faculty alike. Spices are readily available, as are ingredients for many beloved Middle Eastern dishes.
2338 SAGAMORE PARKWAY, WEST LAFAYETTE
This store, on the edge of West Lafayette, offers everything one needs to make authentic Mexican food. From beans and rice to pre-made tortillas, Mexican food lovers can find everything they need. Beverages and specialty sweets are favorites.
INDIAN AND INTERNATIONAL GROCERY: 1070 SAGAMORE PARKWAY WEST, WEST LAFAYETTE
JALISCO GROCERY: 3315 MCCARTY LANE, LAFAYETTE
LA CHIQUITA: 1440 SAGAMORE PARKWAY NORTH, LAFAYETTE
LA PLAZA: 2100 VETERANS MEMORIAL PARKWAY, LAFAYETTE
LA VILLAGE FOOD MART: 208 SOUTH ST., LAFAYETTE
By Angela K. Roberts.
More than a century and a half ago, when people rode their horses to town and brought baskets to hold their purchases, Greater Lafayette residents began gathering in downtown Lafayette to buy products such as cured meat and fresh fruit directly from farmers. Today, this historic downtown Lafayette Farmers Market, which has been in continuous operation since 1839, is one of our four seasonal retail marketplaces in Greater Lafayette. From bath salts to barbecue and from mushrooms to marigolds, local markets – just like the ones of the 19th century – offer farm-fresh and small-batch goodies along with the chance to meet the people who create them.
Fifth Street between Main & Columbia. Runs May through October, Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Organized by Greater Lafayette Commerce, the historic Lafayette Farmers Market is known primarily for its abundance of fresh produce, as well as flowers, plants, baked goods and to-go meals, along with specialty items such as wildflower honey, beer jelly, botanical bath salts, handcrafted jewelry, herbal medicinals and hand-sewn baby clothes. Bring your reusable bags and shop to the tunes of local artists playing folk, rock, country, blues and jazz. A vendor list can be found on the website, which also features a chart showing produce currently in season and a fruit-and-vegetables quiz for kids.
Memorial Mall on the Purdue University Campus. Opens July 2.
Organized by Purdue Campus Planning and Sustainability in conjunction with Greater Lafayette Commerce, the Purdue Farmers Market features around 25 vendors each week, including the Purdue Student Farm, operated by the College of Agriculture. Pick up local fresh produce, herbs, plants, fresh-cut flowers, meat and baked items as well as prepared foods, and pick a comfortable spot to have your lunch. Through the market’s passport program, you can collect stamps when you visit market vendors and return to the Campus Planning and Sustainability booth to spin a wheel for zero-waste prizes. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the market to sign up for a weekly newsletter.
Cumberland Park, 3001 N. Salisbury Street. Runs May through Octoboer, Wednesdays from 3:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Nestled among the ball courts of Cumberland Park, the dog-friendly West Lafayette Farmers Market is organized by the City of West Lafayette. It features around 50 vendors each week with fresh produce, baked goods, handmade items such as soap and jewelry, food trucks and wine from two local wineries. As you shop, sip and eat, listen to live music and visit information booths, where you can learn about community happenings.
Market Square Shopping Center, 2200 Elmwood Ave., A6, Lafayette. Runs November to April.
The new indoor market, which debuted in January and is sponsored by Carnahan Hall, Greater Lafayette Commerce and Market Square Shopping Center, brings together local shopping enthusiasts with merchants in chillier months. Some vendors are scheduled for the entire season, while others are only there on select days. Collectively, they offer faux leather earrings, barbecued meat, local honey and maple syrup, herbal medicinals, custom woodworking, natural skin care products, homemade dog treats, fresh bread, organic produce, art, jewelry, cosmetics, handmade baby items and vegan cheese.
BY CINDY GERLACH
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY TIPPECANOE ARTS FEDERATION
“Grow the arts”
It’s a simple motto — and one the Tippecanoe Arts Federation undertakes with the utmost gusto.
The Tippecanoe Arts Federation (TAF) serves as a regional arts partner, one of 11 in the state. As the center of a 14-county district, TAF is the umbrella organization and helps advocate for these 14 counties, many of which are rural, providing educational opportunities in visual, literary and performing arts, outreach programs for underserved communities and underserved youth, and funding for operational expenses for fellow arts organizations in the region.
TAF dates back to 1976, when it was determined broader
support for the arts locally was needed, says Tetia Lee, TAF’s executive director. In its nascent period, TAF was actually just an arts calendar, a way to list everything that was happening in one place.
“It was a way to support other arts organizations,” Lee says.
As its mission and vision grew, the organization changed accordingly, supporting various types of programming. TAF found its home at the Wells Memorial Library, just north of downtown on North Street; at the time, the library was transitioning out of the building.
The current board has adopted the simple mission statement — “It’s something short and sweet that the board members can remember,” says Lee.
“We work within that mission,” she says. “We’re allowed to be creative, to think outside the box.”
“We can play to the resources in the community really well,” says Ann Fields Monical, TAF’s chief operating officer.
The Regional Arts Partnership is a network of 11 regions throughout the state. Under the purview of the Indiana Arts Commission, the regional partners work to enhance the delivery of arts services and to move the decision-making closer to the community and its arts consumers. Region 4, the largest geographically, serves a population of more than 525,000 and has served in this capacity since 1997.
And it’s a huge undertaking. With such a large geographic area, needs are widely variant, Lee says.
“Rural counties’ needs are so much different than organizations in Tippecanoe County,” she says.
The work focuses on engagement, education and sustainability. TAF helps groups assess their needs. But how those are addressed changes.
Because, says Lee, every community benefits from the vitality of the arts. Whether it’s arts education, public art displays or performances that draw in tourism, the arts are vital to the survival of a community.
TAF has more than 200 arts partners. These member organizations use TAF as their hub, as these are often small groups with no physical home — or the resources to have one — so TAF provides them with meeting space, a mailing address and help with marketing and publicity.
“The majority of our organizations are smaller, with budgets less than $25,000 who are looking to expand,” Lee says.
Member organizations range from large groups such as the Lafayette Symphony, Carnahan Hall or the Indiana Fiddlers’ Gathering, to much smaller, more obscure groups and many individuals. Even a group of fly fishermen.
“That doesn’t sound like the arts,” says Monical. “But they make these beautiful lures.
“That tells you how much stuff is going on. So many different groups.”
One of the ways TAF is looking to the future is by the remodeling and expansion of its physical space. The nearly century-old Wells Community Cultural Center had been showing signs of age. So TAF undertook a major restoration project — a project that was handled very deliberately and thoughtfully. The timing had to be right in terms of financing the project and finding public support. It was a process that took nearly a dozen years.
The result is a stunning interior renovation of the old library. The stacks were removed to reveal an entire back wall of windows, opening up the space, allowing for a much-needed smaller performance venue, as well as updated gallery space and staff offices.
The building’s footprint remains unchanged. But every inch of the building has been renovated, with the lower-level rooms being given the same treatment, with a full overhaul. Each of the four rooms has been redesigned with a distinct purpose — a dance studio, arts studio, recording studio, meeting room — yet each can be used for multiple purposes, to create, interact and learn. The smallest meeting room was given a wall of glass to make it feel less claustrophobic.
The state-of-the-art recording studio is a major coup. Funded by a grant issued to the Songwriters Association of Mid-North Indiana, the studio will serve as a teaching tool for both recording artists and engineers; it also will be a space for people to record projects, from interviews to podcasts to spoken word performances. It will open up opportunities for education and collaboration within the songwriting and recording community.
The final touch to the building was when the stolen outdoor lights were returned. The bronze lights, stolen last summer and sold for scrap, were reconstructed, Monical says. A mold was found to recreate a missing part, and the lights were completed and returned to their rightful home in front of the building, albeit with tighter security, in December.
Having more space is key to the future of TAF, Lee says. As the renovations progress — this was Phase I of a three-phase project — it will live in the space and evaluate how it works before progressing to the next steps.
“We hope to expand,” says Lee. “What that looks like is changing.”
Each year, TAF hosts its annual fundraiser, The Taste of Tippecanoe, which brings arts together with tastings from area restaurants. It shows off the best of the area, from food to visual art to performances of all kinds.
TAF is instrumental in getting art to the people in the communities it serves. Currently, it oversees a variety of programs, including:
As the umbrella organization, TAF has a broad mission and goals, as they help advocate for the benefit of public arts, for education. Every day, Lee says, they live that motto of “Grow the Arts” — in all the glorious ambiguity that wording allows.
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 ANGELA K. ROBERTS
Lana Beck, a bright, inquisitive second-grader at Mintonye Elementary in Lafayette, was born into a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) family. Her parents are university administrators with degrees in science, and a grandfather and an uncle are biomedical engineers.
Between visits to family members’ research buildings and bedtime readings of books such as “Rosie Revere, Engineer,” Lana’s parents make a point of exposing her to all things STEM during her off-school hours. When it came time to schedule Lana for summer camp in 2019, it was only logical to mix in stints at Straight Arrow and Boiler Kids Camp with a week at Super Summer, sponsored by Purdue University’s Gifted Education Research and Resource Institute.
As Lana and her classmates explored the theme of “Discovery through History,” examining the role of ancient civilizations on the modern world, they employed their STEM skills to develop a Mayan calendar, discover how a solar oven works, and create an aqueduct out of cardboard.
The verdict? Lana loved it. “I have wondered if it was the novelty of it, but it was certainly her favorite [of the three camps]. And she liked the other two,” says her mother, Kaethe Beck, operations director for the Purdue University Life Sciences Initiative. “She came home one day looking for us to translate her message that she wrote using hieroglyphs after they learned how to make their own paper. She was just thrilled to have a secret language and to know how paper is made.”
For several decades, the GERI program, part of Purdue’s College of Education, has provided enrichment activities for academically, creatively and artistically talented youth. Super Summer offers programming for kindergarten through fourth grade in not only STEM subjects but also social studies, art and language arts. The Summer Residential Camp has similar offerings for students in fifth through 12th grades. GERI is one of many programs in the Greater Lafayette area designed to open local students’ minds to the possibilities of STEM education, and ultimately, careers.
Science, technology, engineering and mathematics play a key role in our nation’s economy. According to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, employment in STEM occupations — which Pew broadly defines as including not only computer science and engineering, but also healthcare — grew from 9.7 million in 1990 to 17.3 million in 2016, outpacing the nation’s overall job growth. Those statistics are especially relevant in areas such as Greater Lafayette, where industry and healthcare reign.
While Purdue University may be the top employer in Tippecanoe County, seven others on the top-10 list — including Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc., Caterpillar Inc. and Wabash National Corp. — are manufacturers. The other two are IU Health Arnett Hospital and Franciscan St. Elizabeth East. Search the online want ads for the area, and you’ll find postings for engineers, factory technicians, registered nurses and certified nursing assistants, all of which require various levels of STEM skills.
“The local economy here is heavily manufacturing based, and we’re trying to address that,” says Miranda Hutcheson, director of the new Greater Lafayette Career Academy (GLCA), which opened in August in the old Lafayette Life building on 18th Street across from Lafayette Jefferson High School. “Almost every industry right now needs employees; we hear that almost every day.”
GLCA, a cooperative effort that includes Lafayette School Corp., Tippecanoe School Corp. and the West Lafayette Community School Corp., is designed to prepare students for both college and careers. Students attend their home schools for a half-day either in the morning or the afternoon and spend the rest of their time at the academy. Credits at the academy count toward a diploma from their home schools.
Local schools offer some beginning career and technical education courses, says Laurie Rinehart, director of guidance and assistant principal at Lafayette Jeff. However, GLCA is providing “more advanced courses and more advanced experiences to connect them with the next step, whether it’s the workforce or going to trade school or college,” she says. Through such programs as advanced manufacturing, computer science and nursing, academy students can earn industry certifications, dual credits or both.
Coursework aligns with the new Graduation Pathways program, approved by the Indiana State Board of Education in 2017, in which Hoosier students create their own roadmaps to preparing for life after high school. Those pathways took effect last fall for incoming high school freshmen.
Hutcheson describes the pathways as on- and off-ramps on an interstate. “Whatever your educational attainment goal is or career goal, you can get off the ramp if needed and then get right back on if that’s what you choose,” she says. Students with industry certifications can enter the workforce immediately or spend two or four years in college before using that certification on the job. Others may work for a while, then attend college. Those who earn dual credits can go right on to college or delay their postsecondary education for a while.
All GLCA classes are designed to be as hands-on as possible, both on- and off-campus. Aspiring medical assistants, for example, will attend labs where they learn skills such as checking vital signs, giving injections and charting patient progress. After graduation, they will complete an externship at a local healthcare facility.
Some students may discover that they don’t enjoy what they’re studying. That’s actually a valuable learning experience, Hutcheson says: “It’s a win for us if a student says, ‘This is not for me.’ We’ve eliminated that from a student’s future career options.”
Beyond the career academy, many other local initiatives are designed to build STEM competence and confidence. Greater Lafayette Commerce, for instance, sponsors CoderDojo, a free computer science club in which kids aged 7 to 17 learn programming from computer science professionals. Programs average 30 students at each of the two locations, says Kara Webb, workforce development director. Last fall, GLC planned to add two more locations to the monthly lineup.
GLC’s annual Manufacturing Week showcases STEM career possibilities available here in the Greater Lafayette region. More than 3,34o students signed up for last year’s event, which ran Sept. 30-Oct. 4. High school students toured manufacturers, seeing the workforce in action and learning what type of training would prepare them for industry careers. Middle schoolers attended a daylong expo, exploring stations focused on design, production, distribution and support services, such as nursing and cybersecurity.
“We highlight that manufacturing has numerous career pathways, not just production,” Webb says. Elementary students attended a half-day manufacturing awareness workshop, learning about lean manufacturing, quality, teamwork and the effect of manufacturing on people’s lives.
Across the river at Purdue University, K-12 STEM programs abound. Purdue’s Women in Engineering offerings, for example, include after-school programs such as Imagination, Innovation, Discovery and Design (I2D2) for kindergarteners through fifth graders and Innovation to Reality (I2R) for sixth to eighth graders.
“Children are being exposed to STEM education in their formal school settings already, so what we do is really intended to be a reinforcement of that exposure,” says Beth M. Holloway, assistant dean for diversity and engagement in the College of Engineering and the Leah H. Jamieson Director of Women in Engineering. A fundamental part of WIEP’s programming is engaging current engineering students, particularly women, to serve as role models to youngsters.
“For our programs that are targeted to seventh to 10th grades, we also do sessions for parents that address ways to encourage their child’s interest in engineering in particular, and STEM in general,” Holloway says. “Course expectations are covered there as well.”
Middle school is an ideal time to begin planning for high school, Rinehart says. In fact, she and her colleagues at Jeff are talking to eighth grade parents about the career academy so that interested students can plan their schedules accordingly.
“They’re over there a whole half day. Not all students can do that,” Rinehart says of the GLCA students. “These conversations have to start with our kids in middle school, in eighth grade and freshman year; we have many students who want to go but can’t fit it in their schedule.”
For parents like Kaethe Beck, it’s never too early to start preparing her children for the future. “I can expose her to many different things and let her choose what interests her, reinforcing that she can explore any one of these disciplines in a capable, confident way,” she says of her daughter Lana.
And regardless of whether Lana pursues a career in STEM or in another discipline, lessons like those at Super Summer are equipping her with important life skills, Beck says.
“I think children are inherently curious,” she explains. “It’s the what, why, how that kids always want to ask about anyway. In my mind, STEM fields address those questions in a number of ways, but most importantly, give you the tools to think critically about any type of problem you’ll encounter in life.”
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.
BY ANGELA K. ROBERTS
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY GREATER LAFAYETTE COMMERCE AND TIPPECANOE ARTS FEDERATION
When Henry Leavitt Ellsworth, the first United States Patent Commissioner, published a booklet in 1838 touting the agricultural advantages of a new town in Indiana’s upper Wabash River valley, his efforts likely constituted the first-ever marketing campaign for Lafayette, Indiana, population 3,000.
“The county of Tippecanoe, in which Lafayette is situated … embodies and is immediately surrounded by some of the most beautiful prairies and plains of Indiana,” the Connecticut native wrote. “The rapid increase of the town of Lafayette, from a settlement of scarce ten years ago, is truly astonishing, and can be accounted for only by the extreme felicity of its position.”
In the 182 ensuing years, the combined population of Lafayette and its twin city across the river to the west — which began with the settlement of Chauncey in 1860 — has swelled to more than 194,000 residents, by latest estimates. Back then, agriculture was king; now the key industries are education, manufacturing and healthcare. And while both towns began with only a few streets and a handful of homes and businesses, today Greater Lafayette encompasses a vast area containing historic and brand-new neighborhoods, high-quality school corporations, parks and trail systems, two hospitals, a world-class university and a regional community college campus.
Now, a new coalition seeks to make Greater Lafayette even greater by bringing a unified approach to marketing efforts aimed at increasing the talent pool, spurring new business development and enhancing community pride.
Seven local entities — 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 — have come together to form the Greater Lafayette Marketing Coalition (GLMC). Its aim is to promote the area as an ideal place to live, play and work.
“We work very well as a community here, with the cities and the county and Purdue and Ivy Tech. Overall, we have a strong economic climate,” says Tony Roswarski, Lafayette’s mayor. “But we understood that to continue to be globally competitive, we needed to look at how do we market ourselves in a new way? How do we look at the world for attracting new businesses here, to keep existing businesses competitive, to finding skilled labor?”
The ultimate goal of the campaign is twofold, says Scott Walker, CEO of Greater Lafayette Commerce: one, attracting more residents to the community, and two, attracting more businesses.
“We’re not necessarily trying to create more visitors,” he explains. Instead, coalition members want to convert visitors to prospects. “How do we get them to think, ‘How do I bring my business here, because I see how businesses are growing and thriving here? Or how can I move myself and my family here, because I’ve really enjoyed my time in the community?’”
To lay the groundwork for a cooperative marketing effort, GLMC partnered with Ologie, a Columbus, Ohio, agency that spearheaded Purdue University’s “Makers, All” campaign several years ago. The agency conducted face-to-face meetings with more than 125 residents, business leaders, hiring managers, Purdue University faculty, administrators and students, area non-profits and city and county employees. It also developed an online community survey that yielded responses from more than 1,500 individuals. Local hiring managers and business owners also participated in online discussion boards.
Among the key insights: A connection to family is often what draws residents to the area and what keeps Purdue University graduates here. Additionally, Lafayette and West Lafayette may have distinct personalities, but thanks to their collaborative spirit, the two cities are often seen as one. Finally, despite its challenges, Greater Lafayette has a variety of work-live-play strengths, including employment opportunities, shared public spaces and high-quality public schools.
All of this adds up to the core message that Ologie developed: “Greater Lafayette is where progress, creativity and community thrive, so that you can live expansively.”
For job seekers, Greater Lafayette is a hub for diverse and state-of-the-art industries, which translates to unlimited professional opportunities, according to Ologie’s messaging guide. For visitors and residents looking for entertainment, the area offers a variety of arts, culture and tech opportunities, which provide memorable experiences. For people seeking a sense of belonging, Greater Lafayette is a close-knit and prosperous community, the Ologie team notes, which leads to greater personal fulfillment for its citizens.
The campaign’s optimistic messages resonate with officials like Tom Murtaugh, Tippecanoe County commissioner. Born and raised here, he’s been delighted with changes in recent years, particularly the revitalization of downtown areas.
“When I was in college, downtown was desolate. There was an adult bookstore on the courthouse square. At night there was nobody downtown. To think that in 30-some years, that has completely turned around: investment in the downtown corridor, the MARQ project and the project by City Hall,” he says of the renovation of the Morton Community Center for West Lafayette city offices. “There’s a great history and a great future for this community.”
As the campaign progresses, coalition officials will track progress. They’ll be looking for positive changes in audiences’ perceptions of Greater Lafayette as well as positive economic outcomes, such as new residents and businesses.
“A growing economy is a thriving economy. Property and tax values depreciate, so you’re constantly having to create new investment,” says Walker. “There’s no such thing as status quo. Alternatives to growth are decline.”
Demand for new houses drives new residential development, Walker adds: “We know what happens when the capacity expands over demand. That’s what the Great Recession was. Fostering that demand is really important; it provides assurance for developers.”
As West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis notes, Greater Lafayette is already seeing a housing boom. “We just approved the Provenance development on State and Airport Road in August. These will have wonderful housing options including apartments, condos and single-family houses. West Lafayette and Greater Lafayette as a whole is clearly a popular place to live because houses don’t stay on the market for long, but more are being added and will continue,” Dennis says.
Several new businesses have also announced moves to or expansion in Greater Lafayette in the past year, including Saab, SEL (Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories), Inari and Zeblok.
“The reason this is a great place to do business is because it is a great place to live. Our schools from kindergarten through Ph.D. are some of the finest in the country, our arts scene is robust and innovative, we have a growing culinary culture, our housing stock is wide-ranging and within reach for our residents,” Dennis says.
“And finally, one of the main reasons Greater Lafayette is so great is that we all work together. It sounds cliché, but it’s what makes us, on both sides of the river, such a great success.”