1715: A Film by Lily Tice

Eight weeks and over a thousand hand-illustrated frames later, Harrison Center intern Lily Tice has finished her animated video short, 1715. Her video is a continuation of the Harrison Center’s work in the Monon 16 area, and is specifically about the development happening on Alvord Street. Before Lily arrived, I (Moriah Miller) picked up the Greatriarch Miss Terri Taylor, and she took me for a tour of Alvord Street, which is where she grew up. She shared pictures and memories of the neighbors, and recalled how familial the street was. Tee now lives on Yandes Street, just one block over, from where she can just about see the community garden where her childhood home stood. Jenni Bliss, the owner of the community garden, is seeking to continue building community in her neighborhood and was excited to help us with a video about the neighborhood. She had Lily and I over to talk about her hopes and dreams for the garden as well as the the broader community.

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Terri Taylor and her sister Wanda grew up at 1715 Alvord Street, where Jenni’s community garden is now.

These stories, hopes, and dreams are what Lily illustrated in 1715. Josie Aalsma, a sophomore at Herron High School and a Harrison Center intern, collaborated with Lily by writing and recording the score for the film. The project concluded on Friday, March 8th, with a premier party at Jenni’s house house before an audience of local residents, Harrison Center interns, and Monon 16 “Greatriarchs.” The party offered a fun space for both neighbors and those affiliated with the Harrison Center to come together and enjoy community, nostalgic food, and a quality film that sheds some light on the neighborhood’s roots. Afterwards, Miss Tee told me, “It was an honor to be there. It was such a warm environment and I met a lot of neighbors for the first time. And Lily did an awesome job of sharing the history - it went all the way from the ‘60s to today!”

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Lily watches her animation of Miss Tee’s aunt bringing their neighbor pie.  

One particularly memorable moment in the evening came following the viewing of the film, when longtime residents shared stories of Indianapolis in decades past and answered questions of what the city used to be like from newcomers in the neighborhood, creating a special bridge between the different community members. “Wow,” remarked Pat from The Redevelopment Group, who built many of the houses on the street, “I didn’t really understand how art could be used like this, but tonight I got to watch it happen.”

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The audience was delighted with Lily’s animations of the chickens in the community garden.

Also in attendance were a few of the Rough Riders, a motorcycle club whose clubhouse is located on Alvord Street and has been in the neighborhood for over 20 years. In the conversation that followed the film, I mentioned to Ray (one of the Riders) that I had never been inside of their clubhouse. Actually, none of the new residents had. He grabbed his keys and enthusiastically invited everyone to come see their lounge, dance hall, and impressive trophy room.

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Miss Tee and Moriah dance in the Rough Rider’s dance hall as Rider Russ and Pat from The Redevelopment Group watch the festivities.

Throughout the night, there was a feeling that transcended nostalgia and sentimentality. Everyone present was invited to reflect on the history of the neighborhood and celebrate the rich culture that formed the community, and it also helped pave a way for understanding and unity between neighbors going forward. “Lily’s video was really powerful,” said Jenni, “I felt like a lot of barriers were broken down.” As Lily has finished her internship, she has left Indianapolis (for now!) and while we will miss her, we are grateful for the stories her art has told and for the stories it is helping to write.

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Lily’s illustration of present day Alvord Street and the community garden.

Moriah Miller