Keeping Indianapolis Beautiful
Matt Wakefield is the new Community Engagement Coordinator for Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, one of our favorite local organizations working to create a beautiful, thriving, vibrant downtown. When Matt found out he was moving to Indianapolis, he contacted the City Gallery for help finding a new home. We were able to connect him with a great landlord in Fountain Square just a few blocks from his new office. After a couple months in his new home, I had the chance to ask Matt how he was settling in. 1. Tell us a little about yourself. What brought you to Indianapolis? Where did you come from?
I've lived all over the Midwest, growing up in the Chicagoland area, doing my undergrad in Minnesota, and eventually working in St. Louis as as community organizer helping start food pantries and starting summer food programs. I had a brief stint in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer, but other than that I've always been a Midwesterner. I came to Indianapolis to work a KIB as the Community Engagement Coordinator and have the chance to utilize the skills I'd gained in school and previous life experiences.
2. How did you go about deciding where to look for housing? What attracted you to downtown?
I wanted to live somewhere where I could live car-free or at least low-car. I knew that I wanted to be somewhere where I could bike to the office, grocery store, and restaurants -- that was essential in my search. City Gallery was a huge help in the process and I wouldn't have found my wonderful house without them.
3. What initially attracted you to Fountain Square? Any new discoveries since you've been here? What are your favorite things about your new neighborhood?
I was initially attracted to Fountain Square because of the proximity to KIB's office on Fletcher Avenue. After exploring it a little more it had the right balance of low-key residential, restaurants, and music venues that made it seem like the perfect neighborhood for me. Also being able to walk to Fountain Square Brewery didn't hurt at all either... I think my favorite thing about the neighborhood is the mixture of houses, 110 year old houses painted bright colors next to ultra modern designs that look totally out of place, yet perfectly fitting the neighborhood somehow. I don't think I've lived anywhere like it. It feels really refreshing.
4. First impressions of Indianapolis.
I'm trying to avoid the cliche things like welcoming or friendly (everyone has been though). I think the first two things that jumped out to me were how spread out everything is here. Also, that public transportation is so underutilized in this city. That said, it really does feel like a very vibrant and exciting place to be. I'm excited to explore more and more of the city.
5. Tell us about what you're doing with KIB. What is Great Indy cleanup and why is it important?
I'm working as the community engagement coordinator here at KIB. I'm leading KIB's efforts in the Graffiti-Free Indy program and supporting efforts to increase the number of residents who have taken charge of cleaning up their blocks through the Adopt-A-Block program. I'm also working to increase community involvement in our IPL GreenSpaces projects, KIB Clubs schools , Community Forestry tree plantings, and the Great Indy Cleanup.
The Great Indy Cleanup is an anti-litter program in partnership with the City of Indianapolis designed to combat heavy litter and debris that has accumulated in public spaces such as streets, alleys, greenspaces, and waterways. April is when most of the largest cleanups are organized by communities across Indianapolis, but citizens can organize a cleanup and request a dumpster from the City of Indianapolis/Department of Public works any weekend from April - October with KIB helping provide gloves, trash bags, and coordinate the dumpster delivery. Check out KIBI.org for more information on all of our programs.
Thanks again to City Gallery for helping me get settled and find the perfect place for me in the city in such a short time frame.