Friday, March 20, 2015

Making Moves in March

The Miller Spotlight Steering Committee has met five times since 2/17/15. We have held both morning and evening meetings twice a week. We are trying to accommodate our volunteers’ schedules as much as possible.
So, far we have fifteen dedicated members who have been assigned interviewees to poll on the four quadrants The Legacy Foundation’s Neighborhood Spotlight Program focuses on; strengths/ weaknesses and opportunities/ threats. The data will be synthesized by our Community Builder, Jessie Renslow, and presented at a town hall style meeting later this year. After our findings have been presented, we will brainstorm ways we might be able to address them.
Currently, we have 531 names so far on our interview list, but we would love to survey 500+ vested members of our community, so that we can get as many voices heard as possible. All interviews are anonymous and we want to hear everything you have to say (good, bad and ugly)!
If you have thoughts on current issues, or ways in which we can improve upon the quality of life in Gary-Miller please consider becoming a part of the Miller Spotlight process.
We are always looking to add folks to our steering committee. If you are interested in joining our efforts or have a name to add to the list please email Jessie via She is more than willing to meet with anyone individually and/or groups who would like to be caught up on the Miller Spotlight Steering Committee happenings.

Now that our committee members have been prepared for the interview process, we will meet only once a month to drop off the data and address any questions or concerns that may arise. Our next morning meeting will be at 8:00AM on Tuesday 4/14/15 at the McDonald’s between 12 and 20. Our next evening meeting will be at 6:30pm on Wednesday 4/15/15 and we are looking for an available venue. If anyone has one to offer, please email Jessie.

If you’re on Facebook please like us at . A really easy way to help our efforts is to share our Facebook updates. We have 105 likes so far, but would love for that to grow. If you see something of interest in Miller and you're on Instagram, or Twitter please take a pic and then use the SEO #MillerSpotlight .

Celebrating Our Community’s History at Marq Park UMC

In February, we attended services and a Black History Month celebration at Marquette Park United Methodist Church, which has a long history of pursuing social justice.
Members of the congregation gave speeches on the importance of accurately recording history and the positive civil rights transitions they have witnessed in Gary-Miller over the past 5 decades.
 The Miller Spotlight Steering Committee couldn’t agree more about the importance of accurately depicting the best needs for our community through the revitalization efforts we are spearheading.
 If you have a religious / spiritual institution/ organization that would like to be involved in the Miller Spotlight process we are looking to poll folks on how to help our community progress. Please contact Jessie Renslow via All are welcome to join our Steering Committee!

Meet Our Community Builder

Meet our new Community Builder, Jessie Renslow!
(Pictured here with her family)
Jessie is coordinating the surveys we will take to poll our community to discover which grants/ programs might best suit the needs of Miller. When asked, "What do you see as the greatest assets of the Miller neighborhood of Gary?" Jessie responded by saying, "Miller has always had a great, eclectic community vibe to it. It isn’t prefabricated, or cookie-cutter, this effects everything from the people to the architecture. This diversity is an asset because it requires residents to cooperate and collaborate daily, which lends well to facilitating community building as a ton of the intrapersonal foundation has already been laid. Miller also has a wonderful host of natural resources. Being so close to the dunes, the landscape is extreme and beautiful at the same time."
Jessie grew up in Miller and attended Nobel Elementary school. She is a 5th generation Gary resident, but she moved a lot as a kid, so she was able to get a good sampling of NWI's different neighborhoods. Her BA is in Japanese language/ culture and telecommunications production from Ball State University. Her M.Ed. is from California State University with an option in educational technology and  leadership/ new media design and production. After fifteen years away from Gary-Miller, she has just moved back and is very happy to be able to help with the revitalization efforts in her home community. Click here for more info on both of NWI's community builders.
To join the Miller Spotlight efforts, or get polled for your opinion, please email Jessie at .

Gary-Miller Chosen for Neighborhood Spotlight!

What is the Miller Spotlight Project?

Miller was chosen by Legacy Foundation to be one of the first two Northwest Indiana communities to pilot the Neighborhood Spotlight program, which is a new place-based initiative for reinvesting in Lake County. After decades of significant economic decline, many neighborhoods throughout our region are struggling to thrive and sustain their vibrancy. Pockets of hope exist. Miller has been identified as an area of opportunity.

Why has Miller been chosen?
Legacy Foundation stated that our community’s proximity to the lakefront is a notable asset as is the renovation of its Marquette Park and the historic Pavilion.  

Several Gary-Miller structures have historical significance with a number of them on the National Register.
Collaborative bodies are working in the community and include those focused on civic engagement, professional development, philanthropic resources, and safety concerns.

Who is a part of the Miller Spotlight Project?
Neighborhood Spotlight guides a cross-section of community members to work collaboratively and collectively on improving quality of life. Our convening organization, the Miller Beach Art & Creative District, will spearhead the coordination of neighborhood relationships.  Our community builder/ organizer is Jessie Renslow. She can be contacted via Please email her if you’re interested in volunteer opportunities for this project.


What is the next step for the Miller Spotlight Project?
With support from Legacy Foundation staff and consultants, we will organize, decide and act upon projects that can profoundly change Miller’s future.

Before we can decide which projects to pursue, we will coordinate a survey to poll members of our community. By sourcing our information directly from the public we are hoping to identify which grants/ programs might best suit the needs of Miller. We will present our findings at a meeting this fall and then decide what is the best way to proceed.