Monday, November 23, 2015

Community Plan Presentation

For the past ten months members of the volunteer run-Miller Spotlight project have gathered 4,013 comments about Gary’s very own Miller neighborhood from vested community members. 


These conversations have helped determine how we as a community plan to take action towards continuing to revitalize our neighborhood. 
By sourcing our information directly from the public we are hoping to identify which grants/ programs might best suit the needs of our community and all its residents.

 From our findings, seven themes emerged. (You can view the full report here. We will launch a 2nd round of the report before 1/1/16.)

1.Environment and Ecotourism
2.Safety/ Code Enforcement
3.Education/ Youth Child Programming
4.Property and Blight
5.Area Context
6.Jobs and the Economy
7.Transportation and Infrastructure

Our Action Groups presented our Community Plan on Saturday, 11/14/15 from 2-4PM in the Wirt-Emerson gym. Our volunteers have been working on our 29 goals all year!  
They were created from reviewing the 4,013 comments in the initial Community Conversations Report, our neighborhood statistics/facts, and the feedback we have gotten at different engagement events. 


You can view our video of this family-friendly event that, showcased our community and our students on our YouTube Channel


Our Community Goals

Area Context
*Market the Miller neighborhood to increase positive press mentions, receiving at least one quarterly and increase tourism by 10% in 2016.

*Promote community engagement and connectivity by having 4 social gatherings a year in relaxed settings to maintain communication and community networking.

*Promote communication and networking by erecting and maintaining a virtual and physical community bulletin board in 2016.

Jobs and the Economy

*Host 6 how-to workshops for businesses that result in 1 new business opening and 3 businesses remaining open or expanding by the end of 2016.

*Create a virtual office space for Miller residents by the end of 2016.

*Host 4 Financial Literacy Workshops per year beginning in 2016, improving participants’ skills 20-30%.

*Set up a food truck at the Lake St. Beach Snack Shop for the 2016 summer season to establish the market for re-opening the business.

Education and Youth and Child Programming

*Increase event attendance at Wirt- Emerson Visual and Performing Arts Academy by 100 percent by November 2018.

*Host annual Miller Spotlight Harvest Festival to promote educational institutions and youth and child programming providers.

*Open one new community space by May 2017 to deliver programming for 50 children and youth.

*Develop an Annual April Showcase for at least 100 parents/guardians/ community members/educators to network. 

*Establish quarterly meetings, beginning May 2016, between schools, parents/guardians, and youth organizations. 

Property and Blight

*Survey vacant properties by April 2016 to determine redevelopment potential.

*Reduce vacant properties in Miller by 20% by 2018.

*Compile at least 20 Miller visioning ideas  by June 2016 to raise $10,000 for projects in Miller.

*Address beautification and security concerns at Lakeshore Dunes apartment complex by April 2018.

Safety and Code Enforcement

*Reduce illegal dumping sites within Miller by 75% by 2018.

*Promote community and police engagement activities with the 4 major apartment complexes within Miller to reduce the number of police calls by 20% by the end of 2020.

*Get 10 new code enforcement signs  posted in trouble spots by January 2017.

*Improve lifeguard accountability to reduce safety incidents on the beach by 10% in the 2016 season.

Environment and Ecotourism

*Develop a “Miller Map” to increase patronage of natural sites and businesses  
10% by December 2016.

*Increase advertisement of environment and ecotourism events by 25% by December 2016. 

*Design & install 10 new signs that indicate where trails, beaches, & parks exist or indicate appropriate use by 12/2017.

*Develop 6 environment and ecotourism themed advertisements specific to the Miller neighborhood by December 2017.

Transportation and Infrastructure

  *Engage at least 10 regional partners in advocacy and funding beginning October 2015.

  *Increase number of residents biking, rolling and walking in Miller 500%  by year 2025.

  *New Bike Share and Car Share programs will have a combined 20 users per day by 2019.

  *Provide shuttle bus services to 500 Miller residents on weekends and for special events by summer 2016 
  and increase numbers by 10% each year until the beginning of 2018.

  *By 2020 make 100% of public transportation and active transport infrastructure in the MillerCommunity accessible for all.

What’s Next??? Our Early Action Grants!

On Friday October 30, our Education/ Youth and Child Programming Action Group hosted their first Annual Miller Spotlight Harvest Festival on Lake St. in Gary, Indiana. For more info please check out our 11/2/15 blog

The second of our 7 action groups to host an early action grant was our Property and Blight volunteers. There EAG has several phases, but they tackled phase one bright and early on Saturday, 11/1415. They cleared out our unofficial overflow parking lot by the South Shore Train Station.
Our community entrances have been listed as a major opportunity and weakness in our study. They were able to haul out large items, tons of garbage and able to tame the invasive foliage.


After this, the garden club (a group of volunteers who valiantly strive to maintain our entrances) took on the train station and spruced it up for the holidays. 


The Miller Spotlight action groups got an additional $1,000 grant awarded to all 7 groups for a joint project for #FamilyVolunteerDay2015. The took place on Family Volunteer Day (Saturday, 11/21). 
Marquette Park UMC (located at 215 N Grand Ave. Gary, Indiana 46403) hosted the event in their Fellowship Hall (bottom floor) from noon-2pm. Thanks to the 16 volunteers that joined the Miller Spotlight #FamilyVolunteerDay2015 workshop. 

They made Community Care Kits for the homeless that will be distributed across Gary. Thanks for collaborating with the Miller Spotlight crew Wirt-Emerson, Marquette Park UMC and St. Mary's! The inspiration for it came from the one-on-one interviews our volunteers conducted within our community. In recent years there has been an influx of our indigent population and neighboring communities’ homeless populations coming to Miller’s main thoroughfares to panhandle. 

Our small business owners have been negatively affected by this as well as attendance to our library and different events. The overall perception of the safety of our community is also at stake. However, many people also feel that there should be a caring, positive response to help lift up our local indigent population. Creating Community Care kits will hopefully address this issue in two ways. Care kits will allow folks to give something to our panhandlers other than money and they will enable the community to advertise services directly to the population they target by placing helpful info within the kits. The 16 participants took part in a survey on the issue and held an informal discussion on the topic and needs within our community. 

The third of our 7 action groups to host an early action grant were our Transportation and Infrastructure volunteers. 

They teamed up with our Cycle Miller Beach bike club to host a Miller Spotlight Slow Roll. The weather got a little intense and so it turned into a snow roll. 

22 people attended the workshop on Sunday 11/22/15. Not everyone felt like biking, but everyone wanted to help decide where the bike racks this action group is pursuing via grants and other structural improvements for our community would ideally go. 
So, they held an informative workshop on ADA compatibility and infrastructure planning at 18th Street Brewery. 


If you see someone repurposing an object as a bike rack please take a pic. They are going to be pursuing grants in 2016 so give them a hand. Just snap a pic and add #bikeGary #MillerSpotlight. Thanks!!! 

Look for more volunteer opportunities coming soon. All are welcome to join!!! Our entire community plan will be released online by December 1, 2015. For more info please feel free to contact our Community Builder, Jessie Renslow, via