Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v04n04)
Tammy's Take - By Tammy Leiber
posted: Feb. 23, 2007
One of my favorite hobbies, for lack of a better word, is meeting new people. It's one of the biggest reasons I decided, after a long and wayward college career, to major in journalism, which gives me a good reason to meet people and ask them questions about themselves.
The opportunity to indulge my hobby is also one of the reasons why I love living in this part of the city. Whether I'm sitting in one of the many fine pubs near my home or attending a neighborhood meeting, I'm constantly amazed by the diversity of people in Broad Ripple and Meridian-Kessler.
Chatting with people over a pint or in a discussion about a neighborhood issue, it strikes me that diversity takes many forms-race, blue collar or white collar, college educated or not, suburban or rural. Regardless of the issue, each person brings his or her unique experiences to the discussion.
Often, the richness of those experiences is overlooked when the community faces an important issue, whether it's a new commercial development in our neighborhood or changes to a long-loved landmark. People, after all, tend to believe that everyone thinks like they do.
I'm guilty of it. Nearly six years ago, soon after I moved into my Meridian-Kessler home, I went to my first neighborhood meeting. At the meeting, representatives of the City of Indianapolis answered questions about some improvements that were planned for Monon Trail street crossings.
I couldn't believe my ears as several people-my new neighbors-complained about the trail's very presence. I'd just finished looking for a house in a market where ads shouted "Blocks from the Monon!" and "Hop on the trail to Broad Ripple!" Houses with yards on the trail commanded higher prices than those a few blocks away.
"Don't these people realize what that 'nuisance' is doing for their neighborhood?" I thought, shocked at the "small-picture" view being taken.
Eventually, I came to understand-although not agree with-their perspective. The trail's critics I met that day were what I consider the bedrock foundation of my neighborhood. They were the people who stayed in their homes over the past 25, 30 or 40 years, when other people moved to the suburbs and crime threatened to take over their streets. They held the neighborhood together and are leading its comeback by again investing in their homes alongside their new neighbors.
Still, they lived through some rough times in the neighborhood, when gunfire erupted in the streets and vacant houses threatened to outnumber occupied homes. In their minds, I believe, the Monon Trail was not only unnecessary, but could also bring nothing but trouble. I'm happy that the trail's critics have been proven wrong, but I'm not about to scream "Told you so!" the next time I see them-after all, their opinions are based on their experiences, just as mine are.
Recently I came across a quote from George Santayana, a poet, philosopher and critic who died in 1952: "There is wisdom in turning as often as possible from the familiar to the unfamiliar: it keeps the mind nimble, it kills prejudice, and it fosters humor."
While I certainly don't fancy myself a philosopher on the scale of Santayana, I wholeheartedly agree with his assessment. Ambitious though it may be, I'm planning to use this space every other week to bring you, dear reader, perspectives you might not otherwise think about, collected from the pubs and meeting rooms in and around Broad Ripple. Got an issue you want to chat about? E-mail me at email@example.com. Hope to meet you soon.
Tammy Lieber is a freelance writer who lives in Meridian Kessler, otherwise known as SoBro. A former reporter at the Indianapolis Business Journal, she now writes journalism and marketing pieces when she's not fixing up her house or enjoying the company of friends over a pint of Guinness. Her favorite spectator sport is politics, except on Sundays during football season. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org