Projects aim to make Indianapolis nicer

February 20, 2013
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Indianapolis is about to get nicer.

At least that’s the idea behind the inaugural Nice Grants program, an initiative that aims to give high-potential community projects a financial boost.

Local Web marketing firm SmallBox and consumer-ratings service Angie’s List provided the money—$5,000 each—and this month chose 10 ideas to back with $1,000 grants. Now the fun part begins.

“Within a few months, we should be able to see if it has an impact,” said SmallBox CEO Jeb Banner, whose team came up with the grants after earning a performance-based bonus last year. Angie’s List matched the donation after learning of the program.

Nearly 200 applications were submitted, and the winners were selected from a group of about 50 finalists. Banner was impressed by the diversity of ideas.

“They were strong ideas across the board,” the local entrepreneur said. “There were easily another 10 or 20 we could have funded.”

Winning projects run the gamut from urban beekeeping to a “coder dojo” that would encourage girls to learn computer programming. SmallBox will follow their progress on its blog, providing valuable exposure in addition to funding.

“This is not just about money,” Banner said. “We’re looking to give them a push.”

And if all goes as planned, their successes will improve the community as a whole.

“We love this idea and hope to see it grow,” Angie’s List namesake Angie Hicks said in a prepared statement. “Indianapolis is already a pretty nice place. These projects are destined to make it even better.”

The winners are:

— Bee Public, which aims to expand urban bee hives in the Fountain Square area and other Indianapolis cultural districts.

— Clifton-on-the-River Green Tomato Festival, which plans to build a bus stop shelter near the corner of 36th and Clifton Streets as part of an expanded neighborhood harvest celebration.

— Draw on the Walls, a working prototype of a drawing robot to be installed permanently in the Big Car Service Center for community use, as well as a second robot for use in homes or community murals.

— Freewheelin’ Community Bikes, which wants to teach kids about bicycle maintenance and offer stipends to apprentice bike mechanics.

— IndyGo PUPstop, which would help People for Urban Progress re-use 9,000 Bush Stadium seats at IndyGo bus stops.

— Cataracts Music Fest, which aims to build participation in the annual cultural event.

— Earth Art Labyrinth, which wants to build, document and market a nature-inspired labyrinth and host a one-day workshop on the art form.

— Visualize Indy, which would commission local graphic artists to create licensed infographics that portray various aspects of Indianapolis.

— PROJECTiONE, which would help bring a design group founded by two Ball State University graduates to Indianapolis from Muncie.

— Coder Dojo Indy, which would recruit female volunteers/mentors and increase the number of girls participating in dojo activities to encourage them to explore technology and computer programming.
 

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  1. Only half a million TV Viewers? And thats an increase? I knew Indycar was struggling but I didn't know it was that bad. Hell, if NASCAR hits 5 Million viewers everyone starts freaking out saying its going down hill. It has a long way to before Indycar even hits NASCAR's bad days.

  2. IU has been talking that line for years with no real progress even with the last Dean, Dr. Brater. Why will an outsider, Dr. Hess, make a difference? With no proof of additional resources (cash in the bank), and a concrete plan to move an academic model that has been outdated for decades with a faculty complacent with tenure and inertia, I can count on IU to remain the same during the tenure of Dr. Hess. One ought to look to Purdue and Notre Dame for change and innovation. It is just too bad that both of those schools do not have their own medical school. Competition might wake up IU. My guess is, that even with those additions to our State, IU will remain in its own little world squandering our State's tax dollars. Why would any donor want to contribute to IU with its track record? What is its strategy to deal with the physician shortage for our State? New leadership will not be enough for us to expect any change.

  3. How do you think the Bridges got approved? I spent a couple days researching PAC's and individual contributions to some city council members during that time. My printouts were inches thick on the two I concentrated on. Finally gave up. Was disgusted with all the donations, and who they were from. Would have taken me days and days to compile a complete list. Tried to give it to the Star reporter, but he thought it was all just fine. (and apparently he was treated well himself) He ended up being laid off or fired though. And then of course, there was land donated to the dad's club, or city, as a partial payoff. All done in the shining example of "charity." No, none of these contributions are a coincidence.

  4. I agree what kind of help or if any will be there for Dr. Ley's patients. I was a patient myself.

  5. What about the hundreds of patients who sought this doctor for the right reasons, to quit drugs. what option do these patients now have, experience horrible withdrawl or return to heroin?? those are the choices. what about the children of these former addicts who's parent(s) WILL not b able to maintain their job, for @ least 2 weeks.. There needs to b an emergency clinic opened for these patients.

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