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. John, unfortunately CTRWD wants to put the tank(s) right next to a nature preserve and at the southern entrance to Carmel off of Keystone. Not exactly the kind of message you want to send to residents and visitors (come see our tanks as you enter our city and we build stuff in nature preserves...

  2. 85 feet for an ambitious project? I could shoot ej*culate farther than that.

  3. I tried, can't take it anymore. Untill Katz is replaced I can't listen anymore.

  4. Perhaps, but they've had a very active program to reduce rainwater/sump pump inflows for a number of years. But you are correct that controlling these peak flows will require spending more money - surge tanks, lines or removing storm water inflow at the source.

  5. All sewage goes to the Carmel treatment plant on the White River at 96th St. Rainfall should not affect sewage flows, but somehow it does - and the increased rate is more than the plant can handle a few times each year. One big source is typically homeowners who have their sump pumps connect into the sanitary sewer line rather than to the storm sewer line or yard. So we (Carmel and Clay Twp) need someway to hold the excess flow for a few days until the plant can process this material. Carmel wants the surge tank located at the treatment plant but than means an expensive underground line has to be installed through residential areas while CTRWD wants the surge tank located further 'upstream' from the treatment plant which costs less. Either solution works from an environmental control perspective. The less expensive solution means some people would likely have an unsightly tank near them. Carmel wants the more expensive solution - surprise!

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