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For the Love of the Region Inspires Community Action

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Impressed and inspired by Peter Kageyama’s book For the Love of Cities: The love affair between people and their places, NIPSCO’s Director of Economic Development Don Babcock worked with the Northwest Indiana Forum to create an event to introduce and spread the message of regionalism and the value and importance of quality of place.

With the Forum organizing the event and with the financial support of local organizations including NIPSCO, this partnership created a lunch event featuring the author himself as the speaker to foster an appreciation and understanding of the idea that “As cities begin thinking of themselves as engaged in a relationship with their citizens, and citizens begin to consider their emotional connections with their places, we open up new possibilities in community, social and economic development by including the most powerful of motivators--the human heart--in our toolkit of city-making.”

Held at Blue Chip in Michigan City, IN, more than 100 economic and redevelopment professionals, mayors, city planners, non-profit organizations and business leaders came together to hear a 45 minute presentation from Kageyama on the topic of what he calls “love notes” – the little things that connect a community and make a big impact.

During his speech, Kageyama gave examples including spaces in Boston, MA (The Lawn on D), Ludington, MI (an interactive art project) and LED lighting displays in both Baltimore and Columbus, OH. Love-note projects help inspire and motivate ordinary citizens to achieve extraordinary things out of love for their place, allowing cities and towns to flourish even as “official” resources diminish during tough economic times. “Plant an idea of fun,” Kageyama advises. “Something as simple as a lighting scheme can change the way we feel about our places.”

 Locally, NWI has some communities already investing in their own love notes, engaging their citizens in a relationship—and seeing the benefits. “Cities like Valparaiso, Whiting and Michigan City see the importance of creating communities people want to live in and take pride in that fact. Ice skating rinks, artist communities, thriving, walkable downtowns and public parks attract people which in turn help a business relocate or expand to service those communities,” said Raeann Trakas, the marketing director for the NWI Forum.

Part of why Kageyama calls them “love notes” is because these projects don’t necessarily need to be that big to have a tremendous positive impact. After the event’s lunch buffet and Kageyama’s presentation, attendees work shopped ideas for projects that could be accomplished in their own communities, or even between communities that would support neighborly regionalism.

To support these ideas, the NWI Forum has partnered with the Greater La Porte Economic Development Corporation, the Economic Development Corporation of Michigan City, One Region, Pulaski County EDC and Newton County EDC to offer $500 grants for love note projects across the seven-county region. “The $500 grants are a way to keep the positive momentum going,” said Heather Ennis, president and CEO of the NWI Forum. “Hopefully this will be a game-changer for the region as well. Creating a place people love and are passionate about is the best sales tool we can have.”

The Forum is currently collecting proposals for projects, and plans to announce the winning proposals during this summer. Proposals can be submitted before June 1st to Submissions should include a summary and list of which communities or neighborhoods would be affected by the project.

Peter Kageyama, Author

For the Love of Cities


Heather Ennis, President and CEO

Northwest Indiana Forum