Neighborhood leaders get tools to improve Indianapolis

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Oct. 17, 2015) -- Hundreds of neighborhood leaders gathered at Marian University Saturday to share ideas about how to improve Indianapolis' neighborhoods.

“I really liked how they pulled together resources from the city, county and local people so we can learn what we can do in our own neighborhood," Carla James, representing the Brendan Park neighborhood, said.  "I learned some things I hadn't even heard of that I want to take back to my neighborhood and hopefully we can employ them."

The Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center organized the event called Neighbor Power and offered 14 workshops Saturday.

Workshops focused on urban agriculture, zoning codes, historic preservation, art, culture, abandoned properties and marketing a neighborhood.

Nick Zimmerman shared his positive experiences of marketing the Bates-Hendricks neighborhood, located just south of Fountain Square.

“We are trying to improve the neighborhood... the quality of life for everyone and you need people to do that," Zimmerman said.

He explained how the neighborhood association created a logo and put it on everything from T-shirts to generic yard signs publicizing the next neighborhood meeting.

"We have a lot more people asking realtors to live in our neighborhood," Zimmerman said. "I think  it’s definitely working.”

The event's keynote speaker was Karen E. Laine who will be featured in an upcoming reality TV show on HGTV called, "Two Chicks and Hammer."

The duo has fixed more than 20 homes in the Indianapolis area, mainly around Fountain Square.

“We go into a neighborhood that has a lot of distressed property. We buy the worst of the worst and we turn it into the best on the block and that makes a difference in the neighborhood," Laine said. "We are not flipping a house. We are rehabilitating a neighborhood.”

Laine said she hopes her story can inspire others, like Carla James, to start improving properties in their own neighborhood.

"I have no background in fixing up homes, but I’m willing to learn just like (Laine) did," James said. "We can all do something and that’s the one thing (Laine) really focused on. It doesn’t matter what it is, the most important thing is each one of us has something to contribute."

Indianapolis' two mayoral candidates spoke to the leaders for five minutes each. The two men both agreed recent investments into downtown have paid off and now its time for the city to focus efforts toward neighborhoods.