Women behind RECLAIM look to add art while cleaning up northwest neighborhood

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Some vacant lots on the northwest side of the city are already getting some makeovers and the work there has only just begun.

LaShawnda Crowe Storm and Phyllis Boyd lead the project, RECLAIM. The two women, who are both artists, are bringing in other artists and designers to tackle unsafe conditions in the northwest area neighborhood, near Martin Luther King Street.

This year, RECLAIM took on six vacant properties, some publicly and other privately owned, to clean up. The work was made possible after the women were awarded a $200,000 grant through ArtPlace America.

The women went for the money to address a program called Safe Routes to School.

“We work on actually the routes that the school children walked and that’s where we put our effort," said Crowe Storm. "We can’t address the hundreds of properties in the neighborhoods but our real focus is the areas our children have to walk to and from school or to parks."

RECLAIM was able to gather hundreds of volunteers over the year to remove debris and other items that were dumped in the neighborhood. They've also painted some buildings and sidewalks in the area.

Small sheds are already up at some of the properties. They'll be painted next year by a local artist and then used with some community gardens that the neighborhood will get to take part in and learn how to do on their own.

The grant through ArtPlace America runs until 2020. RECLAIM hopes to tackle more properties in the area come spring of 2018.