Several groups hope to change narrative of far east side with new festival

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – People who live on the far east side say it’s time to change the narrative of their community.  Several groups are joining forces right now in hopes that a first-ever festival will change your perspective.

The portrayal of the far east side is one that Cheria Caldwell knows well. She’s born and raised on the far east side and has witnessed the abandonment. Now, she wants to do something about it.

“Within the last 20 years or so, there’s been a lot of change economically,” said Caldwell. “There have been businesses that come and go, as well as school closings within the last year or so, that’s really created a significant impact on the community.”

Caldwell isn’t fighting for change alone. She’s partnered with Samantha Douglas from the Community Council and several others to create the first-ever Far Eastside Festival.

“When you see this violence, these things are all symptoms of a bigger problem,” said Douglas.

The AmeriCorps Ally Program is also included in the efforts.

“There really are so many gems that we think people just over look,” said Madeline Elkin-Aquino with the AmeriCorps Ally Program. “The neighbors just deserve this fantastic event.”

“Creating a celebration that attracts people, that brings residents together,” said Caldwell. “We have lots of different cultures in the community, so just bringing people together on one level and seeing all the great things we have to offer.”

The festival is not only a way to have some fun but shine light on the critical resources that are going unnoticed.

“A lot of our residents don’t know about it or they don’t take advantage of it and it’s really unfortunate,” said Douglas. “So, being able to have a festival like this, house all of them in one place, at one time.”

It’s also a celebration of recent successes, like the addition of a new, local grocery store and the future demolition of the run-down OakTree Apartments along 42nd and Post Road.  Douglas hopes, the festival will give the Far Eastside a new look.

“I think that’s what we’re really missing on the far east side,” said Douglas.

The first-ever Far Eastside Festival will held be on May 18.  It’s a family-friendly event happening from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. in the parking lot of CAFE, the Community Alliance of the Far Eastside.  There will be vendors, food and entertainment.

“Even though there are some things that have taken place that are negative in our community, we do still have hope and we are looking for things to change,” said Caldwell.

Caldwell encourages anyone interested in helping develop the far east side to join the community council. The group meets at CAFE every fourth Tuesday of every month. That’s located at 8902 E. 38th Street in Indianapolis.

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