The fourth annual Neighborhood I.D.E.A. conference was held at Ball State University in early March. Each year over 100 Muncie neighborhood leaders come together to listen and learn about the best practices to improve our community. It is always enlightening and fun, the food is great, and it is free to the attendees!

This year the program emphasized education, neighborhood planning, neighborhood partnerships, and community resources. One could choose only four of the 12 hour-long presentations in the time allowed.

The education track included:
Whitely neighborhood’s pursuit as an “education first community;”
Next Muncie, a group dedicated to improving Muncie’s amenities, economy, and education;
Muncie Community Schools’ Community Engagement Council whose mission is focused on supporting volunteerism, advocacy, and fundraising for MCS.

The neighborhood planning and partnership tracks discussed building a community website, grant writing, how to do membership drives, how participatory budgeting works, neighborhood murals, and Ball State’s commitment to Muncie.

The Community Resources track highlighted the homeless population, substance abuse, and how to support seniors and the disabled in Muncie.

The day concluded with a mayoral candidate forum. I have been to all four of the I.D.E.A. conferences and find them educational, inspiring, and great for meeting new people. I recommend the event to all, and you do not have to be involved in neighborhood leadership to attend.

Lynn Hale