Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Successful ArtsFest Draws DePauw and Greencastle Communities Together

By Gigi Jennewein Fenlon, DePauw Coordinator of Arts Publicity and Marketing Chair of ArtsFest Planning

How do you make a community thrive? Bring in the artists. So say experts on economically viable communities including Richard Florida, best known for his book, The Rise of the Creative Class, and so attempted DePauw University and members of the Greencastle community for a week in November.

For nine years, DePauw University has been offering ArtsFest, a seven-day gathering of writers, artists, thinkers, and performers. Each year's festival is organized around a theme such as borders, or the environment, or Shakespeare. And each year the intent of the organizers - a group that includes me - has been to make all events inclusive of and open to the entire Greencastle community. In 2010, we made that intent particularly obvious with our theme: Art & the Green Castle.

Our mission this year was to have both communities contributing to creating and enjoying the events of ArtsFest. To achieve this we included community members on the ArtsFest planning committee: a Greencastle art teacher, a staff member from the Putnam County Library and the owner of a gallery in town, among others.

This plan proved fruitful. The graphic design for this year's ArtsFest was created by local artist Jennifer Herrold. DePauw professor and poet Joe Heithaus spoke on the painting of his poem about Greencastle on the side of a West Walnut St. barn. The Putnam County Library teamed up with DePauw's Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics to produce "This I Believe" essays. Award-winning blues artist and local resident Tad Robinson headlined the closing night party. The DePauw-originated Greencastle Service Theatre and the Putnam County Museum collaborated on a project involving Greencastle High School students.

If you pressed me, I'd have to say that I'm most pleased with the Greencastle/DePauw collaboration on the Friday night Arts Walk through the Green Castle. For a two-hour period of time that began around 6:30 p.m., local residents and DePauw students, faculty and staff roamed the square to check out the arts. The Low Road Gallery and the GC Galleria were open and students from DePauw professor Cindy O'Dell's photography class were projecting images of Greencastle past and present onto the buildings.

I saw downtown Greencastle differently that night. I felt a sense of vibrancy and possibility. People were excited to be witnessing new ways of looking at their home.

And that excitement is being capitalized on, which couldn't make me happier. The emerging Greencastle Arts Council plans to formally kick off its existence by instituting regular "First Friday" art walks on the square. The group has chosen Friday, February 4 as its launch date, and hopes to unveil a piece of public art created by 5th year DePauw student Travis Lamothe.

I have listened to many friends and neighbors swoon over visits to towns of our size with lively arts scenes. As Greencastle is blessed with many wonderful creative and performing artists, I hope that the direction inspired by DePauw's Art & the Green Castle and the forthcoming efforts of the Greencastle Arts Council will "out" that creativity and make Greencastle similarly worthy of swooning.

What do you think about the role that arts play in the success of our community? Share your comments below.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Greencastle 'three-peats' as Green Community of the Year

The Indiana Association of Cities and Towns (IACT) recently announced that Greencastle has received its Green Community of the Year designation for the third consecutive year.

It's what we refer to around these parts as the "three-peat."

We recently blogged about our efforts on the sustainability front following the announcement that Putnam RISE, an initiative of the Greencastle Sustainability Commission, received a $100,000 grant from the Putnam County Community Foundation.

And, the IACT recognition comes on the heels of the National League of Cities' announcement that Greencastle was the 45 finalists for its 2010 Awards for Municipal Excellence, again for our sustainability efforts.

IACT launched its Green Communities initiative to help cities and towns facing budget shortfalls identify potential cost savings, as well as show how communities that operate in a sustainable way do so in a cost-effective manner. The organization asked us to fill out a 51-question survey that covered, among other things, purchasing, operations and sample projects.

While recognition from outside organizations certainly makes a difference, we can look around at the tangible improvements we've made:

- public transportation has become a reality after some 20 years of trying;
- energy-efficient retrofits for city buildings;
- decorative LED street lights in our downtown and the change out of all of our traffic signals to LED lighting;
- ordinances, policies and building codes that protect our ground water, our habitat and our future;
- a growing Farmer's Market and community garden to promote the sale and growing of local food for families and restaurants;
- a robust "Buy Local" campaign in conjunction with the Chamber that supports local businesses and saves energy;
- an expanded curb-side trash program that has stepped up recycling efforts citywide; and
- "move out" days where gently used furniture and good come to the community from DePauw students, rather than adding to the landfill.

While these are just some of the ways we've become "greener" in Greencastle, you can read more about our efforts here. At a time when communities across the state and indeed the nation, are facing a budget crunch, we are doing this at little or no cost to the taxpayers.

What do you think about this latest recognition for our city? What can we do to ensure that we make IACT's Green Communities list next year?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Raking leaves this weekend? Then read this post!

The City's Department of Public Works will kick off our annual leaf pickup next week. Check out this article in the Banner-Graphic detailing November's pickup schedule.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Putnam RISE: Taking Sustainability to the Next Level

Representatives of Putnam RISE and the Putnam County Community Foundation pause for a photo at the Putnam County Community Foundation's Envision 2011 grant presentation.

Nearly two years ago, a group of more than 100 citizens representing diverse interests got together to develop environmental solutions to strengthen our community, economy, culture and quality of life.

That gathering turned out to be the origin of the Greencastle Sustainability Commission, and since that time, this new organization has been hard at work. We've developed partnerships that have re-invigorated and expanded our Farmer's Market. We've opened pathways and connector trails throughout the city. Our community garden helps bring fresh produce to food pantries. And, along with Duke Energy, we've engaged community schools in an energy conservation challenge. These are just a few of our accomplishments, but the greatest of all, perhaps, is that we've done all of this at minimal cost to the taxpayers.

Just last week, we received news that will help take the community's sustainability efforts to the next level. The Putnam County Community Foundation awarded a $100,000 Envision 2011 grant to Putnam RISE (Renewal, Investment, Savings and Efficiency), an initiative of the Sustainability Commission. The Vectren Foundation joined in as well, providing an additional $25,000 grant.

So, what does Putnam RISE plan to accomplish?

Putnam RISE will educate the county's citizens about ways to become more energy efficient. It also will stimulate the local economy through energy efficiency investments in schools, neighborhoods and homes. In addition, the group seeks to produce double digit increases in energy consumption in Putnam County school facilities; secure energy savings through cash incentives for resource-challenged schools; obtain more than 2,000 home energy savings pledges; provide 100 residential energy audits; conduct a "Green Home Makeover" program that will select one low-income household to receive $15,000 in energy efficiency upgrades; and weatherize 21 homes.

It's a pretty ambitious agenda.

But let me share with you who's a part of Putnam RISE, and you'll understand why this initiative has the potential to become a national model for sustainability: North Putnam Community School Corporation, South Putnam Community School Corporation, Cloverdale Community School Corporation, Greencastle Community School Corporation, City of Greencastle Commission on Sustainability, Greencastle Chamber of Commerce, Greencastle Presbyterian Church, Greencastle Civic League, Shuee & Sons Great Buys Plus, The Window Place, Smiley's Heating & Air-Conditioning, and Insulation Supply Co.

Clearly, this is a long list of partners, and it gets to the heart of what sets Greencastle - and Putnam County, for that matter - apart from other communities our size. It's what I like to call the "Greencastle Effect," where we channel our energy and optimism into meaningful contributions that will ultimately impact future generations.

There's no doubt we live in tough times. But with initiatives like Putnam RISE, supporters like the Putnam County Community Foundation and Vectren, we have an opportunity before us to weather these difficult times, and move our community forward - together.

Mayor Sue Murray

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Volunteers Help Complete Trail Project

Did you catch the article in today's Banner-Graphic about the completion of our new trail? Check out our Facebook page for more behind-the-scenes photos of DePauw students and community members who helped with seeding and hay to finish the project.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Third Ward Meeting - September 29

On Wednesday, September 29, I hope you will join the residents of the Third Ward for a lively and productive meeting about our neighborhood. While we will discuss city services and the needs of our community members, one of the top items on our agenda is the request from DePauw University to change the traffic flow on Anderson Street into the campus.

As many of you may know, DePauw University is in the process of putting together a long-term strategic plan. President Brian Casey recently briefed the community on the specifics, which include constructing a formal entrance on Anderson Street leading from the east off U.S. 231. This gateway into the campus is the primary reason for DePauw's request to change Anderson from a one-way street to a two-way street. You can read more about President Casey's presentation here: http://www.bannergraphic.com/story/1659586.html.

I hope you'll set aside time to join me, Mayor Murray, city officials and our neighbors at the Greencastle Middle School at 6:30 p.m. for a thoughtful and meaningful discussion about our community.


Jinsie Bingham
Third Ward Councilor

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Park Your Bike in Downtown Greencastle!

Pictured from the front: Crystal Stonebraker, Cathryn Ensley and Suzanne Masten representing the Greencastle Civic League; Karla Lawless, director of the Putnam County Convention and Visitors' Bureau; and David Bault and Ricky Long from the Greencastle Department of Public Works, who installed the racks.

People who travel in Greencastle on bicycles no longer have to protect their bikes by chaining them to trees, benches or lamp posts when they stop to shop, eat or go to the post office.

Because of the generous contributions of the Putnam County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Greencastle Civic League and the Greencastle Redevelopment Commission, these new green bike racks are conveniently located throughout downtown Greencastle.

We are most grateful for the continuing investment of these civic groups in our community. Once again I am reminded how very special this place we call home is.

Mayor Sue Murray

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


As we push toward the end of our 2010 road improvement projects, I would like to thank all whose homes and businesses have been inconvenienced along the way. Once the bids are received and contracts signed for road projects, the work usually moves fairly quickly. Unfortunately, this year we had some more extensive drainage and curb work on Indianapolis Rd. that turned the usual days of inconvenience into several weeks.

My sincere thanks to our citizens for their patience. There are always more roads in need of our attention, but I hope you find this year’s efforts a significant improvement.

Mayor Sue Murray

Monday, August 23, 2010

Campus Community Planning Forum

On Wednesday, August 25, at 7 p.m., City Hall's doors will be open to members of the community who would like to learn more about DePauw University’s plans to re-envision their campus spaces and strengthen the connections between the campus and the greater Greencastle community.

Dr. Brian Casey, DePauw’s president, will join me in what’s to be the first Campus Community Planning Forum that I can remember. We know that the success of DePauw University and the success of Greencastle are mutually beneficial. Our ability to work together is imperative. I hope our citizens will take this opportunity to attend the meeting and add their voices to this most dynamic conversation.

See you there!

Mayor Sue Murray

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Second Ward Meeting - August 19

On Thursday, August 19th at 6:30 p.m. at Deer Meadow School, Mayor Sue Murray, City Planner Shannon Norman and I will host the annual Second Ward Neighborhood Meeting to discuss some of the projects that have occurred and that are ongoing in the ward. This includes the work currently being done on the Albin Pond/Safe Routes to School pathway project, recent paving done in and around the area, and Albin Pond Dam improvements. We'll also provide an update of the needs and projects that were addressed at last year's inaugural meeting.

While we want to update you on these projects and accomplishments, one of the main purposes of this meeting is to listen to residents' concerns, problems, and questions, so that we can formulate a list of things that need to be done in the ward over the coming weeks and months. This is best accomplished by listening to you, the residents of the Second Ward, so please come prepared to present any issues, so we can try to address those and bring some resolution to them. All residents of the Second Ward are invited and encouraged to attend.

Hope to see you on August 19th at Deer Meadow School at 6:30 p.m.

Mark Hammer
Second Ward City Councilman

Friday, August 6, 2010

Four-Way Stops Aren't So Easy

Four-way stops aren't so easy.

Earlier this week, in an attempt to make the intersection of Percy Julian Drive and Veterans' Highway safer, the Indiana Department of Transportation installed stop signs on the highway. This was done in recognition of ongoing safety problems in the intersection.

The City of Greencastle has been asking for a traffic light for several years, but apparently we don't meet the "required" traffic counts. As a result, we now have a four-way stop. Our children and the intersection are safer, but patience is needed, especially at heavy traffic times as we all learn to make our way through the stop.

Thank you for your patience.

Mayor Sue Murray

Monday, August 2, 2010

Summer Paving and Sidewalk Projects

Every year, to the best of our ability, we try to repair roads, sidewalks that have trip hazards, and make more of our corners ADA-compliant. This year is no exception. Resources are scarce, but we will be moving forward on some projects. Our Public Works Department works with our city engineer throughout the year to develop the priority lists. We then go out for bids on the identified projects and proceed with what we are able to pay for.

In the coming weeks, work will be done on sections of sidewalk in all four of our wards. Road milling and resurfacing will be done on parts of Indianapolis Road, Shadowlawn, Arlington, Seminary, College Street, Jackson and Highland. There are already signs up for next summer's big road project, Percy Julian Drive.

I know that this kind of work can cause delays and inconveniences, at times. Hopefully, you will find the improvements worth any frustration. Thank you, in advance, for your patience.

Mayor Sue Murray

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fun at the Fair

It's that time of year again! The Putnam County 4-H Fair is in full swing, featuring a number of family-friendly activities. We hope you'll set aside time this week to visit the fair, and enjoy all it has to offer. Visit http://www.putnamcountyfair.net/ for more information.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Note on Comments: How to Comment on Our Community Forward Blog

Here at the Community Forward blog, we welcome your comments and input. We've recently received feedback that a tutorial on the ins and outs of commenting would be helpful, so below are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

1) To leave a comment, click on the comment tab at the end of a blog post.

2) You'll have the option of which profile you'd like to use to post your comment. If you do have a blog or an ID on one of the platforms listed, such as Google, LiveJournal, WordPress, etc., you can use it.

3) If you don't have a blog or an ID on the platforms listed above, you can just select Name/URL or Anonymous. You'll be prompted to leave your name, and an email or web address, if you like. Your comment will still post even if you don't enter your email address. You also have the option of selecting Anonymous.

4) Once you enter your post, you'll be prompted to enter a series of letters and numbers. This security code is an extra precaution against potential attacks from spammers.

As with all comments, we hope you'll keep them constructive and thoughtful. And if you are in need of immediate city services, please contact the City offices at (765) 653-3100.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fourth of July Festivities

With the Fourth of July days away, make sure you set aside time to stop by Robe-Ann Park for our annual celebration! There's something for everyone, from the Police Department's Crush-a-Car, to music, to activities for the kids, and a dog fashion show. The event ends with our spectacular fireworks display at dusk on Sunday.

To learn more about our annual celebration on July 3rd and 4th, please visit the City of Greencastle's website. And don't forget to Meet at the Market on Saturday morning at the Square for a fresh array of seasonal fruits, vegetables and other homemade items.

Have a wonderful - and safe - Fourth of July!

Friday, June 18, 2010

First Ward Meeting - June 22

A year ago, the first ward kicked off a great new Greencastle tradition with a community meeting at the fire station. On Tuesday, June 22 at 6:30 p.m., I hope you will join us once again at the fire station to talk with city officials about your concerns and dreams for our community.

As your councilman it is my job to listen and work for you. That's why we worked hard to find solutions to address the questions and concerns you raised at our meeting last year. These solutions are designed with your input in mind so we can best meet the needs of both the community and individual residents.

What makes our community so special is that everyone is willing to work together to make it a better place to live and work. I hope you'll join me, Mayor Murray, city officials and your fellow residents for a productive discussion about how local government can better serve each resident of the first ward. These community meetings will take place in other wards in the coming months, as part of our ongoing effort to meaningfully connect with all our residents.

If you cannot attend the meeting on June 22 and have ideas you want to share - or if I can ever be of assistance - please do not hesitate to contact me.


Adam Cohen
765/721-3168 (cell)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Moving our Community Forward

On behalf of the City of Greencastle, welcome to our Community Forward blog. It's an opportunity for us to give residents and friends of our community updates about our vibrant city. It also provides an inside look at many of the initiatives that set Greencastle apart from other cities of our size.

There are numerous elements that encourage a city to grow and thrive. From good schools, to employment opportunities, to parks and city services, our community has distinguished itself as one where people come together to make life better for those who call Greencastle home. We take community service and civic engagement seriously, which is why you'll find a robust Buy Local campaign, as well as a Sustainability Commission, a Youth Engagement Initiative, and a community garden grown from the seeds of an old parking lot.

It's the creativity and energy of our citizens that makes serving as Mayor such an honor and a privilege. I hope you'll check our blog often for updates to learn more about how we are collectively moving our Community Forward. I also encourage you to comment on our posts, and send ideas our way about what you'd like to see here.

Thank you!

Mayor Sue Murray