Upon receipt of grant funding from the Indianapolis Foundation, a Central Indiana Community Foundation affiliate, the Near Northwest Area (NNW) witnessed unique community engagement efforts in 2021. The “Community-Led Environmental Action Project” (C-LEAP), guided by the resident driven C-LEAP Steering Committee, kicked into gear in the spring and provided small-scale community input opportunities in the form of multiple “porch parties” hosted by volunteer residents through late summer and fall, 2021. These porch parties provided resident neighbors the opportunity to share their environmental concerns and ask questions. Staff at Groundwork Indy along with resident actors organized and helped hosts participate in each of the “porch parties” and the Community Environmental Summit on September 25th.
Groundwork Indy also received additional support from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization (OBLR) through grant funds for Technical Assistance. This Technical Assistance provided consultants to update the existing brownfield inventory in the waterway corridors, and attend the porch parties and help the C-LEAP Steering Committee understand, distill, prioritize environmental issues in the Near Northwest Area from the community residents’ perspective. By leveraging this additional EPA technical assistance, the C-LEAP was also able to provide the NNW Area a consolidated C-LEAP Environmental Action Plan derived through the intentionally-granular C-LEAP process. The C-LEAP Environmental Action Plan addressed community concerns and addressed them in the broad categories of community environmental impact of: Air, Water, Soil, and Brownfields concerns.
Based on input received, the C-LEAP Environmental Action Plan was created to complement the 2014 NNW Quality of Life (QOL) Plan as a “living document” of its own. The C-LEAP Environmental Action Plan output is in readily accessible Microsoft PowerPoint format so that it may be amended and modified by residents and stakeholders over time as goals outlined in the plan are achieved, conditions change, and community concerns and priorities shift. Recommendations of the C-LEAP Environmental Action Plan reflect the NNW QOL Plan in format and are summarized in table format near the beginning of the document. Some highlights include:
Completing & expanding ongoing community efforts related to the IUPUI Anthropocene Household Project
Utilizing $19,000 in grant funds on hand, and additional EPA OBLR technical assistance to address acute concerns identified during the C-LEAP process
Creating a NNW “Environmental Action Team” based on the successful QOL framework, and build its capacity to ensure effectiveness
Implement an Illegal Dumping Pilot Project & link its implementation with an “Alley Intervention Project”
Monitor & update the brownfield inventory & create a formal partnership with a data intermediary to assist
Initiate intervention on priority brownfield sites
Promote additional community understanding of the IDEM Site #0153 and its Superfund Site Deferral
The C-LEAP effort has been accomplished through a partnership with Groundwork Indy; The Learning Tree; the NNW Arts, Parks, and Public Space Action Team; and the Reconnecting to Our Waterways (ROW) Central Canal Committee. Additional technical support has been generously provided by the US EPA and IUPUI’s Anthropocene Household Project. Funding for C-LEAP is being provided by US EPA OBLR; the Indianapolis Foundation, a CICF affiliate; ROW; and NuGenesis. We thank all that participated, and encourage interested residents to join the coming Environmental Action Team to help implement recommendations found in the new C-LEAP Environmental Action Plan.
Submitted by, Chris Harrell, Lazarus Group LLC