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Purple Porch Co-op: The Grandest of Openings by Myles Robertson

Five years ago a group of friends sat on a porch , dreaming of a food system that worked better for themselves, their families, and their community. They imagined having access to food grown by farmers sharing their same area code. Living in a region where fertile farmland is plentiful–drive just 10 minutes from downtown in any direction and look around–these dreams weren’t  so farfetched.

Though not impossible, a reimagined food system takes more than desire, it takes a lot of hard work. It takes a community. It takes cooperation.

Through several incarnations and the support of hundreds, Purple Porch Co-op grew from a conversation on a purple porch to a bricks and mortar grocery store open 6 days a week (Monday-Saturday, 8am-7pm) in downtown South Bend’s East Bank Village.

Open for nearly seven months in this new location at 123 N. Hill St., the store has flourished into a local food hub supplying local and organic food to the community. But you might ask, and people have asked, “after six months of operation, why throw a ‘Grand Opening’?”

Here’s my explanation.

In days long past, when mom-and-pop shops were the norm and mechanized chain giants were just entering our view on the distant horizon, a grand-opening six months in wasn’t so “avant garde”. This has been a grassroots endeavor. We’re learning as we go, as we always have. We’re becoming more efficient, our supply streams stronger.  When 123 N. Hill opened we worked with 13 local producers (within 60 miles of our store), we now work with over 50! We’re learning to be storekeeps, something none of us were before February 25th.

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So this Grand Opening at its very core isn’t about opening for us, it’s about gratitude. It’s a grand thank you. A thank you to our member-owners and customers who frequent our store, cafe, and market, to our neighbors and community, but most of all, to those who keep our dream seated in reality…Our Farmers.

For if it weren’t for them, our ever-growing network of food producers (of course the pun was intended) that stock our shelves with unique, flavor-focused food, we’d still be a dream, a vision of what could be.

So come check out our store. Mingle with the farmers, the bread bakers, the kombucha makers. Grab some kale that has a story and face to go along with it, that has character. Enjoy the sounds of local musicians, young and old, as you feast on the flavors of your home. Come see why I and 500 other ‘Benders own a grocery store with their friends. And while you’re here, perhaps sitting on our porch, dream of a city, of the world you want to help shape.

Grand opening details:

September 17th, 10:30am – Ribbon cutting with DTSB.  Be part of this historic moment!

September 17th, 5pm-8:30pm – Farmers Market, live music by Captain Ed Bennett and His N’er Do Wells and Phineas Gage Band, free food samples from our cafe, games in the open to people parking lot (closed to cars), words from member-owners, farmers, and food producers, the premier of our promotional video by Chuck Fry

Our first annual Glorious Gazpacho Contest will also take place this evening. More info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1553096438245238/

Photos by Myles Robertson

Purple Porch Co-op, purpleporchcoop.com

Myles is the local foods purchaser for Purple Porch Co-op and can be found working the front counter, checking customers out, stocking shelves, and on farms learning about the food we eat and the farmers growing it.  Want more local food in your restaurant, at your event, or in your home? Stop by the store or email Myles at myles.robertson.ppc@gmail.com

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Sound by South Bend #2 Matthew Teters

The Seitz and Sounds open stage series has become a fixture of the South Bend summer music scene.  The series, which is now in its second year, has blossomed into a showcase for both young and established local talent.  Seitz and Sounds is the brainchild of the Dietz family and was born out of their wish to provide a family friendly venue for aspiring artists.  Their goal was to create an open stage concert series with a format similar to that of the open mic night at Fiddler’s Hearth in downtown South Bend.  Don Dietz envisioned the series as a “jam session” which would feature a large variety of musical acts and also be a weekly social event.

S&SIt has become that plus much more.  On any given Thursday during the summer, Seitz Park becomes a genre mixing melting pot of musical styles.  This is by Dietz design.  Their goal is to introduce the audience to new music while at the same time challenge the performers to reimagine their personal and sometimes entrenched definitions of music.  This creates a refreshing environment that is reminiscent of variety shows of years past.  The mood is light and inviting.  Old and new friends sit on blankets eating pizza while others enjoy the beautiful St. Joseph River, ride bikes, or walk their dogs.  Seitz and Sounds’ resident DJ Chuck Fry offers the perfect complement to live performances during set breaks.  He brings to the table a brilliant offering that blends classic tunes and mind expanding new electronic music.

dietz fam

At the nucleus of this joyous happening is the family Dietz.  This is truly a labor of love for Cathy and Don and they can often be seen looking over the event like proud parents of a flourishing child.  Don manages the finances and also serves as the sound engineer.  Kelly Dietz is a natural fit as the Seitz and Sounds’ MC.  She also serves as the talent coordinator as well as the social media guru.  Robin Dietz has graced the stage as a performer.  She is a young and promising songwriter and perfectly embodies the very concept of Seitz and Sounds.

Seitz and Sounds is an unqualified success but there have been challenges.  There is never a cover charge and the Dietz family shoulders the financial burden.  It costs $2,500 each summer to rent the park.  PA support and equipment is also provided by the Dietz family.  Their goal is clearly not to make money from this venture.  They have decided to invest a great deal of money, time, and effort into a community building event.  Theirs is a shining example of how to see a vision through until it becomes reality.  They have shown us what it means to create positive change in our community.

What does the future hold for Seitz and Sounds?  Don is looking to expand the PA capabilities with some new equipment.  Kelly would like to see more young people involved.  Perhaps book teenage artists.  I can’t think of another local venue that would be friendlier to a young performer who is taking the stage for the first time.  Phin           Next Thursday (8/28) will be the last event for this summer’s Seitz and Sounds series.  I am honored to say that my band, Phineas Gage, will be taking the stage along with the Paul Erdman Band, Damon Frick, and as always DJ Chuck Fry.

As this season comes to a close I hope you all get a chance to come to the show and thank the Dietz family for all they have done to promote our music community.  I asked the Dietz clan what they wanted to convey to readers.  They asked me to thank the community and to emphasize that every person in South Bend is capable of improving our city.  Their story is not only inspiring but also serves as a blue print.  So let’s get to it South Bend.

Matthew Teters

Photos by Khoa Huynh

Teters, LLC Audio Production

phineasgageband@live.com

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Less is More: Smart Streets come to Jefferson Blvd by Becky Reimbold

We’re experiencing the transition to smarter streets here on Jefferson Boulevard this summer.  All together, it will be several months of construction chaos.  Here’s why we think it is worth the trouble.
 Less road is more sidewalk which means more shared space for our community.
Less channeling automobiles rapidly through our downtown, means more time to smell the roses (and shop, and eat, and play).
 Less chances of accidents means more space for pedestrians and bicyclists to travel safely.
 Less runoff and storm sewer overloads, with the use of more permeable surfaces and functioning drainage systems.
 Less hot concrete in summer thanks to more shady trees.
IMG_0025Yes, it’s true we have had less sales dollars, but we have also had more cooperation with neighbors, city workers, construction workers and South Bend lovers.*
 
What about abundance, though?  Less seems stingy, doesn’t it? What I’ve learned, is that it doesn’t have to be.  By letting go of more, more, more, and thinking in terms of simple solutions, we really do find that abundance.  But, first, we have to let go.
*Thanks to DTSB  for their ongoing efforts to organize events like First Fridays, to Matthews LLC and friends for organizing the amazing East Bank Challenge, and to Ali Oesch for coordinating our recent sidewalk days.  We look forward to seeing you at this weekend’s big block party to celebrate our Howard Park Community on Saturday!
Want to get involved?  Just let us know info@justgoods.net.

 

Becky Reimbold -  Dreamer and proprietor of Just Goods, usually found behind the counter weekdays before 3pm and Saturdays.
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Learn. Choose. Live.: A New Initiative at the Food Bank of Northern Indiana by Maddy Martinec

Every day, millions of people struggle with the pain of diabetes. In Saint Joseph County, 12.6% of the residents have diabetes. Due to the cost of medical care, diabetics find it difficult to purchase healthy food since it is often much more costly than unhealthy options. Therefore, the Food Bank of Northern Indiana created the Healthy Choices Market in order to provide each client we serve we a dignified, educational experience and to encourage healthy food choices by working in local partnerships in order to affect overall community health.

In 2012, the Food Bank received a grant from Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center in order to create a space dedicated to healthy eating. After careful brainstorming about the space, executive director, Milton Lee decided to create a space where clients could not only choose from healthier options, but they could also learn lessons that would benefit themselves and their families. The design and building process took about two months in the summer of 2013. As an intern that summer, I worked with Michiana Construction to design the layout and colors of the space. Our goal was to create a space that was welcoming and warm so clients could feel comfortable. This year, the Food Bank of Northern Indiana has partnered with Memorial Hospital’s Healthy Diabetics program. Throughout this summer, my fellow intern, Amber Vite, and I worked under the direction of Milt Lee to decide how we can best serve Memorial’s clients and provide them with an experience that would make them want to continue healthy living habits.

food bank 2The name of the initiative created for the Healthy Choices Market is Learn. Choose. Live. While visiting the Healthy Choices Market, clients will learn how to prepare healthy, low-cost meals. The Food Bank has partnered with the American Culinary Federation South Bend Cooks and Chefs Association and the head chef, Alan Seidler will be providing cooking demonstrations for clients. Once the cooking demonstration is complete, clients will choose food from our selection. After that, clients will leave the Healthy Choices Market with a recipe from the day and food to re-create the meal demonstrated to them. As of right now, this program is a doctor referral only program and clients must go through the Healthy Diabetics Program at Memorial. However, as we continue to work out all of the details, we hope to expand our program to more people in need.

On July 31, 2014, the Food Bank had 95 guests attend the open house for the Healthy Choices Market. Our partners were very pleased to see the space and the clients were excited to receive healthy food options. Chef Alan Seidler prepared a dish for everyone to sample that is cost effective and healthy. Also, we appreciate WNDU, ABC 57 and the South Bend Tribune for getting the word out about our new initiative. All of our partners have played a huge role in making this event successful and because of them, we are one step closer to creating a healthier community.

For more information, contact associate director, Marijo Martinec at 574-232-9986 ext. 124 or mmartinec@feedingamerica.org.  Maddy is  a junior at Holy Cross College, majoring in communications and minoring in theology, marketing and spanish. She is the vice chair of the student philantrophy council and last year was Social Concerns Committee President and the cheerleading team captain. She is from South Bend, IN. After Holy Cross, she hopes to work in a non-profit organization in a marketing and special events setting.  She also loves being involved in the South bend community.
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200 S. Michigan Artist District- Alive and Thriving by Lindsay Richardes Vest

It all started last year, at Art Beat.  We had been doing art shows all summer, and we really weren’t quite sure if we were prepared for another year of art shows after the one we had just been through.  Behind our booth, nestled in the 200 S. Michigan block was a tiny store front.  “That’s it, that’s the one.”  That’s what Mama T of Indiana Rug Co. A Textile Boutique said at that very moment as we set up for Art Beat.  Looking back, we weren’t quite sure of what we had decided, or the adventure we were getting ourselves into.  We didn’t realize at the time what this new storefront actually meant for us.  What we found in this block was a neighborhood that would enlighten us to all the potential that Downtown South Bend has to offer.DTSB

Before ever having this boutique in downtown South Bend, I personally never knew about First Fridays in downtown South Bend.  Like some people, I was ignorant to the fact that South Bend was a happening place.   We hadn’t had a Grand Opening, and had been open barely a week, but our first “First Fridays” event we had a photo booth.  We had gnome hats, gnome beards, fairy wings, and -1tutus as props and a cute backdrop set up, and we sold photos for a $1.  I bet we sold 185 photos that night.  We learned that night that people are looking for one of a kind experiences that don’t break the bank.  We had Flint’s Dance Studio come out, and dance under the marquee of the theater (which we are doing again August 1st at 6:30 *hint hint*).  We realized quickly that working with our neighbors, and creating an energy that people could feel and get excited about, brought more people.  Those people would tell their friends and family, and time and time again, they have come back. 

If you simply googled the definition of the word, “neighborhood,” you would see that it is simple.  It means “a district, especially one forming a community within a town or city.”  In the 200 S. Michigan block, that’s what I feel has happened in the last (almost) year. You see, our company, Indiana Rug Co. has been in business for more than 30 years. When we began to move into this space, we quickly bonded with our new neighbors, The Doyle’s at Idle Hours Bookshop.  At the time we moved in, Drew was managing The State Theater, and we hit it off well with Drew.  Then came time for the pop up shop season, and we found another bond with Amy and Diana from The Pigeon & the Hen Pottery.  What has begun as business relationships quickly lead to friendships.  This lead to the drive to help each other succeed. Our passion to show the truly wonderful things that are g10489848_10152441013913280_3737394563544882964_noing on right here in your own backyard lead to us working cohesively together which brings a sense of community.  Something consistent that we have going on every month is First Fridays.  We’ve begun to work together with one another to coordinate our events so that our block has become a destination of excitement.  We want people to know that something fun and unique can be found in this block.  We are able to help you create affordable memories with your family and friends, and enhance the community by doing so. We are happy to be part of the movement and work with our neighbors to make people feel good about South Bend.

The 200 S. Michigan block has this fantastic anchor.  You may have heard of it before: The State Theater.  With its iconic marquee, and classic downtown South Bend look you really can’t miss it when you are near our block.  Drew left the theater and began to pursue South Bend Brew Werks (which we can’t wait for it to open!!) Trish who had been volunteering at the Theater stepped in to fill his shoes, and is looking forward to working with this wonderful neighborhood to create  a destination spot.  The future of the theater is left up to us.  It will become what we make it.  What things do you want to see at our theater in downtown South Bend? Let us know in the blog comments.  We (our little neighborhood) have a lot of changes in store, and fresh new ideas that continue to form in our like minded heads. The longer we’ve been here, the more we have realized that people like different.  They like something that’s local.  So, this little artist block will be reinvigorating and you can count on that!

This past First Friday also happened to be July 4th.  Honestly, we didn’t have high hopes for the turnout.  We figured most people would be out of town, or doing other things than being downtown.  Boy, was I wrong! Let me paint the scene for you.  Well, okay, I’ll include a picture too -2. It was pretty warm out, the sun was shining.  The State Theater Marquee read “Happy Birthday, America!”.  We had a red jeep parked under it decked out with American flags.  We had 5 fantastic volunteers raising money for charity by being dunked in a dunk tank.  There was a pie eating competition (4 contestants).  Cutie pies from this block had an All American Lemonade stand in matching American pride aprons.  Red, white, and blue pin wheels were blowing in the breeze.  Right before we rang the dinner bell to start the pie eating competition, I looked up in awe. There were people everywhere!  The vibe was amazing, and people were smiling, laughing, and genuinely enjoying their downtown. We can’t tell you how that affected us.  It inspired us.  We pour our heart and soul in to each First Fridays.  We come up with outrageous (sometimes too outrageous) ideas. We work with DTSB, The State Theater, Pigeon & the Hen Pottery, Idle Hours Bookshop, and the soon to be open South Bend Brew Werks to create a tenacious and fun vibe.  Why do we do all this?  We do it for YOU.  We realized somewhere in this last year, this city is what you make it.  The events on First Fridays and special events (and frankly, day to day downtown) are what you make it.  You own the energy you put out.  So, if you haven’t already, join us at First Fridays in downtown South Bend, and continue to bring back the good vibes to South Bend. #wearesouthbend

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In addition to enthusiastic community builder and fun event planner on the 200 block of S. Michigan, Lindsay is the boutique and social media manager for Indiana Rug Co.  Don’t miss all the fun they have planned for this First Friday in Downtown South Bend!

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Photo compliments of the South Bend Mayor's Office

Africans Among Us by John Pinter

The University of Notre Dame has been hosting a group of 25 ‘Fellows,’ young African leaders in business from a wide variety of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.  It’s been a wonderful and enlightening 5 weeks, and the group is getting ready to travel to Washington, DC, to meet up with the other 475 Fellows who’ve been similarly engaged at other colleges and universities.

The experience got me thinking about how many African natives live in and around South Bend, and the ways that I’ve had the chance to get to know individuals and families.  Though the overall population is quite small in Indiana, as well as the rest of the country (between 1 and 1.5%, according to statistics I found), there are pockets of vibrant communities of individuals from a number of countries.  Some of the members of the local African community came to the area fleeing war back homes, as refugees or asylees; our local Rwandan community has grown in this way.  Others came due to a religious ‘draw,’ such as the Malawian connections between First Presbyterian Church and their home communities.  Our town is big enough to have groups from Liberia, Sudan, Chad, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo as well.  Kenya has been the homeland for many in our area, and there are undoubtedly other groups that I’ve not have the pleasure of meeting yet.

As a whole, these individuals have quietly made their way to South Bend, and then become quite proficient at things that American society tends to reward: entrepreneurship, home ownership, education.

Chico learns baseball as part of his visit to South bend with the Young African Leaders Initiative
Chico & Ali  learn baseball as part of their visit to South bend with the Young African Leaders Initiative

Ali at Bat

As important, I think, are the ways that transiting culture and one’s home practice from one’s former land to one’s new home occurs.  For example, hospitality tends to be very important.  A check-in visit to a friend from Rwanda always included at least a cup of tea or a small snack.  A drop in to a party that was mostly members of the local Kenyan community always meant taking an honored seat and being introduced to everybody in the room.  If I ever need an ego boost, and I hope I don’t, I know where it would be easy to be accommodated!

I am of the firm mindset that South Bend will be greatly enriched in years to come by deepening connections between Africa and our region.  The Fellows came up with a great list of exchange ideas, and think our city should host an annual African Festival to promote the ties and our own tourist identity.  My first reaction: us?  But after some cajoling, they had me convinced that we should be out front of other cities and become known for this kind of affair.  I think it’s a great idea!

Photo courtesy of South Bend Mayor's Office
Photo courtesy of South Bend Mayor’s Office

South Bend’s a community that is turning its old strengths that became liabilities, such as unused buildings, into newly purposed assets.  Its collection of people, increasingly diverse in many ways, will be the important human catalyst to make it a great city in the future.  Maybe that sounds cliché, but the warm hospitality that the Africans among us show to all visitors will make South Bend a better place.

John is a South Bend, Indiana, consultant and salsa maker who works with a variety of public, private non- profit organizations. email:  john.pinter1224@gmail.com

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Sounds of South Bend

Sound by South Bend (Blog entry #1)

The South Bend music scene is exploding with vibrancy.  The music coming from this region is original, diverse, daring, and unstoppable.  It is my pleasure to launch a blog with the hope of chronicling this movement.  Perhaps you’re one of the dozens of people who have spoken to me and stated something to the effect of “there’s something happening here”.  You bet there is!  With the established and ever growing success of events like the South by South Bend music festival, the Seitz and Sounds summer concert series, the Pool, the 420 Musical Festival, and the North Coast Social series, our community is creating a wonderfully cooperative and vital music environment.

Why is this happening now?  In a word: community.  Musicians and artists of all types cannot thrive in a vacuum.  They need support from venues and patrons and folks I like to call catalysts, people who serve to put it all together (more on this later).  Over the past three years I have witnessed a true awakening of venue support in the South Bend region.  The State Theater, The gMChtyrdE43rIvAPXn8FGLToYcjOvp5nrXEfOuQjUWL47SqoYHaYKaj785iT16mXJlU6IQ=w947-h487Pool, Chicory Café, Fiddler’s Hearth, The Well, McCormick’s Coney Island, Suite 11, and LaSalle Kitchen and Tavern are at the head of the class, though there are many others.  Though primarily a downtown South Bend movement, we are starting to see connections to surrounding communities. Most recently Evil Czech Brewery in Mishawka has started to book many of the local area bands that play original music.  The owners and managers of these locations realize that fostering local original music serves to form a symbiotic relationship.  By giving an artist a stage, and connecting her with her potential fan base, the venue becomes an integral part of the process.  In turn, we reward these venues with our patronage.

By adding great artists and friendly venues to a mix that already contains a curious and entertainment hungry fan base you almost have all you need to make a successful music scene.  But what is needed is a good catalyst to get the whole reaction moving.  Without people like Dena Woods, Gus Bennett, Andrew Elegante, Manda Harris, Anival Fausto, David Matthews, the Dietz family, and all of the members of the Bridge Project, it would have been very difficult to get the momentum needed to launch the movement.  These folks work tirelessly and serve as the great facilitators of South Bend music.  You can definitely add the great people at the Music Village to this list as well.  Lately I’ve been hearing the term “incubator” in relation to the South Bend music scene.  As in, “South Bend is becoming a great artist incubator”.  In other words, South Bend is supplying all the elements needed to grow and develop musical talent.  If South bend is an incubator, these catalysts are looking over the eggs.  When you get a chance, thank them for their efforts.

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In future postings I‘ll be profiling local artists as well as reporting on music events.  I wanted to use this first entry as a cornerstone.  It is the foundation of my Sound by South Bend blog.  I am greatly passionate about our local music and it is my hope that I see you at future shows and events.  After all, this growing movement will struggle without the support of the listeners.  So go catch a show. Buy the band merchandise.  Spread the word on social media.  Maybe you can be a catalyst yourself and host a house show or contribute to our local artists’ crowd funding projects.  I challenge you to frequent venues that support local artists.  Also, I remind you that you have a voice.  Use it to let us know what is working and what is needed.  This is your community, your local music scene.  Don’t just love South Bend, love South Bend music.

Matthew Teters

Teters, LLC Audio Production

phineasgageband@live.com

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Pure Patriotic Bliss by Jonathon Geels

Marquette Park is a small neighborhood, tucked near the downtown on South Bend’s northwest side. Anchored by the nearby schools, it is home to a true eclectic mix of backgrounds and demographics, always abuzz with plenty of children riding bikes and old folks tending to their lawns. In true American neighborhood tradition, Marquette Park has an annual 4th of July Parade that’s not quite as old as the 1920’s era houses that line the streets.

July 4th

 

For the last 40+ years, dozens of children decorate their bikes, skateboards, and roller skates to join members of their community, a historic fire truck, a contemporary fire truck, a couple of Studebakers, and an odd dog or two in a march around 6 blocks. It’s pure patriotic bliss. Lawn chairs usually pepper the route, with the thrill of walking down the middle of the street in the company of the SBFD highlighting the children’s experience. After the short trek, the neighbors gather for a festive breakfast potluck on a front lawn. The fire trucks park, to be explored by the kids, while the Studebakers park to be explored by the adults. It’s an uplifting experience and easy to see how such a tradition can survive so many transitions of families. To think the whole thing comes together year after year because of a sign and a few phone calls. It’s community building at its best.

#wearesouthbend

Jonathon Geels enjoys solving problems by connecting people to new ideas through design, innovation, and advocacy. He is passionate about public health, the built environment, social equality, as well as resource management and he hopes to engage other people with the same enthusiasm. Check out 100 of these problem solving ideas at http://100ideasproject.tumblr.com/ 

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Photo Credit: OMG Photography

Pride in South Bend

Yesterday’s announcement of the overturning of Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage was a huge milestone in the fight for marriage equality in Indiana.  As a passionate advocate I was very excited by this news, and proud of the state of Indiana as well as South Bend and all the couples who got married yesterday.  I’ve been mulling around the idea of writing about my experience with Pride Prom 2014 and it now seems very appropriate to do so

If you attended this wonderful event 2 weeks ago, you know how much fun it was. Dressing up, dancing, photo booth, fun, romance, DJ Chuck Fry, my evil twin Matt Teters..this event had it all!

What makes me the happiest about an event like this, though, is not how much fun it was, but the bigger context of what an event like this means to our city and its residents, especially in light of the ruling yesterday.

I arrived at the event, fashionably late, with my girlfriend Melissa, all dressed up and ready for a good time.  I even wore a jester mask from Mardi Gras to fit in with the theme of “Royals” because if there is a South Bend Royalty, I definitely consider myself to be the Jester.

One of my favorite things about South Bend is how friendly everyone has been and how many friends I’ve been able to make in 2 short years.  Even before we  entered the ballroom at the Palais Royale (beautiful btw), I started running into friends in the lobby and just outside the door.  When we went upstairs my friends were at the check in desk, in line at the bar, running the sound and dj’ing, dancing, frolicking and just having fun.  My friends were everywhere! In fact there were so many people that I knew and cared about in that grand space that I had to let Melissa go dance with her friends while I made my rounds for fear of overwhelming her (sorry Melissa!).

The best part about all these friends, and this event in general, was that nobody seemed to care about your gender identity or sexuality.  We were all just there enjoying the opportunity to be grown up and get fancy and dance, enjoying taking silly photos and romantic photos in the photo booth(thanks to OMG Photography), and enjoying our city.  That lack of distinction and the unity/togetherness of the group is what I loved.  It was definitely a #weAreSouthBend moment.

I remember last year when the first Pride Prom was held how the organizers were worried about public backlash. They were taking a risk with the marquee message asking Mayor Pete to the prom. Yet the event was well received, excellently executed (Mayor Pete even bartended) and tons of fun. This year, in contrast, there was no such worry, very little concern.  How great is it to have made such progress in just a year? How great is it to live in a city that is making such an effort to celebrate diversity?

I also remember when the HJR-3 fight was happening and Simon Radecki of Freedom Indiana came to town. We encouraged him to come to State Theater events to find volunteers and add signatures to his petition because we felt he’d find a lot of interest.  As the campaign wore on, Simon remarked how amazingly supportive South Bend had been, far more so than Fort Wayne which was supposed to be a bigger support base.   He was genuinely surprised but I wasn’t. This community is just a lot more Pride friendly than people think.

So to wrap it all up, I had a great time at Pride Prom. I went to the event, in some ways as an ally to the LGBT community.  But at the end of the night the best part of it was that there didn’t have to be a big fuss about LGBT and allies.  We were just South Benders, enjoying each other’s company and that of course that’s the way it should be.  Because there are plenty of reasons to have Pride in South Bend!

-D

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Veg Wish

Downtown Dining Wishes

Happy Restaurant Week! Share some thoughts on DTSB dining?

Survey HERE: http://bit.ly/DTSBdining

Last fall you may have seen stickers like those pictured above in the windows of vacant storefronts in downtown South Bend.  This project was a fun way to offer more community members a means of sharing their ideas for revitalization efforts downtown . We also sought to plant seeds for further civic engagement and broader ownership of the South Bend Renaissance. We got a lot of really great ideas (so many Trader Joe fans out there!) and a few that we can’t mention in decent company.  We were excited to see the ways people interacted with each other through the stickers, reminding folks that there WAS in fact a card shop in DTSB when it was suggested, for example. 

Several people responded that they wished for Vegetarian , Gluten Free or other specialty restaurants catering to  their dietary restrictions & preferences so this seemed like a great place to start in conjunction with Summer Restaurant Week. In taking the sticker information and actually DOING something with it we take another step closer toward our goal of creating a more dynamic downtown where everyone can find something that fits for them.  After talking to a few of the restaurateurs and some of the people who contributed this response, we realized that more information is required to really determine what the needs may be.  Some of the questions we’ve considered are; Is there a dearth of options available to vegetarians, vegans and gluten free diners, OR do we need to do a better job of identifying the options already available at restaurants? How do South Benders as well as visitors to our community find these options? And other questions as well. 

To that end, we’re kicking off a DTSB dining preferences survey in conjunction with Restaurant Week to get more information from all of you and your friends and family. This short survey looks at dietary needs and restaurant preferences. It also gives you a chance to share your contact info if you’d like to be further involved in implementing projects aimed to make the downtown dining scene easier to navigate for vegetarians, vegans, and gluten free folk.  We’ll follow up with a survey to the restaurateurs and figure out what options and systems are already in place. Then we’ll make recommendations for moving forward toward accommodating the needs identified through the surveys.

This is an exciting opportunity to figure out how to get more people eating downtown as our City continues to undergo a Renaissance of awesome proportions. DTSBHead over to: DTSB Dining Preferences Survey shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. Please also share with your friends and family, we want all the diversity of South Bend to be represented in the data, whether you eat meat or not!

 

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