The Blog
Vishant Shah

Occupation/Company/Organization/Position: 
Managing Consultant, LastMile TT. The electric power grid dates back to the Industrial Age. Using internet and communications technologies, needs to be modernized, enabling renewable energy and electric cars to coexist with traditional energy sources. I work with clients on charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.

What neighborhood do you live in?
Irvington Terrace on the Eastside.

What is the most inspiring place in Indianapolis? 
The Indianapolis Museum of Art. I go to the galleries to relax and focus. The Museum has interesting events and I’ve met some wonderful people there. I find the IMA very accessible because of the art inside and outside (100 Acres) the building as well as the people. It motivates me in my professional and personal endeavors.

How long have you supported Keep Indianapolis Beautiful? 
For the past few years, KIB has made significant investments in our neighborhood that have resulted in increasing our capacity to organize and collaborate. For example, we’ve planted hundreds of trees and partnered with a middle school in the neighborhood to establish a thriving community garden, and we’ve held scores of cleanup days over the years. We’re currently working with KIB on a Greenspace grant to beautify our neighborhood shopping center, Irvington Plaza.

I participated in a number of KIB workshops, including making bike panniers out of cat litter buckets and rain barrels from food grade containers (I learned how much salsa Americans really eat too). Last month, I participated in the Fall Great Indy Cleanup. I enjoyed managing the volunteers who picked up trash, shoveled mulch, broke concrete, and painted traffic signal boxes. Enthusiastic volunteers from all over the city spent the morning helping to make our neighborhood better. I thank the police officers, Colts cheerleaders, youth groups & students and our neighbors for their time and effort.

Why do you volunteer with KIB?
KIB is great at leveraging local efforts to improve Indianapolis. It gives people like me an easy way to better my family and neighborhood. I learned a lot making bike buckets and rain barrels with INDYCOG and Circle City Rain Barrels at KIB. It makes you proud when you make it yourself (or with some help!).

People volunteer for a variety of reasons: they want to fix something or it makes them feel good. For me, working side-by-side with my neighbor on a KIB project to remove invasive species near our bike path was a good way to get to know my neighbors.

What impact do you feel that the work with KIB has on the community?
The Irvington Terrace Neighborhood originally started as a crime watch seven years ago. Many of our activities use the principles of crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED). KIB helps our neighborhood come together to make our neighborhood more beautiful – an important part of crime prevention! For example, we planted KIB trees in our neighborhood last year, including in the cloverleaf on Shadeland. Because of this summer’s drought, 15 neighbors met every Friday evening to water our young trees. Watering the trees a was very social way to spend Friday evenings in the summer, but it was also a chance to catch up and informally to discuss the issues in the neighborhood. Watering trees is hard work, but worth it because the cloverleaf stand of trees will be there for future generations.

Irvington Terrace organized three main activities for the Fall Great Indy Cleanup: litter removal, a Washington Street public art project, and rejuvenating a pocket park based on the organizing principles of the Great American Cleanup, a national program. The Great Indy Cleanup challenged our community to come up with interesting projects and creative approaches to planning the event. Since Halloween is a big event on the Eastside, we asked volunteers to dress up in costume to make things fun. We also awarded prizes. I dressed up as Kurt Cobain, or rather, Kurt’s younger brother V. Cobain. KIB brought over 100 volunteers and equipment. While the great volunteers from all over Indy made all of our activities a success, I am very proud of our public art project.

Volunteers and artists painted seven traffic signal boxes between Emerson and Edmonston along East Washington Street. We are the first neighborhood in Indianapolis to do this! Within six weeks, we created a Call for Artists and had financial commitments from local organizations, businesses and residents to pay artists $150 per box. Three artists were selected in a juried competition. Every day, thousands of people will see our public art project as they drive along East Washington to work or stroll through downtown Irvington to grab a pizza, go the library, or get a cup of coffee. A few days ago, I saw a young woman walk up to one of the boxes with her two young children. The box is at a crosswalk and has an image of a pedestrian and a walk sign. She pointed to the box and read out W-A-L-K to her children and then they walked across the street to the library. This scene repeats itself daily! Tammy Leadbetter, Aaron Story and Tammy Stevens, KIB, did an excellent job organizing the public art project & GIC II.

What else are you involved in within the community? 
I live in a great urban neighborhood. It is my privilege to live in Irvington Terrace and collaborate with my neighbors, who I also consider my friends, to improve it..together.

My wife and I had a lot of fun volunteering for the Super Bowl – the volunteer coordination was incredibly well organized! Indianapolis has a strong tradition of organizing sporting events going back to the Pan American Games, which my father-in-law was very involved in. Although I had lived here only a short while, I enjoyed welcoming Super Bowl guests to Indianapolis.

I also belong to the Asian Art Society at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, with my wife. We are helping to organize the 6 X 13: New Year’s Eve at the IMA party and an AAS Spring Film Series called “In the Mood for Love”.

Why would you encourage others to support KIB? 
If you are still reading this far, then you know KIB is fantastically awesome! It is a great place to volunteer. If neighborhoods have ideas about projects, KIB has great resources. KIB has a strong track record of improving Indy’s neighborhoods. From rain barrels to chicken coops (and more), KIB is the place to find answers for your project and build it.

If you were describing KIB to a friend, what three words would you use?
Learn, Build, and Happiness