Operation My Indy: Concord on the Near Southside

I am delighted to serve as the new president of Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, an organization we both love. Since I am new to Indy, part of my journey to explore the city involves staying at Airbnbs in different neighborhoods. As I share my thoughts and experiences, I hope that you will provide your own suggestions! 

This week, I booked a place that Airbnb suggested near Garfield Park. Because I was just north of Raymond Street, near the corner of Madison Ave., I learned that those who live in the area refer to the neighborhood as Concord. According to maps.indy.gov/MyNeighborhood, the official designation is actually Near Southside. I have seen the iconic NapLab neighborhood map in lots of locations—it’s particularly popular for Airbnb hosts, I have found.

We are working to identify how many neighborhoods we have either planted urban trees, created greenspaces, or picked up litter. It’s a really impressive showing… like one of those maps showing cell phone coverage in the U.S. We have had an impact in over 95% of all Indy’s neighborhoods! 

KIB has created over 140 pocket parks around Indy, providing space for communities to come together to enjoy nature and play outdoors. We have planted over 50,000 trees, cooling down the city on hot summer days, slowing the rush of water from sewer overflows on heavy rain days, and improving the overall health of the population (Did you know that walking under trees lowers your blood pressure compared to just walking out in the open?).




We also plan to start doing more in and around the White River. Our staff took a trip this week up to Connor Prairie, where we explored ways that our organizations could collaborate more. Students from Ivy Tech are already traveling north to do water sampling along Conner Prairie’s stretch of waterway. Later in the week, we met with Janet Arnold at Visit Indy, with Emily Krueger at 16 Tech, and with Julie Rhodes and the Steering Committee of Reconnecting to Our Waterways (ROW). We all share interest in improving access to the White River. As I think about engaging the next generation of environmental stewards around our waterways, what if IUPUI students sampled the river by Haughville and Butler students near Broad Ripple? It would create hands-on learning opportunities for the universities and give us a sense of where we can make a difference to water quality. I’m excited about the opportunities for KIB to play a big role.

Based on a staff recommendation, I checked out JailBird for dinner. The clientele was decidedly mixed, with some young, hip folks sitting comfortably next to older, grizzled folks looking a bit windblown as if they had just stepped off their Harley Davidson. Everyone was friendly, and the place was buzzing on a Tuesday night. I chose the veggie burger, with a fried egg. It wasn’t quite vegetarian, but was a less carbon-intensive meal than eating pork or beef. I made a pledge on New Year’s Eve not to eat red meat in 2019, and so far have made it without too much difficulty. Do you think about the impact on the environment of the food you eat? Have you made a choice to go vegetarian or vegan for environmental reasons? We would love to hear from you!

A few weeks ago, I joined KIB staff as we planted new trees along Raymond Street, very close to my Airbnb. As I was driving to work, I pulled over to take a picture of some of those saplings settling in for the winter (shown above). It takes three years of our staff tending and taking care of these saplings before they are fully established. That’s a lot of watering, pruning, and mulching! If you would like to help us take care of trees near your house, office, or place of worship, let us know. And if you would like to see more trees in the future, consider making a contribution. Each tree we plant costs us $100 per year for three years. All donations are much appreciated.  #BeautifulNeedsYou!

Jeremy’s Neighborhood Recommendations


Reasonably priced food and drink menu at JailBird. Try the veggie burger … and put an egg on it.


•   Join us for a tree planting between now and December 7

•   Visit Conner Prairie to learn how the museum is mixing outdoor education with preservation. Check out the White River overlook for an amazing view of our important natural resource.


Please join us in our work to make Indianapolis the best it can be, with vibrant public places and neighborhoods. Find out more at kibi.org!