Wabash Democracy & Public Discourse (WDPD) will be hosting community conversations on how to improve access to transportation in the Crawfordsville area. These events will take place at the Crawfordsville Public Library on April 3 and April 5, and are open to the public.
Rev. Dr. John Van Nuys, an active member of MontCares and Pastor at Wabash Avenue Presbyterian Church, initially suggested the need for a comprehensive dialogue on transportation. Van Nuys reached out to WDPD in late 2017 in the hopes of sparking discussion that would explore solutions to the community’s needs.
“Addressing transportation needs can and will help people who want to work get to work,” Van Nuys notes. Recognizing the connection between transportation and broader societal concerns, Van Nuys argues that improving access to transportation “will strengthen our local economy as it decreases poverty.”
The upcoming events are the product of six months of development by the Wabash Democracy Fellows, specially trained students who address social and community issues through deliberative events.
“I am thrilled with the work the Democracy Fellows have done on this initiative,” notes Michael Bergmaier, a Visiting Assistant Professor of Rhetoric at Wabash College and WDPD’s Program Coordinator. “They have involved dozens of community stakeholders in the hopes of facilitating a productive conversation. This will lead to a report that can influence policy and improve quality of life in meaningful ways.”
The conversation on April 3 will open up with a Q&A panel that includes Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton, Mark Wollenberg of Penguin Random House, and Brenda Tarter of Crawfordsville Parks and Recreation. The April 5 event will begin with a similar panel that includes City Planning Director Brandy Allen, Jan Sears of St. Bernard’s Church, and Scott Servies of VIP Taxi.
During both events, citizens will have solution-oriented discussions of hypothetical cities with similar demographics as Crawfordsville—models designed after comprehensive interviews with community stakeholders. The last part of the conversation will focus on citizens building their own cities based on transportation options discussed previously during the event.
“After studying this issue, we thought the best way to empower the community was to look at the solutions we are already developing and those being tried in other cities,” explains Wabash Democracy Fellow David Segovia, one of the leaders on the WDPD project team. “This approach should enable residents to share their specific concerns and needs in order to make work, school, and basic necessities accessible to everyone.”
Given the nature of the conversation, stakeholders are committed to ensuring that all residents are able to participate—including those lacking transportation—to the events. Brenda Tarter will help provide shuttle transportation through the Sunshine Vans Service on April 3. Residents who wish to use these services should meet outside the Eastside Baptist Church at 2000 Traction Road at 5:45 p.m., or outside Nicholson Elementary School at 1010 Lane Avenue at 6:15 p.m. Unfortunately, transportation will not be available for the April 5 event.