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An Awesomely Active October

Thanks to the 17 volunteers and 108 community members who came out to the Miller Spotlight Jamboree on October 23, 2015.

[caption id="attachment_1204" align="alignnone" width="399"]#MillerSpotlightJamboree10 The community gave our Action Groups feedback on our SMAART Goals[/caption]
We had a ton of fun, braved the wind and the rain, plus got useful feedback on our attainable goals.
[caption id="attachment_1205" align="alignnone" width="200"]Community snow globes and the bounce house were hotspots Community snow globes and the bounce house were hotspots[/caption] #MillerSpotlightJamboree2
Gary’s Miller Spotlight is a Legacy Foundation initiative modeled after collective impact projects that have worked well on the south side of Chicago and in Indianapolis. Miller and Northwest Hobart are the first two Lake County communities to pilot the Neighborhood Spotlight program, which is a new place-based initiative for reinvesting in Da Region.
[caption id="attachment_1208" align="alignnone" width="400"]Our Area Context Chairman discusses Goals with one of our community's fathers Ned Colson. Our Area Context Chairman discusses Goals with one of our community's fathers Ned Colson.[/caption]
For the past nine months members of the volunteer run-Miller Spotlight project have gathered 4,013 comments about Gary’s very own Miller neighborhood from vested community members. These conversations have helped determine how we as a community plan to take action towards continuing to revitalize our neighborhood. By sourcing our information directly from the public we are hoping to identify which grants/ programs might best suit the needs of our community and all its residents. From our findings, seven themes emerged.
#MillerSpotlightJamboree3 [caption id="attachment_1210" align="alignnone" width="200"]Volunteers logged the community feedback & got more interviews for our SWOT study Volunteers logged the community feedback & got more interviews for our SWOT study[/caption]
Seven action groups were formed to address these themes:
1.Environment and Ecotourism
2.Safety/ Code Enforcement
3.Education/ Youth Child Programming
4.Property and Blight
5.Area Context
6.Jobs and the Economy
7.Transportation and Infrastructure
(Face painting and crafts added flare)
For the past two months, Miller Spotlight’s 76 action group volunteers have been constructing attainable goals for these seven themes.
(Kids and adults bonded while getting excited over the projects to come)
These goals will be crafted into our community plan. The notes received from the 108 participants at our Miller Spotlight Jamboree will be worked into our community plan, which will be presented at 2PM at Wirt-Emerson’s Auditorium and implemented in 2016.
(Thanks to Brown's Inflatables and Tia's Cake in a Cup for helping make the Jamboree awesome!!!)
The first of our 7 action groups to host an early action grant event is our Education/ Youth and Child Programming Action Group.
Come to the Miller Spotlight Harvest Festival and enjoy a ton of free, family friendly activities and meet your local educators/ youth and child programming organizations.
See what our community has to offer your family! If you would like to help decide and act upon projects that can profoundly change your community’s future, please attend the Miller Spotlight Harvest Festival this Friday (10/30/15) from 4-7PM on Lake St. (Yes we will have a Thriller Flash Mob too!!!)
NEIGHBORHOOD SPOTLIGHT UPDATE
Congrats to Griffith and Gary’s Emerson community for being the 2016 awardees of the Neighborhood Spotlight Initiative.
Gary’s Miller community volunteers look forward to future collaborations with our fellow Neighborhood Spotlight cohorts.
If you would like more information about Miller Spotlight, or to schedule an interview with Gary-Miller’s community builder, please email millerspotlight@gmail.com.

Miller Spotlight Community Plan

2:00 pm - 2:00 pm, November 14, 2015
Miller Spotlight Community Plan

Thanks for supporting Gary's Miller Spotlight Project! We will present our community plan at Wirt-Emerson on Saturday 11/14@2PM. We will showcase our local talent, talk about the project's next phase and yes have some of Tia's fab cupcakes. The event is FREE. Please come and show your support. You don't have to live in Miller you just have to care about our revitalization efforts to participate. All are welcome to join!!!

Springing Forward

Where did April go? How can it be May? There’s been so much awesome stuff going on within the community it’s making our heads’ spin.
 
Our 7 action groups are on their way to implementing our 29 community goals. We are actually ahead of schedule with completing our community plan! We have 45 community partners to date and are always looking for more. (If you're interested in joining our initiative please contact Jessie via millerspotlight@gmail.com.)
 
On April 20th our funding organization, Legacy Foundation, had us present our annual review to the Knight Foundation. We decided to make a 6 minute trailer of all that’s happened during Gary’s Miller Spotlight Initiative from Feb 2015- Feb 2016.
 
Our Review Video/ Checkin can also be viewed on our youtube channel or at this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKKUUVnltwE 
ACTION GROUP UPDATES:
**Education/ Child Youth Programming
On April 20th our community builder, Jessie Renslow, and one of our awesome volunteer chairwomen, Derreka Rollins, were 1 of 6 pairs chosen as finalists to present an idea at the Knight’s Cities Challenge event at ArtHouse a Social Kitchen. The event was modeled after Shark Tank
They pitched the Jr. Block Club idea. $50,000 was at stake. The jury picked IUN and Blue1647 to receive the award. The Parks Department and City expressed some interest and possible partnerships to help get the Jr. Block Club started. Our Education/ Youth & Child Programming Action Group is going to research these options for summer 2017. 
This action group has also submitted an MCF grant for Harvest Fest 2016. 2015’s Harvest Fest was a roaring success with 200+ people attending and twenty three Gary 501c3s participating. It was a great showcase for area families to discover all Gary has to offer them. They look forward to an even bigger turnout this fall!! **Area Context On May 10th Miller Spotlight & the MBACD hosted an Acting Up Potluck. Folks brought dishes, or snacks. Eleven people attended this event. While we had fun and good food, we also discussed ideas for the Awesome Foundation's micro-grant initiative. Communities across Chicagoland hosted potlucks to brainstorm micro-grants that will help their neighborhoods on May 10th too.
The Awesome Foundation is a global community advancing the interest of awesome in the universe, $1000 at a time.Each fully autonomous chapter supports awesome projects through micro-grants, usually given out monthly. These micro-grants, $1000 or the local equivalent, come out of pockets of the chapter's "trustees" and are given on a no-strings-attached basis to people and groups working on awesome projects. We chose to submit a grant for reflector vests for local volunteer groups. The vests will say “Community Volunteer” on the back. These vests will serve 3 purposes:
1.Promote safety
2.Unite all of our volunteer groups in a visually identifiable manner
3. Advertise the spirit of volunteerism and engage/ educate our community on how to 
become  active/ all our volunteers do within our community
***Looks for our grant video very soon!
**Environment and Eco Tourism
This group is investigating/ pursuing how to get their Miller Attractions Map as an advertisement on the South Shore. 
 
They also helped us write 3 grants. We didn’t get the NIPSCO one but are waiting to hear about American Waters and the Environmental Justice grant. They are promoting our existing and upcoming ecotourism/ environmental activities and attractions via social media platforms, word of mouth and traditional media outlets.
**Access Miller (Transportation and Infrastructure)
On Thursday, 4/14/16 from 1-4pm Great Lakes ADA, Miller Spotlight and Barrier Free Beach hosted a website accessibility workshop at the MJGC. 
Janet Peters, Project Coordinator of Accessible Technology for the Great Lakes ADA Center facilitated the workshop. 21 people from a variety of Gary institutions/ organizations attended. Janet has worked to promote full and unrestricted participation in society for persons with disabilities through the promotion of technology that is accessible to all.
Canoe Launch Update: Our ADA canoe/ kayak launch will be installed soon! The ribbon cutting ceremony will be on 6/25/16 at the Annual Water Celebration. The launch is ordered. It costs $32,000 to buy and install. The permits have been garnered. Gary’s Miller Spotlight's Access Miller Action Group and Barrier Free Beach 2020 volunteers so far have gotten a Transform Lake County Grant for $25,000.00. 
 
We have several smaller grants out that we should hear about in the next 2-3 weeks. A generous local donor is willing to match up to $3,500 of the remaining $7,000 of funds needed to complete this project. Thanks to the generous 40 donors (38 online and 2 in person) we have raised a collective $3300. 
 
We just have $200 left to go until we meet our goal! Any additional funds raised or earned through the grants we've submitted will go towards adding visual and auditory amenities. Universal design is part of our community plan.This will help us complete our community plan for universal design and be a great tourist attraction. We will do the ribbon cutting at Gary’s Clean Water Celebration on 6/25/16. If you are feeling generous you can donate to our GoFundMe page
Video of our awesome sister community’s (Michigan City) launch. This is what ours will look like but we’re hoping to add LED lights, guide ropes and auditory amenities. 
***FUN FACT: This launch is getting done in record time and very affordably. Other Hoosier communities have spent upwards of $132,000 on purchasing and installing the exact same launch and it’s also taken several years to get completed in the past. We are getting it done in 7 months (start to finish) and for $32,000. 
How is this humanly possible?  Well, Marquette Park’s infrastructure is a huge bonus as barely any modifications had to occur to make this launch get installed. The community, partnering organizations and municipal entities have all decided to make accessible attractions a priority. So, the permitting process was relatively smooth. Go volunteers and teamwork! 
 
Access for All Series Update: We are in post production on one of our 5 videos, while also producing the the other 4. Our Access Miller (Transportation and Infrastructure) Action Group received $3,000 to produce this multi platform educational series on accessibility. We will release the videos and educational tools in August.
 
Access Miller Action Group and Barrier Free Beach 2020 went well. We trained by a representative from Great Lakes ADA Center and then conducted a neighborhood survey of our local hotspots to help them become more physically inclusive for all. 17 people attended this event. They completed the Marshall J. Gardner Center, Woodson Library, Miller Pizza Co., and got additional measurements for the lagoon. This was just the first of many surveys they will conduct for our community. We are hoping to make this a citywide initiative. 
**Property Improvements Committee
PIC has gotten grant funding to do 11 decorative board ups across Miller.
On Sunday, May 15, 2016, they completed a decorative board up at the blighted Lake St. Beach Cafe. 
  
The new coat of paint spruced up the place to help us get ready for our summer food truck park.
PIC is in the process of getting permission to board up Nobel School in September. The school board is very warm to the idea, they just have to go through the approval process. PIC is looking for a community partner to help install the upper level windows. They can cut and pain them, but need someone with a scaffold to help install them. Please email Jessie via millerspotlight@gmail.com if you, or someone you know is interested. 
Here is a sketch of what the finished Nobel board up would look like.
Introducing Gary's Miller Spotlight's newest community partner, The Charter School of the Dunes. One of our community's 29 goals is to reduce vacant properties by 20 percent by 2018. Additionally, part of our community vision is to have eye-pleasing entrances. Well, the Charter School of the Dunes is helping us with both these items. 
They applied for and received an environmental grant to knock down the blighted gas station on US 20 and Old Hobart Road and to remove the gas tanks. This year they are keeping the space trimmed up and using it as an overflow parking lot while they run soil tests and plan how to best use the space. We look forward to future partnering opportunities with them.
**Safety and Code Enforcement 
On May 7, 2016 Miller Spotlight volunteers did a second wave cleanup with our later risers.
The Community Clean Up encompassed Park Shore Commons on County Line Rd. and Lake Street from the Douglas Center to Lake Street Beach. We hosted a community meal afterwards and leftovers were donated to The Ark Women’s Shelter. 
 
Safety and Code Enforcement has partnered with the MCC’s Shoreline Committee to help make our summer 2016 the best one yet! They will work hand in hand with the new beach manager once the new hire has been announced and confirmed. 
 
They are helping keep our beaches clean, our boat launch dug out and our level of professionalism of park employees a priority. 
 
Gary's Parks Department has started digging out the boat launch. Getting ready for Memorial Day Weekend. Yay summer is nigh! Come to our Saturday 5/28/16 Summer kickoff at Lake Street Beach in Gary's beautiful Miller community to see what all the buzz is about! 
**Jobs and the Economy!
This action group has been working with local venders like Miller K to help give constructive feedback and promote local venders, as well as prepping to host two workshops.
One of Gary's Miller Spotlight's 29 community goals is to have a food truck (ideally a food truck park) from Saturdays-Mondays at Lake St Beach from 9am-7pm this summer. 
Local burrito guru Mary Garcia has got all her permits set with the city and parks and she will be one of our go to food park folks for Lake Street Beach this summer. Congrats to the Garcia family for starting a local business!!! Please like the El Paso Del Norte page. https://m.facebook.com/tasteofelpasodelnorte/
If you or anyone you know is interested in having a cart/ truck in our Lake St. Food Park please email Jessie via millerspotlight@gmail.com. Upcoming Miller Spotlight Events Tuesday, 5/24/16 Park Shore Commons Bingo 3-5pm meet in the community room Address: 860 N Wells St. Gary, Indiana, 46403 Thursday, 5/26/16 2:30pm! Our Jobs and Economy Action Group has partnered with Horizon Bank to give a financial literacy workshop for the students at Wirt-Emerson VPA. They will discuss budgeting, interest rates/ credit cards and the basics of student loans. Saturday, 5/28 Starts at 11AM- Sunset Lake St. Beach Food Park Kickoff Help support local venders and showcase Lake Street Beach. We will have a food truck and the boat launch will be dug out. We are trying to really promote activity at Lake St this summer. Thursday, 6/16/16 2:30pm Our Jobs and Economy Action Group has partnered with Horizon Bank to give a financial literacy workshop for the residents at Park Shore Commons. They will discuss budgeting, interest rates and credit cards. 
(Our community builder being interviewed by two of our community partners The Boys & Girls Club and The Gary Digital Storytelling Project. We are teaming up with these organizations to help complete our oral history project.)
 

Double-Tracking the South Shore Line Railroad

6:00 pm - 8:00 pm, November 01, 2016

From Gary to Michigan City, NICTD will install a second set of train tracks alongside our current single set of tracks. This project is critical in many ways. First, rush hour trains are crowded. NICTD needs to run more trains to accommodate more riders. Second, NICTD shares the tracks with a freight line. NICTD trains and freight trains compete for the same shared single line, resulting in slower trains as well as delays that have a ripple effect on later trains. By installing a second set of tracks, trains will be able to bypass each other rather than wait for each other. Third, NICTD has various stations in need of improvements. Double Track NWI will result in improvements at five station platforms including Miller. The South Shore Line will have greater ADA access than ever before when these upgrades are complete. In the end, the project will improve travel times, passenger capacity, service frequency, reliability, and safety. It will also spark exciting private investment and economic development near station areas, bringing additional revenue into our communities. Presenter: Nicole Barker stepped into her role as Director of Capital Investment and Implementation at the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) in July 2016. NICTD runs the South Shore Line railroad that connects South Bend to Chicago. She is helping to advance two important projects in the region – the Double Track NWI and West Lake Corridor projects - the largest investments in public transit our region has ever experienced. Previously, she served as Executive Director of regional conservation nonprofit Save the Dunes working to protect the Indiana dunes and Lake Michigan. Nicole spent over a decade as Program Director for the City of Chicago Department of Environment with a focus on merging conservation and planning initiatives for the southeast side of Chicago. Prior to that, she worked in advertising and marketing. She has a B.A. in Journalism and a minor in Environmental Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a M.A. in Geography and Environmental Studies from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. She is a former board member of the Healing Our Waters – Great Lakes Coalition, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association, and the Lake Michigan Coastal Advisory Board. ***From 6-6:30pm we encourage attendees to network with one another, order food, and get settled in. The guest speaker's presentation will begin at 6:30pm. *Mama Pearl's does not serve alcohol however attendees are welcome to bring their own (byob).*** For additional information on future events please visit Green Drinks Gary’s facebook page at www.facebook.com/GreenDrinksGary, join our Facebook group www.facebook.com/groups/1682928161975070/, and/or check out our website at www.greendrinks.org/IN/Gary. See you November 1st at Mama Pearl's BBQ! Until then... STAY CALM and THINK GREEN. Green Drinks Gary takes place every first Tuesday of the month. It is open to the public, free to attend and all ages are welcome! Green Drinks Gary is organized and managed by Rachel Veronesi.

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The Miller Beach Arts & Creative Disctict\'s Planning Committee meets about their ongoing efforts with the Gary Lakefront District Plan (Strong Cities/Strong Communities, Transit Oriented Development), retention of the South Shore Station, derelict property demolition, placemaking and pocket park, Farmers Market, TIGER grant, and synergies with the Miller Spotlight Infrastructure and Transportation activities at the Marshall J. Gardner Center for the Arts.

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