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January 08, 2016

Circling Back: Finding Community in Indianapolis

January 08, 2016

I’ve been back in Indianapolis for three months, the third time I’ve moved to the Circle City since graduating college. Though I grew up in nearby Cincinnati (along with fellow Boxer, Mo!), central Indiana has been my home base for the past 15 years.

Some have rolled their eyes at my “boomerang” moving patterns and, in self-deprecating fashion, I’ve even referred to myself as a Midwestern cliché, moving away to cities like Chicago and Denver and a bit of time abroad chasing other opportunities.

The grass is greener, we tell ourselves, but what constantly brings me back to Indianapolis are the people who live here. We live in America’s biggest small town, filled with genuinely good people who are somehow never far from a mutual connection.

So when I moved back this fall, I decided I would finally let my roots dig in a bit further. At the suggestion of other ‘Boxers, I enrolled in the five-week LEAD program to connect with other folks looking to deepen their imprint on Indianapolis. The first few weeks of this program were foundational, but then a tipping point occurred when the roles of facilitators and participants blurred.

Among this group were lawyers, engineers, accountants, teachers, salespeople, and government workers with jobs that others relied upon for crucial needs. But each one represented so much more. They are volunteers who promote adult literacy with Indy Reads, they were role models for Girls Inc., church leaders, those who care for other caregivers at Joy’s House, board members guiding charter schools, those who provide meals to children at the Patachou Foundation, and those who spend their time enriching final moments for the terminally ill.

What brought us together was a program to make us better leaders, but the takeaway was really that we were living among pretty dynamic people all along.

Each of us brought to that circle a passion, a set of talents, and a commitment to make this city better in our own way.

Now that I’ve settled into my role at SmallBox, my takeaway isn’t so different. As an organization, we’re committed to those who represent the majority of our client base: member organizations, higher education institutions, and large nonprofit organizations.

We serve those who serve others.

In a collaborative workshop recently, we guided partners from a large member organization seeking to align their visual brand with the values of their membership and their strategic direction. Using a brand deck, we identified representative qualities and those they aspire to possess as an organization. Cards with "dependable, trusted, approachable, bold" were arranged on the table in front of us until we decided to write-in a new card: "Genuine."

Perhaps that's why I feel this is the right time to set my roots anew in Indianapolis.

This post is part of Think Kit by SmallBox
Today’s prompt: “Communal Circles. What new circles have you formed? Any unexpected ones? Did you start a book club or hang out in a tea yurt? Maybe you re-upped with existing friends. Explore your kumbaya moment from 2015.

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