I follow a bunch of social media pages and spend a rather large amount of time engaging in my community of Westfield Indiana so to say I am dialed in would be an understatement. And everyday I am amazed at how many people are using the wrong platforms to make change or help their community. This is probably true in most places where a small number of residents are highly involved, another portion are just happy to be in it and a small noisy group will never be happy. But there are some more efficient ways to be involved, be heard and make a difference as your community enters 2023. Below are a few suggestions and of course there are many more but these are the specific ones I see as valuable.
City Council Meetings – While they can be cringeworthy at times and watching the over-politicalization and bickering stall progress, it really is a great place to stay in tune to what is happening. They meet on Monday evenings and it can be attending in person or online via youtube. At these public meetings they manage the cities finances, planning and future goals to grow responsibly. They also create legislation and find ways to promote good causes in the community. It is also a public hearing so anytime a resident wants to speak or share they can attend and do so in front of the council or email the council directly and they will read the statement. If you want to get to the meat of whats going on in Westfield this is the meeting to follow.
Westfield Chamber – If you want to connect locally to what is going on professionally the chamber is a one stop shop. Our chamber is very active with a fresh board of directors and a staff that spends its time connecting and growing the business community. You always know when a large business is considering Westfield as they start coming to chamber meetings and it also works well for local startups. Being a basic member of the chamber, even a resident will bring value to staying in the know and having access to the main business network in Westfield. Want a Cracker Barrel? I would imagine the Chamber is a good place to network and help get that done.
Student Impact – You know how we gripe about the younger generation and their lack of anything good? There are ways to help that and Student Impact is one. Student Impact provides an after school student experience that is faith based and led by some of the most caring women around. Westfield students can attend daily and connect with other kids in the community. The organization does a fantastic job of giving kids a place to feel safe and comfortable as well as develop important new friendships. As much as I like my phone I think places like this are special in a time when its really easy to hide behind a screen or be alone and one of the problems we have is kids do not feel connected to other kids or a community. Student Impact is a great place for kids to just be themselves and grow alongside other kids. It is also the host to an amazing basketball program during the winter on Friday nights.
APC – The Westfield Advisory Plan Commission is its God given name but we call it APC for short. So when you write on Facebook that you think SR 32 West of US 31 is ugly and reminds you of Avon, this is the place to hear those decisions made. The APC looks over new developments and applies local design standards as well as comprehensive plans to guide petitioners. This is the place that a new business is directed for approval. If you get past the APC you most likely get a pass from the Council, who is the final say on projects. The APC is made up of local volunteers that have been appointed and are expected to uphold the standards of a community as it pertains to new developments. So the next time you sit at Tournament Trail and Wheeler Road wondering why it is such a mess, put the next APC meeting in your calendar. They offer a time for public comments and constructive criticism for any resident pertaining to current projects. You can also send emails to them voicing your concerns and of course you can always contact the petitioners and offer up your suggestions as they are looking to balance community support with their new projects.
Local Campaigns – I am convinced the most important election in my world is the local council and mayors election. The Mayor can bring a strong vision and positive leadership and the council can manage growth and build a rapport with the development community that brings its citizens value, but not being involved does nothing to get you a parking spot or lower taxes. If you want to make a difference do some research on who is running for the Mayors seat or the councilor in your district and at large. Meet with them or have an email exchange to see how they align with your values and then help. I think people become complacent as to not get involved in politics but it doesn’t have to be mean and divisive. I think just the conversations and open dialogue between you and your representative can go a long way. I am always surprised at how little people know about candidates and while that is the candidates problem, it’s also the voters responsibility to know who is doing what. Here is what I do. I contact each and every candidate and have a conversation with them. If they blow me off, thats fine as they are busy too but I will do what I can to know what their plan is and how they can support what I think is important. From there I have no problem sharing with my circle who I support. It is that simple and it has a bigger affect on the outcome than you would imagine.
So in closing here is what I suggest, assuming you have made it this far. Do you want a Dollar General store? Attend Chamber events and connect with those bringing them to the community. Do you think the youth are worthless? Stop into Student Impact and offer to volunteer once. You think the Portillo’s is facing the wrong way? Start going to APC meetings and provide input. And finally do you feel like the mayor and council are off the rails? Start going to council meetings and help the next community leaders and candidates. We have so much to be grateful for in Westfield and it takes the community members and residents to get involved and do whats best for Westfield.
Curt has been in the Indianapolis Real Estate business for over 15 years and spent his first years learning all aspects of commercial management and brokerage. He has had great success in managing existing commercial projects and new retail and office developments. Curt specializes in building owner representation and purchases in the Westfield Indiana market as well throughout the Indianapolis Metro area. Curt is passionate about growing the local Westfield community and in his free time volunteers with Student Impact and raising 2 children with his wife Jennifer.