Minnetrista and McKinley Neighborhoods Host Ball State Immersive Learning Project
Article by Lindi Conover | Photo by Derek Tulowitzky
This Spring, the Minnetrista Neighborhood Association and the McKinley neighborhood will be hosting students from Ball State University’s College of Architecture and Planning in an immersive learning project. Students from the Masters of Urban and Regional Planning Community Development Studio will be working with these two neighborhoods to help them develop a neighborhood action plan in line with Muncie Action Plan.
Between January and May, the neighborhood associations will meet with the students four times in public meetings to give them resident input. Through this immersive learning project, students will learn about the process of planning and how to work with a community to develop a guidance document and process that helps the neighborhood achieve their goals.
Through Muncie Action Plan and Building Better Neighborhoods, many communities in Muncie have hosted Urban Planning Studios in a similar fashion. This spring, Minnetrista and McKinley have come together in this endeavor. While the two areas differ from one another in significant ways, their proximity to one another along with their relatively small residential populations make them perfect candidates for partnering in this project.
Significantly, the McKinley neighborhood has experienced some harsh disinvestment in recent years. Nearly three blocks of homes was demolished, both as a result of a new housing development in Millennium Place, and also to facilitate a new federally-mandated levee nearby. These complex and important issues are forefront in the minds of residents and students as this planning process progresses.
Notably, residents have asked what is to become of the area near the river once the levee is rebuilt. While nothing is official yet, both residents and representatives from within city government are favoring a public park. Another point of consideration for both residents and students is involving Muncie Central school more within the neighborhoods. Investment in local schools is intricately connected to quality of life and quality of place, so this will be at the fore of the neighborhood action plan.
From the first public meeting, students in the Urban Planning Studio noted that residents of these two neighborhoods have deep empathy for one another, and that many of the things that they hope to see transformed in their community through this project are people-based, as opposed to thing-based. For example, meeting attendees noted that they would favor a park at the new levee site, as well as a dog park. Notably, though, the residents wanted these things because of the implicit social nature of parks.
As one student noted, “All of the residents were saying ‘wouldn’t it be nice if we all had this,’ as opposed to ‘wouldn’t it be nice if I had this.’ The residents of McKinley and Minnetrista seem to have compassion for each other, seeing the neighborhood not through their own eyes, but through others’.”
This sentiment drives these two neighborhoods and will certainly help to not only make this a valuable planning process for students, but also a deeply rewarding experience for the residents.