No one wants to look back and wonder what we could have and should have done to make Indiana a better place.
Instead, by taking a forward-looking approach, the Indiana University Public Policy Institute is evaluating what can be done now to help local communities and our state succeed.
Through the Thriving Communities, Thriving State project, three place-based commissions have been formed to study issues affecting Indiana’s small town and rural, mid-sized and urban communities. The project’s name is key, because all communities play a role in making Indiana thrive.
Serving as co-chairs for Thriving Communities, Thriving State, we have already started working with the project’s 50 commission members. These leaders from all around Indiana represent the private, public and nonprofit sectors.
The three commissions will make recommendations to state and local policy leaders about what policy changes are needed to improve communities, where policy gaps exists and what promising practices can be shared to help our communities.
We’ve recently taken the project to cities around the state to hear what residents have to say. Listening tours in Columbus, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Gary and Indianapolis drew participants from all over those regions who told us what’s great about their communities, what areas could use some improvement, and what areas could be tackled if funding was not an issue.
What we’ve heard will be given to the commissions as they define key focus areas and over the next year develop recommendations around those priorities. The results will be shared with state and local leaders during 2016 and beyond.
For now, it’s important for you to get involved to share what makes your own community shine (take the project survey at policyinstitute.iu.edu). Together, we can reshape success to benefit every Indiana community.
Randall T. Shepard is former chief justice of the Indiana Supreme Court. Kathy Davis is with Davis Design Group, Indianapolis, and former Indiana lieutenant governor.