The recent violence in Broad Ripple has freaked me out a little. The split personality of daytime/nighttime Broad Ripple is reaching a boiling point. As a Broad Ripple business/building owner I hate to see the village I love be on the front page of the news for violence. What got us here and how do we address this problem? Should we just put more police on the street?
First off, this is not a new problem. Broad Ripple has been dealing with crime, violent or non-violent, for decades. But the recent spike has inspired many us to do some soul searching. Although I applaud the move to shut down Broad Ripple avenue during peak hours I believe we need to address the root cause here. Adding more police is just putting a bandaid on a growing wound. Broad Ripple has a deeper problem.
Broad Ripple has lost its core values. They are out there somewhere. Buried in our history, our community, our shared experience.
What is a “value” and why does it matter to Broad Ripple? A value is something that defines expected behavior. It’s not a fuzzy, abstract thing. It is very real and actionable. Something you can put to work immediately and be held accountable to. At my company SmallBox we have 4 core values: curiosity, collaboration, courage and persistence. We use these values to hold ourselves accountable for how we engage with the community, each other and our clients. They drive our behaviors. We use them when hiring- “did this person show curiosity? do they have a track record of being collaborative?” We pulled these core values from our history, looking at our strengths and weaknesses over time. History is something Broad Ripple has in spades.
So what might Broad Ripple’s core values be? Let’s look to our history a little.
A quick review of Broad Ripple’s Wikipedia page is helpful. Words like “diverse” and “vibrant” pop out. I also see the entry speaking to a general sense of "welcoming". I would agree, when Broad Ripple is at its best, it is very welcoming.
Ok, let’s take these 3 core value candidates and see how they could be put into action.
Welcoming- this isn’t just about the residents and business owners welcoming others into Broad Ripple. It’s about those that come to visit as well. We need to make it clear that we expect them to be welcoming of others. This means they need to be tolerant and to assume the best of each other. They need to get a sense for this the minute the turn on to Broad Ripple avenue. This is not a place to pull out a gun, it’s a place to give someone a hand and the benefit of the doubt.
Diversity- this isn’t just racial diversity which is certainly an important piece. It’s about embracing all types of diversity. We are a home for artists, misfits, scholars, the poor, businesses, restaurants, shops, bars, the rich, the young, the old, etc. If, as a village (daytime and nighttime) we truly embrace diversity then we will see a balancing of energies. Hopefully a less stark contrast between day and night visitors. A place where everyone feels safe at any time of day.
Vibrancy- let’s bring more color and art to Broad Ripple. Let’s talk to building owners about bringing in pop-up shops/galleries to empty retail spaces while they look for permanent tenants. We need more public art, good art, not faux-nostalgic metal statues like Carmel (sorry guys, but those things are creepy). If we make Broad Ripple feel a little bit more like an art gallery and less like a old west saloon I believe our visitors, and residents, will start to treat it with more respect. Who wants to throw their trash on the ground in an art gallery? Let’s push out the cowboy vibe and bring back the artist vibe which is our hertitage. Maybe the Art Center can put together a plan to do an art “hack-a-thon” in Broad Ripple?
So these may or may not be Broad Ripple’s core values but I hope you can see how identifying core values can help frame the kind of behaviors and experiences we want to create here in our beloved little village. The other option is to turn Broad Ripple into a police state, or shut down all the bars or something extreme like that. I would guess few of us want any of those things to happen. So how can we go deeper into this conversation, to identify and live our core values as a community? If we can embrace shared values then it will gradually start to change the way we think, the way we talk and the experiences we create. That is the surest way to address these underlying problems. We need to address the culture and behaviors that created them.