Reconnecting to Our Waterways
Reconnecting to Our Waterways (ROW) is a collective impact initiative that has worked purposefully since 2012 to change the quality of life and ecology along Indianapolis waterways and surrounding neighborhoods. ROW has been able to convene community partners to enhance quality of life through innovation, analysis, cultural advancement and investment along Indy waterways and neighborhoods. We have walked alongside communities to discover and celebrate Indy’s waterways as a community asset.
We envision individuals, families, and organizations engaged, nourished, and inspired by equitable cultural advancement, environmental, educational, and economic opportunities along the waterways.
ROW convenes community partners to enhance quality of life through innovation, analysis, cultural advancement and investment along Indy waterways and in neighborhoods.
Walk alongside communities to discover and celebrate Indianapolis’ waterways as a community asset.
Reconnecting to Our Waterways (ROW) is focused on the six major waterways in Marion County: the Central Canal, Fall Creek, Little Eagle Creek, Pleasant Run, Pogue’s Run, and White River. Our focus area is a 10- minute walk (a half-mile) around each waterway, and a connectivity area of a 20-minute bike ride (3 miles) around each waterway. The initial phase of the initiative is focused on six neighborhoods selected because of their strong community engagement network and existing relationships with key initiative partners.
ROW is focused on holistic solutions that integrate six related elements. Each element has a taskforce to identify and support projects connected to each waterway.
ROW History and Background
In October 2010, Indianapolis and the Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) hosted the CEO’s for Cities’ Livability Challenge, where national experts and local Indianapolis leaders convened with the goal to generate ten big ideas for how cities can provide ever-present access to art, good design, and nature. One of the big ideas for every city to consider was “reconnect to your waterways.”
Brian Payne, president and CEO of CICF, and other Indianapolis leaders promoted the Livability Challenge ideas to Indianapolis stakeholders throughout 2011. In late December, 2011, Sherrie Bossung, vice president of the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation and the executive in charge of Lilly’s annual Global Day of Service, met with Payne and the idea of ROW was born.
Prior to the Livability Challenge, six Indianapolis urban neighborhoods created their own Quality-of-Life Plans via the Great Indy Neighborhoods Initiative (GINI), launched in 2006. GINI was a set of initiatives established to support neighbors working across traditional boundaries to collaborate on issues affecting their neighborhoods.
When ROW established in early 2012 it decided to align with Quality-of-Life communities that are along waterways to build on their collabrations and goals. ROW is structured as a collective impact initative to further leverage the tremendous knowledge and work in partner communties, and with its many mission algined partner organizations.