Reconnecting to Our Waterways (ROW) is a grassroots initiative designed to catalyze and bundle neighborhood quality-of-life initiatives, neighborhoods assets, and opportunity for residents living in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

The Vision:

The people of Indianapolis will be reconnected to our major waterways; embracing cultural, economic and educational opportunities along these revitalized community spaces, and in the neighborhoods around them. We envision organizations, families, and individuals nourished and inspired by this natural beauty that has been overlooked for too long.

The Goal:

Enrich the livability of Indianapolis and the well-being of residents by generating new and sustainable opportunities to learn about and experience art, nature, and beauty along targeted natural waterways and the neighborhoods around them.

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.

Neighborhood Quality of Life and/or Strategic Plans can be found in “Resource Library” by waterway/neighborhood.

ROW was established in early 2012 based on the Livability Challenge and GINI quality-of-life planning. ROW is structured as a Collective Impact organization to further leverage the tremendous knowledge and work in selected neighborhoods, which include: