10 Reasons I love Indianapolis.

Two weeks ago I returned from an epic photography related adventure/excursion that took me all over Africa, India, and to Malaysia and Thailand (www.thirstproject.org)  So, needless to say, I really wasn't in all that much of a hurry to get back to Indy where I knew that I had a zillion things to do (the tasks NEVER END!!!!!), people to see and talk to and projects and laundry and bills and what have you. Then I remembered that I was going to be going back to Indy which really is a great city with loads of great things going on and awesome people and shows and parties and camp-fires and s'mores and art shows and coffee and friends and I was reminded that though we may not have the ocean or 70 degree weather year round, that I really love this city - that there are some really amazing and creative and alive people who reside here - then I got super happy and couldn't wait to get off the plane and see everyone and my family and tell stories and get back into life. I was in Fountain Square yesterday waiting to meet up with some clients for a photo session and met these two random traveling musicians and struck up a conversation because a. they had an accordion b. they had really neat suitcases they had spread all over the sidewalk and because I get easily distracted by shiny things I couldn't stop myself from talking with them. They told me that they played a show at Chick-fil-A, which I thought was really weird because, really, who does that? They also told me that they were from PA and were just traveling through and heard that Fountain Square was great so just turned up and I decided to take their picture. >> HERE

It was such a random and great interaction and I just kept looking around and thinking about how much I really do like living in Indianapolis, and here's a few reasons why (in NO particular order).

10. There is this coffee shop in Fountain Square that I call the "Cheers" of coffee shops because everyone that goes there and works there knows each other and not just like, 'Hey how's it going, let me get your coffee' type of deal, but everyone is friends and hangs out and talks about life and high fives each other and cares about each other and holds each other's babies and it's such a great place that me and Courtney often wonder how we ever lived without it. >> you can find them here: www.cfcoffeecompany.com

9. This past Friday I got to chat with an awesome mover and shaker here in Indy named John Clark. He is a dreamer and doer and rallys people and can be found here: www.provocate.org. I got to talk with him about how he is in the process of gathering people here in Indy engage possibilities and plans of reshaping the social consciousness of Indy so that it's known as a place that has strong involvement in the international community and pushes for social change... he is having a summit in December and inviting everyone in Indianapolis that is currently working on international clean water initiatives to gather and connect and discuss ways to engage our community with the water crisis. I like this. A lot.

8. Then there's the Harrison Center for the Arts. It's a collection of artists that reside at 16th and Delaware and it's such a great place. The HCA artists and staff love the community and care about it and care about people and each other and they use art to bring people together and do great socially minded things all over the place. It's such a great place, that though they won't tell you, people come from all over (including other countries) to visit and learn how to use the HCA as a model for non-profit art/community involvement. I have a studio space at the HCA and aside from the fact that they are totally cool with me spray painting the floor hot pink, they genuinely have taken interest in each artist that creates there. And for some reason, that means more than anything to me. www.harrisoncenter.org

7. There is this crazy group of creative people who have banded together and started to convince even the most jaded Indianapolis resident that living here is the best thing there ever was. They are hilarious and brilliant and did I mention hilarious? They have the most amazing logo I've ever seen and have variety shows and basically channel their inner seven-year-old selves and make you think that all of life should just be lived as one big party. Check them out: www.knownostranger.com

6. I have a really awesome neighbor who is really good at having fun and making mixed drinks and telling stories and porch sitting and fixing anything that could ever be broken and has a great DVD collection that he likes to share and always has sidewalk chalk on hand. He also comes up with really great ideas like having water balloon fights and going to the taco truck and listening to great tunes and loves old, good, country-music. He even shared his tomatoes with us all summer. He doesn't have a website or anything, but if you ever come over, you have to meet him. He is the absolute best.

5. There is this amazing Mexican restaurant called La Parada on New York that is one of the best places in the city and has mind blowing guacamole. The couple that owns it are obviously from Mexico and are so happy and friendly that I sort of wish that I worked there. They have a little baby named Alejandro that has the longest eye lashes and is so happy all the time and just hangs out behind (actually under) the front counter in his crib and plays. Now that he's bigger, he just wonders around the restaurant (that has about 9 tables). I remember this one time when he was really little and his dad walked over and handed him to me because he needed to sweep the floor and I loved that Alejandro's dad didn't ask if I wanted to hold the baby, he just gave him to me. I really don't know why more places aren't like that. They don't have a website, but are located at New York and State and you can/should google them.

4. There is an organization called Outreach Inc., and it's ran by a guy named Eric who is a total rock star and loves his family and staff and other people. They work with young homeless youth here in Indy and have been around for a while. What amazes me is that they somehow have managed to find that perfect balance of constantly moving forward and impacting kids while doing gritty, emotionally intense work - without becoming tired, run-down, or jaded. I like them so much. www.outreachinc.org

3. Heartland Film Festival is SO AWESOME. A few months back I sat with the founder (who happens to be my BFF's dad) over hookah and I got to hear the entire back story of how Heartland came to life and it was absolutely mind-blowing. It's so great to know that there is a film festival that has committed itself to seeking out inspiring and positive films and giving out awards for it. They put on a pretty fabulous gala as well. www.trulymovingpictures.org

2. I've become obsessed with refugees from Burma lately and the idea of Burma changing politically and the government not sucking and being douche-bags and committing genocide and other ridiculous human-rights offences on the regular (see www.indyrefugee.com). There is a great org. here in Indy called Exodus Refugee Inc. that works with refugees that move here from places all over the world. They have a big and tough job and I can't imagine all the hurdles they have with cross-cultural transitioning and emotional trauma with refugees. They have been really helpful with the project I've been working on to tell the stories of Burmese refugees. They connected me with a family that had just moved to Indy from Burma (via Malaysia) and even connected me with some of their friends that live in Malaysia and work with refugees so I could go there and do more interviews to further the project. They can be found here: www.exodusrefugee.org

1. This may not qualify for a reason that I love Indianapolis, but may be more like just a bonus of living in the city, but I love that I live exactly 22 minutes from the airport. This means that I don't even have to pre-arrange airport pick-ups and drop-offs. I can just get off the plane and call someone to come and get me. By the time I get my suitcases and get outside, there is no wait. This also works out well as I usually don't pack for trips less than 3 hours before departure.