New Albany Renewal

New Albany Renewal is intended to serve as a repository for ideas relevant to preserving and restoring historic buildings, cleaning up neighboorhoods, revitalizing downtown, and improving the quality of life in New Albany, Indiana.

Location: New Albany, Indiana

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Community Gardens

In many places community gardens have had a tremendous positive impact. The rewards of a community garden are many:

  • Beautifies a neighborhood and generates community pride and involvement.
  • Helps people learn to work together in a positive way.
  • Provides access to healthy food.
  • Connects participants of all ages and abilities to nature.
  • Improves the environment because it cuts down on air pollution.
  • Makes a neighborhood safer by reducing the number of vacant lots and derelict property.

A popular type of community garden is one where a parcel of land is divided into small plots that individuals can use to grow their own mini vegetable garden. This allows the participants to do their own thing on their own schedule and at the same time meet new people and develop relationships with their neighbors.

Another approach is for a group to work together to grow one large garden. This is often done as a program for children to teach them about the environment and to introduce them to healthy foods by taking advantage of the idea that kids will be more willing to eat vegetables if they grow and/or cook the foods themselves.

A community garden isn't always a vegetable garden. It can also be a flower garden or a small landscaped area that adds beauty to a neighborhood or offers a queit place for residents to sit or walk.

There is a wealth of information available on the web about community gardens. The American Community Garden Association is a good starting place. Their website has links to many other community garden sites.

Eat Locally

A quick check of the website for the farmers market indicates that this Saturday is opening day for the season.

According to the 2004 National Farmers Market Directory there are more than 3,700 farmers markets across the country.

There are many great reasons to shop at a farmers market:
The food is fresher and tastes better.
  • Local food is usually safer even if it's not organic.
  • Small-scale family farms are able to grow interesting variteties which taste better.
  • Farmers markets help local farmers thrive.
  • Farmers markets keep money in the local economy.
  • Buying locally grown food reduces the energy that is expended freezing, refrigerating, and trucking food.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Dining Downtown

As the downtown New Albany dining scence develops the next challenge could be how to keep the diners downtown and get them into other businesses.

Paducah, KY seems to be a city that is on the right track to revitalizing their downtown. Here is an idea from Paducah.

Between May and September, the Downtown After Dinner event runs every Saturday night from 7 to 10 pm. Horse-drawn carriage rides, antique car shows, and live entertainment bring people downtown to experience the festivities and have dinner at one of the downtown restaurants.

Bread and Milk

One of the basics that a neighborhood needs is a grocery store. In New Albany several of our older neighborhoods are served by Daily's 24-Hour Food Mart.

Daily's fills a big need for people who don't have dependable transportation, for older people who aren't up to walking the big stores, and for residents who need something quick and close by.

As long as you don't want fresh produce you can find the basics at Daily's as well as a few items that you might not expect them to carry. The do have balsamic vinegar and anchovies! And where else could you do your grocery shopping in your pajamas and not have anyone so much as bat an eye. (No. It wasn't me shopping in my pajamas.)

Even though I know that my need for bread, milk, and Diet Coke is being met an item in the November/December 2004 issue of Preservation caught my eye.

Joe and Kim Grant, residents of a historic neighborhood in San Diego which had undergone a renaissance bought a rundown liquor store in the still dilapidated adjacent commercial district. After rehabilitating the building they opened Grant's Marketplace a vendor of wines, bread, olive oils, cold cuts, cheeses, coffee, jams, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

I put one of those on my wish list right under ice cream shop.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Making Statistics Work for You

I recently ran across a blurb concerning high school graduation rates in the Midwest. Statistics for high school graduation rates as a percentage of possible graduates, 2002, were obtained from the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

Midwest Graduation Rates
  • North Dakota 85%
  • Iowa 85%
  • Wisconsin 85%
  • Minnesota 84%
  • Nebraska 83%
  • Kansas 78%
  • Ohio 78%
  • Michigan 78%
  • South Dakota 76%
  • Missouri 76%
  • Illinios 74%
  • Indiana 72%

Indiana doesn't compare very well to the rest of the region but still manages to come in above the 71% average for the entire country. New Jersey tops the list for the country with an 89% rate.

According to the New Albany-Floyd County schools website their graduation rate for 2005 was 96%. Even though I cannot determine from the information that I was considering whether the local rate was calculated in exactly the same way it looks like we are exceeding the average not only for our state and our region but we are exceeding the highest state graduation rate.

Just remember, if you are in need of a negative statistic, our state has the lowest graduation rate in the Midwest and nationally we are barely above average.

On the other hand, if you want to remind someone of one of the good things about our community you might refer to our school system's 96% graduation rate which is higher than the highest state graduation rate in the country.

And that concludes today's lesson on making statistics work for you.