While just hanging out with my HCLA 2023 classmates is always a great time, rain or shine, I was HAPPY-HAPPY that our final class day was all hot and sunny. It was a beautiful day in Hamilton County!

Hands down, this was my favorite day, because art, recreation, and culture are how I spend vacations and it’s what stirs my soul. Our final class day had something for everyone, but I was surprised to learn that there is so much more to amazing art, culture, and recreation in the area.

My Top 5 Surprises

  1. The county parks are throwbacks to how I experienced parks growing up. I love their mission “reserve and provide high-quality, passive parks and facilities” because it reminds me of childhood when we would show up to a park, meet other kids, and make-up something to do and play. I can’t wait to walk the gravel trails in Coxhall Park.

2. Conner Prairie economic impact and the strategy it’s willing to take to be sustainable made me a new fan. I visited the museum for the first time in December 2022. Now, I want to become a supporter because I saw how Conner Prairie is a place ethnically diverse people groups can trust and feel welcome. Then there’s this: our local living museum hosts 347,254 attendees and has an $33 million economic impact statewide –WOW!

3. Asian immigrant communities in Hamilton County felt the impact of the COVID-related anti-Asian bigotry and as a result have not “bounced back” the same as the general community. Speaking to our breakout group, an HCLA alum who identifies as Asian-American said, since COVID “collectively, Asian Americans have become more wary and some have even become fearful of going out.”

4. Indiana ranks #35 in spending on the arts, so the fact that the Noblesville, Carmel, and Fishers have an art scene shows the interest of the community, commitment of leadership, and the positive economic impact (or ROI) it has.

5. I could have written this entire blog about The Center for the Performing Arts campus. Basically, the Palladium is cooler than I thought it was already!… Oh yeah, and the ukulele, the small four-stringed guitar of Hawaiian origin, is a thing around here!