By: Zach Gonzalez
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By: Zach Gonzalez
Jazz. Rhythm and blues. Hip hop. Rap. Rock ‘n’ roll. Soul. Country.
Since 2015, the 8twelve Coalition has worked alongside residents, businesses and nonprofits to improve the quality of life in the South Central and Thomas Park/Avondale neighborhoods. Coalition Coordinator Darbi Strahle said many of the coalition’s efforts start with meaningful conversations and relationships.
Sasha Donati was 8 when her family fled Liberia’s civil war and landed in Kansas City, Missouri. Although she loved the freedom and barbecue of the Midwest, she missed the culture and flavors of West Africa.
Yvonne Thompson, executive director for the Muncie Human Rights Commission, talks about her role to promote equal opportunity and equal rights for all. The Indiana native encourages Ball State students to connect with the Muncie community in meaningful ways.
Ball State senior Hailey Hess talks about navigating college with an autoimmune disease. She is among the growing number of students who are working through barriers and needs to achieve academic and personal success.
Ball State students Patrick Phillips and Carter Jones discuss how music has created a meaningful community in Muncie. The two share their early life in music (1:35) and their inspirations (8:08). They talk about how they met (13:45) and how they balance school and music (16:20). They also touch on the connections they’ve made at Ball State (20:55) and vital relationships in the Muncie community (29:18).
At 18, Malia Sandberg left her home in Daleville, Indiana, for a mission trip in Mexico. “The experience awakened something in me,” she said. From then on, she was drawn to multicultural people and experiences, particularly to the underserved and overlooked.
Growing up, Andy Ray didn’t have everything he wanted, but he had everything he needed. The Muncie native loved sports and camping. He was an average student who spent free time with friends. In high school, he began drinking at parties, but alcohol became a way to cope after his girlfriend and parents died within a few years of each other.
The Thomas Park/Avondale Neighborhood Association requested nearly $65,000 of American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds to support the work of our city’s neighborhood associations.
The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine every season to prevent sickness and missing work and school. If you get the flu, the vaccine can make symptoms less severe and reduce the risk of hospitalization.
Corie Hess miscarried twice before giving birth to her first son, Alex, in 2017. A year later, she found out she was pregnant again, but she lost the baby near the end of her first trimester. “It was devastating,” she said, but the trauma had just begun.
When students bow their heads and step onto mats for judo training at Muncie’s Ross Community Center, they learn far more than martial arts. Students gain discipline, self-confidence and strength along with social connection and problem-solving skills.
LGBTQ+ individuals in Muncie have found support and community at the Mark III Tap Room and through organizations like Muncie OUTreach, Muncie Pride Network and Spectrum. Each location or organization serves a distinct purpose, but advocates are working toward collaboration among them.
The aroma of brisket cooking on the grill fills the air as classic rock booms from a makeshift sound system along Ebright St. in Muncie’s Industry neighborhood. Children chase each other through the grass between booths with information from Open Door Health Services, the Family Resource Center, Boys and Girls Clubs of Muncie, and the BSU Counseling Practicum Clinic, among other community resources.
Paxon Vong opened Thai Kitchen 20 years ago to offer Muncie a diverse fusion of Southeast Asian cuisine. The native of Thailand makes every dish to order, with notes of sweet and sour, salty and spicy flavors paired in soups, stews, noodles and rice dishes.
Muncie has become a canvas for striking stylistic murals on building exteriors across town. Their vibrant colors and inspiring images uplift neighborhoods and encourage residents to slow down and admire their surroundings. Some murals invite meaningful conversations about Muncie’s heritage and history.
In 2023, the 8twelve Coalition’s Small Sparks grant program funded 16 projects from residents (both youth and adults) that focused on community engagement, health and wellness, youth activities and more. Highlights from the 2023 grant recipients include new food storage solutions in front of the Common Market, new patio furniture at Rosebud Coffee House, fairy garden kits and care kits for kids in crisis. This is one of their stories of change:
Rosebud Coffee House opened its doors in the Thomas Park/Avondale neighborhood in early December 2020. Owner Tiara Hicks wanted to covert an old bank branch building to create a safe and welcoming environment for the community to hang out and work.
When the pandemic closed the doors of thousands of businesses in 2020, bicycle shops were declared essential and remained open. Bicycling offered an opportunity to spend time outside and get some exercise. Three months into COVID-19 lockdown, Hardin’s Bike Shop had sold nearly everything in their store.