The Greenways Foundation advocates for trails and greenways in Indiana. In 2019, the Foundation determined it was time to advocate for better trail-to-town connections as well. They hired Cycle Forward to host six interactive trail town workshops throughout the state. Many of the participants were learning about trail towns for the very first time.
Dates: October – November 2019
Client: The Greenways Foundation
Location: Carmel, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Portage, South Bend, and Terre Haute, Indiana
Outdoor Assets: Various Indiana multi-use trails
Project Type: Community Engagement, Workshop Facilitation, Trail Towns
After three decades of trails advocacy, the Greenways Foundation wanted to extend the conversation to how communities can better connect to their trails and greenways. Cycle Forward was hired to host half day workshops in six locations throughout the state. The workshops were designed to reach and inspire decision makers representing state agencies, municipalities, regional planning bodies, trail groups, and business and tourism bodies.
The workshops included a blend of presentations, small group activities, and large group discussion. Each one started with a small group exercise about the components of an ideal community. This is because vibrant, healthy communities are central to conversations about trails and greenways. With this framing, the rest of the meeting introduced examples of successful trail town initiatives, community best practices, and potential paths forward for Indiana trail communities. Discussions and activities centered on the role that trails play in communities, regional assets and collaboration opportunities, and the triple bottom line of trails.
Each workshop had its own flavor. In South Bend, we gathered around a wood stove in a cozy park building. The Portage workshop ended with a taco buffet. In Fort Wayne, we took a celebratory bike ride around the city. But what the gatherings had in common was community members and regional decision makers coming together to imagine a future that includes fully leveraging their trails and greenways.
Six, half-day interactive workshops in different regions of Indiana
Three of Indiana’s neighboring states (Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio) have a trail town presence. Indiana will likely end up with a program of its own, whether a state-operated or trail-specific program. More than 200 people attended the workshop series. Strategically locating them in different regions around the state has resulted in Indiana trail and community advocates sharing in a deepened understanding of trail towns. This was an important step in laying the groundwork for a future program.