You may have seen my mention of People for Urban Progress in my Urbanized Summit presentation.
People for Urban Progress have set quite an ambitious and broad mission statement for themselves:
PEOPLE FOR URBAN PROGRESS (PUP) is an Indianapolis-based 501c3 non-profit organization that promotes and advances public transit, environmental awareness, and urban design. We stand for project-based urban progress. We're an idea incubator, design center, and do-tank.
What’s impressive is that these guys do practical projects (they’re sewing RCA Dome fabric wallets in their office while I interview founder, Michael Bricker) while keeping eyes, ears, hearts and minds open to any other projects that may further their pursuit of the betterment of Indianapolis.
When the RCA Dome was being demolished, People for Urban Progress recognized that the roof fabric was a valuable resource that had a lot more to offer than costing the city tens of thousands of dollars to send to landfill. Beyond saving city government budget dollars and landfill space, PUP’s project to reclaim and use the fabric also offers locals and visitors the opportunity to literally carry a piece of Indianapolis with them in the form of wallets and bags of all sizes made from the salvaged fabric.
The recognition of unconventional resources is remarkable, but it’s the wonderful way this project promotes, supports and possibly even creates home town pride that really gets me going. I read about this project last year, and it was one of the stories that inspired me to pursue my curiosity for the Midwest and start this project.
The reallocation of this resource and recognition of its importance to Indianapolis’ identity is now being even further developed; the roof fabric (yes, there’s that much of it!) is being used for shade structures throughout the city, including a vegetable washing pavilion and outdoor dining room for the Concord Farm.
PUP also encourages Indy pride by selling a range of T-shirts promoting the local area code and city flag. Though Indy is a city with a lot philanthropic funding opportunities, PUP is interestingly completely funded by product sales.
But it’s not just about fashion; though their office area is a very fashionably open, airy and well lit loft space in a historic and up and coming neighborhood.
PUP has been tirelessly working on the development of a carshare scheme for Indianapolis for 3 years; we’re just waiting for the risk-adverse city government to get it going already.
But really PUP is about supporting local ideas turning into local actions. They just happen to have had the first few ideas they’re pursuing.
You may notice a connection to Saving Cities' mission of not just supporting ideas, but the people behind them.
This is one of my major findings from my time in the Midwest - there are people with inspiration and ideas here as well as neighbors, cheap retail rent and market room to make it happen.
From the People for Urban Progress’ website:
We aim to:
- Bring new ideas and services to the city.
- Demystify design for communities.
- Be an idea incubator and action-based design center.
- Facilitate cross-organization collaboration among designers, CDCs, non-profits, universities, foundations, and the private sector.
- Position Indianapolis as a leading national center for design and urban progress.
- Change the city by DOING.