Building Community Connections

June 2013

Issue #4

Building Better Communities Fellows - Community Impact and Addy Award-Winning Partnerships

Nature Play Video screen cap

Nature Play: Responsible Design for Environmental Learning - Research shows that children who play in and explore natural environments adapt conservation and sustainability values as adults. In his book, Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv documents the lack of connections between today’s children and the natural world, coining the term “nature-deficit disorder” to describe the effect of this deficiency on the lives of today’s “wired” generation. The purpose of this BBC project was to create a nature-based playscape for 300 children and staff at the Head Start early childhood education program in Muncie, Indiana and to develop simulation workshops for the training of designers and educators in the use and construction of nature-based play environments. Students designed fourteen activity settings surrounding an outdoor learning and research pavilion. They also conducted six simulations as an exploration and facilitated design/build/plant by the community and students.

Community Partner: Head Start of Delaware
County Faculty Mentor: Pam Harwood
Department: Department of Architecture

The Nature Play design project resulted in $100,000 in funding from the Ball Brothers Foundation and the Community Foundation to build the playground at Delaware County Head Start. Ball State students will continue to refine the design and participate in the construction. This is a great example of the community impact felt through immersive learning projects.


Other Spring 2013 Immersive Learning Projects  

Campus Events and Visits   

Economic Community Development Workshops   

News from the Indianapolis Center   

Visit Indiana: Winner of an Addy Award for Parternship!

Visit Indiana Addy AwardThe Indiana Office of Tourism Development has been working with Ball State University to develop an online travel-motivating video series to showcase on This program was developed 3 years ago as part of Building Better Communities. For this semester's project, the Indiana Glass Trail was chosen. Five different trail assets are featured from around the state. The video was acquired, compiled and edited by students into the final 90-second video product to be utilized in the Trip Ideas section of

Community Partner: Indiana Department of Tourism Development
Faculty Mentors: Rod Smith
Department: Department of Telecommunications

Other Spring 2013 Immersive Learning Projects

Building a Muncie Downtown Business Recruitment Strategy

Photo by Chris Flook - Downtown Muncie

Photo by Chris Flook

The Muncie Downtown Development Board will be announcing a new branding campaign in the spring of 2013 and its Business Recruitment subcommittee is hoping to develop a recruitment package to give to prospective business owners interested in re-locating to downtown Muncie, Indiana. The students canvassed the downtown retailers to determine the number of downtown housing units and their availability and gathered a great deal of demographic information. This information will be used by the Downtown Development Partnership for the development of a brochure to help recruit potential retail prospects.

Community Partner: Muncie Downtown Development Board
Faculty Mentor: Frank Sabatine
Department: Political Science 

Educational Games Inspired by Museums 

Educational Games Inspired by Museums

Watch the video!

Games can provide a motivating context for learning. This project explored the intersection of games, design, fun and learning. A multidisciplinary student team designed and developed an educational board game about the Middle Mississippians at Angel Mounds and video game based on the exhibits at the Indiana State Museum. Students worked on game design, game programming and video game development to develop prototypes.

Community Partner: Indiana State Museum
Faculty Mentors: Paul Gestwicki and Ronald V. Morris
Department: Department of Computer Sciences and Department of History 

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Sustainability Reporting for the City of Bloomington, IN 

This student team created a report that presents the city’s environmental, economic and social impacts as defined by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Sustainability Reporting Guidelines. These guidelines were selected because they can be used by any type of organization and are the dominant ones used by the largest 250 global companies.

Community Partner: City of Bloomington, Indiana
Faculty Mentor: Gwendolen White
Department: Department of Accounting  

iGovernment: A Greener Approach to State Legislation  

After the success of last year's iPad project, the Indiana General Assembly doubled the number of paperless committees to four, including the House Ways and Means committee. During the 2013 session, Ball State students and staff provided personalized iPad support to legislators and submitted their suggestions for improvement to LSA.

Community Partner: Indiana Legislative Services (LSA)
Faculty Mentor: Jonathan Huer
Department: Emerging Technologies and Media Development 

Indy Parks: Teen Environmental Awareness and Participation Research 

Ball State Natural Resource and Environmental Management (NREM) students, with the support of Building Better Communities Fellows, produced project proposals for Indy Parks & Recreation. Acknowledging the need to reach the often overlooked teenage population and provide opportunities that encourage outdoor recreation, environmental stewardship and civic involvement, the City of Indianapolis enjoyed receiving creative and innovative ideas from BSU students.

Community Partner: Indy Parks and Recreation
Faculty Mentor: Amy Gregg
Graduate Teaching Assistant: Amy Rhodes
Department: Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management  

Mentorship and the Innovation Connector: A Gateway for Business Assistance

Innovation Connector Fellows Project

Watch the video!

This team put into action the strategic mentoring initiative it developed in the fall for the Innovation Connector. The Innovation Connector, a small business incubator, is hosting this unique program that brings small business owners and leaders into contact with each other and local resources such as SCORE, the Muncie/Delaware County Chamber of Commerce, and the Business Growth Council, to mention a few. Students organized the entire kickoff event, all publicity, social media, website, and logistics. Students also presented at functions such as Rotary meetings and Muncie on the Move breakfasts, and canvased the community to personally talk with small business owners and leaders and invite them to the event. 

Community Partner: Innovation Connector
Faculty Mentor: Peggy Fisher
Department: Department of Communication Studies 

Modeling Urban Form: Expressions of the Operational State of Design-For-Sustainability  

Modeling of urban form has provided an opportunity to test the potential effect/influence of social, economic and environmental constraints in the development of built environments. To address this problem, students in this project partnered with the Ball State University Academy for Sustainability and used a prototype urban form as a starting point for exploration of the influence and impact of social, economic and environmental criteria. Running through a series of exercises, students built an inventory/history of design-decision-making tied to a deeper understanding of social, economic and environmental factors. Students then developed the more finalized set of integrated expressions of design-for-sustainability at the urban scale.

Community Partner: Ball State University Academy for Sustainability
Faculty Mentor: Robert J. Koester AIA LEED AP
Department: Center for Energy Research/Education/Service; and Department of Architecture 

Project Leadership and Ball State Partnership  

Students partnered with the Project Leadership program to streamline their assessment and tracking processes through data collection and database development. This sociology class engaged in data entry and analysis to create solutions that will help the community partner to build on the program’s success.

Community Partner: Project Leadership (21st Century Scholars Program)
Faculty Mentor: Melinda Messineo
Department: Department of Sociology 

Space Planning and Interior Design of Easter Seals Crossroads

Fellows Video - Space Planning 

Watch the video!

The primary goal of this project was to provide Easter Seals Crossroads with a variety of design choices for the interior of their Indianapolis facility. Students analyzed existing building space, foot traffic patterns, daylight, ergonomics, productivity and other relevant data when drafting a wide assortment of options for the client.  

Community Partner: Easter Seals Crossroads
Faculty Mentor: Reza Ahmadi
Department: Department of Family and Consumer Sciences 

Space Planning and Interior Design of Ontario Systems  

The primary goal of this project was to provide Ontario Systems, LLC with a variety of design choices for the interior of the Muncie facility. The community partner was able to choose design ideas from one project or gather ideas from multiple projects for implementation.

Community Partner: Ontario Systems, LLC
Faculty Mentor: Reza Ahmadi
Department: Department of Family and Consumer Sciences 

The S.P.O.T. Program of Brown County: Serving Pets Outreach Team

Fellows Video - S.P.O.T.  

Watch the video!

Brown County’s pet overpopulation is four times the national average. The population of cats and dogs is a growing problem in Indiana and across the Midwest. The primary cause is due to animal owners failing to spay or neuter their dogs and cats. The Brown County Humane Society has developed the S.P.O.T. Program to combat this issue and to reduce the number of stray animals in Brown County. This outreach program partnered with a low-cost animal clinic to provide education and affordable spay/neuter services to residents. The S.P.O.T. Program had already achieved great success in Brown County, but needed promotional videos created in order to increase awareness and to disseminate the program model nationwide.  

Community Partner: Brown County Humane Society
Faculty Mentor: Chris Flook
Department: Department of Telecommunications  

TEAMwork for Quality Living and Poverty Awareness Year Ambassadors  

TEAMwork for Quality Living (TQL), a nonprofit organization located in Muncie, IN, in conjunction with 51 local organizations, is promoting 2013 as Poverty Awareness Year. TQL is serving as the project manager in this ambitious initiative. This team of students worked on a variety of programs including a social media campaign, an analysis of outdated job descriptions, a Volunteer Appreciation Kit, a Personal Care Items Drive, event evaluations and a balloon launch for Child Abuse Awareness month. Students also received Understanding People in Poverty training, participated in community service, attended a Poverty Simulation, and Cirlces© programs.

Community Partner: TEAMwork for Quality Living (TQL)
Faculty Mentor: Peggy Fisher
Department: Department of Communication Studies  

Voices of Growth: The Changing Food-Scape of East Central Indiana  

In collaboration with Indiana Public Radio, student teams developed storylines, collected interviews, wrote scripts, and edited pieces for final broadcast on IPR focusing on the issues of food, farming and sustainable food systems in East Central Indiana. Given the project’s need for multiple skill sets, students from several disciplines including natural resources, communication studies, journalism, health and nutrition, hospitality, English and anthropology participated. Students interviewed farmers, business owners, residents, and agricultural professionals in ECI to enrich and provide authenticity for their stories.

Community Partner: Indiana Public Radio
Faculty Mentor: Josh Gruver
Graduate Teaching Assistant: Samantha Grover
Department: Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management

Campus Events and Visits

Campus Visit: Chris Jensen – Indiana Bicentennial Commission 

Indiana Bicentennial CommissionBall State University is looking to play an important role in the Indiana Bicentennial celebration during 2016. University personnel have already conducted two planning meetings on campus with Chris Jensen, Executive Director of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission. It is expected that there will be several major projects that the university undertakes to commemorate the state’s 200th year of statehood.

During early February, Jensen met with faculty representatives of the Department of History and Department of Political Science to discuss ideas related to these disciplines. In mid-April, Jensen met with several different groups to explore the engagement of emerging media and social media. The sum of ideas discussed here is presently being considered by the larger Bicentennial Commission.

The Indiana Bicentennial is an important period for all Hoosiers to explore the history of the state and its remarkable diversity. And Ball State University expects to have considerable involvement in both making this widely available and top quality. 

Reception for Dax Norton, New Executive Director of the Indiana Office of Community & Rural Affairs  

Dax Norton ReceptionDax Norton is a 1995 graduate of Ball State University (History and Political Science). He’s also a native of Muncie. Perhaps most importantly, he is the Executive Director of the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and a member of the Governor’s Cabinet. All of this is the basis on which Building Better Communities hosted a campus and community reception for Dax on February 20, 2013 at the E.B. and Bertha C. Ball Center. Dax was joined by his family for this event and a variety of colleagues from East Central Indiana and the university. In his brief remarks before the gathering, Dax spoke about his important statewide responsibilities and the value of his education at the university.  

Campus Visit: Tom Guevara, Assistant Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration  

Tom Guevara VisitDuring mid-March, BBC hosted a two-day visit to Indiana by Tom Guevara, Assistant Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration. On March 11th, Mr. Guevara arrived on campus and met with faculty to discuss entrepreneurship and innovation and its relationship to economic development, the staff of the Entrepreneurship Center and the staff of BBC. The next day, Mr. Guevara’s itinerary in Indianapolis included a session with the leadership of ExactTarget; the leaders of OrthoWorx, the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, DevelopIndy, Conexus Indiana and TechPoint; Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann and her staff; the Board of Directors of the Indiana Venture Club; Town Board leaders in Fishers; and the staff of Launch Fishers. The purpose of this visit was to learn from Mr. Guevara about the priorities of the federal government as they relate to economic development and provide him with a variety of perspectives. It is expected that this visit will be followed-up with continuing discussions about how the federal government can assist the state to pursue entrepreneurship and innovation more aggressively and effectively. 

Campus Visit: Indianapolis Star  

It is no secret that conventional newspapers find themselves in an increasingly volatile market. This situation motivates the leaders of these organizations to explore new perspectives and look into new opportunities. This was the backdrop for a recent campus visit by the leadership team from the Indianapolis Star. And this group had a unique opportunity to learn about a variety of initiatives, alternatives and possibilities from several different university personnel and units.

The Indianapolis Star team included Karen Crotchfelt, Publisher, Doug Wilson, Chief Marketing Officer and VP, Patricia Miller, VP/Digital Strategy and Client Services, Jeff Taylor, Editor and VP, Kevin Poortinga, Managing Editor and Jessica Petersson, VP/Human Resources. This group met with representatives from University Marketing and Communications, Telecommunications, the Department of Marketing and Management, Emerging Technologies and Media Development, the Department of Journalism, the Center for Media Design and the Center for Information and Communication Sciences.

Following-on from the initial meeting, the Star team will be meeting to consider the sum of opportunities that a collaborative effort with the university portends. Subsequent to this, a set of directions for proceeding forward will be discussed. 

Campus Visit: Employ Indy  

Employ Indy LogoOn May 1st, Brooke Huntington, President and CEO of EmployIndy, and Nicole Thompson, Senior Director of Policy and Planning, were on campus to discuss the workforce development challenges in Central Indiana and how the university might assist in meeting them. EmployIndy is the primary workforce development agency in the Greater Indianapolis Region. Over the course of four meetings, Huntington and Thompson met with Jim McAtee and James Mitchell from the Career Center, Jennifer Bott, Assistant Provost for Learning Initiatives, Delaina Boyd and Kelli Huth from BBC and Sushil Sharma and Ray Montagno from the Miller College of Business. The focus for these sessions was on how various university operations and programs could be engaged to support EmployIndy. It is expected that follow-on discussions will take place that explore the details associated with internships for students, various distance learning and online solutions, immersive learning projects and student and faculty research opportunities and possibilities. 

Campus Visit: Indianapolis Children’s Museum 

You may ask, 'why would Ball State university be interested in engaging with the Indianapolis Children’s Museum?'

The Indianapolis Children's Museum is the largest and arguably the best such organization of its kind in the world, and it is, above all else, an educational institution. And it deals with science and art and culture and research. And it touches hundreds of thousands of people each year. And it is consequential to the Indianapolis metropolitan region. In a phrase: it matters.

On May 14th, the leaders of the Indianapolis Children’s Museum visited campus to explore collaboration and better understand the resources of the university. The museum team included Dr. Jeffrey Patchen, President and CEO; Lisa Townsend, VP of Marketing & External Relations; Jennifer Pace Robinson, VP of Experience Development & Family Learning; Anthony Bridgman, Director of Community Initiatives; and David Donaldson, Chief Technology Officer. The group had the opportunity to participate in extended conversations with the BBC economic development team, faculty and staff from the Department of Telecommunications, Department of Sports Management, the BSU Schools Network and Emerging Technologies and Media Development. Among items of particular interest to the museum leaders was the discussion of Unified Media Projects and the Unified Media Laboratory.

In the days ahead, continuing discussions will take place between BBC and the museum. It is expected that collaborative efforts will result from this. 

Campus Visit: Indiana Economic Development Corporation 

Eric Doden, President
Eric Shields , Policy Director

Broadband DiscussionTaking rise from a Ball State University concept paper titled “SMART Communities: Making Rural Cool in Indiana,” Building Better Communities recently hosted planning and discussion visits by two officials of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. On May 17, Eric Doden, President, was on-campus to meet with Dr. Steve Jones, Director, Center for Information and Communication Sciences, and John Fallon to discuss opportunities and possibilities for connecting rural communities throughout Indiana via fiber optic cabling. This was followed by a visit with Dr. Jones and Fallon by Eric Shields, Policy Director at IEDC. The prospect for embracing widespread access to broadband throughout Indiana is of particular importance to the state.

The concept paper was authored by Dr. Jones, Dr. Jay Gillette, Professor, Center for Information and Communication Sciences and Senior Fellow in the university’s Digital Policy Institute, Dick Heupel, Director, BBC’s Community and Economic Development Division, and Fallon. This approach is one of several major initiatives to align the technical expertise and resources of the university with statewide opportunities and derives from the institution’s strategic commitment to advance Indiana.  

Outreach & Engagement Retreat  

On May 29th, Provost Terry King convened a mini-retreat on university outreach and engagement. This session, attended by 38 faculty, staff and administrators, took rise from the institution’s commitment to advancing Indiana. This theme is prominent in the university’s strategic plan, which spans 2012-2017.

There were many and varied perspectives discussed at the retreat. In addition to a presentation by President Jo Ann Gora focused on exploring the strategic plan context for university outreach and engagement, the retreat agenda focused on the role of Building Better Communities in supporting this, the general timetable for developing the institution’s statewide engagement plan and the focus of outreach and engagement efforts in Muncie.

Ball State University is poised to aggressively pursue projects, initiatives, programs and services that are beneficial and consequential to Indiana. This retreat took the first steps toward broadening this commitment internally and engaging others in this important mission. 

Campus Visit: OrthoWorx  

When OrthoWorx, the Warsaw, Indiana-based advocacy organization for the orthopedic manufacturing industry, decided it would benefit from a closer relationship with higher education institutions in the state, one of the first places it went was to Ball State University. That decision was rooted in two factors. First, the university represents particular research and academic strengths that connect directly to the organization’s primary interests. Second, the principals of OrthoWorx—Sheryl Conley, CEO, and Brad Bishop, Executive Director—are alumni with an insider’s view and appreciation for the institution. And so began a unique relationship between an important industry advocacy organization in Indiana and a state university.

In early 2012, Building Better Communities issued the report “Community Attributes Study: Warsaw, Indiana.” This document portrayed the conclusions deriving from more than sixty conversations and interviews with business and community leaders, elected officials young professionals and other residents. The focus of the study was on the perspectives of the respondents in relation to various dimensions of community composition and life. Sharon Canaday, BBC Associate Project Manager, authored the report.

During March, 2013, Conley and Bishop returned to their alma mater for follow-on discussions about how the university and their organization can work together. These sessions included President Jo Ann Gora, Provost Terry King and several BBC staff members. Among other items, these meetings focused on an emerging industry-higher education advisory body and particular interests in the university’s Human Performance Laboratory and Biomechanics Laboratory. Conley and Bishop are expected to return to campus this summer for extended tours of these facilities and discussions with faculty researchers. 

John Fallon & Bob Koester visit with the Energy Folks  

NIPSCO 100 years logoThe Indiana Demand Side Management Coordination Committee, a statewide group comprised primarily of energy industry representatives, is on the lookout for ways to save energy. The group is key to meeting statutory energy demand reductions in the state. That’s why they are more than casually interested in Ball State University’s proposed Indiana Green Campus Network Project. And that’s why Bob Koester, Director, Center for Energy Research, Education and Service (CERES), and John Fallon met with the group on March 4, 2013 at the offices of the Northern Indiana Public Service Company in Indianapolis.

At the invitation of Alison Becker, Manager of Regulatory Policy at NIPSCO, and Jeff Reed, Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, Koester presented the IGCN project to the Committee as an effort that will simultaneously save considerable energy in the state and sensitize and engage students and others on Indiana’s higher education campuses in energy saving projects and initiatives. By virtue of this approach, students will emerge from this experience with an understanding of energy conservation methods and approaches and practical experience in implementing them.

The Committee, and the energy companies that comprise them, is considering the merits of the IGCN. CERES and the university are hoping to secure funding to fully implement this initiative. 

Economic Community Development Workshops

Community Development Course  

Building Better Communities held the Community Development Course on May 6 & 7, 2013 at the Ball State Indianapolis Center. The twenty participants represented a wide variety of backgrounds, ranging from local elected officials to grant writers to community volunteers.

Participants were guided through a four-phase framework for community development. BBC staff members, Dick Heupel and Sharon Canady, along with Strategic Development Group, Inc. President, Thayr Richey, served as course mentors. Sessions included Tools and Resources for Success, Community Visioning, Understanding Collaborations, Philanthropy and Community Development, and Using Traditional and Nontraditional Sources of Data.

The course received very positive feedback. One participant noted, “The CDC was a wonderful experience that provided significant food for thought regarding both my professional goals and the objectives and goals of my organizations, all in the context of dialogue with peers.”

News from the Indianapolis Center

Bowen Center/Indianapolis Center Partnership 

Ball State University’s Bowen Center of Public Affairs is training 24 participants at the University’s Fishers Center at Saxony in the yearlong Certified Public Manager (CPM) accreditation program. The program is geared towards government and/or municipal leaders and offers public managers and their supervisory personnel an exclusive and intimate training opportunity. It provides a curriculum of familiar public management theories and intensive studies to apply the best practices at its foundation. The course relies on leaders from around the state and is customized to capture Indiana’s challenges. The Bowen Center for Public Affairs is a leading provider of professional development training for local government officials. It’s highly-acclaimed and nationally-accredited Indiana Certified Public Manager Program is the only management training program in Indiana specifically designed for government managers.

For more information, visit or
Twitter: @BowenCenterBSU