UPDATE: The team placed fifth in the “Social Revitalization/Neighborliness” category for Regional Best Neighborhood Program for the Muncie IDEA Conference.

“The sessions at the conference were so interesting, and I learned several new things that we are going to put into play at our next IDEA Conference,” Krista said. 

Two Office of Community Engagement (OCE) team members are in Texas this week for the Neighborhoods USA (NUSA) Conference.

The 48th annual conference, which brings together people/organizations committed to building and strengthening neighborhoods, is in El Paso May 24-27.

Heather Williams, OCE associate director and manager of the Building Better Communities Initiative, and Krista Flynn, OCE program coordinator, will be joined by Megan “Mo” Orbin of Muncie Action Plan to present “Neighborhoods ARP Funding: Participatory Budgeting in Action” at the conference.

A description of the presentation, from the NUSA program, says “The City of Muncie, IN, allocated $1 million to help combat the effects of COVID-19 within Muncie’s neighborhoods. The process that developed to ensure the equitable distribution of those funds focused on residents’ voices and meeting the needs of each individual neighborhood association.”

“We submitted an application to present at the national neighborhoods conference because I felt the work we are doing in Muncie to oversee a participatory budgeting process for neighborhoods ARP funding can be a model for other communities to replicate,” Heather said. “I am excited to share this work and discuss the possibilities with folks from across the nation.”

Krista said she was “excited to be attending the NUSA Conference this year.”

“I have heard about this conference for several years from Heather and Muncie Neighborhood Associations attending in the past,” she said. “This year not only am I getting to attend the conference for the first time, but I also get to help with the presentation of a session. It is exciting to know that things we are doing in Muncie, IN, is cutting edge enough to be a part of a national conference.”

This will be Heather’s fourth time attending NUSA.

“My first trip was to Omaha, Nebraska in 2017,” she said. “I nominated Mary Dollison for the ‘Who’s Who in America’s Neighborhoods’ award to celebrate her unfailing passion and commitment to the Whitley Community Council. Mary won the honor alongside Birmingham, AL, mayor William A. Bell and Omaha Nebraska’s Rondae Hill. I also nominated the Whitely Community Council for a ‘Neighborhood of the Year Award’ for their Paint the Park project in McCulloch Park. They were successful in their bid, placing first in the ‘Beautification and Improved Infrastructure’ category. I also attended in 2019 to present an award nomination for the 8twelve Coalition’s Small Sparks, which placed second in the ‘Best Neighborhood Program’ category.

The trio (Krista, Heather and Mo), along with Mitch Isaacs (executive director of Shafer Leaders

hip Academy, Muncie Action Pan board president) and Dustin Clark (Muncie Action Plan, City of Muncie), will also give a 15-minute presentation on the IDEA Conference, which is up for an award.

“We have been providing the IDEA Conference to the neighborhoods for 8 years now,” Krista noted. “It is an awesome conference, and we believe it has made a positive impact for Muncie and the folks that live here. The group that puts on the conference is from a wide array of organizations and we are being recognized for being able to work together to provide great things!”

Neighborhoods, USA (NUSA) is a national, non-profit organization committed to building and strengthening neighborhood organizations. Created in 1975 to share information and experiences used to build stronger communities, NUSA continues to encourage networking and information-sharing to facilitate the development of partnerships among neighborhood organizations, government, and the private sector for the ultimate goal of strengthening every neighborhood.