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As Way Opens

Do you know the history of First Friend’s neighborhood? (Part 2)

In my last As Way Opens, I shared some of the early history of the location of our current Meetinghouse. This week, I want to take us back to the 1950s. The Glendale neighborhood was about to put the American suburban lifestyle on the map in Indianapolis, and First Friends would be showing up just in the nick of time.

First, let me give you some background. The Glendale area which is also geographically known as the Keystone-Kessler neighborhoods did not see significant development until after the First World War. Artificial barriers such as the Monon Rail Road and the State Fairgrounds kept residential areas from expanding north out of downtown. After the Great Depression of 1929 very little was residentially developed. That is until the 1930s, when apartments began being built just south of 46th street. 

Demographically, our neighborhood has experienced significant change. From the 1950s through the 1980s there were great shifts in the racial character of the area. Large numbers of African American households moved into the southern regions of our neighborhood north of the Indiana State Fairgrounds. 49th to 53rd streets were filled with apartment complexes for multi-family and transitional housing (today, this area is experiencing a great deal of gentrification and change once again). Predominately white, single-family, and duplex housing occupied the northwestern and north-central portions, as well as, the northeastern section where our Meeting is located.

The Keystone-Kessler intersection saw major development in the post-World War II period.  Proximity of upper- and middle-class post-war auto-oriented suburbs, such as Glendale on the northside of Indianapolis, stimulated the development of several auto related enterprises on Keystone Ave. including car dealerships and open-air shopping centers. Our neighborhood was known for some of the earliest “strip commercial” development in Indianapolis. In 1956, just prior to this residential and commercial boom, First Friends moved into the neighborhood. This would be considered “really good timing.”

Our first years in our new Glendale location would witness one of the most significant changes to Indianapolis. Within a stone’s throw of our new Meetinghouse would be one of the region’s first shopping malls. Glendale Mall was built in 1958 as an open-air shopping center. It was designed by mall pioneer Victor Gruen and Associates. The 685,000 square foot mall was a premier retail center in Indianapolis and boasted an impressive array of upscale retailers. Until Glendale’s construction, most major department stores in Indianapolis were located downtown. Glendale was frequently the first local branch store away from the established flagship locations downtown.

In the 1960s, Glendale Mall was converted to a covered mall seeing even more success. Sadly, in the 1970s a new fashion mall began being built just 3.2 miles north of Glendale off of Keystone. The Fashion Mall at Keystone would slowly draw away Glendale’s better-known tenants and be the demise of the glory days of Glendale Mall.  Since then, it has gone through many changes including its current Glendale Town Center which has less of a mall and more of a community persona.

This leaves me questioning what is next for our neighborhood. Already people are describing us  as being located in “extended Broad Ripple.” With the draw of urban living, bike lanes, community-friendly spaces, and opportunities for small entrepreneurs to start artisan and craft businesses, we may be on the verge of exciting times once again. Keep your eyes open and be aware of your neighborhood.   

Sources: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glendale_Town_Center,  “Keystone-Kessler Neighborhood Plan,” November, 1985, and https://newspapers.library.in.gov/.


Grace and peace,


Joys & Concerns

Congratulations to our own Nichole M, a German teacher at Hamilton Southeastern High School for recently receiving the Deutsch macht Spaß (German is fun) Grant  from the American Association of Teachers of German to help promote German learning and engagement in and out of the classroom. She was awarded a little more than $300 to fund a project for her German students this semester. This story was also featured in a recent edition of the newspaper “Current in Fishers” and you can find the full article here: https://goo.gl/irZbmw (thanks to Amy P for the scan of the article). Congratulations, Nichole!

Quaker-Affiliated Organizations

IFCL Meeting ~ Everyone is invited to the next Indiana Friends Committee on Legislation (IFCL) meeting on Saturday, October 6 from 9-11am in the First Friends Parlor. IFCL is in the midst of restructuring and this is an open meeting to any who might be interested in IFCL or in giving feedback. Feel welcome to contact Diana Hadley (Dhadley@franklincollege.edu), Phil Goodchild (goodch713@aol.com) or Ed Morris (emorri@earthlink.net) with questions or suggestions regarding IFCL initiatives. We hope to see you there.

Announcements, Reports, & Opportunities


All are invited on Sunday, October 14, to hear C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison, authors of Slow Church, speak at our Meeting. We will hold a light breakfast at 8:30 and have a combined youth and adult Sunday School class featuring our guests. Then Christopher and John will give the morning message during Meeting for Worship. Please come!

Small Groups ~ We are excited to offer spiritual growth small groups again this fall starting October 15th and continuing for a 5-week period (ending the week before Thanksgiving). In the past our small groups study sessions were an opportunity to deepen connections in a small group with Friends.  We will be studying the book by Richard Rohr called “Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life.” In his book, Rohr seeks to help readers understand the tasks of the two halves of life and to show them that those who have fallen, failed, or "gone down" are the only ones who understand "up." Most of us tend to think of the second half of life as largely about getting old, dealing with health issues, and letting go of life, but the whole thesis of this book is exactly the opposite. What looks like falling down can largely be experienced as "falling upward." In fact, it is not a loss but somehow actually a gain, as we have all seen with elders who have come to their    fullness. See below for current available sessions. Please contact the office at office@indyfriends.org with your preferred time or sign up on Sundays just outside of the sanctuary when you're at worship. We hope you will join us!

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Slow Church Sermon Series ~ Each Sunday we are going to explore together what a “slow movement” looks like for First Friends. This is an invitation to explore outside of what is labeled “franchise faith” and back into the Kingdom of God – where people know each other well and love one another as Christ loved the church. This will be instrumental in developing an ongoing vision for First Friends. We hope you will plan to join us for this exploration during the Fall months.

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SAWS Ramp Build ~ The Shalom Zone is planning another SAWS ramp build. Please note that the date for the ramp build has been changed to Saturday, October 6th.  SAWS is an organization that builds ramps for low income folks who need a ramp to enter/exit their homes.  If you would like to volunteer to help or need more information, please contact the office at office@indyfriends.org.  Volunteers must complete the volunteer form before their first build.  This form can be found on the SAWS website: http://sawsramps.org

The Creation by Haydn Indianapolis Symphonic Choir Performance ~ All are invited to the Indianapolis Symphonic choir’s performance on Sunday, October 7th at 6pm at Hilbert Circle Theater. Dan R and Bill P will both be performing. The 82nd season begins with Haydn’s oratorio The Creation, vividly depicting through the human voice and orchestra the creation story. Eric Stark conducts the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir and Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra in this performance that begins with the famous musical painting of void, chaos and all that follows. If ten or more people from First Friends go there is a 20% discount on tickets. For more information please visit https://indychoir.org/performances/haydn-creation/.


The Rohingya Refugee Crisis ~ Last August the government of Burma forced a million Muslim Rohingya from their homes in Burma into Bangladesh. The United Nations calls this genocide and a crime against humanity. On Wednesday, October 10, 7:00-8:3pm, the Indianapolis Peace & Justice Center invites everyone to come hear John Clark, board of the Indianapolis-based OBAT Helpers, one of the few nonprofits working in the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh. This event is free and open to the public. It will be held at the Indiana Interchurch Center, 1100 W. 42nd St. For more information, please visit www.indypeaceandjustice.org.


Shalom Zone Eco-Film - The next Shalom Zone Eco Film will be “Bidder 70”, which highlights the story of University of Utah economics student Tim DeChristopher, who in 2008 committed an act which would redefine patriotism in our time, igniting a spirit of civil disobedience in the name of Climate justice.  The film will be at St Pius X Church, 7200 Sarto Dr on Friday October 12th at 7”00 p.m.  Everyone is invited. For more information see our flyer at https://goo.gl/2yekyo.



Recycling Event! The Shalom Zone plans to have its yearly recycling event with Recycle Force on Saturday, October 13 from 10:00am to 2:00pm. If an item runs (or used to run) with a plug or a battery you can recycle it! This year it will be held at Epworth United Methodist Church, 6450 Allisonville Rd. A $20 donation is requested for appliances containing Freon (fridges, freezers, ac units and dehumidifiers) and televisions. Other monetary contributions are greatly appreciated. This is a great opportunity to clean out your basement, garage, closets, attic and responsibly recycle unwanted electronics and appliances.


Political Polarization and the Need for Civil Discourse in the Time of Trump ~ Our own Jeff R will be the main speaker at this local event, sponsored by Meridian Methodist Men's Group (women are welcome to attend). It will be held Saturday, October 13 at 8:00a.m. at Meridian Methodist Church, 5500 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis. An optional breakfast will be offered for $5. Please RSVP to Mary Sue McAlister at mmcalister@meridianstreet.org, if you plan to attend. 



Alternatives to Violence Mini Workshops ~ Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) Indiana is hosting mini workshops using participants’ shared experience, interactive exercises and games to examine the ways we respond to situations where frustration can lead to anger and aggressive behavior through leadership development, community building and creative conflict management. These workshops are free and are for anyone who is interested in learning new and creative ways to respond to conflict in personal relationships and groups. The sessions are on the following Saturdays at Indianapolis Public Library branches:

October 13, 12:30-4:30pm at West Indianapolis Library, 1216 Kappes St, Indianapolis 46221

November 10, 10am-1:30pm at Brightwood Library, 2435 N Sherman Dr, Indianapolis 46218

December 8, 12:30-4:30pm at Wayne Library, 198 S Girls School Rd, Indianapolis 46231

For more information and to register, please visit https://avpindiana.org/registration-2/



Lessons from the Garden

Photo of the Community Garden by Chelsea T.

Photo of the Community Garden by Chelsea T.

Preparing the soil and environment is important.It is part of the groundwork to help plants thrive.Testing the soil for alkaline and acid makeup and determining if there are enough nutrients of the right kind for the crops you intend to grow is helpful.Testing for heavy metals is another useful step.After testing you can correct the growing medium.

Planting seeds requires attention.  They must have the right amounts of sunlight and moisture.  A garden must be weeded so the crops are not crowded out. Seedlings must be nurtured and protected.  Unwelcome varmints that can interfere with growth and kill seedlings must be eliminated or decreased.  Sometimes flowers can distract these creatures.  Other times complementary crops can be planted together for company and to ward off disease and pests. Insects that prey upon undesirable bugs can be employed to guard the garden if other methods do not work.

Don’t feel like you must save all “volunteer” plants that crop up on their own in a new season. Focus on the crop you are planting.  You save your energy and may prevent the spread of disease that volunteers may harbor. Volunteers may differ from their parent plants.  For instance, tomatoes‘ progeny may be miniatures rather than the larger fruit of the previous generation. Sticking with your original garden plan may be the best idea. When your plan involves crop rotation to enrich soil and deter disease, some volunteers may be transplanted to other areas if you determine they are healthy and wanted.

Plant several types of the same species (e.g. Better Boy and Sungold tomatoes).  Some may thrive during a particular season whereas others may fail to progress because of many variables such as drought and flood.  Your chances of overall success increase in a garden with diversity.

Consider multiple perspectives and other possibilities when trying to solve a problem. Once I tried growing tomatoes with no luck at all and thought it was my missing green thumb.  Turns out it was the walnut trees.  They release a substance into the soil that is toxic to tomatoes.  I had to plant tomatoes farther away where they were safer and could stand their ground.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again—but not forever.  Once I bought quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) seeds from a local store and tried to grow them for three seasons.  They looked almost identical to a native weed, so I kept letting them grow.  They did not grow, but that particular weed flourished. Finally, I discovered quinoa grows in mountainous regions and Indy’s small hills are closer to molehills than mountains.  I encouraged the store to stop selling quinoa to trusting and unsuspecting customers.  They complied.

Remove dead and withered plant parts. Disease can spread fast.  Pick up debris from underneath plants since it can harbor fungi, pests and weeds.

Be patient and flexible.  Consider a garden an experiment.  Risk trying new things and learn from your mistakes and the wisdom and collective knowledge of fellow gardeners.

Harvest your crops and be grateful for the miracle of life.  Be thankful for the cooperation of the elements and creatures like pollinators and earthworms.  Realize the gifts you are contributing by tending the garden—the miracle of your own body and brain.  Enjoy what you do not need to do for your garden because God does it for you.  God completes the part you cannot accomplish alone.  So does the community of which you are an integral part. You are both blessed and a blessing.

“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?”

-Matthew 6:26

--Nancy 🌺



Indy Festival of Faiths ~ We will be representing Quakers again this year at the Festival of Faiths! It will be on Sunday, October 14 from 1-5pm at the War Memorial downtown. There has never been a better time to celebrate central Indiana's richly diverse faith community. This year's theme is Compassion Through Action. They are asking everyone who attends the festival to bring a small donation of personal hygiene items for our neighbors in challenging circumstances. Soap, shampoo, combs and hair brushes, tampons, deodorant, toothpaste and tooth brushes will be collected at the festival and distributed to shelters and food pantries. There are a myriad of activities taking place inside the War Memorial and outside in Veterans Memorial Plaza. We are also looking for volunteers to help at our Quaker booth throughout the day. If you’re interested, please use the signup sheet in the Meetingroom hallway or contact the office at office@indyfriends.org. Come and stay however long you’re able—people coming early or staying late for setup and teardown would also be much appreciated! Thank you!



Full Circle Festival ~ Again this year our own Ben W will be holding Full Circle Festival downtown on Saturday, October 20th. Full Circle Fest is an open-air dining experience, an interactive art fair, a zero-waste event, a fundraiser for sustainable community projects, and much more! There will also be local bands, performers, and DJs, engaging games and activities. Every year we focus on a timely community issue to guide the day's events. This year’s focus is “Everyone should have access to fresh, healthy food.” Indianapolis ranks among the worst cities in the country for food deserts (urban areas in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food). Full Circle Fest is in need of your support to help bring this event to life. To donate, please drop your contributions in the offering plate or in the meeting office with the notation “Full Circle Fest”. An anonymous donor will match donations up to $500, so please consider supporting this important cause. For more information please visit https://fullcirclefest.com/.



Fall Festival! ~ Meridian Street Preschool Co-Op (MSPC) will be hosting their annual Fall Festival on Saturday October 20th from 4-6pm. It is held here at First Friends and is free and open to the public—so all are welcome to come and be a part of this fun evening. There will be face painting, pumpkin decorating, a bounce house, a chili cook-off, a raffle, and more! Costumes are welcome! We hope you will join us for the fun evening.


Seasoned Friends ~ Seasoned Friends will hold their annual weenie roast on Wednesday, October 24th. This year it will be at the historic Beem House in Spencer, IN. Our meal will consist of hotdogs, iced tea, chocolate chip cookies, and potato salad. We will carpool from the Meetinghouse that day. Come for a good meal, to hear the history of the house, and enjoy time with friends. Stay tuned for more details.

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