The Harrison Center has defined a Greatriarch as a member of the community who has helped write the story of the neighborhood. This could be someone who sits on their porch every day and waves to their neighbors, someone who helps to raise the kids of the neighborhood, someone who pastors a church, has lived there for an extended amount of time, etc. Greatriarchs are in every neighborhood. In 2021, INRC solicited Greatriarch proposals from neighbors. At the 2021 Neighbor Power Indy, we were honored to recognize and celebrate the following three Greatriarchs:
Shirley Webster, Martindale Brightwood
Ms. Webster, a long time organizer and leader, is not slowing down from the busy life of service she has always had. Through countless hours of volunteering, she has touched seemingly every corner of her neighborhood. Shirley has held numerous positions such as president of the Hillside Neighborhood Association, president of the Greater Citizens Coalition of Martindale-Brightwood (GCCMB), president of the Community Development Corporation, and Coordinator of the Golden Agers. Those who know Shirley know she is quick to share stories, but even quicker to lend a listening ear and give helpful advice. Shirley and her husband Paul are still active community members and are devoted church members. Shirley has 7 children, 14 grandchildren, 44 great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great grandchild! Congratulations Ms. Webster.
Pastor Donald Edwards, Jr., Forest Manor
Pastor Edwards choose this area (Forest Manor) to minister to because he has a heart for the area. He lived in the 46218 zip code, over 30 years ago and came back here to live. He has organized many community events, including food giveaways in November, Holiday celebrations in December and a Community Day each fall. Pastor Edwards, church, The Church of Glory, is community-oriented. Although Pastor Edwards recently (in 2020) lost his wife of 30 years of marriage, he never missed a Sunday of ministering the word, nor did he miss a Tuesday night bible study. The nominator suggested we check out Church of Glory's face book page and suggested we would nominate him also. I did, and the Facebook page highlights some of the community support that has been provided by Pastor Edwards over the years.
Jeanne Pontius, Herron Morton Place (HMP)
Jeanne has lived in HMP since 1983, when she purchased her home on N Delaware Street. She has been a neighborhood staple ever since, and has led the charge and guided the charge through her wit, porch beverages and overall 'greatriarchness'. At one time, she was an “Urban Gardner” in the lot she owned on Alabama Street, truly a woman of vision, ahead of the current trend! She’s got an encyclopedic knowledge of the history and evolution of Herron Morton Place and has been active in making it the neighborhood it is today. Over the years, she was also involved in the bigger picture, focused on making surrounding neighborhoods stronger.
Jeanne has always been a part of making HMP a viable and vibrant neighborhood, and that continues to this day, with service to the Neighborhood Association and her coordination of delivering The Urban Times. She still loves to garden and is no stranger to physical work! She has a big heart and has helped many in need. Jeanne is committed to supporting The Arts: Hedback Theater, Footlite Musicals, and The Indianapolis Symphony where she was an usher for many years (just to name a few). She played a key role in establishing the neighborhood foundation, which focused on building acquisition, and saving buildings like what is now known as Foundry Provisions. She strongly believes that a connected neighborhood is a great neighborhood and has inspired countless others to be kind to one another - because that's the way it should be.
At the 2020 Neighbor Power Indy, we honored the following five Greatriachs:
Hillside neighborhood of Martindale-Brightwood
Aster Bekele saw a need in her neighborhood and immediately got to work on solutions. She used the love of community that she developed in Ethiopia to start a small tutoring program in the Martindale-Brightwood community. Aster’s youth farming and growing as 2nd generation programs have fed the bodies, minds, and spirits of countless young people in Indianapolis. The Felege Hiywot Center has grown to become an organization that focuses on youth leadership, urban gardening, and cultural expression. Felege Hiywot means: “Looking for Direction to Life”, and Aster has helped countless youth find their direction.
Crown Hill neighborhood
Carleen Carter has given her time and energy and love to the people and neighborhood all her life. She has served as the President of the Crown Hill Neighborhood Organization and has advocated for positive change for many years. She was a leader in the effort to protect a 15-acre wooded parcel at the Crown Hill cemetery, and worked closely with the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition to reduce homicides in her neighborhood. Carleen has also been very active with INRC, and has encouraged her neighbors to participate in INRC trainings, including the Indianapolis Community Building Institute.
Brookside neighborhood of the Near Eastside
*Bernard Mickle accepted the award on behalf of Doug Crane.
Doug Crane has lived in the Brookside Community for over 20 years. Doug has been a mentor to many Near Eastside youth. He has sacrificed his comforts and sometimes money to ensure the safety, health and opportunity of young people. Doug now serves as a Pastor in the near eastside community, giving back to the community through his time and service investing in both youth and their families. To this day, Doug is a youth and family advocate who still gets in the neighborhood with his own children to play basketball and provide meals to families every week at his home/church. Doug Carne’s nominated stated that he has earned both Bachelors and Master Degrees, because of the support of mentors, including Doug. Doug continues to invest in the community and relentlessly gives of himself.
Millersville at Fall Creek Valley, Inc.
Melinda Hall is a longtime resident of the historic Millersville community on the northeast side of the city. Melinda and her husband Geoff have called Millersville home for more than 30 years, a testament to their investment in this community. Melinda has committed her time, treasures, and talent to Millersville at Fall Creek Valley, Inc. (MFCV) our community organization, over the last ten years, but she’s also been an organizer within her neighborhood for much longer. The nominator indicated that Melinda, perhaps unknowingly and above anyone else, is a key resource for their community and the keeper of their rich contemporary history.
*INRC accepted the award on behalf of Tom Ridley.
Tom Ridley’s legacy was highlighted in an Indianapolis Recorder article. Tom grew up two blocks from the Madame Walker Theatre and experienced the glory days of Indiana Avenue, an African American cultural center in the 1920s and 19302s. Tom now serves as the Theater’s chief docent. Since his childhood, Tom was involved with the neighborhood church and an organization that served the neighborhood. He has continually been a champion of the rich history of Ransom Place and Indiana Avenue, and wants to ensure that ensure that future generations remember the Indianapolis’s history.