Snowed IN: Creating Vibrant Community Places in Winter
For four to five months of the year, the landscape of Indiana’s communities changes. As temperatures drop, daylight hours wane, and snow and ice coat everything in a thick blanket, learn how Hoosiers embrace winter places.
Editor's Note: This story was originally published by the Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority (IHCDA) in the winter 2022 issue of IHCDA...the Magazine. We are proud to partner with the IHCDA on the CreatINg Places program, building vibrant communities across the State of Indiana.
For four to five months of the year, the landscape of Indiana’s communities changes. As temperatures drop, daylight hours wane, and snow and ice coat everything in a thick blanket, the spaces and places where people gather, converse, and interact during the warmer months also change.
Often winter is a time of hibernation for Hoosiers— parks are still, patios are vacant, pools and playgrounds close, and plazas wait for spring to bring lunchtime and weekend visitors again. But just as the COVID-19 pandemic taught small businesses and community members to get creative in the face of adversity and change, many towns and cities are taking those same principles and creating places to be used every month of the year.
"Indiana communities have so much to offer all year-round!" said Bridget Anderson, Vice President of Patronicity and partner with IHCDA on the innovative placemaking program CreatINg Places. "By finding inspiration from local history, traditions, cultures, and engaging with arts, artisans, and makers, Hoosier communities can use Winter Places to brighten and warm our coldest months with gathering places that increase opportunities for connection.”
In 2020 and 2021, Patronicity released a winter placemaking guide called Winter Places to inspire communities to make the most of public space, no matter the weather or the season. Placemaking experts, architects, artists, and others weighed in to put the guide together, and the result was an important tool for states across the country to imagine vibrant community life that embraces winter’s challenges.
With these ideas, and by utilizing CreatINg Places funding, several Indiana communities have done just that. Since 2020, winter markets have been created to support local small businesses, farmers, and artisans, holiday light displays have been designed to encourage tourism and new visitors, and exciting activities have coaxed families outdoors to ice skate, gather around an outdoor firepit, or shop.
Do these winter activations spark an idea you would like to see in your community? For more information on IHCDA’s CreatINg Places program, visit patronicity.com/creatINgplaces or contact Meagan Heber at email@example.com.
CreatINg Places in Winter
The following projects raised money using Patronicity’s crowdfunding platform and qualified for IHCDA match grant dollars.
Lift Up and Light Up Henry County
New Castle, Indiana
Repaired New Castle Pavilion for community use all year long and added holiday village lights display for community members to enjoy this December.
Miller Sunset Pavilion
Winona Lake, Indiana
Built a new outdoor gathering space around a chimney firepit next to the new Miller Sunset Pavilion ice skating rink in Winona Lake.
Richmond Winter Farmer's Market
Provided capacity for existing farmer’s market to continue through the winter in the vacant historic Starr Gennett Logo Building in Richmond. Each winter, farmers, bakers, artisans, and other small business owners have room to sell their goods in a warm environment with plenty of space.
Winter Wonderland LaPark Ice Skating Rink
La Porte, Indiana
Created a synthetic ice-skating rink open and available for free to community members each winter next to an annual Christkindl Market with space for local vendors. They even have accessible skating devices for smaller children or anyone who might need a little extra help on the ice.