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Resilient Midtown Tour to explore Gary’s history district on foot

Indiana University Northwest, Calumet Artist Residency, and near­ly a dozen community partners will host the second “Resilient Midtown Gary Tour,” on Saturday, April 23 beginning at 11 a.m. The two-mile route will begin at the Camp­bell Friendship House, a settlement house built in 1928, and include 10 stops. The tour is free and open to the public. Advance registration is not required.

This event is a follow-up to a suc­cessful tour hosted by the universi­ty in September of four Midtown community gardens, including Stew­art House Urban Farms and Gar­dens and the Nichols Park Garden. The upcoming tour will feature a diverse array of new locations in the district, including the Washington Street Church of God, the Consum­ers Co-operative Trading Company site, Brother’s Keeper Garden, Israel CME Garden, the Jackson 5 Home, and Roosevelt High School.

The importance of Midtown

Midtown was the center of Afri­can-American life in Gary during the Jim Crow Era. The forced segrega­tion of this time made it necessary for the community to cooperate in creating strategies of resilience. The tour will include sites of cultural, po­litical, and historical significance, and feature current community gardens that continue the spirit of creativity and collaboration which lay at the heart of the Midtown story.

By highlighting the district’s past and present stories of resilience and creativity, the tour series hopes to inspire community-based respons­es to climate change and food in­security. Local historians and com­munity partners connected to the tour sites—including Tiffany Tol­bert, Korry Shephard, Pastor Mike Dotson, Kaija Thomas, and Dinah­lynn Biggs—will share insightful and colorful commentary at each stop. Participants will receive a 30-page booklet by Corey Hagelberg, Kor­ry Shephard, and Jennifer Duncan covering brief histories of each stop from both tours, additional sites of significance, and short essays.

The tour begins at 11 a.m. at 2100 Washington Street. Tour guides will walk slowly, however, community members are encouraged to partic­ipate in whatever ways are best for their time and abilities, including driving to each stop in their vehicle. Transportation between stops will also be provided by IU Northwest.

A focus on climate change

The Resilient Midtown Tour is the final event of the Climate Season, a collaboration between the IU North­west Department of Performing Arts and Calumet Artist Residency, that featured 2021 and 2022 program­ming on the topic of climate change and local climate action and included two theater productions: “Kamins­ki’s Lot” and “A Chorus of Oysters.”

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