By: Charleston Bowles
That was my first impression when I ventured off campus for the first time as a freshman in the fall of 2019.
However, after three and a half years at Ball State University, I’ve grown to appreciate southside Muncie and its stories.
In October 2022, I visited Muncie’s Southside neighborhood with other journalism students on a tour led by members of the 8twelve coalition.
The 8twelve coalition focuses on revitalizing the neighborhood by improving the quality of life. Their goals include beautification, empowering local businesses, ensuring safe housing and more.
During the visit, I learned about various organizations concentrated on revamping Muncie and I was immediately drawn to helping through storytelling.
For my previous journalism courses, I’ve always fallen back on writing stories in my hometown, Indianapolis. I’m familiar with the area and didn’t feel comfortable enough to dive into the unknown of Muncie.
Through writing for Inform Muncie, I discovered there isn’t any reason to venture outside of Muncie for stories. The area has businesses, residents and organizations doing important and noteworthy things.
I’ve written stories about Attic Window Thrift Store and Mama and Son Soul Food Kitchen, two local businesses. In my interviews for these stories, I was blown away by the commitment and passion leaders have rooted in Muncie.
From my experience interviewing Southside High School graduate Zeus Currie, I learned that community is everything in his hometown. Currie highlighted his excitement for the future of Muncie.
“It’s very beautiful to see how all the communities are now coming together to turn over a new leaf and to make Muncie beautiful,” Currie said. “To make Muncie what it always could and should’ve been.”
There are still ways to get involved with Muncie for Ball State students not majoring in journalism or communications.
The university offers different pathways, starting with Student Voluntary Services. They give students a chance to contact and partner with Muncie area agencies through GivePulse, a platform that allows students to connect with groups and sign-up for upcoming events.
I used GivePulse during the 2021 spring semester to connect with Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana. For my health science course, I was required to complete a service learning experience project. I spent 10 hours volunteering for Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana and contributed by packaging food and sorting the warehouse.
According to Cause IQ, there are 825 organizations in Muncie and research discovered that the largest employers include community mental health centers, youth service organizations, developmentally disabled centers, multiservice human service organizations and senior residential care facilities.
There isn’t any shortage of volunteer opportunities in Muncie. It’s beneficial for Ball State’s relationship with the community if more students get out of their comfort zone and engage with the area.