Purdue Extension isn’t always at the forefront of initiatives. Sometimes we work behind the scenes to support communities, and sometimes the work takes years to come to fruition. In 2018, Community Wellness Coordinator, Nathan Miller, took part in a study on how people interact with downtown streets, sidewalks and parks. During an unusually cold spring week, he collaborated with a host of volunteers, spending hours walking the city and watching how pedestrians move from building to building, and
around public spaces. The international firm Gehl (GehlPeople.com) used this data to create a plan that will enhance public spaces in Fort Wayne’s downtown corridor over the next decade. In 2019 we got to see the first glimpse of some big changes to come. The Porch off Calhoun and Art This Way’s Alley Activation projects were made possible because of the groundwork laid by Extension and the numerous volunteers involved. These two pilot projects are just the start of big improvements to the city’s downtown, but they have already demonstrated dramatic improvements for pedestrians and local businesses. Visitors use the alleys to quickly and safely move about downtown. The Porch encourages passersby to visit local eateries and enjoy each other’s company.