IDEA Conference

IDEA Conference Header

When? 2021 date TBA
Where? TBA
Cost? As always, it’s FREE!

~ Thank you to everyone who attended this year’s conference!~

Participants speaking at the 2019 IDEA conferenceFor the last five years 130 citizens have gathered each March for the Neighborhood IDEA Conference. (READ THE MUNCIE JOURNAL ARTICLE.)

The Muncie Action Plan, Shafer Leadership Academy and the Office of Community Engagement at Ball State University are partnering once again to support the development of neighborhood leaders.

New this year! State of the City Keynote by Dan Ridenour and a Networking Happy Hour at Twin Archers after the conference!

The fifth annual Neighborhood IDEA Conference was held on March 7, 2020 at Ivy Tech’s recently renovated downtown Fisher Building. Over 100 of Muncie’s most active local leaders gathered to listen, learn and meet like-minded individuals to share ideas and best practices.

At this year’s conference, attendees were able to submit questions to city department heads:

Questions Submitted to City Engineer Brian Stephen-Hotopp

Answer: Substantial completion would be November of this year, which would include all paving being completed. Restoration such as grass and landscaped areas may not be completed until next Spring.

Full Question: I understand that there might not be enough funding for the city to repair or replace damaged curbs or sidewalks but I’m curious if the city has tools and equipment that neighborhoods could use to fix these issues if the neighborhoods can find financing for concrete. For example, concrete forms. Would it be possible to explore more volunteer opportunities from neighborhood associations to help reduce the costs associated with replacing sidewalks or curbs? For example, demolition and removal.

Answer: The street department has a history of working with neighborhood associations and will continue such efforts. Please reach out to us and we can work with neighborhood associations on a case by case basis.

Answer: We are dedicating approximately $1,000,000 for new sidewalks in 2021. We are always available to gather concerns and make needed signage changes for neighborhood safety concerns.
Full Question: Is there enough funding to repair side streets? And possibly add sidewalks on side streets that have heavy traffic? As well widening neighborhood side streets that become congested due to inconsiderate parking? Answer: The majority of the city’s capital improvement money for road projects is planned for side street work in the coming years.

Questions Submitted to Chief of Police, Nathan Sloan

Answer: Great question! Officers get specific training from their field training officers (FTO’s) when they are first hired and continue that education at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy. This is obviously supported by the life experiences the officers have when hired and what they gain as their careers unfold. The Muncie Police Department is taking a proactive, and somewhat “out of the box” approach to this issue. We have contracted with a company who has specifically designed a training program that includes de-escalation. Without getting into a great deal of detail, this is an immersive program that puts our officers in real world situations that they have to defuse verbally and situationally without resorting to measures that involve increased levels of physical force. Unfortunately, the Corona situation has halted our plans for now, but training will resume as soon as it is possible.
Answer: Thank you for the advice. I will look into that and determine if their model is adaptable to our efforts in Muncie.

Answer: Another good question. Unfortunately, this is not as easily solved as some of our other issues. We just started a hiring process and the deadline for applications was 3-13-20. While this process was constructed out of dire necessity for personnel and took place in a short period of time, we made a specific and broad attempt to advertise. We pushed the information out on social media, in newspapers, on the radio, in schools, in churches, in public meetings, on TV, and even contacted area clergy directly to help spread the word. Despite all of the increased publicity, we still only got 50 applicants. Out of the 50 applicants, only 31 passed the physical agility requirements (pushups, run, sit-ups, etc). Of the 31 that were left, only 13 passed the written test.

These numbers are down significantly nationwide and the trend is alarming. When I tested in the very early 2000’s, my testing group was around 300 applicants. These numbers are even more concerning in that of the 31 applicants that showed up on the day of testing, only 1 was a person of color. We would like for the Muncie Police Department to be more diverse and reflect our community’s demographics more accurately.

Unfortunately, there have been tensions between the public and the police for years. Please understand, this is a national problem and not something we are going to solve locally in the three months we have been in office. We are working to overcome these tensions and continue to provide public service.

We will continue to reach out to the public, especially with summer events and appearances, in an effort to ease those tensions and rebuild some of the relationships that have been damaged in the past. With that said, we would like the community leaders and people of influence to encourage members of their neighborhoods, churches, and schools to apply. We also invite members of the public to wave, introduce themselves, and / or have a conversation with an officer when the opportunity presents itself.

Sometimes, officers might unintentionally appear unapproachable. We want you to approach our officers! We are public servants. If the situation permits, we would love to talk to you. Invite us to public gatherings, inform us of concerns you have about your neighborhood, and tell us any suggestions you might have. We are here for you.

Answer: Communication is the key to any good relationship. Thank you to the IDEA conference and all of those involved for providing this forum. We are committed to providing quality policing services to the citizens of Muncie and look forward to increasing community relations at every opportunity.

2020 Conference Agenda:

10:00 – 10:50 am             Session Block One
FACING CHALLENGES: Muncie Community Schools: The Future is Bright: Panel
LOCAL GOVERNMENT: You Count! (and so do your neighbors) w/Kallie Sulanke
CAPACITY BUILDING: Grant Writing 101 w/Donna Browne Materials:

COMMUNITY INITIATIVES: Art in the Community w/Rachel Cohn
11:00 – 11:50 am             Session Block Two
FACING CHALLENGES: Dementia Friendly Communities w/Mandy Williams Materials

LOCAL GOVERNMENT: Making Democracy Work w/Teresa Basey
CAPACITY BUILDING: Visual Identities for Muncie Neighborhoods w/Shantanu Suman
COMMUNITY INITIATIVES: What’s Next in Community Economic Development: w/Dr. John West and Bryan Preston
12:00 – 12:50 pm             Lunch Keynote:
DEPARTMENT HEAD PANEL City of Muncie: Department Head Panel facilitated by Aimee West
1:00 – 1:50 pm                  Session Block Three
FACING CHALLENGES: Muncie Resillence Plan w/Dr. Michael Burayidi
LOCAL GOVERNMENT: The Public Bank and Its Relevance to Muncie’s Future w/Andrew Dale
CAPACITY BUILDING: Resident Listening w/Joy Rediger Materials:

COMMUNITY INITIATIVES: Web of Support: How Everybody Succeeds w/Kyra Zylstra Materials:

2:00 – 2:15 pm                  Afternoon Announcements
2:15 – 2:30 pm                 Doors Open to the Public
2:30 – 3:30 pm                STATE OF THE CITY with Mayor Dan Ridenour

Ivy Tech Fisher Building:



Contact Krista Flynn, BSU Office of Community Engagement at

Take a look at the 2018 conference.


Contributing Sponsors:

Program Sponsors: