Meet the Buy IndyEast Promise Zone VISTA

This week, meet the Buy IndyEast Promise Zone VISTA, Mary Clanton! Mary has lived on Indy’s near Eastside her whole life and if you too are an Indy Eastside native, you might know her mother! Here are Mary’s responses to my questions:

What do you love about Indy?

  Mary for blog            I love the communities that have been created in Indy. When I enter each different part of town, I enter new communities. Each community has its own unique setbacks, but also has assets and various people and perspectives, which shapes the culture I experience around me. These perspectives influence the biking trails, restaurants, and other social amenities in the area, and also give insight to the minds of the people in the surrounding community. 


What concerns you in or about Indy and the way it is growing?

              It concerns me that minority populations might not ever be effectively engaged in the shifting work and structures of Indianapolis. It worries me that there are so many disengaged citizens who have the opportunity to utilize countless resources, if they only felt comfortable and invited to do so.


What attracted you to your specific VISTA position?

              I chose to focus my year of service on Economic Development, as one tool in the process of urban revitalization because business ownership is very important to me. I believe that African Americans specifically don’t own enough of the businesses and resources in our own communities, which we so often utilize. Business ownership can lead to empowerment, leadership, and community investment, which is of really high importance in underserved minority and low-income communities.


What is something related to your specific VISTA position that you are really excited about or looking forward to doing?

              I am looking forward to the community engagement piece of my goal. There is still a great need in this area of focus, and even though I’m not sure how to bridge it, there are many resources and people living in the community who could be of service and have a greater understanding than I.


Who is a person that inspires you? Why and how does that affect how you live your life?

              My mother, Kim Clanton, inspires me. Her work in social service organizations has allowed me to know some of the experiences that have shaped people, before they were in their state of need. Learning about various family dynamics and inapplicable neighborhood resources has effected the way I view and value neighborhood assets and development resources. It has also shaped my love for people and the way that I will hopefully assist others when I can be of service. 


Tell me something about you that would surprise most people.

              As much as I love to help people, direct service is not where my heart is. I prefer to be hands off. I want to get to know the people and understand individual circumstances, but I really like to work independently, effecting change at a higher level.