Anderson/Madison County Visitors Blog

April 2014

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Thirty years ago my Grandma Bannon gave me a nugget of wisdom that helped shape my life. It was a simple lesson that had a big impact. Today, a pair of story tellers is having the same type of impact on Madison County.

First, indulge me for a moment while I explain what my grandmother said to me and how it impacted my life. Then, I will correlate that with the impact David Neidert and Luke Renner from The Story Shop are having on Madison County.

I used to go over to my Grandpa and Grandma Bannon’s house on summer afternoons to watch the Cubs game with my grandpa. My grandma’s knowledge of sports consisted of seeing Johnny Bench (or some other Cincinnati Reds player) appear on the Bob Braun Show. So she usually didn’t hang out with us in the living room while the game was on TV. But, she would come in to chat from time to time.

One such occasion was a few days before I was to leave for Indiana State University for the first time. Grandma came in and wanted to talk to me about going to college. She said she couldn’t tell me how to succeed in college because she had not gone. She said she didn’t have any advice about the classes or books.  But, she did have some advice she wanted me to heed.  Grandma told me that in this world all of our material possessions can be taken from us and that we can lose our jobs and loved ones.  However, she noted, no one can ever take what you have in your heart and mind, so she wanted me fill them as much as I could, because that would be with me forever.

Wow. It is simple as that. The lesson was so simple, yet so powerful. Love and learn. I wasn’t directionless at the time by any means, but that really clarified things for me. As the years went by and personal mission statements became popular, I summarized my philosophy in a simple statement:  “To live each day with an open heart and mind,” because you can’t fill something that is closed. I also feel it is important to live with a sense of joy and I have since amended the statement to read: “To joyfully live each day with an open heart and mind.” I am more successful some days than others with that philosophy. But it is my core. It gives me a sense of purpose and calm. And, I was led there in a gentle way from some wise words from my grandma. 

Many of us probably have similar stories. Somewhere along the line someone shared a thought with us, or we noticed something happening around us, that had a profound impact on us. As such, you likely can relate to my story. But this type of thing doesn’t just happen on a personal level. It happens on a much broader scale too.

There is an idea, cause, or philosophy that people begin to relate to and it changes their perception or strengthens their resolve on the matter. Someone says something, someone does something, someone acts in a certain way and it changes our view on the matter. It changes our belief. It changes the way we see things and how we carry ourselves in the world. It changes how we feel about other people and how we interact with them.  It changes the words we use when talking about something.

Sometimes it doesn’t just affect you. It begins to affect others too, and before you know it, it becomes a movement. Whether the movement is grand and historical or small and personal, they all have something in common:  they begin to change views, opinions, and the world around us.

That leads us back to David and Luke. They own the Story Shop in Pendleton. Together with Rob Sparks of the Madison County CED, they started a grassroots campaign that is blossoming into a movement. 

They explain their purpose on their web site, www.WeAreMadisonCounty.org:   “The ‘We Are Madison County’ (WAMC) campaign is a celebration of the community, arts and innovation of the people of Madison County, Indiana. It gives us an opportunity to re-discover who we are by collectively telling our story in one unified voice. The backbone of the campaign is formed by the stories told in short film style, centered around remarkable members of our community. These character vignettes provide us a look into the lives and work of those around us that exemplify the values of hard work, innovation, creativity and caring for their community.”

At their core, David and Luke are story tellers. They are passionate, compassionate, genuine and talented. They care about Madison County and its people. They teach us lessons by helping others tell their stories. 

Whether the short films feature a business, group or individual, they are all about one thing:  the people that make Madison County a great place. Their film about Red Gold and the Reichart family recently was voted the favorite film of the year at the Madison County Chamber’s annual gala. My personal favorite is the film about Wesley and his mom, Inge.

The Visitors Bureau recently released a series of short videos highlighting attractions around Madison County. Brian Wrasman and his team at CrossPointe Studios did a fabulous job with the videos and they have been very well received. I’ve been asked numerous times if I feel like the We Are Madison County campaign competes with that. Not at all! In fact, I think we are great complements to one another. As I told someone recently, our videos do a great job of describing the body of Madison County. The WAMC films do a great job of describing the soul of Madison County. Together they form the whole picture, and it is a picture to be proud of. Do yourself a favor and check out their site and films.

Whether it is the words of a grandmother or a short film about someone you may not even know, we can all be impacted in a positive way from a nugget of wisdom. I think Inge sums up Madison County very well at the end of her short film when she says, “This is Wesley. I am his mom. Together we work very hard to overcome our challenges. We are Madison County.” Wow. It is simple as that.

News, notes, and thoughtsI recently had a great visit and lunch with a couple of friends, Jerry Harbin and Chris Williams. Jerry is with the Colts and hosted Chris and me at the complex. It was a great tour and afternoon. We are lucky to have such a class organization as the Indianapolis Colts as part of our Madison County experience. I can’t wait for training camp to start in late July…Speaking of Chris Williams; he is doing remarkably well in his recovery from a fall at his home in mid December. In fact, he is doing so well that this will be my last update on his recovery. I know Chris, his wife Kim, and their whole family are very thankful for the community’s support and prayers as he continues his journey back to full health… Kudos to our friends with the Madison County Chamber on the success of their annual gala. They had a record-breaking turnout and the event was very well done...It was great to see Chamber CEO and President Kyle Morey in attendance at the gala as he continues his recovery from serious injuries he incurred in a sledding accident this winter…The Wigwam project continues moving forward. The Visitors Bureau combined with the City of Anderson, Anderson Community School Corporation, Tom Snyder, and Wigwam Sports and Entertainment (WSE) to cover the cost of maintaining the Wigwam through the end of June. Here’s hoping the WSE team can get the sufficient investments necessary to make the project a reality. The WSE team will be in Anderson April 9 to outline their vision and business plan to interested individuals. The presentation will take place at Anderson’s city hall from 5 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. 

--Tom Bannon is executive director of the Anderson/Madison County Visitors Bureau

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