Downtown Indianapolis and I have always had an interesting relationship. It’s the place where I learned about protest, it’s where I’ve celebrated some of my top life accomplishments with friends and family, where i’ve shared romantic walks with lovers, where i’ve come to have solo dates because those are important too. #selfcare I’ve also been out out of Circle Centre Mall and harassed by volunteer security and law enforcement. Layers. Growing up, downtown was a special occasion destination. I still remember my first time going to what in 1995 was referred to as “the new mall” to see Space Jam with my dad. My mom had five kids, me being the oldest, and it was a lot for her to haul all of us anywhere let alone an expensive downtown with complicated parking situations. There were not, and still aren’t, a lot of affordable options for family dining or excursions so our trips as a tribe were far and few. On these rare visits, I was always enamored by the lights and bustle of it all. Until early adulthood, this was the closest I’d come to being in a big city. As a teenager, I had a contentious relationship with downtown – whether it was a random trip to walk around the mall with friends or Expo/Classic festivities, I never felt embraced. It was clear from the overwhelming police presence and the attitudes of shop/restaurant owners that my poor, young, Black presence wasn’t welcomed. Certainly not on the level I saw others welcomed like suburban/rural folks coming to town for a dinner at St. Elmos or the droves of convention attendees with corporate plastic to burn. As an adult with some access to disposable income, I’m able to do more downtown but it’s still a feeling of conflict there. I hate nightclubs and outside of drinking and eating, I have to wait for someone to throw an event I’m interested in to truly engage. It’s also challenging to step out and see unhoused and hungry people on damn near every street corner. Outside of a kind words and perhaps a few bucks if I have it on me, I feel helpless to positively impact their experience. Especially when I know that some privileged/powerful folks would rather they just disappear entirely. I believe downtown belongs to them as much as it belongs to me and anyone else who calls Indy home. I know that this may sound a bit like a gripe but I think that if our downtown is to truly become MONUMENTAL it must be a place that embraces everyone. Downtown belongs to us all.