Episode 13: Jenn Nickell

Jenn Nickell, the new principal at Lindley Academy, avoided the teacher life for several years, pursuing a degree and career in acting instead. But 11 years ago, she started substitute teaching and thus began her career in the school system. She’s found that inside the walls of a school lives a microcosmic neighborhood. She would argue even that kids understand what it means to be a good neighbor in a much better way, with much higher emotional intelligence than we as adults give them credit for. As an educator, Jenn pulls us into what it looks like to be a neighbor inside a school.

Link to Jenn's Video and Andrew's written reflections from the interview.


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Episode 12: Tiffany Gardner

Tiffany Gardner has worked at Ambassador Enterprises for 4 years as leader of Community Engagement, in which she manages several programs at that inspire and create opportunity for the team to be involved in the community. At Ambassador Enterprises (AE), she is part of a business that seeks to connect and engage with not only the nonprofits they support, but also seek to connect and engage with the community to impact the systemic needs that those nonprofits seek to solve. 

Tiffany and her team believe in the “mutual value exchange” which is a mentality that we as individuals can put into practice in our own lives. It’s the idea that we can learn from each other, we mutually have something valuable we can exchange to each other.


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Episode 11: Palermo Galindo

Palermo Galindo works for the City of Fort Wayne and has been a resident here for over 25 years. I’m sure it’d be easy to get jaded, seeing neighborhood after neighborhood, each with its own set of needs. Some of us might tend to get overwhelmed with all that needs fixed and changed in the city. But Palermo has kept his tender heart for the city and its neighborhoods and the people in them. 

Palermo has such a unique perspective of Fort Wayne and gets to see and interact with a much broader spectrum of neighboring, as he is the liaison between the Mayor’s office and the people by connecting neighborhoods to the resources they need for development or improvement. And he takes this role very seriously, a servant leader to the people to create a culture in Fort Wayne that is more than just a city, but a place of refuge and safety – one big community.

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Link to Palermo's Video and Andrew's written reflections from the interview.

Episode 10: Joe Johns

For the past 18 years, Joe Johns has been on staff at Fellowship Missionary Church and now serves as Senior Pastor. Since the church first planted their roots in 1982 on the edge of the Southeast quadrant in a cornfield, the culture and dynamic of the southside has transformed and shifted significantly as business and industries that once made the Southeast side flourish disappeared and left that part of the city in the shadows. As Fellowship watched the composition of the neighborhoods around them change, they began to realize that as a church, they needed to reflect their neighborhood. That the people represented inside their walls would be a representation of where they are in the city.

As an evangelical pastor, Joe gives us some context on the biblical roots of what it means to be a good neighbor, the challenges and opportunity that come with that, and the role of grace and forgiveness when it comes to being a good neighbor. 

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Link to Joe's Video and Andrew's written reflections from the interview. 

Episode 9: Ewelina Connolly

20 years ago, Ewelina Connolly immigrated to America from Poland on a quest to find independence from an inter-dependent culture. Ewelina shares what it was like growing up in a collectivist culture and the transition to our American, independent culture. Ewelina is currently the Clinical Director at Amani Family Services - a social service agency that provides resources like counseling or therapy for refugee and immigrant families and helps them assimilate into American life.

Ewelina shares some universal truths about being a good neighbor no matter what country you're from or where you live today. We all have much to gain from diverse, multi-cultural relationships. She reminds us that all relationships are different and must be established through one-on-one interactions.

Link to Ewelina's Video and Andrew's written reflections from the interview. 


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Episode 8: Zachary Benedict

Zachary Benedict from MKM Architecture takes us on a fascinating, informative dive into how architectural shifts over the last several decades has impacted how we as a society neighbor. Zach and I were introduced not long after I started working at NeighborLink in 2008, and he has been blowing my mind with the ideas in this interview and dozens more ever since.

Zach talks about the core of what has shaped our neighborhoods when he talks about the American Dream. America is so fixated on independence and autonomy, and what Zach labels the “glorification of privacy.” There has become an assumed correlation between how independent you are and how well off you are. The more independent/private things you build your life around, the more successful or well off you are. Such as attached garages, no porch, privacy fence, private office, private gym, private school, or the private theatre. Even the switch from police patrolling on horseback to squad cars impacted how connected or safe neighborhoods were along with the public perception of police officers. These are all things that begin to limit the interactions, whether intentional or accidental, that we have with those around us. It creates physical barriers to those around us, giving us justified and comfortable excuses to not build relationships with others. 

Link to Zachary's Video and Andrew's written reflections from the interview. 


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Episode 7: Jesse Jackson

Jesse Jackson was an ordinary neighbor simply taking care of his own home when one day was called into becoming a neighborhood president because of what a previous leader saw in him. Jesse responded to that call because he recognized he had a responsibility to create the place he and others wanted to live in, not just hope someone else would do it.   

Jesse’s story brings up an interesting idea that maybe if we’re willing, we can create the change we keep hoping for in our neighborhoods and city. Jesse’s strong-held belief of inside out transformation is one of the core mindsets of neighboring. Sometimes we sit idle, look at the issues and brokenness around us we want fixed, and wait for someone else to come in and fix it. What if we didn’t look to blame or wait on others, but were willing to be the fixers? Right in our own neighborhoods?

Link to Jesse's Video and Andrew's written reflections from the interview. 


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Episode 6: Jarrod Tobias

Street and public art have been telling stories, advocating for important issues, and describing society's current state for as long as art has been around. Jarrod and his team at Tobias Studios have been exploring the role of public art as a tool to facilitate diverse conversations in a neighborhood context for over a decade through wheat paste, small scale stencil painting, and large murals. The events of 911 happened when he was in art school and sparked deep questions of how an artist should or could respond through their art. That question continues to fuel his desire to explore humanity, social connectivity, justice, and ask question after question in the pursuit of truth and honesty. Jarrod shares about the role of public art in the neighborhood and the ways its universal ability to draw people to a shared space to engaged, process, and interact with one another together. 

Link to Jarrod's Video and Andrew's written reflections from the interview. 


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