Check back often for the latest news regarding Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana.

  • 27 Oct 2016 10:28 AM | Joel Crandall

    Join us for our next Hot Spot on Thursday, November 17 at Calhoun Street Soups, Salads and Spirits from 5:30-7:30 pm!

    If you've recently moved to Northeast Indiana, Hot Spots are a great way to meet like-minded emerging leaders in a casual setting.

    All are welcome at this free networking event. Food and drinks will be available for purchase. Bring a friend and business cards!

    Calhoun Street Soups, Salads & Spirits
    1915 South Calhoun St. 
    Fort Wayne, Indiana

    RSVP on Facebook here:

  • 10 Oct 2016 11:42 AM | Kara Hackett

    If you talk to anyone from Fort Wayne, they’ll probably say our location is a perk.

    We’re a mid-size city right between bigger cities like Chicago, Columbus, Indianapolis and Grand Rapids. So we don't have the daily hassles of big city life. And we can still get anywhere we want to go within a few hours.

    But when I read an article about Fort Wayne in the Chicago Tribune a few months ago, I started to see our location in a different light.

    Travel writer Alan Solomon said Fort Wayne “might be the Midwest's best-kept secret," and while it was awesome to see our city finally getting some good press on a national scale, the "secret" part of Solomon's observation didn't sit well with me. 

    The problem with being a "best-kept secret" is that even though you’re doing awesome stuff, nobody knows about you yet. Why?

    In our case, Curt Witcher of the city's Genealogy Center puts it into perspective.

    “Fort Wayne is on the way to nowhere,” he told Solomon. “No one goes to Chicago via Fort Wayne. No one goes to Detroit via Fort Wayne. We're not on anyone's way."

    So while those of us living in Fort Wayne might think we have a great location, the people who live in bigger cities around us consider us out-of-the-way to anywhere they want to go.

    If you want to get to Chicago from Indy, Cleveland, or Columbus, you can do it without going through Fort Wayne at all.

    So I started to think about ways we could get travelers to stop here, and the best idea that came to mind was a passenger rail service.

    Now, I’ve heard the argument that we shouldn’t have train transportation in Fort Wayne because it would drive traffic out of the city. But as someone who frequently travels on the weekends, I’d like to make the opposite case.

    The more connected Fort Wayne is to cities around us, the more we can help people discover what we have to offer — before they read about it in the Chicago Tribune. 

    Right now, people from bigger cities don’t have a reason to come Fort Wayne, so our traffic is only flowing out.

    But if we had a rail system or some sort of convenient mass transit from Indy or Columbus to Chicago, then Fort Wayne would be a natural center of regional activity along the way.

    A few years ago, a high-speed rail service to Chicago was all the hype in local news. So what’s happened to the plan since then?

    I called Geoffrey Paddock with the Northeast Indiana Public Rail Association (NIPRA) to find out.

    Paddock has been working to bring passenger train service back to Fort Wayne since it left in 90s.

    But even though public talk about high-speed rail has died down for now, plans to bring a slower passenger rail to Fort Wayne are still going strong — and could get the nod to proceed with an environmental study any day now.

    Paddock said the problem with the high-speed rail was that it required a separate track to be built to accommodate speeds up to 110 mph.

    But if we can harness existing tracks and run an Amtrack service traveling 50-60 mph, we can have a train station similar to Waterloo's or South Bend's right here in Fort Wayne and still get to Chicago in about three hours.

    Compare that to a hectic four-hour drive, and the choice is easy.

    Since 2013, Paddock has been working with NIPRA, city officials and Allen County commissioners to raise funds for the project. Between public and private funding sources, they’ve raised about half the funds needed for an environmental impact study to get started. 

    Paddock hopes the rest of the funding will come from INDOT and the Federal Rail Administration in Washington, DC, which is currently reviewing the project.

    If everything goes as planned, Paddock said restored rail service would run from Columbus, OH, to Chicago, IL, right through the heart of downtown Fort Wayne at the Baker Street Station, and the experience would be similar to the Hoosier State train from Indy to Chicago with dining cars, wifi and places to sleep onboard.

    It’s an exciting thought, and some young professionals are already supporting the cause.

    Megan Butler, a YLNI supporter and friend of NIPRA, spoke to city council about the benefits of passenger rail service in December 2013.

    Working for Visit Fort Wayne at the time, she saw incredible potential for the project to increase tourism around town.

    “More than 5 million people visit Fort Wayne every year, and the economic impact is incredible. But I think the rail would increase that dramatically,” Butler said.

    More than that, rail service would give young professionals more reasons to settle down in Fort Wayne, too.

    “One of the things I told City Council is, ‘Listen, you’re making people choose between living in a smaller city that they love and living in a bigger city with more conveniences,” Butler said. “If you don’t make them choose, they will be more likely to live here and then travel to Chicago when they need to.”

    Although restoring passenger rail service to Fort Wayne is a long, slow process, Paddock is optimistic about it for two big reasons.

    First, our project is following the same process as a successful bid for upgraded rail service from Indianapolis to Chicago that was just granted last year.

    And second, Columbus is the largest city in the US without any rail service to date.

    “It makes a very strong case for the connection, and we’re halfway between Columbus and Chicago,” Paddock said.

    Fort Wayne’s central location might work to our advantage after all.  

    (Location map courtesy of Visit Fort Wayne)

    HereSay, in partnership with YLNI, is a frequent blog about our say on what’s happening here.  It is written by YLNI member Kara Hackett, and the opinions are her own. Photo by Matt Thomas.

  • 10 Oct 2016 8:40 AM | Joel Crandall

    Arts United launches the October 1-31, 2016 cycle of the Amplify Art! crowdfunding program with three of the most diverse projects presented to date.

    • Sister Cities, in partnership with FAME, will bring the Taizhou Opera to perform during the FAME festival and at the Embassy Theatre. 
    • The Fort Wayne Free Art Collective will install a mural on the side of The Brass Rail, to be designed by local artist Jerrod Tobias. 
    • In its second year, the Weather the Fort winter festival embraces the Fort Wayne winter, fosters community pride and promotes cultural engagement.

    Amplify Art! is a crowdfunding program that mobilizes community support for and awareness of diverse creative projects, relying on social media advocacy and small contributions from a large number of donors.  Donations can be made at  Each project is seeded with $1,000 from Arts United, and donations from the public are matched dollar for dollar up to $1,500 with support from the Knight Foundation.

    "Amplify Art! is a catalyst program. This program redefines - and literally amplifies - the power of community involvement. Through Amplify Art!, community members are empowered to support the projects they want to see happen in their community," said Susan Mendenhall, president of Arts United. 

    Previous projects funded by the Amplify Art! program include Artlink's Crosswalk Murals and North Anthony Boulevard Mural, Cinema Center's Portable Screen, Summer Nights at the Embassy, Riverfront Fort Wayne's Faces of the Fort and Surprise Cinema and more.

    Through the Amplify Art! program, Arts United proactively increases the community's access to diverse, innovative and compelling creative experiences. Arts United provides the fundraising technology and promotional support to make these projects a reality. Please contact the respective representatives to learn more about each project:

    Brass Rail Mural
    Ryan Krueckeberg
    Fort Wayne Free Art Collective

    Taizhou Opera
    Dorothy Kittaka
    Fort Wayne Sister Cities

    Weather the Fort
    Ted Pappert


    Amplify Art! is made possible with support from the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne and the Knight Foundation.  To learn more about the Amplify Art! selection process and this session's projects or to donate, visit

    Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne, Inc. is a non-profit united arts fund and local arts agency that serves the communities of northeast Indiana by fueling the momentum of more than 70 arts, culture and quality of life initiatives each year.  Arts United's strategic investments position arts and culture organizations to achieve higher levels of excellence and quality, to improve access to the arts for all community members and to support regional priorities for growth and development.

    News Release via Arts United

  • 10 Oct 2016 8:37 AM | Joel Crandall

    Join us for our next Hot Spot on Thursday, October 20 at Main Street Bistro from 5:30-7:30 p.m.!

    Greater Fort Wayne Inc. will discuss its 10-year vision for Fort Wayne and Allen County. Huntington University students will be selling desserts to raise funds for a mission trip to China as well. 

    If you've recently moved to Northeast Indiana or are looking to meet new people, Hot Spots are a great way to become acquainted with young professionals just like you. All are welcome at this free networking event!

    RSVP on Facebook

  • 23 Sep 2016 10:23 AM | Joel Crandall

    It's almost time to vote in the November elections! 

    Each election year, YLNI produces a candidate information brochure that contains general background information on the local and candidates, including their answers to questions regarding community issues. The brochure also includes a description of each office on the ballot and general voting information.

    You can access the YLNI the Vote 2016: Allen County Election Candidate Brochure now at  Information on how to register and where to cast your vote can be found at

    No matter what side of the aisle you tend to stand, or if you prefer to vote for a candidate instead of a party, please get educated on the candidates and issues, then exercise your right to vote.

  • 12 Sep 2016 10:25 AM | Kara Hackett

    This week, Fort Wayne is about to make history.

    In the offices of One Lucky Guitar (where I am a writer), this is the moment we’ve been waiting for. It’s taken a lot of hard work from a lot of dedicated people this year—and the past ten years or more—priming northeast Indiana’s music scene for a time such as this.

    It’s time for the first-ever Middle Waves Music Festival. 

    Destination music festivals with national acts like “The Flaming Lips” are a hallmark achievement for any up-and-coming city. They bring thousands of visitors and hundreds of thousands of dollars into local economies.

    But if you ask me, the reason to come out and support Middle Waves this weekend is more personal than economics and less flashy than the allure of big national acts. It’s the opportunity to pay tribute to northeast Indiana’s growing local music scene: The music made here, and the music coming here in higher volumes on a regular basis.

    When I first moved back to Fort Wayne after college, I wasn’t sure how much my hometown could really surprise me. To be honest, I didn’t think it would. I knew that the city had good food and nice, friendly people. Most of my family lives here. But what I didn’t expect to find beneath the typical family-friendly, happy-go-lucky appeal of Fort Wayne was a soulful music scene that helped me see the city in a different light and find some peace here.

    I left college and came to Fort Wayne in a difficult season of life. A close friend had died, and most of the support system I established at school was suddenly scattered all over the country. Facebook statuses told me everyone was moving on to bigger and better things faster than I was, and there wasn’t much respite from it all, working a busy job at the local newspaper.

    But in the quiet hours after work, when all of the thoughts and ideas started to gang up on me, I found solace in the music that surprised me around town at hangouts like JK O'Donnells, weekend trips to Two-EEs Winery and the intimate backroom venues of places like CS3s or One Lucky Guitar. Local music seeped its way into my life, and it was the first thing that really made me feel like I could belong here.

    Don’t get me wrong. I think Fort Wayne is great. My favorite Middle Waves ad is the one that says, “Yes, you are cool enough, Fort Wayne.” Because if you hear the music around town, see the art and talk to the people who are dreaming it all up, then you know that it’s true.

    This really is a place for artists, comedians and untraditional ideas of all types. But when you’re new to town, that’s not always the face that greets you at the door.

    When you’re new here (or returning after college), Fort Wayne largely gives off the family-friendly, #blessed vibe that everyone here has their lives together. And if you feel like you don’t have your life together, it makes you feel THAT much more out of place.

    But what’s most exciting to me about Middle Waves is that it reminds us that this is a place where people of all types can belong, and it gives the untraditional side of our region the opportunity to take center stage for a while. It helps people think of Fort Wayne as more than “a good place to raise a family,” and it draws attention to what’s already happening here behind the scenes at bars and coffee shops and dimly lit venues where life plans and achievements and Facebook statuses don’t matter as much.

    When you’re listening to music, you don’t have to be a parent, a student, an executive or a “young professional.” You are who you are. You’re a thread in the fabric of this culture—a head in the wave of a sea of people swaying to the sound of a single beat.

    Music spans job titles, ethnicities, ideologies and generations. It’s an excuse to get out of the house, a reason to go out dancing or an opportunity to just sit in the darkness and soak it all in. It’s a wild party and a solemn nod of reassurance that everything is going to be OK.

    This weekend, everything that’s been brewing in Fort Wayne’s subculture is taking over Headwaters Park, and if you haven’t gotten into the local music scene yet, then it’s a great opportunity to see what it’s all about. A lot of people have been working to make this happen for months and years, and the culture they’re creating carries with it the hope that there’s a place in this city for people of all types.

    Whoever you are, whatever stage of life you find yourself in, come out, and enjoy the music. Let it wash over you, and embrace the idea that there just might be a place here for someone like you.

    Middle Waves Music Festival

    The first ever Middle Waves Music Festival is set to take place on Friday and Saturday at Headwaters Park in downtown Fort Wayne. This all-ages festival will feature musical acts of various genres, as well as food trucks, artists and much more.

    Two-day, Friday-only and Saturday-only General Admission tickets are still available at or at the ArtsTix Box Office, located at the Arts United Center.

    $35 for Friday, $50 for Saturday, or $75 for the two-day pass.

    HereSay, in partnership with YLNI, is a frequent blog about our say on what’s happening here.  It is written by YLNI member Kara Hackett, and the opinions are her own. Photo by Matt Thomas.

  • 06 Sep 2016 7:58 PM | Joel Crandall

    On Friday, September 16 and Saturday, September 17, Headwaters Park in downtown Fort Wayne will become the epicenter of the inaugural Middle Waves Music Festival.

    Hosted by Riverfront Fort Wayne and supported by presenting sponsor Sweetwater, Middle Waves is an all-ages “destination music festival” that will feature 30 acts on three stages, with food, beverages, art and river experiences galore. The festival runs 4–11PM on Friday, and 11AM–11PM on Saturday.

    Performers will represent an eclectic mix of musical genres, including indie rock, hip-hop, electronic and Americana.

    The best destination music festivals capture the imagination, creativity and personality of the community they call home—it’s about more than just the music. Middle Waves aims to do just that. As noted in a recent LA Weekly article, “There's an increased trend of multi-faceted social events, and people are more willing than ever to make sure they don't miss out on experiential, destination weekends with friends.”

    A family-friendly festival (kids under 12 are free with a paid adult), Middle Waves will take over the entirety of Headwaters Park, with music, art, film and river activities on the riverfront, in the greenspaces and in both pavilions.

    Live painting, free kayak and pontoon rides, kitty café and puppy pub by the ACSPCA, Cinema Center silent “dive-in movie,” Photanical pop-up workshops and so much more will bring the festival to life.

    Middle Waves will feature three stages: St. Marys Stage presented by Parkview Health, Maumee Stage and St. Joseph Stage.

    The St. Marys Stage requires a ticket/wristband, but the rest of the festival—including both the Maumee and St. Joseph Stages—are free and open to the public!

    Download the festival guide today to learn more about the schedule, performers and activities. The guide will also be distributed across the region in Thursday, September 8th’s issue of Whatzup.

    Middle Waves will be headlined by psychedelic pop band, The Flaming Lips, who have topped the bill at music festivals around the world, including Lollapalooza, Coachella, Glastonbury and more.

    Joining The Flaming Lips are:
    • Best Coast (pop-rock, Los Angeles CA)
    • Bully (garage rock, Nashville, TN)
    • CaveofswordS (dream pop, St. Louis, MO)
    • Doomtree (hip-hop, Minneapolis, MN)
    • The Ike Reilly Assassination (rock, Libertyville, IL)
    • JEFF the Brotherhood (garage rock, Nashville, TN)
    • Oddisee (hip-hop, Washington, DC)
    • Sidewalk Chalk (hip-hop / jazz, Chicago, IL)
    • Tanlines (electronic/pop, Brooklyn, NY)

    The festival will feature 20 artists from Northeast Indiana, including:

    • Andromeda (hip-hop)
    • The B-45’s (rock)
    • The Be Colony (psychedelic rock)
    • Either/Or (folk rock)
    • Heaven’s Gateway Drugs (psychedelic rock)
    • HUSH presents… (DJ sets)
    • J-Tubbs (hip-hop)
    • James & The Drifters (rock)
    • The Legendary Trainhoppers (Americana)
    • Lost Lakes (rock)
    • March On, Comrade (post-rock)
    • The Meat Flowers (indie rock)
    • Metavari (electronic)
    • Night Is Electric (modern rock)
    • Oferle (folk pop)
    • The Orange Opera (rock)
    • Sankofa (hip-hop)
    • Secret Mezzanine (folk rock)
    • Thunderhawk (indie rock)
    • Void Reunion (indie rock)

    “We’ve got a saying, ‘Fort Wayne, you are cool enough for Middle Waves.’ Middle Waves is for everyone in this community. We believe students, professionals, young families, boomers and more will create memories of a lifetime at Middle Waves,” said event co-chair, Matt Kelley.

    “’Our community’s thriving music, festival and arts scenes are what led to this event. Middle Waves complements events like Three Rivers Festival, Baals, Fort Wayne Music Festival, Living Fort Wayne Concert Series, Downtown Improvement District events, Taste of the Arts, Rock the Plaza and more,” added event co-chair, Alison Gerardot. “And we’re excited to highlight the musicians and artists who perform in our community every weekend at our great clubs and venues.”

    As a completely volunteer-driven festival, opportunities exist for interested individuals and organizations to receive free or discounted tickets to the festival. Positions include admissions, green team, bartender, merchandise and more, and are available for sign-up at

    Two-day, Friday-only and Saturday-only General Admission tickets are available at or at the ArtsTix Box Office, located at the Arts United Center. Prices are $35 for Friday, $50 for Saturday, or $75 for the two-day pass.

    Momentum has a soundtrack—and it’s loud.

    We hope to see you at Middle Waves.

    Middle Waves is a non-profit community event (part of Cultural Advancement Projects, LLC) that operates with Arts United’s 501(c)(3) and relies on the financial support of local businesses.

    The festival’s steering committee is Alison Gerardot, co-chair, Riverfront Fort Wayne; Matt Kelley, co-chair, The B-Side at One Lucky Guitar; Alec Johnson, City of Fort Wayne; Corey Rader, The Brass Rail; Dan Ross, Arts United; Katy Silliman, GeneAlign; Olivia Fabian, One Lucky Guitar.

    For more information, contact:

    Matt Kelley
    One Lucky Guitar, Inc.
    Middle Waves Music Festival co-chair
    260 969-6672 info@middlewaves

    Read full Middle Waves article here.

  • 03 Sep 2016 8:01 AM | Joel Crandall

    Join the Downtown Fort Wayne Improvement District for Clean and Green Corps on Saturday, September 17. 

    The corps will be tackling improvement projects around the northern region of Downtown, from 9:00am - 12:00pm, starting at the intersection of Harrison and Columbia Street.

  • 03 Sep 2016 7:57 AM | Joel Crandall

    Take a few minutes to complete the Northeast Indiana Quality of Life Survey on the role of arts, culture, social offerings and community amenities in Fort Wayne and our region.

  • 31 Aug 2016 10:35 PM | Joel Crandall

    Join us for our next Hot Spot on Thursday, September 15 at Club Soda from 5:30-7:30pm. We will recognize and meet the current YLNI Board of Directors!

    Whether you’re new to Northeast Indiana or have lived here for years, Hot Spots are always filled with individuals who are ready to help you make great connections with organizations and people around Fort Wayne.

    RSVP now on Facebook:

P.O. Box 10774
Fort Wayne, IN  46853

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