Jasper and Princeton invest in arts and development for better quality of life

Oct 18, 2013

For today’s show, The Trend visited our neighbors in Jasper and Princeton to hear what those towns are doing to increase the quality of life for their residents – in the hopes of attracting talented workers and millennials.

Jasper is the only town in Indiana, and one of a few across the country, that has a city government department set aside for the arts. We'll hear from Mayor Terry Seitz, Director of Community Development and Planning Darla Blazey and the Jasper Arts Board President Mike Jones. They say the town’s commitment to the arts has created a fertile ground for new development in the area.

Jasper's Mayor Terry Seitz says the Spirit of Jasper, a refurbished vintage passenger train, is just one of the town's many unique investments that support quality of life.
Credit Cass Herrington

We heard from a few people from Jasper’s city government who are invested in arts funding and development, but how do artists fare in this town? Clare Bies and Romy Kissle, two life-long friends and artists, explain how growing up in Jasper helped propel their careers, and the community support helps sustain them. 

In Princeton, we’ll hear from Mayor Bob Hurst about the 22 million dollars in Stellar grants being invested in projects , such as a Bicentennial Plaza, downtown streetscapes, senior housing cottages and refurbishing the former Princeton movie theater into a performing arts venue.

Finally, we’ll talk to a young restaurant owner whose business is breathing new life into Princeton's sleepy town square -- but the impending building updates present a costly challenge to her small business.

Sarah Wolfe left Princeton after high school to experience mountains, bigger cities and different ways of thinking. She said she moved back to her hometown because she realized in order to make real changes in the world; she needed to become part of a broken system.So she started Farmer’s Daughter in hopes of bringing a new approach to local food and local business to her hometown.

As that town square braces for new changes aimed to attract young workers –

Sarah Wolfe is a self-described "farm kid." She opened Farmer's Daughter Bakery & Cafe in downtown Princeton because she wanted to make her hometown more mindful of locally-sourced food.
Credit Cass Herrington

There’s one change ahead that isn’t in the city’s development plans,

Sarah is selling her restaurant to spend more time with her daughter.

So, there will be setbacks as communities work toward a higher quality of life for their residents. Sarah Wolfe’s decision means that one of downtown Princeton’s most innovative supporters is taking a step back…at least temporarily.

The conversations on this program reveal that communities are waking up to the fact that quality of life and funding for things like the arts are key to future growth and survival. There have been some successes, but there is often opposition to public funding for these types on initiatives.

Like a song you heard on today’s show? Here’s the playlist:

“La Valse de Vieux Os” – Yann Tiersen

“J’y suis Jamais Alle” – Yann Tiersen

“Heavenfaced” – The National

“Apertura” – Gustavo Santaolalla

“Attaboy” – Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile

“Off the Record” – My Morning Jacket