Residents and community partners of the Near Northwest Area of Indianapolis (NNW) are working together to identify and address the community’s environmental issues.

In 2016, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Program funded the creation of the Northwest Area Progress and Redevelopment Plan, which was helpful in terms of raising awareness about environmental issues, identifying over 40 brownfields (properties with actual or suspected contamination), and creating space to begin some much-needed dialogue. The primary focus of that plan was the redevelopment of one vacant 19-acre site into a financially sustainable enterprise to address community needs identified in the Northwest Area Quality of Life Plan.

According to the US EPA Environmental Justice Screen (EJSCREEN), there is cause for concern regarding numerous environmental issues.  For example, the NNW is in the 75th percentile or higher for all environmental indicators except for ozone. The rate of asthma in children in the state of Indiana is 7.5%, the rate in the NNW is 20%. The goal of the Community-Led Environmental Action Project (C-LEAP) is to increase environmental awareness and agency to support a sustained, transparent, and effective community-led drive toward environmental justice.  This effort includes a series of community gatherings to listen to residents and sharing information, the development of an action plan and funding plan, and the implementation of action items.

C-LEAP is being done in partnership with Groundwork Indy; The Learning Tree; the NNW Arts, Parks, and Public Space Action Team; and the Reconnecting to Our Waterways (ROW) Central Canal Committee.  Technical support is being provided by the US Environmental Protection Agency and IUPUI’s Anthropocene Household Project.  Funding for C-LEAP is being provided by US EPA; the Indianapolis Foundation, a CICF affiliate; ROW; and NuGenesis.