Orange County Prospective Projects

Orange County Prospective Projects

Indiana University’s Sustaining Hoosier Communities initiative is working with Orange County leaders to explore, understand and resolve challenges identified by the community. 

Economic Sustainability Projects

  • Agri- and Eco-Tourism Plan

    Orange County has a multitude of natural resources, innovative farms, and food projects as well as tourist accommodations. Located just one hour from two metropolitan areas, Louisville, KY and Bloomington, IN, we would like to bring visitors to this region to boost our local economy and support the agricultural and ecological resources available.

    Objectives:

    • Training material for community partners
    • Outreach/marketing material for distribution to potential visitors
    • Organize local farmers, parks, and tourism accomodations
  • Incubator/Community-Use Kitchen: Design & Business Plan

    Orange County boasts abundant land for growing food and resourceful, innovative citizens who are willing to work hard to provide for themselves and their families in an economically depressed county.  Having access to an incubator kitchen could open up opportunities for some local citizens to create their own small business and baking or cook products to sell at local and regional stores and markets as well as online. This would provide another avenue to make a full or partial income giving and contributing goods they can take pride in.  In addition, a community kitchen would be a way for people to gather together to make food for each other for community events and to process garden harvests together as a community.  An incubator kitchen could also be used as a teaching kitchen to offer healthy cooking and eating classes to our community.  

    Objectives:

    • Determine suitable location for incubator kitchen
    • Develop possible designs for kitchen
    • Business plan and budgeting for kitchen
    • List of costs of equipment and installation
    • Plan for how to schedule programming & share the space
    • Outline of rental fee structure
  • Lost River Market and Deli: Membership Engagement

    Lost River Market and Deli provides a marketplace for local vendors, purchasing over $1 million of goods from local vendors over the first 10 years of operation. Lost River Market and Deli serves as an economic and community catalyst for Orange County and supports a variety of local organizations. Structured similarly to a cooperative business model and operating with a board of directors and a paid staff, Lost River is based on nine cooperative principles that encourage member participation and economic and operating autonomy so that member-owners are the predominant leaders of the market. The outcome is that all profit generated stays in the community and does not go to external entities. Currently, Lost River is still running with an annual deficit so ways to develop a sustainable future for Lost River as a marketplace and a place of community are much needed. 

    Objectives:

    • Strengthen ties between member-owners through frequent and effective communication
    • Staff training about cooperative services
    • External communication about the value of co-ops
    • Increase revenue growth
    • Expand base of brand ambassadors and promotional materials
  • Lost River Market and Deli: Customer Development Strategies and Outreach Plans

    Lost River Market and Deli attracts customers and vendors from a five county area. Many of the customers from outlying areas are attracted to specific goods unique to Lost River vendors, such as fresh, local produce or natural wellness products. Using those goods as points of attraction is central for expanding Lost River's customer base from outlying areas.

    Objectives:

    • Expand customer base within Orange County and to surrounding counties
    • Create signage and promotional materials
    • Outreach strategies
  • Lost River Market and Deli: Revenue Growth Strategies

    Lost River Market and Deli seeks to remain a sustainable marketplace for the citizens within Orange County and the surrounding area, but expanding revenue and growth is central to its wellbeing. Lost River partnered with an IU Business School class in 2016 with one of the Co-op’s strong supporters, Leah Thill, who served as the liaison between the classroom and Lost River. Almost all of the students' suggestions for revenue growth and sustainability were implemented, including the following: signage to attract Paoli Peaks customers, a new and first POS system to track beer sales and margin, and promotions targeting deli-only shoppers. Lost River's staff and board have exhibited the capacity and skills to implement new ideas from outside the market community to make positive change and growth.

    Objectives:

    • Expand revenue growth by at least 3%
    • Strengthen individual department marketing and sales strategies to increase overall revenue
    • Develop a frequent customer rewards program
    • Develop online sales and delivery services
  • Solar Eclipse Readiness

    Orange County is in the direct line for the viewing of the solar eclipse in 2024. After witnessing the vast impact the 2017 solar eclipse had on other small towns, Orange County is seeking to start planning education and outreach events to benefit the community andand to increase the capacity of hosting large volumes of tourists who will visit to view the eclipse. 

    Objectives:

    • Form relationships with partner counties who hosted visitors during the 2017 solar eclipse
    • Develop training material for community partners
    • Develop outreach/marketing material for distribution to potential visitors

Environmental Sustainability Projects

  • Orange County 4H Fairgrounds Relocation

    Orange County is in need of a new 4H fairground location with updated facilities to expand development and efficient utilization for the existing fairgrounds. The current location of the fairgrounds is located on a large hill, which is difficult to access, particularly for people with mobility issues. Additionally, Orange County seeks to expand its outreach during 4H fair week to engage the outside community who are not directly involved in 4H by providing carnival rides, food and craft vendors, and enhance the overall experience of the 4H fair in the community. 

    Objectives:

    • Strategic plan for developing a new fairground location
    • Blueprint design of new grounds that include barns, show arenas, vendor areas, non-animal projects location, parking, etc.
    • Develop and conduct a marketing study on fair events, vendors, and overall community impact
    • Grant-writing assistance to increase funding opportunities
    • Plans for improving existing fairgrounds
  • Bike Path Planning: Education and Public Relationships

    Orange County draws bicyclists all over Indiana who like to ride through the countryside, farmland and small towns. French Lick Resorts also attracts thousands of people throughout the country passing through Orleans and Paoli, and many are looking for ways to be active and to engage in the natural beauty of this area. Due to small country roads with their many twists and turns, cycling can be dangerous.For these reasons, it would be beneficial to develop bike paths in and between the towns of Orleans, Paoli and French Lick, and even other small enclaves within Orange County. In addition to boosting the health and wellness for locals and visitors, a bike path would expand the local economy by drawing cyclists to and through all of the small towns of Orange County. This project could focus specifically on a Rails to Trails type model by following the old Monon Railroad path. On a smaller scale, this project could also start with some basic bike paths in the area to create safe travel from one area to another. 

    Objectives:

    • Strategies to educate the public on the importance of bike paths
    • Communication and outreach strategies to work with land-owners who might be affected by the bike paths
    • Outreach strategies to increase public participation
    • Ideas on distributing bicycles to youth, starting a youth bicycling club/team, mobile bicycle repair trailer, bicycle safety education classes, etc. 
  • Community Garden: Flood Plan and Restructuring

    The Orange County Community Garden is a 2+ acre plot of land within walking distance from downtown Paoli that has been in use for the last three years.  The land provides the opportunity for both individual family plots and group gardening. During the growing months, both new and experienced gardeners come together twice a week to learn and share gardening techniques and skills.  The garden currently plants vegetables, annual flowers, and the beginnings of an orchard. Although the garden is in a convenient, central location, it is also in a low-lying, flood-prone area and has experienced significant and detrimental flooding during the last two growing seasons. Flooding is currently the biggest problem for the Community Garden.  Additionally, there are no play structures for children, shelters, picnic areas, public art, or perennial sensory gardens. In addition to improving the landscaping to prevent future flooding, the Community Garden would like an improved, overall design.

    Objectives:

    • Restructure the garden to include ecologically sensitive design elements and farming techniques that decrease the overall damage of flooding and increase the aesthetics of the garden
    • Introduce flood-tolerant crops in a responsibly and sustainably 
    • Develop a flood plan that includes managing flood waters, safety assessments, and revitalizing soil and crop health after a flood event 
  • Community Garden: Programming
    The Orange County Community Garden has a dedicated, small number of volunteers and participants that have been cultivating the land for the past three years. However, it is in need of a significant increase in the number of community members actively and regularly involved. Through bi-weekly gardening sessions, there is time for informal skill development and sharing, but having more formal, regular programming would have a significant and measurable positive effect on volunteers and the broader community.
  • Dark Sky Designation

    Orange County hosts vast swaths of land untouched by light pollution within areas of the Hoosier National Forrest, Tucker Lake, and Patoka Lake. A possible program, the Dark Sky Designation, would promote and preserve these areas through educational opportunities and community events on the importance of keeping dark skies protected from light pollution and energy waste.  

    Objectives:

    • Establish specific areas within national parks to monitor light pollution 
    • Develop maps and designate suitable areas for dark sky events 
    • Develop online resources and mobile apps to monitor the amount of light pollution in designated areas
    • Monitor areas with highest light pollution and develop reduction strategies
    • Educate community on how to decrease light pollution
  • Orange County Recycling Co-Op Augmentation

    The Orange County Recycling Co-Op requires funding for equipment additions and increasing the efficiency and the amount of product diverted from a landfill. 

    Objectives

    • Optimize recycling workflow with additional baler(s)
    • Increase number of bins, carts, and conveyance systems
    • Site surveillance equipment during off-hours
    • Community education strategies on the importance of recycling properly
  • Solar Power Cooperative

    Orange County would like to understand how to better fund solar power in individual homes and throughout the community. In addition to learning more about investing in solar power, showing specific entities in the community how to install solar panels is crucial. 

    Objectives:

    • Understand how to make solar power systems affordable
    • Develop funding strategies to install solar panels throughout the community
  • Springs Valley Lake Trail

    The Springs Valley Trail, formerly known as Tucker Lake, is an underutilized resource in Orange County. The community should be educated about the history of the trail and encouraged to enjoy this natural resource.

    Objectives:

    • Enhance knowledge and history of the Springs Valley Trail by local community
    • Increase use of the trail for pedestrians and cyclists
    • Promote canoe and kayaking along the river
    • Establish a dark sky area from the top of the dam

Social Sustainability Projects

  • Accessible Playgrounds

    Orange County lacks inclusive recreational spaces for people with disabilities. In addition to creating a more welcoming community for all, accessible playgrounds and spaces will also support tourism and attract a more diverse demographic. Additionally, an adventure park that is accessible for all ability levels of all ages would foster community connection while providing an attraction for visitors to Orange County.

    Objectives:

    • Design of accessible playground and public spaces   
    • Grant-writing, fundraising, and budgeting plans
    • Marketing strategies and market research for viability of accessible spaces
  • Addressing White Nationalism

    The Traditionalists Worker Party is a white nationalist group founded in Paoli, IN. It has received substantial national media coverage over the years, and many residents are rightfully enraged at the negative and hateful image that this has painted of Paoli. In response, a group was formed to share their message of inclusivity, and a town ordinance was created to stand with diversity. Paoli does not want to be a town thought of as being quiet and complacent about hateful and racist groups. It is imperative that the citizens of Paoli and the broader Orange County set an example of inclusivity, diversity, and cultural competency and are equipped with the skills to fight against racism and white nationalism.

    Objectives:

    • Diversity education programs in schools and throughout the community
    • Develop accessible "toolkit" to dismantle racism and foster inclusivity and diversity
    • Design an ongoing calendar of trainings, social events, etc. that elicits knowledge and dialogue about issues of race
  • Black Vulture Rural Studio

    The Black Vulture Project seeks to improve housing and neighborhoods in Paoli by creating innovative and sustainable building designs, similar to the Rural Studio Program established by Samule Mockbee at Auborn University. The Black Vulture Project would like to work with architecture and design students to improve housing conditions using socially-conscious materials and strategies to keep budgets low and designs innovative.

    Objectives:

    • Work with students to develop low-cost, innovative architectural designs 
    • Develop budgeting and fundraising plans
  • Black Vulture Project: Marketing and Web Design

    The Black Vulture Project needs help promoting events and marketing its programming in order to grow its audience and attract international artists to participate in exhibitions, community education, and the artist-in-residency program. 

    Objectives:

    • Develop a web presence, logos, and designs to promote exhibitions
    • Community outreach
    • Create catalogs to document all exhibitions and events as both an archive and marketable commodity
    • Marketing strategies to enhance business opportunities
  • Community Garden: Marketing Strategies

    The Orange County Community Garden is a 2+ acre plot of land within walking distance from downtown Paoli that has been in use for the last three years.  The land provides the opportunity for both individual family plots and group gardening. During the growing months, both new and experienced gardeners come together twice a week to learn and share gardening techniques and skills.  The garden currently plants vegetables, annual flowers, and the beginnings of an orchard. Currently, the two primary modes of advertising are through Facebook and word-of-mouth. In order to increase the use of the Community Garden, it is imperative that the entire community knows how to take advantage of the garden and its many events. A comprehensive marketing strategy is needed to improve county-wide visibility and incentivize participation.

    Objectives:

    • Establish community partnerships and advertising locations to increase visibility, particularly in food-scarce populations
    • Marketing plan with focus on food security and social justice
    • Social media advertising strategies
    • Increased programming to attract new visitors and maintain current volunteers
    • Develop informational pamphlets about community garden, programming, contacts, how to access local, healthy food, etc.
  • Community Wellness Network

    Orange County has various groups within the community working on similar community development projects, but there are several resources that people remain unaware of. The Community Wellness Network would serve as a web-based application that serves to connect and inform citizens about volunteer opportunities, public events, etc.

    Objectives:

    • Develop a web-based communications system to connect various groups and organizations to align efforts, report needs, and connect citizens to resources and events
    • Establish marketing strategies to enhance use of web-based platform throughout the community
  • HandUp OC: Branding & Strategic Planning

    HandUp OC, Inc is a nonprofit in Orange County whose mission is to empower citizens of Orange County to create better lives for themselves, their families, and each other by improving life skills and their personal and community health.  HandUp's vision is to ensure that each member of the community is connected to both the resources he/she needs as well as to one another since community engagement and connection are key to emotional and physical health.  HandUp currently provides the community with resources through the Community Closet, manages the Orange County Community Garden, and hosts Picnic at the Park in the late summer/fall months.  HandUp wants to expand and open a recovery center for women in Orange County and a youth center.  

    Objectives: 

    • Establish brand identity for HandUp throughout the community
    • Enhance marketing and fundraising strategies
    • Strategic plans for all programming
  • Healthier Living Groups and Pre-Diabetes Prevention Programs

    Southern Indiana Community Health Care is an independent primary care and new federally-qualified community health center whose objective is to build a healthier community by adapting to the changes in value-based care and prioritize patient experiences in rural Indiana. SICHC is implementing chronic care management procedures and staffing to provide follow-up and immediate care for patients living chronic health issues, such as pre-diabetes and COPD. SICHC would like to partner with IU faculty and students to implement a group care model of chronic disease self-management support and establish pre-diabetes prevention resources for individuals in rural settings.

    Objectives:

    • Develop student-run chronic care group that applies the Stanford Self-Management Model with SICHC patients
    • Track patients over 10-12 weeks to allow students and faculty to adapt and assess the effectiveness of the Stanford Model in rural communities
    • Determine the best approach for program sustainability, allocating staff resourecs, and further partnership development
    • Implement rural pre-diabetes prevention program
  • Habitat for Humanity: Sustaining First-Time Home-Ownership

    Orange County Habitat for Humanity has built 28 homes in its 25-year history. Unfortunately, that means over 30 families have struggled to become sustainable homeowners. For each of the selected Partner Families that had homes built, approximately 4-5 additional applicants were not selected due to various factors, including inadequate income, poor debt-to-income ratio, unsteady employment history, etc. OC Habitat for Humanity seeks to address and accept more applicants and assist them in becoming stable homeowners.

    Objectives:

    • Develop interactive website to distribute information and facilitate more applicants
    • Develop training and mentoring relationships before building homes to ensure the success of future homeowners
  • Paoli School Nature Preserve: Environmental Education

    The Paoli School's campus boasts a beautiful, 20-acre forest with an un-used trail that could be used for local residents to take advantage of a nearby nature preserve or for teachers to utilize for environmental education purposes. 

    Objectives:

    • Establish a plan for how the trail can be used for education and recreation
    • Age-appropriate interpretative guides or curriculum that teachers can utilize
    • Further develop the trail with signage, rest stops, etc.
  • Rural Health Promotion and Stigma Reduction

    Orange County seeks to improve and sustain the health and livelihoods of individuals in rural communities who might not have equitable access to quality healthcare. Predominant health issues include substance use, mental illness, hypertension, chronic pain, pre-diabetes, and obesity.

    Objectives:

    • Work with community health entities, small clinics, and physicians to develop outreach strategies to increase education and awareness on health issues
    • Organize awareness events to improve community health
    • Establish after-school programs devoted to healthy lifestyles for youth
    • Track and measure health outcomes in community health clinics
    • Develop plans to reduce stigma around mental illness and substance use