The laser focus on Indiana over the last two weeks has been supremely uncomfy for multiple reasons. People of Indiana always love mentions of our cities and state in the media because typically, Indiana is one of the "flyover" states largely ignored by a majority of the country. That's why even with the sweeping generalizations and digs about being hillbillies, Indianans get excited about shout-outs in shows like The Middle, Parks and Recreation and, the latest gem, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. "The Durnsville Indiana Mole Women" IS a hilarious string of words and I'd laugh at pretty much anything Tina Fey thinks up. But after this recent legislation passed by Indiana state government and our shiny faced, asshole governor, the spotlight on Indiana has become way more harsh. I'm 100% against this new #RFRA law (and not totally thrilled with the "fix") and I'll continue to fight the hate and show my support for inclusive businesses and organizations rather than give in to the negativity. There are many fantastic people and businesses in Indiana trying to attract new talent to the area, something incredibly vital to our growth. I'm sick of hearing the tired stereotypes about Indiana, perpetuated for decades by people who don't know my Indiana.
I've seen many jokes on social media about the state since this RFRA nonsense began, some of them hilarious, some stupid and most of them based on untrue or outdated stereotypes. One tweet in particular struck a chord with me because I spend much of my professional time highlighting fantastic, local/small Indiana businesses and products in my column for Fort Wayne Monthly. The tweet I'm referencing is actually pretty innocuous and it's by someone who I think is really funny but it highlighted a stereotype Indiana is always fighting --- that we have nothing to offer this country except our fields of corn (and gum, apparently). If you've never been to Indiana or have only briefly passed through, you may not know about just how much we have to give.
Indiana is home to some major corporations like Eli Lilly and Simon Property Group. The state has great sports traditions thanks to the NCAA, the Indy 500 and Super Bowl XLVI, which received rave reviews for the production and coordination of the massive event and our state's legendary Hoosier hospitality.
Indianapolis has world-class museums like the huge Indianapolis Children's Museum, the Eiteljorg Museum and the Indianapolis Museum of Art. In my hometown of Fort Wayne, we have a top ranked Children's Zoo and Arts United, a collection of vibrant artistic institutions dedicated to enriching lives through all art forms.
Indiana has many historical places and innovations to highlight, most beautifully displayed at The French Lick Resort, which includes the National Historical Landmark West Baden Springs Hotel and the Auburn Cord Duesenberg museum.
Warsaw, Indiana is the orthopedic capital of the world while Columbus, Indiana is home to many important works of architecture, created by the likes of Pei, Saarinen, Meier and Venturi. Speaking of great design, there are numerous Frank Lloyd Wright homes in Indiana. Hillbillies don't live in FLW homes.
Fort Wayne, Indiana is home to a handful of style companies like Vera Bradley, Matilda Jane, cinda b, The Good Ones and OFabz. Modbar is a gorgeous coffee brewing innovation, also headquartered in Fort Wayne, gaining popularity throughout the nation for its superior quality and design.
Indiana has a growing craft beer industry and so many independent, amazing restaurants like Joseph Decuis in Roanoke, for example. We can lay claim to Martha Hoover who, with her 12 local restaurants, is a major, national player in the restaurant industry. Eating at one of her Cafe Patachou locations is reason enough to visit Indianapolis. #cinnamontoast
We have thousands upon thousands of talented musicians, makers, artists, entrepreneurs and writers among our population. Indiana is home to some incredible entertainment venues, big and small, universities and leading hospitals. You can't have all this (and so, so much more, just not listed here) without dynamic, smart, forward thinking, creative, driven, educated and passionate people with taste and influence. I could go on and on about everything Indiana has to offer but you should come here for a visit before you decide you know what our state is all about. You can get here by flying in to our award-winning Indianapolis International Airport.