Muncie, Indiana. Classic example of a flyover city in the middle of a flyover state. Not the first place that comes to mind when you think of a college town.
Muncie is home to Ball State University, a Mid-American Conference school that doesn?t get a whole lot of national attention. I call this city and school home, but some people avoid it like the plague.
Over the past twenty years or so, Muncie hasn?t exactly done a great job at building up it?s reputation. The once heritage-rich environment began to dissolve as the local job market began its decline. The city was initially built by the jobs supplied by the Ball brothers, Borg Warner, and Chevrolet. But once outsourcing took its toll, it left us with a skeleton of what Muncie used to be.
Located in East-Central Indiana, Muncie is the main city in Delaware County. Delaware county is infamous for being the methamphetamine capital of Indiana, and Indiana in turn has led the nation in the amount of meth lab busts. In other words, Muncie is the best of the best at being the worst of the worst.
Muncie Community Schools is in shambles, and it?s rich basketball legacy is beginning to fade as well. Families are moving away to avoid throwing their children into the mess, and for good reason.
A lack of industry has Muncie in a chokehold. Large industries bring money into the local economy. Lack of funding has effected not only the school systems, but the rest of the community as well.
For the most part, Ball State is what has kept Muncie from completely tanking. Home to twenty-two thousand students and three thousand full time employees, the campus is like a miniature city in itself. While walking on campus, you can?t help but feel like you are in a completely different world from the rest of Muncie.
The illusion might work for the new incoming freshman, but anyone who has been here for an extended period of time can see the truth. When asked if they enjoy living in the Muncie environment, a large number of students bring up how boring the area is.
A fair point.
And it?s exactly how Ball State gained its notoriety as a party school.
Delaware county at a glance doesn?t seem have much to offer in terms of excitement or entertainment. The local mall is nothing to brag about, and one of the two movie theaters in town went out of business. We have at least three branches of every major fast food joint in town, and several very successful liquor stores. In all honesty, the few campus bars are the only points of intrigue for college students on a Friday or Saturday night here in Muncie.
But I didn?t write this article to just hate on Muncie. That would make me part of the problem.
I wrote this because I love my community. As bad as it can seem sometimes, I was born and raised here, and I?m proud to call this town in the middle of America home.
For me, the beauty is in the simplicity. The breathtaking sunsets. Rusted basketball goals on every driveway. Hoosier hospitality.
The only thing to hate about Muncie is the inhabitants who willingly give up on it. People quit caring. Nobody wants to support a cause that is struggling. It?s much easier to judge from the outside than to get your hands dirty and actively make a difference in the community.
I challenge you to actively choose to focus on the good. Muncie has an incredible basketball legacy, so go support a local high school team this winter. It has a beautiful community cultural center at Minnetrista. Go check it out. Take your kids to the Children?s Museum in the downtown district. Visit ?Mom & Pop? shops and support local businesses.
One of Muncie?s biggest attractions is the Civic Theatre. Their shows are incredible, but lack funding. The Ball State theatre also puts on exceptional productions.
Ball State has competitive sports teams. Sports events make for great family nights, and provides an exciting atmosphere when the community gets behind it. Switch up your schedule and go out and support a positive Muncie culture.
My point is: communities are only as strong as the members who support it. Everyone is going to continue to hate Muncie until collectively as a group we decide not to. Once you decide to stop hating your life, it becomes a lot more enjoyable.
And it boils down to the individual.
I?m not asking you to start up a business and single handedly save our economy.
I?m not asking you to solve our meth addiction problems.
I?m not asking you to revive our school systems.
I?m asking you to change your outlook on life. Negativity is not a key component in any successful business or person, and it shouldn?t be a key component in any community.
Let?s begin to build each-other up, and in turn begin to impact our community. Let?s bring a little bit of ambition back into this town, and aspire to improve yourself a little more each and every day.
Let?s stop complaining.
Let?s stop hating Muncie.