The City of Carmel in the state of Indiana has seen many changes that have taken affect on itself as the city continues with development projects that were in the works before the pandemic and during. The city has made many interesting changes to the overall facade of how the mayor and the city council want the world to see their beautiful city. Many projects have been approved to turn the northern suburbs of Indianapolis into a tourist destination for travelers coming through Indianapolis, along with the development of pricey living accommodations that have an average monthly cost of 2000 US dollars. The city of Carmel had started to invest in the already over saturated hotel market with the construction of the Hotel Carmichael, part of the Marriott’s signature series, of which has far exceeded its budget of construction by millions of dollars. All of this is having been done to appease to the ritzy tastes of Carmel’s elite citizens that enjoy the shows at a highly regulated Palladium opera house that only allows certain music acts to perform. The state government bonds that have been used for these projects should have been invested into education for children and affordable housing and amenities for working class folks that make up the majority of Carmel’s population instead of appealing to others.
With the pandemic winding down, the citizens of Carmel are starting to come out of there homes and are enjoying the bright sunshine with walks in the city’s downtown art district. This art district was created to bring about an idea that the city is going to redevelop in what Jeffery Zimmerman describes as a “creative city”. During early development, pre Covid-19, the idea was to bring cultural ideas and traditions together by bringing artist from around the state along with developing venues for music and other artistic forms of expression. In a perfect world, this is the stuff of a progressive society looking to move forward past its record of discrimination.
Looking at the arts district now, this is far from what the idea of what a creative city should look like with the Covid-19 pandemic only amplifying the result. The city had slowed the funding of community infrastructure projects that would benefit average working class residents, though the city had no problem investing in the development of newer luxury condominiums and common grounds that many cannot afford. In the meantime, the city has allocated resources like the police to patrol these areas more frequently as other areas are barely patrolled while poorer areas have seen an increase in crime in the form of vandalism and theft.
The pandemic has brought a newer thought process amongst the citizens of Carmel in that its design has failed many of its people and a few lessons can be learned from those failures. The original design was to attract outsiders to come into the city, but in that design, where was considerations for the people and cultures that already reside within its boarder. If you live in the heart of the Carmel, the concept of the fifteen-minute city can be seen to be a success for people living with in that circumference. In that circumference we see all that was mentioned before of luxury condominiums and amenities for sustained living, though it does not help working class citizens North and South of that bubble obtain affordable housing, mortgage/rental assistance, and easy access to educational amenities. As the Center for Disease Control and prevention extended their eviction moratorium nation-wide, there are still families in Carmel that have been evicted regardless of the controls measures meant to help residences maintain a suitable living environment. With working families fighting to make ends meet, there has been children that have fallen to the wayside in education as some families can not invest the time to educate their children as they have to work not just one but multiple jobs to avoid eviction.
In hindsight, many of the issues presented could have been avoided. The neoliberal economic policies that favor the free-market economy have shown its true colors during the pandemic, as if major disasters like Hurricane Katerina and what corporations had done to New Orleans was not a large enough lesson. The City of Carmel follows this neoliberal trend of helping corporate investors with taxpayer dollars that was meant for the improvement of its citizens social-economic status so that they can become more healthier and happier members of society. There is a trend happening across the United States that for real change to happen in a community, it requires not only the changing of leadership to match the ideology of its citizens but also entails building up the community from the bottom up. A community is only as good as its foundation permits it.