Town and Gown: How Do Notre Dame and South Bend Make It Work?

By Madison Riehle and Allie Hoerster • May 14th, 2017

Before the University of Notre Dame’s economic and social influence gained traction, the city thrived off of the business and jobs created by the Studebaker automobile plant. At its height, the company employed 7,000 people, which was eight percent of South Bend in 1960, according to the Studebaker National Museum.

When the plant closed in 1963, both the population and the economy took a hit, with 20,000 residents leaving the city over 40 years, putting South Bend on Newsweek’s 2011 list of “America’s Dying Cities.”

Despite this, and due to recent pushes and changes in South Bend’s government and the sustained effort of new Notre Dame programs, South Bend is transitioning, experts and officials say.

“The city is growing and developing, it has some really positive areas.” said Jackie Burns Rucker, Associate Director of Community Relations for the University of Notre Dame. “It is a thriving community that has a large alumni population here, and has a really rich history.”

The City of South Bend and the University of Notre Dame are inextricably linked by a long-standing symbiotic relationship. As one of the largest enterprises in the St. Joseph County area, Notre Dame plays an integral role in the city’s economy, which makes community outreach initiatives and programs measures all the more important.

Juxtapose: The development of Eddy Street Commons over the last 14 years.

“There’s a symbiosis between the community and the University that we recognize more than ever, and I think communities around the country are recognizing this, so we talk a lot about the mutual benefit of our partnerships in a way that we can use our expertise on campus,” said Jay Caponigro, director of community engagement in the Office of Public Affairs at the University of Notre Dame.

The Office of Public Affairs is just one of the ways that Notre Dame has involved itself in the community. Its goal is to build, maintain and support the community of South Bend by engaging Notre Dame students with city residents. The projects that the Office of Public Affairs executes revolve around the education and enrichment of South Bend children.

“Our after-school program is very diverse—we will host events here at the center, and we have an after school program that is 2nd through 4th grade,” Rucker said about the Center for Arts and Culture. “Within the after-school program, the first hour is literacy based and the second hour is arts and culture enrichment. I utilize art and culture to try to help build relationships.”

The Center for Arts and Culture is just one of the many sites that Notre Dame students and faculty invest their time. More than 945,850 hours of community service work is performed by more than 2,250 Notre Dame students and more than 360 University faculty and staff during the 2014-15 academic year, according to a 2016 economic survey of Notre Dame.


Blue map pin iconStoryMap: Notre Dame’s impact on South Bend


Similarly, academic courses engage students with the local community through entrepreneurship opportunities and funds, as well as community-based research, which is run by the Center for Social Concerns and includes an out-of-classroom service element.

“With the community-based research, you see a lot of Catholic social teaching coming up as part of the justification for getting involved in those projects,” Caitlin Hodges, Notre Dame Student Government Director of Community Relations, said. “That’s the language you’ll see replicated at just about every level of Notre Dame when they are doing something like that.”

This kind of engagement is understood as growth in human capital — and is the most important factor for economic growth, as it leads to higher educational levels and future funds.

Aside from time investments, Notre Dame is the leading employer in the South Bend area, employing around 5,700 South Bend residents. In fiscal year 2015, the University spent nearly $168.5 million on purchases of goods and services, excluding construction, from businesses in St. Joseph County, according to a report on a 2016 economic survey of Notre Dame.

360-Degree Perspective: Step into South Bend’s southeast neighborhood.

“We know that we have to have infrastructure locally that will attract people to come to Notre Dame,” Caponigro said. “We want to make sure there are learning opportunities in the community, not just on the University campus.”

Notre Dame also focuses its community efforts on maintaining the overall look of the community, as well as ensuring that student housing does not override affordable housing in the neighboring areas.

This includes the Northeast Neighborhood Revitalization Organization, which aims to build residential housing off of Eddy Street Commons through in the Triangle Residential District. Notre Dame is also making strides to maintain housing through the Notre Dame Avenue Housing Project.

“I think that’s a big conversation right now with gentrification,” Hodges said. “what happens when so many students are moving off-campus, and there’s a really good market and that’s how you’re going to make money, but that used to be a house where a family could have afforded to live. It’s not good or bad, but it’s balancing and sometimes it feels like it’s not very well-balanced.”

Through this mutually beneficial relationship, the city has grown, both in population as well as technology as the city’s population is up for the first time since 2000. Along with this, projects like Innovation and Ignition Park have begun to expose the area to new creative solutions to city problems, as well as provide support for student and local entrepreneurs.

“At the end of the day, it’s important for our leadership at multiple levels,” Caponigro said. “If our community doesn’t succeed, Notre Dame will not succeed — not at the level that we want to.”

Bringing the Farm Downtown: Purple Porch Co-op Cultivates Local Food

By Leong Weng Kuan and Molly Seidel • May 14th, 2017

Cafe Max photo

A Cafe Max cook sets out the Hot Bar’s daily specials (Photo/Molly Seidel)


In the heart of South Bend’s East Race district sits a tiny brick building with a wide-reaching impact. “PURPLE PORCH CO-OP” is spelled out in iron letters over a door through which a constant stream of people flow.

Inside, the small space is packed with shelves of whole foods, vibrant produce and a cozy cafe with smells that waft through the store.

“Knowing that I’m coming here to get some great food and also support the community just makes it more worthwhile,” said Kathleen Darling, a Purple Porch shopper. Darling, a student at Notre Dame, regularly visits the market and cafe to stock up on groceries and enjoy lunch from the salad bar.

The Purple Porch’s local market serves as community center, and the grocery store, cafe, and weekly farmers market provide city-dwellers access to sustainable and local foods right in the heart of urban South Bend.


bluebookiconRead more: Battling hunger in Indiana


Food co-ops have gained popularity around the country as a way for shoppers and producers to become more involved in their food choices.

And Purple Porch is no exception. The market is community-owned, democratically run, and has given shoppers a more transparent, sustainable and local grocery experience.

About 10 years ago, the co-op began as a weekly farmers market that brought together Michiana farmers with South Bend consumers. The goal was to combat a lack of fresh, locally-sourced foods within the city.

Over time the market grew, and by 2009 the member-owners of the co-op decided to rent space at Lang Lab on High Street, which houses up-and-coming business ventures in the city. An explosion of popularity after this move allowed the co-op to eventually buy their own building on Hill Street, which today contains the market/cafe and operates seven days a week.

Despite the growth, employees say the Purple Porch still retains the core values on which it was founded: local, sustainable, and transparent. The market specializes in locally grown and organic products from daily fresh produce to personal care items, and operates business with local farmers and producers between a 60-mile radius (local) to a 400-mile radius (regional) around South Bend.

360 photo: Inside the co-op

Inside of store – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Why Choose Local?

While the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines local as a 400-mile radius, Purple Porch Co-op focuses heavily on products grown and produced within a 60-mile radius around South Bend.

“While this is somewhat flexible, we pride ourselves in our commitment to keeping the food miles to a minimum,” said Myles Robinson, front operations manager at the market. “That way the food being produced is more sustainable… and it helps people to have a connection to the things they’re eating.”

Dr. Susan Blum, a professor of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame, said she has a strong passion for local food and the Purple Porch.

“Buying and eating foods that have been produced locally is tangible ways to make a difference in society’s broken systems,” she said, “and the Purple Porch is instrumental for that in South Bend.”

By supporting neighbors, mitigating unequal economies, and bringing wonderful food to people who would otherwise not have access, she said she believes that co-ops such as the Purple Porch serve as epicenters of positive community change.

Blum served for almost five years on the board of the Purple Porch Co-op, acting as president, vice president and secretary. She described the co-op as the “thing she thought about the most for several years.”

She was instrumental in structuring the co-op’s founding principles of sustainability, local sourcing, community involvement and transparent production.

“Purple Porch Co-op is a force for good in the community,” Blum said of the co-op. “And the food, when it is sustainable- and locally-produced like it is here, is truly delicious.”

Wednesday Farmers Market

The Purple Porch has grown significantly over the past several years, yet it continues to host the farmer’s market on a weekly basis every Wednesday. From Spring through Fall, local farmers and producers load up their trucks, drive the short distance to the co-op and set up tents in the parking lot. Local shoppers can browse the variety of fresh goods, as well as order online ahead of time to pick up their goods direct from the vendors.

The cooperation agreement indicates that Purple Porch only collects a 10 percent surcharge on all sales at the Wednesday market, giving local farmers a wider platform to sell their products and make a profit. Purple Porch Co-op aims to encourage communications between buyers and sellers and to support local food production.

“Local means knowing the people that you work with and being able to advocate for farmers… to help them grow their business,” Robinson said.

According to the farmer’s market policy, customers can meet and interact with local producers, so that consumers can better understand the growing process and where their food is coming from.

The online order services provided by Purple Porch Co-op helps local farmers to save time and budgets for knowing the amount of products that they should bring to the market. Market sellers are producing their food within a 60-mile radius of South Bend, which guarantees the food quality.

Creating an Oasis in a Food Desert

A “food desert” is defined as a low-income urban area that lacks access to grocery stores or healthy food options. For many living in these areas, supermarkets are often several miles away, restricting options to unhealthy fast food or convenience stores.

Dr. John Brett, a professor of Anthropology at the University of Colorado-Denver, recently finished research that examines the reason why the Park Hill neighborhood in Denver — one of the city’s wealthiest areas — has some of the highest rates of food insecurity.

“The key is not about convincing the community to let us come in, but is about to accepting the community as partners,” Brett said.

He stressed the need for “experts” in the field to listen to the life stories and experience of people living within food deserts. Greater understanding and compassion for the individuals affected by this crisis is crucial for treating the problem in the first place.

“Park Hill qualifies as a food desert, but now many people reconsider it as a ‘Food Swamp’ — there are lots of food but they’re not quality food.” he said, “Although there are convenience stores that you can get beers, cigarettes and lottery tickets, not fresh vegetables and meat.”

He said that enhancing the already existed resources is the easiest way to make a change in a food desert, for instance, trying to get funding to add fresh food items in convenience stores.

Food insecurity is essentially a systematic and ethnic problem, experts say.

“What we come down to is not a matter of lacking food access, but an inequity that created the lack of access, the reason of food insecurity is embedded in its historically determined and socially structured inequalities…the historical reason is predominantly African American becoming Latino neighborhood,” Brett said. “It’s a red line here – if you are non-whites, you can’t buy house there. It’s institutionalized, it’s not a problem of access to be fixed, it’s a system to be changed.”

Brett offered an example of how food access matters on elderly.

“If a 75-year-old man does not drive but take him two buses lines in hours and hours to reach a supermarket,” he said, “… in this case, the old man is geographically accessible to the supermarket, but socially, he can’t.” that’s what the food access problem is happening in Park Hill and that’s why local food is the remedy in any food desert.”

Purple Porch Co-op by Slidely Slideshow

Maps: Tracking the Best of Indiana, South Bend and Beyond …

By Staff • March 2nd, 2017

Where are the best places to hike? Best co-working spaces? Best tourist attractions?

Our team takes you on a tour of what to do around South Bend and Indiana with these maps.


Great Parks Near South Bend

Those seeking to escape the city life of South Bend can make the short drive to any of these great county and state parks just outside the city limits, like Saint Patrick’s County Park and Madeline Bertrand State Park, which lie just across the Indiana-Michigan border from each other. They’re just a short, 10-minute drive away from downtown.

Those seeking a more adventurous afternoon can visit some of the other parks on this list, all of which are within an hour’s drive of downtown South Bend. — Zach Klonsinski


10 Must-Visit Literary Locations in and Around Indianapolis

Whether you want to learn more about Naptown native Kurt Vonnegut, buckle-down and find a solitary corner of a library to get some work accomplished, or kick back with a nice cold one and a book, Indianapolis has got you covered.

This map of Indianapolis and a few surrounding cities displays 10 locations that book-loving Hoosiers must visit. Monthly poetry readings, a library converted into a restaurant, and craft-beers named after books are just a few of the literary-related items Indiana has to offer. — Lauren Fox


Indiana Museums to Visit

There’s plenty to see and do all throughout Indiana, from the northern part in South Bend, to the capital city of Indianapolis, to the southern city of Evansville. Using information from TripAdvisor, this map illustrates the best museums to visit in Indiana.

A big part of Indiana’s culture and history is the automobile industry, and that’s reflected in the map. Five of the ten museums pertain to cars, while the rest cover science, history and the arts.

Scroll through the map and click the pins to see each museum’s name, location, description and a YouTube video. — Kevin Culligan


Co-working Spaces Flourish in South Bend

Co-working is the startup’s testing ground. Less expensive than leasing a whole office and more focused than working from home, coworking offers space for individual workers and small companies to get the job done.

Co-working spaces started in larger cities but have started to flourish in smaller places such as South Bend. The eight co-working spaces mapped below have different membership structures, different setups and different communities to serve, whether entrepreneurs, employees who only need occasional office space, students, artists or the people on the cutting edge of tech. — Emily McConville


10 Interesting Things to Do in South Bend

Featured on the map are 10 interesting locations in South Bend. Each location is either an educational or community building opportunity in the city. All are family-friendly and affordable.

While sports events often attract tourists to South Bend, there are many other local events of historical, environmental and artistic interest.

For example, the Potawatomi Zoo is the oldest in Indiana. The History Museum and Studebaker National Museum both host interesting permanent and traveling exhibits. The Civil Rights Heritage Center and Pierre Navarre Log Cabin preserve local history.

The Unity Gardens presents a way for families to engage with the community and the environment, while Erasmus Books and the Chicory Cafe are perhaps most well-known and well-loved.

Many of the community centers on the map are relatively new. Some, like the Birdsell Project and Circa Arts Gallery, were converted from abandoned properties. This follows a national increase in interest in converting abandoned buildings into community spaces. — Grace Watkins


10 Things to Do in South Bend in 2017

Whether you’re interested in art, nature or sports, South Bend offers a wide variety of activities and entertainment to meet the needs of its residents.

From a newly enhanced Notre Dame Stadium to an April lineup at the Morris Performing Arts Center, 2017 is packed with exciting opportunities to immerse in the city. By no means exhaustive, the following list provides 10 Things to Do in South Bend for people of all ages and abilities. — Teagan Dillon


Exploring South Bend, Mishawaka and Elkhart

Thousands of people converge on the University of Notre Dame on any given football weekend. Those same people are missing out on–and might not even know about–what lies beyond the Dome. Below are a few places to check out in the South Bend-Mishawaka-Elkhart area. — Dakota Connell-Ledwon

Going Mobile: Documenting Five Days in South Bend and Beyond …

By Data Indiana staff • February 6th, 2017

Sixteen Notre Dame students. Sixteen smartphones. Five days.

Student reporters were told to use only their phones apps to document various news events, features and points of interest around South Bend, the state, and on Notre Dame’s campus from Feb. 1 through Feb. 6. They used apps such as Hyperlapse (timelapse), Bubbli 360-degree photo bubbles and various photo and recording apps to document the stories.

Here’s what they found …

Gary Church Ruins

My American Ruins class at Notre Dame took a field trip to Gary, Indiana, and explored many abandoned sites in the city once anchored by US Steel.

City United Methodist Church, the crumbled building featured below, is Gary’s most famous ruin, and many photographers come to Gary to capture its haunting beauty. It was built in 1925 and closed in 1975, and at its peak boasted 3,000 members.

The class also visited a train station, high school auditorium, and housing for workers that was in similar conditions. While at the church, our class ran into two other photoshoots, a testament to understanding industrial ruins in America as tourist destinations. — Janet Stengle


Keenan Revue Ticket Lines and ‘Protest’

The Keenan Revue, composed of skits written and performed exclusively by members of Keenan Hall, has been an annual tradition at Notre Dame. It also draws just shy of 4,000 people to the Stepan Center, and the free tickets had students and others lining up for hours on Feb. 1 to get them.





This 360-degree photo bubble shot by Hannah Scherer shows just how long the lines were. Mouse over it to move the image or swipe it on a mobile device.

Meyo Invitational

The prestigious indoor meet was held at Notre Dame’s Loftus Sports Center on Feb. 5 and 6. The meet was telecast online on WatchESPN.


Hesburgh Library Updates

Marie Fazio takes us on a tour of the library’s renovations.


Google Trends: Can Lyft Catch Uber in South Bend in Search?

By Dakota Connell-Ledwon • February 1st, 2017

You’ve probably used Uber, the ride-sharing app that lets you order a car to pick you up at your exact location. But there’s a new competitor in town–Lyft expanded its operations to South Bend last Thursday.

In a comparison of Google searches using Google Trends, Uber remained dominant after Lyft’s launch.

The graph shows that Google searches for Lyft increased after its launch at noon on Jan. 26–perhaps because the company advertised a $5 coupon promotion for riders beforehand–and searches for Uber were still higher but comparable at the time.

Over the weekend, thousands of protestors gathered at JFK airport to oppose President Trump’s executive order banning refugees and travelers from seven largely Muslim countries. While taxis joined the protest by striking and refusing to pick up passengers from JFK, Uber continued service–and even turned off surge pricing.

Lyft continued to operate as well, but kept surge pricing on and pledged $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union. Uber’s actions spawned a boycott of the company around the country. But as the Lyft trend generally follows the same pattern as the Uber trend in the graph, it’s a small possibility that the boycott has affected Uber’s business in South Bend.

Moving into the weekend, the gap between searches for the two companies widened, with Uber peaking early in the morning on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Lyft experienced similar but much smaller peaks.

A city with multiple universities such as the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University South Bend is rich ground for ride-sharing companies. Freshman at the University of Notre Dame are prohibited from having a car on campus during their first semester. Students without cars have utilized Uber or taxi companies to get around in the past.

Google Trends will be useful in following interest in Lyft over the coming weeks–will it continue rising in popularity and cut into Uber’s ride-sharing monopoly on South Bend? Or will it fail to take off?

Timelapse: Satellite Images Show South Bend Growth Since 1984

By Mike Reilley • January 5th, 2017

This Google Earth Engine timelapse tool shows the expansion of South Bend over the past 30 years. The site uses NASA satellite images to show progressive change. [Hit the play button in the lower left to animate it]