Wish you were here! Love, Fort Wayne

love fort wayne

Amber Recker, Matt Marshall, Viren Chauhan and Sarah Chesebrough, graduates of Leadership Fort Wayne, show off one of the boards in the Love, Fort Wayne Chalk Wall project, which invite citizens to write what they lovedabout their city including the arts, entertainment, sports teams, restaurants and more. This one is located at Wunderkammer studio. Photo by Bonnie Manning, Feature Photographer

Fort Wayne residents are not shy about spreading the love for their great city, whether it be the energy of Parkview Field, the ethnicity of the arts and entertainment, or the variety of popular hangouts, including restaurants, parks and theaters, and the exciting future of Riverfront Development.

Thanks to the 2013 Leadership Fort Wayne class, which initiated a successful promotion – Love, Fort Wayne – of the summit city, the 2014 class has put a new twist on the endeavor by partnering with Artlink to create the Love, Fort Wayne Chalk Wall project.

“We carried the 2013 Leadership Fort Wayne community action project forward with the launch of the video project,” said project chair and Artlink CEO Amber Recker, who was a 2014 LFW class participant. “The 2013 class initiated a board game that encouraged residents to patronize downtown restaurants, and we wanted to take it a step further and decided on a positive image campaign for our city.

“With the help of PUNCH Films (www.punchfilms.com), we captured more than 50 testimonials for Fort Wayne residents about what they love about our city.”

The online videos incorporate a cosmopolitan blend of city leaders, including Mayor Tom Henry, Jack Hammer (CEO of Three Rivers Festival), Deb Washler (Lincoln Financial Foundation program officer), Mike Nutter (Tin Caps team president) and lesser-known business owners and private citizens.

Last summer Love, Fort Wayne and Artlink partnered to create the Love, Fort Wayne Chalk Wall project, which included large chalk boards around town that invited citizens to write what they loved about their city including the arts, entertainment, sports teams, restaurants and more. The first walls, constructed by the 2014 class, were displayed at the Wunderkammer studio, Firefly Coffee House, Renaissance Point YMCA and at the downtown Arts Campus, with the goal of setting up walls in every zip code in Fort Wayne.

Each wall elicited fun comments of that particular wall’s zip code; for example, Wunderkammer’s wall said, “I love the ’07 because ______,” which referred to the 46807 zip code, and the Firefly’s wall proclaimed, “I love the ’05 because ______,” referring to the 46805 locale.

According to barista Ryan Hartman of the Firefly Coffee House, the chalk board was very popular last summer, and he is hoping it will be displayed again this summer.

“The kids – and even some adults – loved it; it was a big hit for sure,” said Hartman, who has family in that “cool” zip code area.  “We had the chalk there on the wall and people could come out and do whatever they wanted.”

While there are no plans currently in the works for more online video-taped testimonials the hope is that residents will continue to promote their favorite local attractions to others.

“We encourage people to upload their own stories via our website, lovefortwayne.org,” concluded Recker, adding that the most common thread throughout the testimonials was how almost everyone mentioned how welcoming and hospitable the people of Fort Wayne are.

So, fans of the Fort, if you’ve not done so yet, proudly wear your “I <3 Fort Wayne” on your sleeve by adding your voice to the many already-online stories of the summit city’s charms.


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