Unusual and Inspiring Projects and Strategies Are Applauded

I know it’s a cliché to refer to “Field of Dreams”, one of the greatest baseball movies ever made, when a baseball stadium is the cover story of the May-June issue of retrofit. But, in this case, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the connection. For both stories, you must suspend your disbelief to uncover the meaningful lessons.

In the movie, Kevin Costner’s character, Ray Kinsella, builds a baseball field in the middle of his Iowa cornfield at the urging of a voice only he hears. Locals and Kinsella’s relatives think he’s crazy for plowing under his crop and risking the future of his farm, but Kinsella is certain answers will reveal themselves if he continues to heed the voice. As the ghosts of deceased baseball players come out of the corn to play on the field, including the ghost of Kinsella’s father with whom he had a rocky relationship, viewers realize this is a movie about second chances and making dreams reality no matter how improbable they may be.

Similar to the fictional Ray Kinsella, John Watson, managing member of Core Redevelopment, Indianapolis, the protagonist of this issue’s cover story, encountered many non-believers when he shared his idea to retrofit Bush Stadium, an abandoned minor league ballpark, into apartments and lofts. The project’s location in an underdeveloped area of Indianapolis didn’t bode well. In addition, Watson’s plan to demolish the concrete risers that supported the street-facing wall and roof to build the 3-story apartment building within them was very complex. However, Watson’s mettle proves sometimes out-of-the-box thinking will conjure the support needed to make a dream reality. Little did he know, Indianapolis leaders already had plans to develop that part of the city into a technology district, and, in their minds, the future Stadium Lofts would serve as a catalyst to attract more development to the area.

With the city’s support, Watson was able to execute his unusual vision and prove the naysayers wrong. In fact, he had his own “If you build it, they will come” experience when the building was fully leased even before Stadium Lofts officially opened.

So many of the articles in this and every issue of retrofit echo Watson’s story: If you follow through and believe in your project, everything will work out in the end. Consider “Energy” in which Lori Pratt, food and beverage director for the Blackwell Inn at The Ohio State University, Columbus, was willing to be a guinea pig for a program that would utilize her inn’s food waste to create electricity and vehicle fuel. It wasn’t something she was familiar with but Pratt is conservation-minded and wanted to make a difference in how the Blackwell Inn handled its 4 to 10 tons of food waste per week. Today, the Blackwell Inn’s food scraps that would have otherwise gone to landfill or been composted are actually powering about 900 homes in Ohio, as well as being made into dual fuel—part methane and part regular gas. Pratt is teaching the OSU students who serve as the Blackwell Inn’s stewards, as well as visitors, about a new and valuable form of renewable energy.

As with any new idea, someone has to take a risk and follow through on a gamble. With the May-June issue of retrofit, we applaud the dreamers, including John Watson and Lori Pratt, who believe in something and go for it, no matter what others might say.

About the Author

Christina A. Koch
Christina A. Koch is editorial director and associate publisher of retrofit.

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