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Chamber of Commerce Downtown Association
765-457-5301
700 E. Firmin Street, Suite 200
Economic Development Inventrek Technology Park
765-457-2000
700 E. Firmin Street, Suite 200
Visitors Bureau
1-800-837-0971
765-457-6802
700 E. Firmin Street, Suite 200

Courthouse Alley

Located on the southside of the Courthouse Square on Sycamore Street, Courthouse Alley alley was transformed in 2018 as part of the Greater Kokomo Downtown Association's All Alleys Lead to Art initiative.

“The initiative’s mission is to not only create inviting public art spaces but to also create learning opportunities through the installation of the art accessories that will allow for a variety of art forms to be enjoyed in alleyways around downtown,” said Susan Alexander, manager of downtown creative placemaking for the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance.

The extent of which that mission was filled in the initiative’s first alley project went far beyond what Alexander expected. The initial plan was just to make pallet benches, she said. Dubbed Pallets with Purpose, the project was a collaboration between FCA US LLC, The Crossing School of Business & Entrepreneurship, SHAK Makerspace and the Greater Kokomo Downtown Association.

Together, the students and FCA US skilled trades team members worked at SHAK Makerspace to design, build, finish and then install pallet benches. As relationships grew, the scope of the project expanded. They went on to create tables, gardens, wall art mounts and art from recycled materials.

“As the group spent time together, it innovated to create a completely decked-out, multi-textured public art space,” Alexander said. “This alley is the product of mentors with apprentices, excitement and eagerness with experience and knowledge. This is the result of the energy created when we work together.”

The project was initiated by FCA US team members who sought an opportunity for a community collaboration that would allow them to connect with and mentor area youth. Pallets with Purpose allowed the team to help the students build life skills and self-confidence while also benefiting the community through use of the automaker’s recycled materials, which is a company-wide environmental priority.

“This project is a source of pride for not only our Kokomo operations but for FCA US as a whole,” said Maria Milescu, environment, health and safety manager with FCA US. “The local team turned a recycling priority into an opportunity to improve the lives of the students involved and the community that will enjoy the space they created.”

Marcia Blacklidge, who volunteered her time and artistic skills to serve as exhibit director for the project, created the art pieces now hanging on the student-built mounts along the alley. Inspired by the students, Blacklidge created 14 pieces of large-scale artwork from designs of flags around the world.

Students’ work on the project began at SHAK Makerspace in May, with a hiatus for summer break. When students returned in August, final installation of the pieces in Courthouse Alley began. The alley will officially open to the community during First Friday on Sept. 7 at 6:30 p.m. with a Greater Kokomo Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting ceremony.

And though it’s not yet been officially opened, the community has already made use of the new public space.

“Every time I go there, the benches are moved,” Alexander said. “Studies from The Musicant Group through its work with Indiana Main Street have shown that movable furniture is a tenant of a dynamic public space. It’s clear we’ve created that dynamic in Courthouse Alley.”

Contact Information

Chamber of Commerce Downtown Association
765-457-5301
700 E. Firmin Street, Suite 200
Economic Development Inventrek Technology Park
765-457-2000
700 E. Firmin Street, Suite 200
Visitors Bureau
1-800-837-0971
765-457-6802
700 E. Firmin Street, Suite 200

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