Square Donuts: the Family Express Gateway to Purdue

A rendering of Family Express the CEO calls "iconic"
A rendering of the new West Lafayette Family Express, with a design the CEO calls “iconic” and “bank-like”

After 10 years of false starts and a failed development opportunity, the new northern gateway to West Lafayette and Purdue University is about to be an “iconic” gas station and convenience store. For a back story, read  Dave Bangert’s column: Family Express’ ‘iconic’ plan for old Smitty’s 

The CEO of Family Express has the audacity to call their design “iconic” and “bank-like”. A few important observations: this is a 2.4 acre lot in a residential area. That’s a lot of asphalt and bright parking lot lights. Have you seen how bright Mike’s Car Wash is shining down the residences of Huron Street? This development has huge issues, including environmental ones. What happens if neighboring Go Lo is run out of business by a shiny new gas station? With massive fuel tanks buried in the ground, once a property becomes a gas station, it is always a gas station. See 9th and Ferry downtown as an example of a filling station that vacated while the property sat empty for years and eventually became… another gas station. What happens if Family Express fails as a business? Again, once and always a gas station with hazardous tanks potentially wasting away and leaking into the ground. It is nearly impossible and/or prohibitively expensive to revert a lot from a gas station to another use. This is the North entrance to Purdue and the city of West Lafayette has spent a lot of money on Northwestern Avenue upgrades “with fingers crossed” that the right things will come along. Well, crossing fingers isn’t enough, particularly in a legal sense. There needs to overlays, a master plan, architectural guidance, and proactive planning in general for city development. I don’t fault Family Express. They bought a property that was already zoned Neighborhood Business and are holding up their fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders to maximize profits. However, I do question the West Lafayette city leadership, West Lafayette Development Office, and the Tippecanoe County Area Plan Commission. Where is the planningLaissez faire governance leaves us with investment property creeping into historic neighborhoods, monstrously out of scale buildings in single family zoning, and a West Lafayette neighborhood hoping for a a mythical, benevolent developer to come save the day. You can’t just hope the free market will do the right thing for our neighborhoods. What about storm water runoff? Already a major issue in the city, 2.4 acres of concrete and asphalt are going to compound the problem of combined sewage overflows. What about the issue of transparency with Northwestern Heights neighborhood association and surrounding areas? Where is the city leadership when it comes to explaining a deal falling apart (Lor Corp plan) that, albeit not a perfect one, at the least was a mixed use development that could’ve had a lasting, positive impact on the neighborhood. Finally, can you even imagine the traffic jams on game day with tailgaters waiting to gas up and buy supplies? Family Express certainly can. And that’s why we are staring down the face of their square donut gun.  When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Bikes and Surveys – What is the view from your saddle?


What? Answer some questions? What’s my age? Rate my emotional responses from Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree? Comments… Whether you are a skeptic, wide eyed idealist, or somewhere in between, there is no denying that organizations in the Greater Lafayette community want to know who you are and get your opinion while shaping potential projects. This fall I became aware of three different surveys from three separate organizations.

ONE: The city of Lafayette has created its first Bike & Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Bicycle Lafayette is very excited to be on the committee and actively involved in shaping a solid, comprehensive Bike & Pedestrian Master Plan. The plan is essentially an amendment to the Trails Master Plan. A new, more complete, master plan will include ideas for improvements to our current system of roadways.  Improvements to make it safer and more fun for pedestrians and cyclists as we make way through town. And YES, there is a survey! This one is up until December 14, 2014. Check it out, fill it out.

Two advisory committee meetings have been held so far and things are going well. Topics discussed include but are not limited to bicycle crash data, maintenance of roads and trails, and recommending parallel roads through neighborhoods as an alternative to arterial roads. Education programs for drivers and cyclists are also a top concern so we all understand how to happily coexist on the pavement.

TWO: Did you hear about the Parks and Recreation golf course reuse survey? Follow the link on their front page and you may still be able to give your input there.

THREE: There is also talk of creating a Bike Share in the Lafayette area. Engineering students at Purdue are partnering with the city to research the implementation of a bike share system. They too have a survey you are welcome to fill out!

All of these surveys are opportunities to share your thoughts. But, they are really the first step in a process to design and plan new spaces in Greater Lafayette. So take the time now. Then be sure to stay in tune with the projects as they progress. As I know from riding a bicycle, adjustments need to be continually made as I maintain my balance and gain momentum!

Lafayette is on the way to becoming a Bike Friendly Community. Be a part of setting the pace.

Written by Rose Kaczmarowski. Lafayette Bike & Pedestrian Advisory Committee member and Volunteer Activist – Bicycle Lafayette

Saturday: Spark. Inspire. Change. at TEDxLafayette

Are you interested in ideas that are worth spreading in Great Lafayette? The line-up for TEDxLafayette looks diverse and well-rounded. Changing Greater Lafayette for the better has been a hot topic for a few years now, so it will be interesting to see how these speakers think we are progressing and what ideas they have for the future.


Here is the press release:

Community Thinkers and Visionaries Invited to Spark, Inspire, Change at Local TEDx

Lafayette, Indiana – Surf around YouTube long and you’re bound to run into a 12-18 minute TED Talk video that’s gone viral. Now considered “the world’s biggest stage,” TED events have gained international notoriety for delivering award-winning talks on topics ranging from technology and entertainment to science and global issues. 

On November 22, Greater Lafayette will host TEDxLafayette, an independently organized TED conference highlighting local thought leaders and community activists.

Eleven presenters will stimulate creative and innovative ideas related to technology, community, and education in the Greater Lafayette area and worldwide. The theme for the day is “Spark. Inspire. Change.”  Each presenter is given 12-18 minutes to convey his/her perspective and spark further conversations. Presentation topics are intentionally kept secret until the day of the event.

TEDxLafayette presenters are:

Zachary Baiel is the Director of Customer Relations at Spensa Technologies. As an assiduous citizen, he serves on the New Chauncey Neighborhood Leadership Team; the City of West Lafayette Housing and Maintenance Appeals Board, the West Lafayette Friends of the Library, and the WLPL Foundation board.

David Bowker is the Director of the Office of Future Engineers at Purdue University. He directs recruiting for the College of Engineering and teaches Academic & Career planning.

Beth Carroll is an Instructor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Purdue University, former small business owner and creator of Small Shopper.

Ed Finkler is a Developer at LegalServer and has served as web lead and security researcher at The Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS). He is co-host of the Development Hell podcast.

Joe Ruhl is a Golden Apple Award-winning Teacher of Biology, Genetics, and Science Research courses at Jefferson High School. He was honored at the White House as Indiana’s recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching.

Ashley G. Scott is a Top 10 Under 40 Greater Lafayette award recipient and Operations Manager & Community Curator for MatchBOX Coworking Studio. Shee Creator and Co-Organizer for the Black Professionals of Greater Lafayette, and founder of Curly In College.

Kris Taylor is founder of Evergreen Leadership and author of The Leader’s Guide to Turbulent Times. In addition to her coaching and leadership development work, she teaches entrepreneurship at Purdue.

Keith Watson is Information Security architect for Purdue University, a host on the Eyes on Privacy podcast and co-author on A Guide to Facebook Security.

Double Helix Collective, an interdisciplinary new media collective that explores the visual poetics of the intersection of technology, sound, music, live-drawing, video, shadow and ritual. The collective features Sabrina Lastman (vocalist, songwriter, voice educator & Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner) & Petronio Bendito (intermedia artist & Associate Professor of Visual Communications Design at Purdue University).

Briagha McTavish, a singer/songwriter earning award recognition on NPR’s “In Search of Song” competition and the SAMI Shirley Martin Scholarship for Young Songwriters and Blooming-Tunes Songwriting Competition.

“We are ecstatic to see such a great diversity of speakers and performers sharing their stories and experience related to science, technology, art, diversity and business,” said Joe Seaman, President and CEO of Greater Lafayette Commerce. “There are so many fascinating visionaries, thinkers, and teachers in our community. The TEDx event is the perfect venue to cast a spotlight on their work in our community.”


The speakers were carefully selected by a volunteer committee led by Nelu Lazar, community activist founder of Lafayettech and K12TECH, engineering lead, technology evangelist and developer, and Executive Director of TEDxLafayette. 


“We’ve invited local thought leaders and performers to share their diverse perspectives. Sparking engaging conversation and inspiring positive change is the goal of our first TEDx event in Lafayette,” said Nelu. “We’re excited to highlight amazing local talent and offer the opportunity for us to see and hear about wonderful ideas and powerful actions that take off and grow from within our community to better educate and change the world as we know it,” he added. 


TEDx organizing committee members are Adi Ben-Yehoshua, Brian Bettag, Matthew Brown, Kitty Campbell, Nicole Gebhardt, Nelu Lazar, Kevin Maxwell, Joanna Retherford, Julie Rubsam, Koa Spencer, Marci Spitznagle, Michael Wilson. Sponsors include Greater Lafayette Commerce, Lafayette Urban Enterprise Association, All-Fired Up, C-Factor Marketing, Creative Inc, ISPhotographic, Time Keepers Productions, and MatchBOX Coworking Studio. 


TEDxLafayette will begin at 1:00 pm on Saturday, November 22, 2014 at The Civic Theatre in downtown Lafayette immediately followed by a surprise-filled After Party at the MatchBOX CoWorking Studio. 

Tickets are all-inclusive $45 each and may be purchased online at www.tedxlafayette.com. Student prices and VIP Passes are also available. Conference attendance is limited to 100 people. Ticket price includes access to the TEDx conference and the super After Party. Both events will feature engaging entertainment, food and beverages.


For a full list of speakers, latest news, and to reserve your spot at the event, go to www.tedxlafayette.com.




About TEDx, x = independently organized event

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

About TED

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 30 years ago, TED has grown to support its mission with multiple initiatives. The two annual TED Conferences invite the world’s leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes or less. Many of these talks are then made available, free, at TED.com. TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Sal Khan and Daniel Kahneman.

The annual TED Conference takes place each spring in Vancouver, British Columbia, along with the TEDActive simulcast event in nearby Whistler. The annual TEDGlobal conference will be held this October in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. TED‘s media initiatives include TED.com, where new TED Talks are posted daily; the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed. TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world get help translating their wishes into action; TEDx, which supports individuals or groups in hosting local, self- organized TED-style events around the world, and the TED Fellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

Follow TED on Twitter at http://twitter.com/TEDTalks, or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TED.

About Civic Theater, the hosting venue

Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette is an 83 year old community theatre. Performances are at the Historic Monon Depot Theatre, located in the heart of Downtown Lafayette. In addition to multiple thrilling productions annually, Civic Theatre has an extensive education and outreach program. More information on all of Civic Theatre’s programs can be found at lafayettecivic.org

For more information, contact sources:

TEDxLafayette Organizing Committee

Nelu Lazar, TEDxLafayette Executive Director

Greater Lafayette Start-Up Weekend Begins Now!

Startup Weekend is a weekend-long, hands-on experience where entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs can find out if their startup ideas are viable. Developers, designers, marketers and creatives, have 54 hours to take their idea from concept to launch during the 5th Greater Lafayette Startup Weekend.

The event kicks off today, Nov. 7th through Sunday, Nov. 9th, at MatchBOX Coworking Studio , 17 S Sixth St, downtown Lafayette. Purchase tickets at lafayette.up.co.

Beginning with open mic pitches on Friday, attendees bring their best ideas and inspire others to join their team. Over Saturday and Sunday teams focus on customer development, validating their ideas, practicing LEAN Startup Methodologies and building a minimal viable product. On Sunday evening teams demo their prototypes and receive valuable feedback from a panel of

Build your network. Learn a new skill. Meet a potential co-founder. Enjoy great food. Test your idea. Gain insights from Coaches. Launch a business.

Afroman Performs at the Hideaway

Co-written by Aaron Bumgarner and Cathryn English

Afroman, famous for songs like “Because I Got High,” regularly rolls through southeast Lafayette. Last Friday, we finally made it to a show. The Hideaway is a bit of a dive, tucked behind Lafayette’s worst Pizza Hut. Our only expectation for the night was to hear “Because I Got High”. We saw no reason set the bar any higher.

Each attendee got a copy of the new Afroman album, Marijuana Music. A quick internet search turns up the fact that he has released at least 28 albums. Still, Afroman has just one hit song, originally popularized by the Howard Stern Show. “Because I Got High” was an international hit. He embraces his lack of success with grace, even performing a song titled “One Hit Wonder”.

10576835_548319375314013_1546409453_nThe first perfomer (missed his name) sounded bad at the back of the bar, so we grabbed a drink and got closer. Still bad. Next up was PLOT, a local hip hop group with a small following. The third act was the Insomniacs, who brought a large and devoted crowd.

At some point during PLOT, Afroman entered the building. His afro was immaculate, he smelled nice, and he wore a shiny short-sleeve turquoise suit, obviously custom tailored. He was happy to converse with fans, and asked us for requests. We couldn’t tell if he genuinely expected the crowd to be familiar with his huge body of work. We bought him a shot of SoCo to change the subject.

Wish you were here.
Wish you were here.

10728554_548319055314045_672761767_nThe crowd had thinned once Afroman took the stage, but he got a wild response. We were both surprised by his deep, soulful voice and his commanding stage presence. Even more exciting were the numerous times Afroman busted out his double neck guitar. Though impressed with his skills, we were greatly disappointed that he never touched the upper 12-string neck.

Mid-set, Afroman took a quick intermission from the music to tell several vulgar and mediocre jokes. Shortly after a pilled-out townie was punched in the face by woman with only one arm, the crowd dwindled to us, a pregnant couple, three frat boys, and a very short Vietnam veteran shaking his cane to the beat. Unfazed, Afroman maintained his level of showmanship until the end. We left the bar listening to his new CD on the way to Jimmy John’s, and both agreed that Afroman is best experienced live.

The Map Collective Revisited: Your Favorite Place Downtown


About 10 months ago, we put out a post about using Google Maps to collectively map what you like most about our town.

In partnership with The City of Lafayette’s Economic Development Department, we’re relaunching and re-asking for more of your input on this topic.

The City will be collecting and using this information for a 3-day Project for Public Spaces ‘Placemaking Workshop’ October 6th, 7th and 8th . Project for Public Spaces (PPS) is an internationally recognized, nonprofit planning, design and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities.


View The Map Collective: Your Favorite Place in Town in a larger map

What should I write about?

Ever had an idea for Downtown that didn’t make any sense? Write about that.

Want a zip-line from Triple XXX to Sgt. Preston’s? Let us know.

Want to hold an outdoor movie series featuring your all-time favorite martial art’s movies? I’d go to that.

How do I participate?

1) Log into a Google account — any Google account — to edit the map.

2) Click where it says “View The Map Collective: Your Favorite Place in Town in a larger map” above.

3) Click the orange “Edit” button.

4) Some tools will pop up at the top of the map window. You will see a hand, a blue marker, and a squiggly line. Select the blue marker, and drag it to where you want to leave a point on the map. A window will pop up looking for text. Tell the story in the window! Tell us all about it!

  • What happened here?
  • Why is this place awesome?
  • What makes it special?
  • Who makes it special?
  • What should other visitors look for?
  • Please limit your contributions to public spaces, and don’t include your poor grandmother’s address. I’m sure her pie is lovely.

The squiggly line gives you the option of adding a path to the map. Want to draw a line along the Wabash Heritage Trail? Need to draw a line from Columbian Park to Frozen Custard? Knock your socks off.

5) If you want to give it a funny or custom marker, click on the marker in the text box, and it will give you the option to choose amongst Google’s options or even to upload your own.

Please feel free to play, edit, contribute, and explore.

FRIDAY: BIKELANTIS Movie Fundraiser at Carnahan Hall

10649537_1549463955285008_8964004722866218852_nSince 2012, Director and Producer Manny Cervantes (who is also a founding member of Think Lafayette) was working hard on accomplishing one of his dreams, a full-length documentary on bicycling culture around the country.

Tomorrow night, a fundraiser downtown is scheduled to help complete his movie in his absence. Please share this event, come to the event, and celebrate our ability to inspire and be inspired. If you can’t come, please share with friends and family and consider giving a donation.

From the event page:

His film, BIKELANTIS, is an exploration of how cycling changes communities. The documentary explores more than 20 cities and looks at bike shops, bike sharing, city planning, competition, advocacy, bike touring and many other topics affecting cyclists nationwide. BIKELANTIS envisions a bike universe with a strong sense of community that is part of a healthier, creative lifestyle with global capacity for compassion between neighbors, and ultimately bike friendliness. Lafayette, Indiana, is featured as a vibrant cycling community where biking is evolving into a community force.

While Manny is no longer with us, his dream to uncover and redeem this Bikelantis-Utopia lives on. Manny was an artist, philosopher, visionary, and adventurer. Because he found beauty where it’s often overlooked, his film is uniquely precious and powerful.

Bikelantis Teaser Trailer from Manny Cervantes on Vimeo.

We are committed to completing this very important film, and seek your contribution to financially assist the post-production process. These finishing funds will provide every audience with a film that encourages each viewer to #livelikemanny, and strive for a better way of living together. BIKELANTIS reminds us of our own potential to inspire and be inspired, and to create positive change.

With your help, the film will be completed and available for screening by the end of 2014.

On a personal note, as mentioned above, Manny was a real cheerleader for the Greater Lafayette area, and helped us brainstorm what this site was going to be long before it ever started. He was one of our first writers and collaborators, and many of us had deep, personal relationships with him that are sorely missed. He passed away unexpectedly this Spring.

Because of this, this is a pointed request for you to come out and celebrate him and his vision with us, and help make this movie happen. There will be live music, a cash bar, and activities for children as well. Entry is free, but a donation is suggested.

If proceeds are raised in excess of the cost to complete his film, this money will be contributed to the #livelikeManny scholarship set up in his name.

For additional details about the event tomorrow, check out the Bikelantis Fundraiser event page on Facebook.

Purdue, Lafayette & West Lafayette, Indiana: All things Weird, Wild, and Interesting in the Arts, Music, Food & Culture. Also featuring discussions on #LafCoC & a free Community Calendar.