"Muncie reminds me of a band concert, or a symphony" states Wenjing (Jing) Liang. She went on to explain that in some aspects, Muncie is creating a plan, like a band has a music score.
There is a pace that is important. There is harmony with various people (instruments) working together. She described it as "collective action." It is a term she has been hearing around Muncie.
Jing's words about how she sees Muncie's culture are uplifting. She is in Muncie doing an anthropological study for a book she is writing on volunteerism in Middletown USA. Volunteerism is not as common in China. She did a study on Muncie for her Doctorate at Beijing University seven years ago when she was here a year for the first time. Now, she is back! She is seeing the results of the Muncie Action Plan and the collaborative efforts of people all over Muncie.
She treks her way around Muncie, observing, taking notes, and processing with others. Her insights, as an outsider, who is becoming an insider for a year, are very interesting.
She interviews people from many organizations, particularly those who have jumped on board to team with Habitat. Her focus has been on the 8-12 Coalition. Much of her research so far are with University Community Engagement, Forward Steps (Teamwork), Urban Light Community Development, and Ross Center.
Jing is watching many groups come together to work for the 8TwelveCoalition. She has been interviewing people from Habitat, Forward Steps, University Community Engagement, Muncie Mission, Urban Light Community Development Corporation, EcoRehab, and Ross Center. She will also research the many other organizations also connected.
The 8twelve Coalition is comprised of residents, non-profits and businesses working to revitalize the 8twelve target area bordered by 8th Street, Memorial Street, Perkins Avenue, and Madison Street.
The 8twelve revitalization plan was developed as a result of several community meetings spearheaded by Greater Muncie Habitat for Humanity and the Vectren Foundation. The plan focuses on improving housing, beautifying the neighborhood, and supporting local businesses.
Click for for more info on the 8Twelve Website
She also impressed with how many people are wearing different hats in the community. She has taken time to see for herself by visiting various churches like Westminster, Avondale, Urban Light, Garden at Gethsemane, and the Compass. As Jing visits around to different organizations and agencies, she sees many people that she has met in church. They are placing themselves and their talents and abilities in key positions. She runs into people many more times than once.
Jing has been here for five months and is already becoming an integral part of Muncie. And a cheerleader! She has a passion to learn more, to know people, and to watch things work. She sees factions, but she is also seeing people come together. She has only 7 more months to go. Let's keep on making her feel welcome.
If you ever spot her , which could be anywhere, be sure and introduce yourself. But be prepared to answer questions like, "Where do you volunteer?" and "What is your philosophy of life?"
She will also want your viewpoints about nonprofits in Muncie.
She will also make you feel good about Muncie!