Love Where You Live: There’s a lot of love for Elkhart County

By Marshall V. King

The assignment was to go hang out with cool people and ask them why they love this part of the world.

So a guy with a camera and a guy with questions went to see folks in their workplaces, their favorite part or even their grandfather’s woodshop. And we had a blast.

Along the way, not only did we learn about the people, but we learned more about this place where we also live. We had conversations about creativity, about Elkhart County, and about what makes this a great place.

Grant observed that most of us don’t realize what’s in our community, until you dig a little or ask a few questions. I’d add that it starts with looking up and around as we have a cup of coffee, as we walk through our neighborhood, as we explore that part of the county where we haven’t spent much time.

I tried to capture in words why someone choose to live here. In the case of the Roeum family, they ended up here as strangers and became beloved. Ashley Bowen grew up here and moved away, but as she told her friends in Barcelona, Spain about this wonderland, she realized it was time to come home. Toby Crowley came for a job with only a duffel bag in an old Chrysler Sebring and has both worked hard and given back in a place he calls home.

In conversation after conversation, people told us about how they invest time and energy. They told of how this community welcomed and encouraged participation and involvement. In Bristol, Jill Swartz has plowed snow and planned town festivals. Rodney Dale was mentoring nine young people in Elkhart. Kim Clarke kept remembering all the things she’s done or starting in Middlebury and the two flowed together in a lively stream.

At a mountain bike trail at Bonneyville Mill County Park, at Wellfield Botanic Gardens, in Dorothy Jean Carter’s studio, we heard and saw the results of love and work, of life and community, coming together in beautiful ways. We saw what happens when people care, when people profess their love rather than just show classic Midwestern humility. Whether they were born and bred here or came here from someone else, the people we interviewed and photographed for Love Where You Live inspired us and made us even more proud to live and work here ourselves.

In these amazing individuals, we encountered the resources, the skills that are being invested in Elkhart County, a community of people making amazing things and making lives together.

Marshall V. King is a Goshen-based free-lance writer. He wrote this for Vibrant Communities.

Editor’s Note: At the beginning of 2018, Vibrant Communities organizers asked writer Marshall V. King and photographer Grant Beachy to tell the stories of Elkhart County residents who love this area that we call home. This series was the result of that collaboration.

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