9 Ideas Turned Reality Thanks to the Little Big Idea Grant

Published Nov. 2017

Sometimes, the best ideas just need a little help to become a big deal.

Which is why Elkhart County Vibrant Communities, a county-wide community engagement initiative, created the Little BIG Idea Grant. The grant is designed to get projects off the ground that delight, inspire, and connect people to the community. Vibrant Communities awards up to $1,000 in grants every month to people with great ideas – maybe even yours!

While you work on your proposal, take a few minutes to read about some “little” ideas that experienced a big growth spurt.


Goshen Rocks

Why yes, it certainly does! And even more so with the help of, well … rocks.

The Goshen Painters Guild promotes Goshen Rocks, an interactive art project. The idea is simple: Get some rocks and painting supplies. Paint a rock, then hide it somewhere within the Goshen city limits.

What to do if you find one of the Goshen Rocks rocks? There are options. You can keep it, hide it somewhere else, give it to someone, or paint your own. The project is open to artists of all ages and skill levels, and is fun for the whole community!

Goshen’s September First Fridays celebration featured a group Goshen Rocks painting project spearheaded by artist Joshua Cooper.

Video and photos provided by Elkhart County Vibrant Communities

Encuentro in the Alley

Video and photos provided by Elkhart County Vibrant Communities, Jose Ortiz
Nothing builds a sense of community and brings different cultures together quite like a celebration. And downtown Goshen had a festive one in October!

Encuentro in the Alley, an arts festival highlighting the music, food, and culture of Latin America, was organized by the Mayor’s Arts Council and the Latin American Culture and Language Center. Entertainment included everything from Latin jazz to a troupe of baile folklórico (Mexican folk dance) dancers. Art on display included individual pieces and a Day of the Dead mask showcase.


Middlebury Pumpkin Races

Ready to roll?

More than 200 people turned out on Warren Street in October for the first-ever Middlebury Pumpkin Race. There, they watched and cheered as colorfully decorated pumpkins sped toward the finish line.

What does it take to race a pumpkin?

  1. A pumpkin,
  2. A $25 starter kit containing axles and wheels, and
  3. A competitive spirit.
Video and photos provided by Elkhart County Vibrant Communities

Waky Gardens

Photo provided by Elkhart County Vibrant Communities
Things are about to get greener in Wakarusa thanks to the Waky Gardens, the brainchild of Tom Bennett (Goshen College ‘91). The sixth-grade science teacher wants to bring students and the community together to beautify an underutilized portion of the Northwood Middle School and Wakarusa Elementary School area, all while using the space to teach about nature.

Heroes of Hope

Concord High School students Riley Kronk, Sydni Moore, Caitlyn Payne, and Mark Rice will use the grant funds to spread positive messages throughout their school through a project called “Heroes of Hope.” Their goal? To lift the spirits of fellow students who could use a little help. The project was inspired by the students’ social studies class led by teacher Laury Allen.
Photo provided by Elkhart County Vibrant Communities

3D Art

Photo provided by Elkhart County Vibrant Communities
Elkhart Central High School students taught by Beth Sokolowski will talk to Elkhart residents to collect the stories of their life experiences –– and then express those stories through sculpture. Elkhart Central drama students will also be involved, bringing the stories to life through live performances throughout Elkhart County.

“We all have a story to tell,” Sokolowski wrote on the grant application. “Stories of past experiences, hardships that we’ve overcome, and triumphs. These stories help mold us and make us who we are today.”


Community Portraits

This project is the brainchild of Goshen Youth Arts’ Leah Schroeder. Students ages 11 to 19 will each distribute a photo of themselves to other young art students. The artists will interpret the photos as part of their own artwork, the result being several artistic interpretations of each student.
Photo credit: Lynne Zehr

Christmas at the Powerhouse

Video provided by Elkhart County Vibrant Communities
Macey Judd and Sarah Beiler, organizers of Goshen Powerhouse Markets, host annual holiday artisan markets at the Goshen Powerhouse on the north end of the Mill Race Canal. The events feature live entertainment, food, and activities –– as well as artwork from a variety of local artisans.

Elkhart County Treasure Hunt

Rocki Stillson of Nappanee has a BIG idea, too –– to develop a treasure hunt covering all of Elkhart County that highlights the area’s heritage. During the hunt, the treasure seekers will learn more about the county’s rich history as they discover landmarks and facts about life here.
Photo provided by Elkhart County Vibrant Communities
The End!
Editors • Scott Weisser, Liz Shenk

Do you have a story you want to tell?

Do you have a story to tell about someone who contributes to Goshen’s greater GOOD?

We invite you to share!