President’s Letter

Hello Neighbors, 

I hope everyone is well.

I wanted to mention a potential development elsewhere in the town that has similarities to potential developments  we have wrestled with in the past.  I attended the Plan Commission meeting last Tuesday night where they debated rezoning “rural residential” property into a “PUD” for the development of a multi-use senior living facility.  The surrounding neighborhoods are against this rezoning because it will essentially “put an apartment complex and mini-hospital in a residential area.”  The vote was continued for a second time until the February 17 meeting.  For more info and a map see:  http://huntclubarea.org/2015/01/windhaven-and-chickadee-horse-farms/

Few were arguing against the merits of such a project in Zionsville versus merely the location.  At least four other sites were mentioned that would not require rezoning.  The neighborhood residents’ pointed out that they purchased their homes based upon the zoning of the adjoining properties and to change this zoning would negatively impact their quality of life and the value of their homes.

1)     Your attendance at the next meeting has been requested by the two adjoining neighborhoods (The Enclave and Russell Lake) on February 17 at 7 pm at town hall in order to “send a strong message to the commission about this proposed rezoning.”

2)     If you would like to send a personal note of support that may be entered into the record, please send it to kyle.morris@us.logicalis.com of the Russell Lake neighborhood.

3)     I have been asked to give a VRA opinion but I would rather have individuals voice their concerns.  You may also reach out to Zionsville Neighborhood Action Group – ZNAG@gmail.com – with your thoughts on the project.

I want to thank Beth Bugbee for organizing a Village Voice planning meeting.  Many great ideas for this year’s publication were tossed around.  If anyone has a hobby, travel experience, historic Zionsville story, historic/interesting/odd story about their house or any other ideas they would be willing to share please email me at President@zvra.com.

Thanks also to Jill Rezek for editing the Village Voice again this year.  I am appealing to all of you to assist in finding a co-editor to assist Jill.  Please let me know if you are willing to share a small amount of your time or merely nominate someone without their knowledge. 🙂

Have a great February!


Village News and Events

Now Open:  Blooming Life Yoga
30 South Elm Street

by Heather Lusk

Lilly Kessler is “leaping and landing,” as she opens her new yoga studio, Blooming Life Yoga, in the building which previously housed Zionsville Lighting (now across the street), Firehouse Antiques and Concept 7 Fitness, and was originally the town’s firehouse.

Classes already on the schedule include Vinyasa, lunch hour yoga, teen yoga and beginning yoga. Additionally the studio offers Chinese medicine, Reiki therapy and massage. Kessler would like to create a variety of special workshops, starting with a prenatal workshop, to help people in similar situations find one another and bond.  

Through her studio she would like to help raise awareness and funds for the recently created HAWK Foundation (Helping Another With Kindness) and Loving Hands on Wheels – an outreach program for families with special needs children.

For Kessler, these organizations are “the bridge to invite people in and branch out.” But she will be helping other groups as well.  

She plans to partner with the police and fire departments to create outreach programs so that officers can learn breathing techniques. “Those occupations have a very high heart attack rate,” she said. She would like to work with Zionsville teachers, “to help them teach kids how to breathe before tests.” Through her support of Indy Yoga Movement – a collected effort to bring yoga to schools – her goal is to provide educators with the tools to teach yoga during gym time. 

So far Kessler has been very impressed with the sense of community she has felt from the Village and other businesses, and the willingness to help one another versus feeling like a competitor.

“Simply Yoga came in to find out what we need,” said Kessler.  “It’s all about sharing.” 

Her goal in opening the studio was to “create a safe place for people to do yoga.”  

“We’re breaking down the walls where people can ask questions without judgement,” she said.  “That’s what I wanted to create.” 

Heart the Horse exhibit at the SullivanMunce

Drive around the area surrounding Zionsville, IN and you will no doubt see many beautiful horse farms. It is no surprise that this simple countryside dotted with these majestic animals inspires artists. Come and celebrate the horse, with Heart the Horse: a fine art show with paintings by some of Indiana’s finest award winning artists now through February 28, 2015.

Join us and meet the artists for a wine and cheese reception on Friday, February 6 from 6pm – 8 pm.

A Tale of Good Fortune

by Mark Zelonis

I realize it is hard for many of you young VRA readers to imagine, but, yes, love did exist before the modern era.  In fact, my wife and I met and fell in love some 44 years ago as very young and idealistic recent college grads heading off to improve the world as Peace Corps volunteers. 

Sally was an elementary education major from Elmira College and me a plant science major from the University of New Hampshire.  Fate would call us both to Philadelphia to be interviewed and screened by Peace Corps staff before getting the invitation to head elsewhere.

It was there we met, with Sally sitting on my lap in a Peugeot one evening  as a large bunch of us recruits headed off to a rock roll revival concert in south Philly. And, please, no snide remarks about rock roll not being old enough then to have a ‘revival!  At dinner at a Chinese restaurant a few nights later, one of us had a fortune cookie message that read, “You will soon meet your future mate”.  True story!

Sally claims she knew I was “the one” from the beginning, but my conservative Yankee upbringing helped me play the reluctant holdout for many months to come.  But off to West Africa we went with several dozen others on an American Airlines flight, touching down briefly in Geneva.  We’ll never forget seeing the lights of Gibraltar disappear as we flew on over a very dark North Africa.  As we descended toward the airstrip near Monrovia, Liberia, the pilot then told us he had never landed there before. We did get down safely, however, and remember distinctly the wall of extreme humidity that welcomed us as we got off the plane that early morning.  That along with the odors of cooking food, decaying vegetation, and just a whole new environment are things we will never forget.

I was invited to hang around a bit with the group of teachers of which Sally was a part, in an old Voice of America compound near Monrovia.  It was the height of rainy season, and anything, including shoes, which got wet, would turn green from mold in a matter of hours.  We all enjoyed exploring the city of Monrovia and experiencing this hugely different culture.  But after a short while, it was my turn to head north to my assignment as a Tree Crops Technician, serving more or less like a county extension agent does here, focusing on helping the local subsistence-level farmers grow cash crops such as coffee and cacao.  The local indigenous Gio tribe had few resources with which to buy medicine or send their children to school.  Average yearly income for a family back then was about $250.  Liberia remains one of the poorest countries in the world even today, making the recent issues of fighting Ebola even more acute.

After being assigned to the small village of Karnplay in the northern part of the country, and very close to the country of Ivory Coast, I found a small house which would be my home for my tenure as a volunteer. We got paid a living allowance and given rent money, but not much more. Sally, however, was assigned to another part of the country some several hours away.  Little did I know she did some quick crafty finagling to switch places with another female teacher colleague who was planned to be in my village.  Sally and I ended up sharing that house, and the many experiences which have helped make us who we are today.  Neither of us had ever had this type of experience, in the midst of a culture so very different from our own, but with people who welcomed us with open arms.  We both received a few days of language training as to greet people we met and worked with, and luckily many people spoke what we call “Liberian English”, which we eventually got into the rhythm of.  And because of our location, French and Arabic were also frequently used. In fact, I used two local men to help translate my message to the farmers and tribal chieftains.

But as you can well imagine, it was a great relief to have another American to speak with after our days in the school room or trekking through the rain forest to help farmers.  Life was certainly different – no running water (the hand-dug well out my bedroom window had more frogs, roaches, and other critters in it than most would like), and electricity for only two hours each night, and then only if our landlord had fuel for the generator. And I could go on and on about the snakes and other creatures nearby, not to mention the enormous spiders we shared the outhouse with!  We bonded in ways many would never have a chance to as we settled into the West African lifestyle, and learned much about ourselves and each other.  But as I am constantly reminded, we have never gone out on an official “date”. 

Ours was certainly not your typical form of “girl meets boy” scenario, but we both feel it strengthened our life skills and our belief that we are all God’s children, no matter which god one may lay claim to.  In fact, we helped one of Sally’s students finish his schooling in Liberia, and brought him to the US in 1990 when Liberia’s awful civil war broke out in our own village of Karnplay. 

Gabriel now lives in Rhode Island, working for many years as a Certified Nursing Assistant.  He has made several trips here to Zionsville (enjoying Darrell’s ‘Mandingo Warrior’ coffee), and has served as a kind and generous older brother to our daughter, Maggie.

After terminating our Peace Corps stints, I started work at a public garden along the coast of New Hampshire (yes, there is a coast there – quite beautiful!), and Sally worked back at the family fruit farm in upstate New York.  The bond we established in West Africa kept pulling us together, and after she made a visit to see me in NH, I went out to visit her at the farm helping to pick strawberries.  My cold heart must have softened in the rain that week, as I proposed on the spot and we started planning for our wedding.  Though it seemed like ages for us, it was just two months later in September, 1972.

The rest is history, as they say.  For nine years we had an apartment above the greenhouses and former estate carriage house at Fuller Gardens (overlooking the Atlantic Ocean), before I went back to graduate school in Delaware.  My new job took us to Bristol, Rhode Island, where we lived (and worked) in a mansion overlooking Narragansett Bay. We welcomed our only child, Maggie, there in 1991. 

And after 14 years there at Blithewold, we moved out here to Zionsville where we have lived for more than 17 years in our vintage 1883 home at the corner of 3rd and Cedar. 

Our respective jobs – Sally at the Indianapolis Zoo and me at the Indianapolis Museum of Art – keep us tied together for many practical and philosophical reasons.  We also enjoy spending time keeping up our historic home and tending our yard and garden.

And though we’d love to get back to Liberia for a visit, the Ebola virus situation and other circumstances make that impractical at the moment.  However, our initial convictions to the country and its people, as well as to the ideals set forth by President Kennedy for his Peace Corps program many decades ago, still play a large role in our lives.  These have no doubt helped keep us together these many years.

Mark Zelonis

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