April 20th, 2017

Regret, Nostalgia and Hope

by Emma Hall

Emma Hall is participating in the Harrison Center’s singer/songwriter program, writing and recording place-based music during her 10-week residency.

Writing this song required extensive research into the Monon 16 neighborhood. Before I started my music residency at the Harrison Center, I didn’t know much about Monon 16, its rich history, or its decline. I tried understand what it was like 50 years ago, and how it became what is is now. I learned about the organizations trying to turn things around for this east Indy community, and what changes need to happen before we see any visible improvements. I thought about the parallels between this Promise Zone and the biblical promised land.

I found myself on Google Earth watching as the potted plants outside of the old food bank died. In their place, dandelions thrived through the crack in the concrete. Something is always growing, thriving, but it’s not always what we expect it to be. We can only have so much control over our lives. We try our best to make everything exactly how we want it to be, but it never is quite like we imagined. Sometimes we look wistfully on our past and think about how good we had it, but refusing to move forward doesn’t bring back what was, it just leaves you stagnant. 

I attempted to imagine myself as someone growing up in the Monon 16 neighborhood, wrestling with the fact that you can’t go back, and how that is simultaneously a horrible and wonderful feeling–a concept I have plenty of experience with myself. It’s a universal sense of regret, nostalgia, and hope all wrapped up together. 

The conclusion I came to is that the best way to honor your past is to move forward,  to hope that your future takes a new and exciting shape, and what I was left with was this song.