Meet the Input Street Team: 5 local Igers capturing Fort Wayne culture

What does living in Fort Wayne mean to you?

That's the question that inspired the creation of the Input Street Team, a dynamic and creative group of local Instagrammers (Igers) who will be covering this city on their terms in 2021—from the painted alleys of downtown, to the eclectic neighborhoods of the urban core, to the far reaches of the rural suburbs, and everything in-between.

Our goal with the Street Team is to give you an insider's, street-level view of our community and to give local Igers a way to elevate the people, places, and ideas making a difference in our region from their perspective.

Follow the Street Team's adventures on our Instagram @inputfortwayne, and submit your own posts for consideration, using the hashtag #inputsteetteam!

Introducing our Street Team members...

 

Rachel Von Stroup Rachel Von Stroup

Age: 32

Instagram handle: @RachelVonArt

Day job: Contract Photographer & Video Editor & Photo/Video Teacher at Ivy Tech (I wear many hats)

Words/motto you live by: There’s not any specific words or motto I live by, but work ethic is important to me and I try to instill that into my photo/video students as well!

Where you live in Fort Wayne: Southwest, not too far from downtown with my partner Jeremy Stroup

How long have you lived in Fort Wayne?

All 32 years of my life!

What attracted you to Fort Wayne/what’s keeping you here?

In college, I always thought I would move to NYC to pursue the arts. However, in Fort Wayne, I’ve had ample opportunities and jobs, including 6 years as a Staff Photographer at The Journal Gazette. Fort Wayne is an amazing, up-and-coming place for the arts. We have art shows, murals, and much more, and I really love the art community in this city. Besides the art community, I really love Fort Wayne trails and waterfront. Those are very cool features in this city. Also, I bought a house, so I have no intention of leaving!

What do you love about living in Fort Wayne right now?

Well, things are def. weird because of quarantine/COVID-19 shutdowns, ect. But I do love that there are still opportunities for artists and creatives. Amidst everything going on, I was still able to paint my own mural and help my partner on a large scale one. I was still able to hold a photography opening for my students and picked up a video editing job.

What are your hopes for Fort Wayne’s future?

Fort Wayne is on this great trajectory in the community and giving more opportunities for artists, and I hope that continues. I also hope Bravas returns in the near future because I’m dying for a snoop dog.

What does being on Input Fort Wayne’s Street Team mean to you?

I’m excited to document this city and show people something they might not see themselves or an event they weren’t able to be at!

Three favorite local Instagrammers to follow:

@Jeremystroup3
@margojeanphotography
@blacklightmediafw

Three favorite local businesses to follow on IG:

@conjure.coffee
@studio13tattoo (I love seeing the artists’ work)
@bravasfood (I’m waiting for a comeback, lol)

Favorite local hangout (in non-pandemic times): Conjure Coffee & Planet Fitness

Best local living tip: Eat local, drink local! We have tons of local restaurants & coffee shops!

What’s something you know about Fort Wayne that people might not know:

There’s a super cool art happening right now called Fort Wayne Open Walls @fortwayneopenwalls. It’s Francisco Reyes’ baby. Basically a giant open wall in southeast Fort Wayne available to any artist no matter what skill level. I have/had a mural painted there, and it was a really good experience to get some portfolio work when applying for large mural work!

On a typical (pre-pandemic) weekend in Fort Wayne, you’ll find me:

Photographing a sporting event and a regular event, going to the gym, and drinking too much coffee at Conjure Coffee.

 

Andre Portee Andre Portee

Age: 27

Instagram handle: @andreportee

Day Job: Associate Photographer at Vera Bradley

Words/motto you live by: It's Chess, not Checkers

Where you live in Fort Wayne: I live in the '05 with my dog Olive.

How long have you lived in Fort Wayne? I’ve lived in Fort Wayne for 27 years.

What attracted you to Fort Wayne/what’s keeping you here?

A little over a year ago, I started a basketball court mural painting business and have gotten a whole new outlook on life in Fort Wayne. Hoping to grow and expand to renovate more areas in need this upcoming summer/fall.

What do you love about living in Fort Wayne right now?

I love having a sense of community. Knowing your neighbors, staying in touch, and reconnecting with old friends by becoming new friends. Building up people, communities, and discovering new passions we all can share gives me good reasons to enjoy my time in Fort Wayne.

What are your hopes for Fort Wayne’s future?

I hope Fort Wayne can accomplish its goals and, overall, make a beautiful city for people to feel welcome and accepted in. I hope Fort Wayne can keep the pace of opening its eyes to how beautiful this place really could be if we could stop resisting change, and instead, embrace it.

What does being on Input Fort Wayne’s Street Team mean to you?

It means a lot to be viewed as a creative and trusted individual to help spread Input's message to the city it deserves.

A fun fact about me: I’m a twin and am overly proud of that.

Three favorite local Instagrammers to follow:

@old5anddimesignco
@dustyneal
@thatlaundry

Three favorite local businesses to follow on IG:

@mercadito_taqueria
@3D_Fitness_Gym
@antonucciositalianmarket

Favorite local hangout (in non-pandemic times): Welch's Ale House

Best local living tip: 

If you ever order hot wings in this town, always ask for double-fried, sauce on the side. You’ll thank me later.

What’s something you know about Fort Wayne that people might not know:

My grandparents told me as a kid, most of the streets in Fort Wayne were all made of brick at one point. Even before the mall got renovated as a youth, I was obsessed with this all brick hallway that had stores in it. I imagine it being a time that felt more magical.

On a typical (pre-pandemic) weekend in Fort Wayne, you’ll find me: In the studio shooting or hanging with friends outdoors.

 

Sierah Barnhart In 2013, Sierah Barnhart purchased her first home in Historic Southwood Park. Since then, she's been highly involved in The 07's momentum.

Age: 32

Instagram handle: @CultivatingThe07

Day job: Photographer and Public Servant

Words/motto you live by: Work hard, do the most good.

Where you live in Fort Wayne: I live in the ‘07 with my husband and two daughters aged 5 and 3. We also have two rescue pit bulls aged 13 and 6 months.

How long have you lived in Fort Wayne?

I am a Fort Wayne native and graduated from Southside High School in 2007. After graduating from IU Bloomington in 2011, I moved back home and started my career.

What attracted you to Fort Wayne/what’s keeping you here?

Initially, I moved back to Fort Wayne due to comfort and familiarity. But it ended up being a great choice for me in the long run. I was able to purchase a home in 2013 while starting my career; which isn’t something that can be said for a lot of places. Because of its affordability, it's been a great place to raise children and follow my dreams of becoming a freelance photographer.

What do you love about living in Fort Wayne right now?

I love living in a community of like-minded individuals who also believe in serving and supporting our communities through grassroots initiatives.

What are your hopes for Fort Wayne’s future?

My hope is that with its rapid growth, Fort Wayne doesn’t leave its most vulnerable citizens behind. The displacement of long time residents in up and coming neighborhoods would be devastating to the culture of those areas. Now, more than ever, Fort Wayne needs to step up and make meaningful changes to keep homeowners in their homes and protect renters from inevitable rent increases. Affordable housing needs to be a top tier priority for our city’s leaders.

What does being on Input Fort Wayne’s Street Team mean to you?

I love hearing from local people about what their needs, struggles, and victories are. So being able to partake in neighborhood-level storytelling is a dream come true.

A fun fact about me: I share a birthday with the City of Fort Wayne, October 22!

Three favorite local Instagrammers to follow:
@afroplump
@datmattmatt
@slinginsunshine

Three favorite local businesses to follow on IG: 
@TheFriendlyFox4001
@BravasFood
@DirtWain

Favorite local hangout (in non-pandemic times): The Friendly Fox

Best local living tip: Get out, and enjoy those greenspaces!

What’s something you know about Fort Wayne that people might not know:

The South side is a beautiful place to live where residents care deeply for one another and are committed to seeing their communities and each other thrive. (Check out my tour of The 07 here!)

On a typical (pre-pandemic) weekend in Fort Wayne, you’ll find me:

Gardening and hanging out with my family. In 2021, I’ll begin working on a personal urban native prairie restoration project.


 

Brett Gauger Brett Gauger


Age: 28

Instagram handle: @brettgauger 

Day job: Marketing Communications Specialist by Elevatus Architecture

Words/motto you live by: “Don’t settle.”

Where you live in Fort Wayne: Brookview-Irvington Park, ‘05

How long have you lived in Fort Wayne? 24 years 

What attracted you to Fort Wayne/what’s keeping you here? 

Growing up preschool-college here in Fort Wayne, I felt the growth potential. From all of the developments that have occurred around us, that energy is what has fueled my pride in calling the Summit City my home. I love how this city is has created a great influence to younger generations. It’s really empowering to have these opportunities. 

What do you love about living in Fort Wayne right now? 

The elegant festivals that reflect our cultures. I love how we are seeing an increased amount of events that help highlight our diverse communities. I also love being a witness to the restoration and revitalization efforts happening. From Electric Works, to The Landing, to Riverfront Development.

What are your hopes for Fort Wayne’s future? 

I want to continue to see our pride and care for others grow. I believe in the people here and know that they carry such gracious hearts with them. I’m also really excited to see how our arts can help transform communities and build great initiatives. One movement I’m really, really excited to see is our growth in community engagement and how it fosters growth in volunteerism. I love that kind of passion!

What does being on Input Fort Wayne’s Street Team mean to you? 

It allows me to help showcase what makes our communities so unique. I adore having a platform that helps connect residents and visitors to opportunities in our community. Everyone belongs here, and I want to use this opportunity as a vehicle for that messaging. 
 
Three favorite local Instagrammers to follow:

@johnpfelts
@jdmcgauley
@szabrecky

Three favorite local businesses to follow on IG:

@visitfortwayne
@downtownfortwayne
@artthiswayfw

Favorite local hangout (in non-pandemic times): The Landing

Best local living tip: Explore Fort Wayne Trails. You’ll see some of the most amazing views of the city. 

What’s something you know about Fort Wayne that people might not know: 

Thomas Edison lived a short part of his life in Fort Wayne. He lived at the corner of Columbia and Calhoun Street. 

On a typical (pre-pandemic) weekend in Fort Wayne, you’ll find me: Visiting a local coffee shop or restaurant, checking out a visual or performing arts event, or spending time outdoors at a park or on a trail. 

 

Adèle Poudrier Adèle Poudrier

Age: 24

Instagram handle: @adelepoudrier

Day job: Social Media Specialist at Vera Bradley

Words/motto you live by:

“Avec le beurre tout est meilleur,” which means “With butter, everything is better.” Listen everyone, I promise I tried really hard to think of something more profound for this question, but this silly quote my French mother would always say growing up is the only one that came to mind. While in a literal sense, butter undeniably makes everything better to me. This quote also feels like a reminder that it’s the simple things that make ordinary life extraordinary.

Where you live in Fort Wayne: Downtown Fort Wayne with my cat, Norman!

How long have you lived in Fort Wayne? Three years in May.

What attracted you to Fort Wayne/what’s keeping you here?

I initially came back to Northeast Indiana for my job, but what I love about this city is how there’s always something new in the works. The people of Fort Wayne love their home and show it through all of the amazing small businesses, restaurants, and events they’ve brought to the city. To contradict @oldfortteeco’s famous saying, “Fort Wayne #ItsNotThatBad” I’d say, “Fort Wayne, it’s actually pretty great!”

What do you love about living in Fort Wayne right now?

Besides the awesome Thai food scene? All jokes aside, I’d have to say the immense potential this place has. I grew up nearby in Auburn, and when comparing what Fort Wayne was like in the early 2000s to what it’s like today, the difference is beyond exciting. The people of this city are so passionate about how to further develop it and make Fort Wayne a lively place with so much to do. The Fort Wayne housing market is booming for reason!

What are your hopes for Fort Wayne’s future?

I once heard someone say, “We want parking to be hard to find in Downtown Fort Wayne.” This made me smile because, all in the same breath, you can see the charming small-town feel Fort Wayne still has, while also realizing the immense potential this city has to be a destination people not only want to visit, but also where they want to plant roots. So, I would also say I hope it is difficult to find parking in Fort Wayne one day.

What does being on Input Fort Wayne’s Street Team mean to you?

Staying connected is more important now than ever. Not only staying in touch with our friends or family, but also our community. I’m so excited to bring the stories of this city to Input Fort Wayne’s audience to help keep them up-to-date even from afar.

A fun fact about me: I am French-American! My mom is from France, and my dad is from the States.

Three favorite local Instagrammers to follow:  

@andreportee
@kayleedelacywilson
@afroplump

Three favorite local businesses to follow on IG:

@utopiancafe
@antonucciositalianmarket
@mercadito_taqueria (What can I say, I’m a bit of a foodie)

Favorite local hangout (in non-pandemic times): Connor’s Rooftop Bar

Best local living tip:

During non-pandemic times, always say "yes" to trying something new here! Whether invited to Zoofari, or for a round of trivia at Trouble Brewing Co., you may find your new favorite Fort Wayne spots or traditions in the endless events and businesses around town.

What’s something you know about Fort Wayne that most people might not know:

The Ft. Wayne’s Farmer’s Market downtown doesn’t disappear with the cold weather! Farm fresh food and local creations can still all be found during fall, winter, and spring. Instead of being outdoors on Barr Street, these local gems are indoors at the TinCaps Stadium.

On a typical (pre-pandemic) weekend in Fort Wayne, you’ll find me:

Picking up an Iced Americano from Utopian Coffee before heading to a yoga class at Fusion Yoga Studio. My parents live nearby, and oftentimes, on the weekends, we love to discover new hiking trails in and around Fort Wayne. Living downtown, I also have to take advantage of being in close proximity to so many great restaurants, so I’ll probably be found back at The Landing for dinner at my favorite restaurant, Nawa, with a couple of friends.

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