Women Are: Building Community on Fort Wayne's Riverfront

It was hard to leave the house in Fort Wayne last summer without seeing signs for the "Hello, New Park" grand opening event. The three-day celebration in August welcomed about 35,000 guests to Promenade Park—the city's new downtown riverfront attraction that has quickly become a favorite local gathering place.

Situated along the banks of the St. Marys River, the park serves as a central, "come as you are" space for walking, biking, playing, and relaxing on the riverfront—a vibrant, natural area that was not previously accessible to the public. While locals might be familiar with the new park by now, they might not know much about the people working behind the scenes to make it the dynamic gathering space it is today—and will be tomorrow.

Before Promenade Park, Fort Wayne's downtown riverfront was largely inaccessible to the public. Since Promenade Park opened in August 2019, it has become a popular downtown gathering space.

As Program & Events Manager for Riverfront Fort Wayne, Megan Butler played a central role in introducing the community to their new park. She likes to say the grand opening event was her baby, and rightfully so. Butler spent more than a year planning the event, and two years before that researching ideas for a weekend, which was not just groundbreaking for northeast Indiana, but also completely unique in the Midwest and inspired by events from across the globe.

In the first episode of Season 2 of "Women Are: Fort Wayne," Host Stephanie Gottesman interviews Butler about how the Fort Wayne community came together to pull off an ambitious weekend with three days of programming for the new park and how the community's response to the riverfront has been staggeringly positive from day one.

Stephanie Gottesman, right, of "Women Are: Fort Wayne" interviews Megan Butler, left, about her work for Riverfront Fort Wayne.

The success of Fort Wayne's riverfront park is particularly significant, Butler says, because the U.S. has seen a decline in social capital, or relationships among people in communities—an insight popularized by the book Bowling Alone by Robert D. Putnam.

In the podcast, Butler shares how her life and career have been oriented to combat this trend of isolation in communities and help bring people together in new ways—from her time studying politics as an undergraduate to her work in city planning today.

But Butler's path hasn't always been easy.

Over the years, she has faced many challenges, including a hard childhood and a divorce that left her struggling to feed herself and her two boys. Her best advice to women in the midst of their own divorces is to find something that is completely their own that no one can take away from them—an ambition she is living out today in her desire to make a positive impact on the city of Fort Wayne.

Toward the end of the episode, Butler shares some of what’s coming up for Phases 2 and 3 of riverfront development and what her role is now that Promenade Park is open. She also shares some of the programs and events coming up at Promenade Park as the riverfront stays active and welcoming throughout the year.

Learn more

For more information about events along the Riverfront, visit http://riverfrontfw.org/. They are also on Facebook (Riverfront Fort Wayne) and Instagram (@riverfrontfortwayne).

Season 1 shout out

After the interview, we were excited to share an announcement for Alexandra Hall, our first guest from Season 1. A children’s book Hall illustrated, The Zookeeper by Jessie Strock, is now available for purchase on Amazon. Check it out!


Our featured song this episode is Moon Dance by Elle/The Remnant. This all-female group has been making music together for more than 8 years. They started out as three friends and grew to six women as their songwriting capabilities evolved. All of their songs are original lyrics and music, and they have a deep love for unique storytelling. They believe that music should nourish, inspire, and share stories worth telling. You can find them on Spotify, and can find upcoming shows on Facebook.


Women Are: Fort Wayne is a production of Monstrous Regiment Media and distributed by WBOI in Fort Wayne. Our show is sponsored by the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne and Silverbirch Entertainment. This episode was written and produced by Stephanie Gottesman and Traci Henning-Kolberg, and edited by Adam Blackburn. Our episodes are recorded at Silverbirch Studio, with an extra thank you to sound engineer Steve Tyler and assistant engineer, Harrison Tyler.

We appreciate you subscribing, rating and reviewing the show on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever else you get your podcasts. You can also visit us at womenare.us, or follow us on Facebook and Instagram. New episodes are released every two weeks. You can check out other content from WBOI on Facebook. Until next time... thanks for listening!

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