Brand As A Citizen
South of Indianapolis, we drove through miles of farmland to see the small town of Columbus, IN. Indianapolis locals told us about the town’s architecture, churches and the Cummins Engine Company, where a large percentage of Columbus residents are employed. But what we found was bigger, more beautiful and inspiring. In Columbus, IN, we experienced what it feels like when an employer does more than put bread on the table; we experienced brand as a citizen.
Streets are lined with a mix of historic landmarks, artful public spaces and modern design. And unlike many up-and-coming towns we visited, the modern buildings complement the landscape, building on history rather than treating the land as a clean slate.
When the city began to erect schools to attract new residents to the town, Cummins offered to pay the architect’s fee when one of five approved architects were selected. J. Irvin Miller, Cummins chairman believes “architecture… is that fantastic combination of the two where it enhances and encloses human activity but it actually inspires you to do better." (NPR)
We see a town of people who are optimistic, proud and inspired. Heather, a Columbus resident, was happy to show us around her town. Her daughter couldn’t wait to show us some of her favorite art installations built for Exhibit Columbus, a temporary outdoor exhibition celebrating the town’s architectural history. We followed her as she showed us around her beautiful school–one of eleven elementary schools in Columbus, IN.
Cummins is such an integral part of the community, it employs people for miles around. Heather told us that the Columbus population is measured twice: once during the day, and once at night. As many residents seem to be, Heather is proud to live in a town that Cummins helped to build into the beautiful community it is today. When we asked her if she worked for Cummins, she said “one day.”
Miller says, “mediocracy is expensive.” Surely, there’s nothing mediocre about Columbus, IN. Between the people, the schools, Cummins and church, Columbus is a town with head, heart and soul. We think this town is an example of what it looks and feels like when headquarters is more than a place, but a home.