What I Know: Brandon Judkins

The programs director for Indiana Humanities talks food, public transit, inspiration, and more.

AGE: 34  GIG: Programs director for Indiana Humanities   TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL: This month, the organization publishes Food for Thought, a compilation of stories about Hoosiers who make what we eat.

When it comes to humanities, nobody gets it. It’s everything but math and science. So we create two-year, overarching themes.

The whole premise of the book is that there are rich food stories all around us, and we don’t even realize it. David Hoppe with Nuvo wrote it, and Kristin Hess here at Indiana Humanities took the photos. They spent about a year going to every nook and cranny of the state.

In Fort Wayne, they found a lunch spot called Caliente Cuban Cuisine. The owner had been a journalist in Cuba. One day, in a national address, Castro mentioned his name in displeasure, and he knew that he had to relocate. He called a friend, who happened to live in Fort Wayne.

By the way, his food is amazing.

I believe in the power of small, incremental change, but I’m really inspired by big, bold, visionary change.

This is a really exciting time to be here. I feel good about our direction, but from here, things could either be okay or they could be kind of fantastic. To keep doing what we’re doing only gets us so far.

What’s missing is a world-class public-transit system.

A traveling exhibit with our new theme, the Spirit of Competition, is at the airport this month. One of the interesting failure stories we tell is that of the interurban transit system. In the 1920s, we had the best system around. We were the envy of the world.

It’s clearly something we’re capable of.

Every day, I feel inspired to be in this place. What has me most inspired is that I don’t hear anyone apologizing for Indianapolis anymore.

—as told to Megan Fernandez

Photo by Tony Valainis

This article originally appeared in the August 2012 issue.