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Lawyer on the Monon
A Lawyer? Here?
While Main Street buildings and park like settings are both common places to find an attorneys' office, finding an attorney located at the intersection of both, and steps away from a bike trail, is pretty unusual.
But in a time when home-office combinations help millions of people to economize their work-life choices, and as greenways become more popular than freeways, maybe it just makes sense after all.
So I undertook a grand experiment in the past week and decided to try it out. Our doors opened Monday, August 9, 2010 - that's 8-9-10. Thompson Law Office is a general, business and family law practice operating out of the first floor of a three story townhome on Main Street in Carmel, IN. It is the closest of a series of townhomes adjacent to the Monon Trail.
Main Street itself is a bit of an experiment, and if the idea of an experiment is extended further, you could say that the Rails to Trails conversion of the Monon Railroad to an urban greenway is a kind of experiment as well.
The Trail, the redevelopment of Main Street and the townhomes in the neighborhood share a distinctive and deeply "retro" urban - or more precisely, suburban - effort to revitalize the core of a town that has thrived tremendously on its perimeter, even while the downtown area slowly decayed. Ironically, this community, whose own growth had pulled much life and vitality from the central business district of Indianapolis, was slowly suffering the same fate it had helped bring to its larger sister - the middle of town was dying even as its cul de sacs and country clubs prospered.
But 14 years ago, Mayor Jim Brainard came into office with a very different vision, and Carmel embarked on a path of Smart Growth and resurrection of the tradition town center. Now, the Smart Growth plan, entreprenuerial spirit and environmental consciousness of this community has blossomed into the type of community plan other cities and towns around the country envy.
And so it seemed like just the time for a new kind of business to drop into the neighborhood. Of course, it's not as if Carmel at large is lacking in practitioners of the law. Nor even that the downtown area does not have its share. But our office is the first on Main Street west of the Monon Trail, close to the trail itself, and housed within the multi-use condominium development designed to attract boutiques of all kinds, but it wasn't so likely that a solo practice attorney would hang his shingle and make his mark right here.
The Perfect Intersection
So why me - and why would I choose this spot? I have to give more than a little credit to my fiance, Kim, who really insisted that we get the place. I had fallen in love with the location nearly a year ago when I rode my bike past it on two or three times a week, but little did I know how perfect it would be until we decided we would try to move here this Summer.
For my part, I have loved bicycling since I was a kid. I also have tremendous nostalgia for the kind of place and community I thought I knew as a young kid, in the early 1960's. Back then, every town had a Main Street and every Main Street had at least one of every kind of business you could imagine. But times changed, and that was all replaced with suburban living with cul de sacs, super freeway, big box stores, mega churches, long commutes and neighbors who were likely to know the people living 25 miles away better than those around the corner.
Then, a few years ago, I worked on a project for a group called the Michigan Land Use Institute, a quasi-environmental advocacy organization, that really helped me distill some ideas that were very important to my sense of purpose and meaning. Living in a "walkable community" has value on an extraordinary number of different levels - and living in a community that intersects with a long, green, bike trail only makes it all the better!
In the end, however, it took Kim's persistence to say we wouldn't come here and live any other way, really, than right here in the thick of things. And now that we're here, I feel like it's a gift, a great blessing - and an opportunity to be part of and serve a community - no two communities at the intersection of Main Street and recreation.
So, what kind of law do I practice? Well, my practice is all about whatever helps this intersection continue to thrive, prosper and be a welcoming pathway to the commerce of Main Street, or the enjoyment of nature along this beautiful trail.