I never was able to “escape” Northwest Indiana, no matter how hard I tried.
I was born in Michigan City, spent my teen years in La Porte, went to college in South Bend, and since then have lived in seven different towns in NWI. I never thought I would come back here after college, let alone stay so long. Like many Indiana teens with big dreams, I envisioned a glamorous life in the big city, making loads of money and strutting the streets in cutting-edge fashions.
Instead, I now live in a comfy suburban home in Crown Point with a husband, two kids, and trendy enough clothing to look presentable at the grocery store. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My name is Julia Perla Huisman and this is the first of a weekly column I’m writing for the Life sites featuring ideas and advice that we hope will enrich the lives of you, our readers. From parenting to fitness to home décor to local food hotspots, I will talk to local experts and fellow NWI residents about what works, where they’re going, and what they’re doing.
I’ve worked in the local media industry for the past 15 years, most recently as editor of Inspired Living magazine. During that time, I have met, interviewed and read about the Region’s most uplifting individuals and have visited the many gems available in our own backyard. I’m eager to share these treasures with you, and to learn about new ones along the way.
Northwest Indiana is a place worth coming back to… I know that now. It’s full of culture, creativity, opportunity, and, in recent years, booming downtowns with young entrepreneurs willing to break the mold and bring new life to our community. This is certainly something worth celebrating, or at the very least learning more about. As I close, I’d like to share some of my favorite places and qualities from the area:
- The restaurants. I don’t claim to be a foodie, but I do love food, and NWI has an abundance of dining options that are locally owned and unique. Gamba in Merrillville, The Sip in Crown Point and Highland, Trattoria Enzo in LaPorte, El Salto in multiple towns, Stacks in Valparaiso… these are just some of the restaurants that hold a special place in my heart.
- The beaches. This is everyone’s answer, I know. But for good reason! I’ve visited cities all over the country and world, and the fact that we are just a few minutes’ drive from fresh water and singing sands makes us the lucky ones.
- The art. Our towns are filled with amazing artists, along with venues and parks willing to display their works. In addition to the fine arts, we have seamstresses, furniture builders, jewelry makers, interior designers and many more artisans who have found a way to make money doing what they love. Our community embraces art and creativity, which brings a richness that can’t be matched.
- The industry/culture combo. Our local economy is made up primarily of steel mills and manufacturers. We are a blue-collar community. But we’re also burgeoning into a cultural hub, driven by many of the factors mentioned above. We shouldn’t wish for more of one or the other. We should celebrate both. We are gritty and we drink good beer and we applaud innovation while also honoring tradition.
- The people. Sure, there are some curmudgeons out there. But for the most part, the people who live here strive for success, unity and positivity. They work hard at their jobs and love the heck out of their kids. They are kind and generous and smart. I’ve met so many people whom have become mentors to me and who have inspired me to do more. Good people live here, I promise you.
I’m looking forward to connecting with you every week. If there is anything you would like to read about, feel free to post a comment below.