Last September, we told you that Second Story–our creative writing and education organization for kids–was up for a Pepsi Refresh Everything Grant. It was an uphill slog; we made it to Number 96 on the list once, but we didn’t get any higher. Too small a cause. Too much competition.

But now we have another chance–and we have a real shot this time. Our amazing nonprofit local arts collective Big Car has launched  Service Center for Contemporary Culture + Community, a new 11,500 square foot creativity-based community center in the old Firestone Building at Lafayette Square. Seeing an opportunity to improve the Lafayette Square neighborhood, the mall’s owners donated the building to Big Car.

It’s already becoming a hub of activity. Big Car developed a communal garden on a big section of parking lot. (Top soil and mulch surrounded by hay bales–a great idea that’s transformed blacktop into growing space.) The goal is for Service Center to become a grassroots hub for art, culture, education, mass transit, and diversity in the heart of Indianapolis.

It will also be superb space for performances and programs–and a base of operations for Second Story.

Right now, Big Car is launching a summer-long campaign to raise funds for programs at Service Center. We’ve made it into the Pepsi Refresh Everything Competition again–and this time, we’re already running in the money. Here’s how you can help:

  • Vote! You can vote every day in June. Go here:
  • Text to vote! You can do that, too. Text 106734 to 73774 to vote for Service Center.
  • Be a Power Voter! Do you drink Pepsi? Maybe you should start. Power Votes are codes printed on yellow bottle caps found on 20-ounce and two-liter bottles of Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, and Pepsi Max, and on specially marked multi-pack cartons. Once you have the codes, go to and sign in (if you haven’t already). Click on the “Activate Power Voting” link at the bottom middle of the home page. You can enter UP TO TEN Power Vote codes daily. Each cap is good only once, but you can enter 10 different caps. The number of votes you get per code is randomly selected, but each code can be worth up to 100 votes. If you’d like to help but don’t have the money to buy Pepsi, let us know. We’ll be buying some extra. If you know somebody who likes to drink Pepsi, we’re screwing lids back on immediately and we are happy to give them post-power-vote Pepsi.
  • Follow the competition on Facebook! Get the latest Service Center news and see how the competition is going here:,

To win the grant, we need to finish in the top 15. As of this writing, we’re sitting pretty at Number 11. But the competition is fierce, so we need your vote every day in June.

So make yourself a little reminder. Buy a bottle of Pepsi and put it on your desk. $25,000 will go a long way toward helping Big Car and Second Story with educational programs, urban gardening, and other programming that’s truly helping to refresh a neighborhood in need.

Want to know more? Check out the video above. See how some enterprising people right here in Indianapolis are already changing a little corner of the world.

And please vote. It won’t take a minute out of your day. If you care about art and culture and community and kids, it’s a few seconds very well spent.