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Heartland Now

About Heartland Now

Welcome to Heartland Now – A Uniquely Midwestern Magazine. is an e-magazine that features the cultural fabric of modern midwestern life. Indianapolis is home base to start.

The goal of the magazine is to deliver provocative content that collectively reflects the diverse culture in which we live.  

What makes life in Indianapolis, and the Midwest, unique?

Mainly, it’s the people.  What our people do, think, and feel is what makes our town and our region different from the next.  How do we express these things? We do it like everyone else.  We do it through our politics and government, but also through our arts, our food, our clothes, our sports, our faith, in varying order.  

What makes us laugh or mad, and everything between?  

At, unique content created by people who live here, work here, and think here is the attraction.  


Meet the Contributors to Heartland Now:

 Michael Ahlrichs

As an iPhone photographer, Michael Ahlrichs is intent on exploring and capturing the beauty that can be found wherever you look. Wanderlust has taken Michael to many locations, some ordinary, some not so, but he manages to discover the glory in the world. From the smallest details to the largest expanses, he shares the splendor around us all. Carmel, Indiana is his home but he’s comfortable where his soul and heart are and where his feet take him. He can be reached at


  Eric Augustus

Transplant Hoosier, born and raised in Lima, Ohio, Eric made his way to Indiana while attending IUPUI in 2008. By day, Eric is a Government Affairs professional, by night, a serial hobbyist. Eric is an avid cyclist, delusional golfer and home brewer. His contributions to will focus on local, regional and national sports and overall cynicism to all things life.


  Tyeesha Bradley

Tyeesha Bradley is a freelance illustrator from the northwest side of Indianapolis.  She now makes her home in in the Kennedy King neighborhood doing freelance paintings, graphics, and (currently) adult coloring books.  Her preferred drawing method is ink on paper, but every now and then will break out the tablet to do a digital paintings.  Using these mediums help Tyeesha make art featuring people of color.


  Adam Burtner

Adam is a lifelong Hoosier living on the East Side of Indianapolis in the St. Clair Place neighborhood. He grew up in Brownsburg and recently graduated from Wabash College. He is the Executive Director of the HATCH for Hunger program, a non-profit organization that looks to fight hunger in Central Indiana by partnering with farmers, retailers, and food banks to provide eggs to families in need. Adam has previously worked extensively in the political arena; for local and state governments, many campaigns, and in public affairs and communications positions. He currently holds a variety of roles within the ONE Campaign, the No Labels Organization, and Impact Youth Mentoring. He cares deeply about civic engagement and solution oriented approaches that look to solve our community’s most pressing problems by bringing people together. Aside from being a politico, Adam is an animal lover, sports fanatic, and game show addict.


  Geoff Chen

Geoff is a locally trained photographer who was born on September 19, 1965 in Kew Garden, Queens. Raised in Glen Cove, New York until the age of 18.  He attended Indiana University and has been a resident of the State of Indiana ever since. He has specialized in landscape and architectural photography for the last 10 years. He is a food expert, a fan of locally unpopular sports teams, and is an avid traveler.


 Alec Gray

Alec is the Multimedia Specialist for the Indiana Senate Republicans where he is in charge of photography and videography. He enjoys challenging himself to be more creative with his many different projects. As a sports fan, Alec loves to see Indiana teams stand high above the competition and is sorely disappointed when those expectations aren’t met.


  Justin Groenert

Justin is a Cubs fan, a Chamber Professional, a Daniels Republican. He is an avid reader, a Hoosier. a WKU and USI Alum.  He is the co-host of Politics Aside @polasidepod with @evansvillepod. #FlyTheW  And he is in possession of a top secret pimento cheese sandwich recipe.


 Duane Ingram

Duane Ingram is an implant from Gary, IN and serves the residents of the City of Indianapolis in many different capacities.  He was appointed to the Citizens Police Complaint Board in May of 2016 and currently serves as the Vice President of the board.  He is the Vice President of Programs for the Exchange at the Indianapolis Urban League and Board Member of the Central Indiana Community Foundation.  He is an ordained Elder in the Church of God in Christ where he serves in several capacities including:  Trustee, Youth Leader, Sunday School teacher, and Adjutant to the Pastor.  Professionally, he works for the Indianapolis Housing Agency (IHA) where he is the Director of Asset Management where he is responsible for the day to day management of 16 apartment communities including over 2,000 units of housing in Marion County.  He loves serving God’s people and has been married to his beautiful wife, Daarina Ingram, for over 11 yrs.


  Adam Johnson

A Southwest Indiana native, Adam Johnson has spent 28 years obsessing over sports. Obsession with sports and competition has led Adam to write and operate an IU sports blog, run a Bachelor/Bachelorette fantasy league, and apply for a spot on CBS’ Survivor annually since he’s been eligible for the show.
Now living in the western suburbs of Indianapolis, Adam spends his time trying to figure out how to raise a child, maintain a career, stay in shape and simultaneously feed his preoccupation for sports. While most of his writing is focused on sports, Adam occasionally gets the bug to share opinions that he probably shouldn’t.


  Sandhya Graves

Sandhya is a wife and mother of twin boys (4) and little girl (3), first. She also goes by author, writer, caregiver, and the family-glue for her village. She’s a dreamer, a soul-catcher, lover of words, an empath and wanderer searching for lost souls, all while craving culture and diversity to bring everyone together. She is author of the book, When It’s Not As Simple As The Birds And The Bees: Finding Hope While Dealing With Infertility.  She enjoys writing poetry and has been published numerous times, as well as being a two time award winning poet.  She’s dabbled as a songwriter, but leaves that to the pros. Stay tuned, you will see all of it here.


  Jenny Sue Kakasuleff

Jenny Sue Kakasuleff is a former political campaign manager and staff member at the Indiana House of Representatives. She is a communications professional and freelance writer who has covered politics and policy issues at NUVO Magazine and Huffington Post. Follow @libgrrrl on Twitter for updates from Jenny.


  Shawn Kelly

Shawn Kelly was born and raised in Indiana’s neighbor to the south, but upgraded to Indiana as an adult where he and his beautiful wife raised their son to be a basketball loving Hoosier and their daughter to love performing arts. They spent over 13 years in Indiana (Indianapolis and Evansville) before an opportunity moved them out to the Baltimore-Washington area. Shawn is a consultant in the energy industry but likes to write as a way to let the many random thoughts escape from his head. He’ll always consider himself a Hoosier and hopes to share his perspective by comparing and contrasting life in the Heartland with the East Coast.

Mr. Kinetik

Mr. Kinetik is a musician, DJ, and public school educator. He hosts a podcast titled “But He Speaks So Well” and is the creator of He is dedicated to a life of servant-leadership, building community, and enjoying funky music along the way.


  John Krull

John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” WFYI 90.1 Indianapolis and publisher of, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.


  Michael Leppert

Michael is a long time fixture at the Indiana Statehouse and Government Center. He has spent half his career working for the government, and the other half working on it as a lobbyist and public affairs consultant. He started writing his weekly column in 2014, and it has been published throughout Indiana since 2015. He published his first book, Contrary To Popular Belief, A Chronicle of a Progressive in Indiana in 2016. He is married with two young adult sons, is a lifelong, competitive and frustrated golfer and a workout addict.  But mainly he is smart, funny and cool.


  Senator Jim Merritt

Jim has served in the Indiana Senate for 27 years.  For the past 11 years, he has served as Majority Caucus Chairman.  His major concentration of legislative topics has been and continues to be wrapped around the energy sector and quality of life for all Hoosiers.  Senator Merritt was elected Chairman of the Marion County Republican Party in 2017.


 Jeff Miller

Jeff Miller is a City-County Councilor in Indianapolis, representing Council District 16. After leadership in a list of neighborhood organizations, he was elected to the council in 2011 and reelected in 2015. His district covers the near southeast, south and southwest parts of the city, including Fountain Square, Mars Hill, IUPUI, UIndy and White River State Park.

  Matthew Neville

Born in the hometown of Vice President Mike Pence, Matthew was able to see the light and become a part of the Democratic Party.  He currently serves as Treasurer and Political Director of the Vanderburgh County Democratic Party, working hard to ensure Indiana does not become a Bastion of Bad Ideas. He is co-host of the podcast, Politics Aside, where he creams his Republican counterpart every week or two.


  Rep. Dave Ober

Rep. Dave Ober serves as Chairman of the House Committee on Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications.  He is currently the youngest member of the Indiana General Assembly, representing the 82nd House district in Northeast Indiana.


  Chelsea Schneider

Chelsea Schneider writes about innovation and emerging trends in Indiana’s cities and towns for Accelerate Indiana Municipalities. Before joining Aim, Chelsea served as a government reporter for various newspapers in Indiana, most recently at the IndyStar where she covered education and the Indiana General Assembly. She is a Hoosier native, growing up in Irvington on Indianapolis’ east side. Chelsea graduated from Warren Central High School, and received her Bachelor’s degree from Franklin College where she studied journalism and political science. The role she loves most is being mom to Henry, 5, and Emma, 3. When she’s not writing, Chelsea is likely at the Children’s Museum, watching one of her kiddo’s soccer games or dance practices – or reading a Jane Austen novel.


 Tom Schuman

Tom Schuman is senior vice president of communications and operations with the Indiana Chamber and editor of the organization’s BizVoice ® magazine (84 national and state awards). He joined the Chamber in a communications role in 1998, and has worked closely with all aspects of the organization since that time.

A Ball State University (journalism major and political science minor) graduate, Tom worked in writing and editing positions at newspapers in Watseka, Illinois; Wabash, Indiana; and Anderson, Indiana before joining the Chamber.

The EchoChamber podcast is another way to deliver intriguing interviews with Indiana business, technology, education and political leaders.  



  Rima Shahid

Rima Shahid joined the Muslim Alliance of Indiana (MAI) in June 2015, becoming the Executive Director of MAI in October 2015. As Executive Director, Rima is leads the implementation of MAI’s mission of cultivating interfaith harmony, building a diverse and inclusive Hoosier Muslim community, and collective action to preserve civil rights liberties for all Hoosiers. She has significantly enhanced MAI’s impact by developing seminars, workshops and other initiatives to further community. She is a regular speaker at political and inter-faith events. A native Hoosier, Rima attended Cathedral High School and IUPUI. Having spent more than a decade in the Middle East, working as Trade Development Officer at Pakistan Embassy in Bahrain, Rima brings a unique perspective and diverse range of approaches to community outreach objectives.


  Elise Shrock

Elise Shrock is a native Hoosier residing in the Fountain Square neighborhood and is the creator of She is a politico by day and an avid explorer of Indy’s dining and entertainment scene the rest of the time.


  David Sklar

David was born and raised on the Northwest side of Indianapolis  He graduated from Pike High School and has degrees from Ball State and IU.  He serves as the Director of Government Affairs with the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council where he sets and executes the policy agenda of the organized Indianapolis Jewish Community.  In his spare time, David is a piss poor golfer, a mediocre bowler, and an avid fan of Colts football and Philadelphia Phillies baseball, but mostly likes to spend time with wife Sarah and their kids Max and Sydney.


  Gary Snyder

Gary is the host of The Gary Snyder Show. He brings you the guests you want to hear in a way only he can. Nothing is off limits from politics and sports to pop and local culture! It’s where politics, pop-culture and sports collide!


 Tony Spataro

Tony Spataro is an artist who works in a variety of mediums. Born in a small town of northern Indiana, he moved to Indianapolis in 1998. He graduated from Saint Francis College (now University of Saint Francis) with a degree in fine and commercial art in ’98. He is currently the Creative Director for the Indiana Chamber and Owner of an independent design firm, Top Five Creative ( He’s recently helped the Chamber start their new podcast, EchoChamber. Tony is married with two very creative kids and lives on the northeast side of Indy. You can view all his artwork on Facebook (


  Nathanial Stoll

Nathan is fresh out of college and breaking into the professional world of the Heartland. He grew up in the small town of Lakeville a few short miles south of South Bend and went to the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities in Muncie. He spent his whole life in Indiana until he decided to go to college in Chicago. He just received his bachelors degree in psychology from Roosevelt University. Believing in the power of education, and dedicating his life to working on education policy, he is currently searching for the right path to do so. And writing along the way.  Twitter: @NathanialStoll



  Greg Stowers

Greg is a millennial, cleverly disguised as an adult.  Raised on the Northside of Indianapolis, he has a vested interest in public service, non-profit development and music culture.


  Kip Tew

Kip Tew is a partner at Ice Miller and the former head of the Indiana Democratic Party, the Marion County Party, and headed up the Obama campaign in Indiana in 2008. He is a regular talking head on WRTV-6’s  Indy This Week. Other than politics, he also loves sports, particularly the Colts, Pacers, and Indiana Hoosiers football ( yes football) and basketball.  He is the author of the book Journey to Blue, How Barack Obama won Indiana in 2008.


  Jack Wickes

Jack photographs the city and the world after many decades of practicing law in Indianapolis.  He lives downtown Indianapolis with his wife, Julia.  He and Julia have 3 daughters, Katie, Maggie, and Anna, and 6 grandchildren.


  Julia Wickes

Julia Zollman Wickes is a painter of people–a Narrative and Figurative painter.  A native of southern Indiana, she graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Education in 1971 and graduated from Herron School of Art and Design–IUPUI with a degree in painting and minor in Art History in 2002.  Julia has been married to Jack Wickes for 44 years and they have 3 daughters and 6 grandchildren.  Wickes lives and works in downtown Indianapolis.  You may view her work at


  David Ziemba

Ziemba, a native of Northwest Indiana, now makes Indianapolis his home with his wife and young son. A graduate of DePauw University, he has served in city, county, state, and federal government as well as on campaigns for each level of public service. An attorney by trade, he has a knack for commentary on history and the role it plays in society today, the arts in our community, being a father in the digital age, and the all important bigger picture in life.


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