Sometimes seeing is believing. At least that’s the hope behind One Region ’s recent partnership with a young Chicago filmmaker named Pat Noyes, son of Make It Better Founder Susan Noyes.
“I have lived all over the country in my adult life,” explains Leah Konrady, president and CEO of One Region, a not-for-profit, 501(c)3 that strives to grow population, attract and retain talent, and increase household income in Northwest Indiana. “I chose to come back to Indiana and make my home here. My mission is to help others see the beauty and opportunity in our counties and do the same.”
Konrady’s biggest challenge is fighting misperceptions that there’s nothing happening in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties. But a chance encounter with Noyes inspired an idea.
“I met Pat through my dad who surfs the waves in Lake Michigan,” she explains. “He’s surfed there for over 20 years. Very few people even know that there are surfers in our waters, much less in such an industrial part of Indiana.”
Fortunately for One Region, Noyes could often be found capturing his water adventures with his camera. “I brought it with me whenever I surfed, thinking that there could be a movie in there somewhere. I knew a story about surfing would work best if I could put the story into a bigger context.”
Noyes began to interview the regulars he surfed with — 19 of them — and soon his movie, “Southend: The Place Where I Go Surfing,” began to take shape. “I wanted to shed some light on a community that had given so much to me,” he says. “As each one told me a story, a rich and interesting history began to unfold, much with the south end of Lake Michigan in the background.”
Noyes’ film was exactly the visual Konrady needed to tell the more romantic tale of living in Northwest Indiana. “I like how the surfers use an asset we have in abundance and use it in a way that’s not traditional,” she says. “The movie shows how the surfers see the lake in a different way — in all its beauty — most notably when it’s winter and the weather is bad for us, those are the best conditions for surfing.”
For Noyes, showcasing this well-kept secret is a bit complicated. “Of course I want this movie to be successful,” Noyes explains. “But when you surf, you want the good days to yourself. That’s what I love most about surfing here. While there are quite a few people surfing, there’s not much industry around it. You can have quiet days on the water. That makes it very appealing to me.”
Konrady looks forward to skeptics seeing Noyes’ film when it is previewed this fall in Hammond and Michigan City. “Pat’s film highlights the investment we’ve made in our lakefront and underscores the initiatives we have underway,” she says. “It proves that our programs work and that Northwest Indiana has so much to offer — all year long.”
“Southend: The Place Where I Go Surfing” is showing on Thursday, Sept. 14, at the Towle Theatre  in Hammond, and on Friday, Sept. 22, at the Fire & Water Pavilion  at Washington Park in Michigan City. The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project  will also have information available about water safety and drowning prevention and awareness. Visit oneregionnwi.org  for more information.
More from Make It Better:
- Watch: Metropolitan Planning Council’s Chicago River Tour 
- 7 Ways to Help Hurricane Harvey Victims 
- Behind the Scenes: What It’s Like to Be on the TODAY Show 
Ann Marie Scheidler is a contributing writer with Make It Better who has made a career writing about people, their favorite places, and the things they value most. Ann Marie, a pearl-loving yogi who has a thing for travel, lives in Lake Forest with her husband and five children.