Amber Kerezman

May 18, 2008

Rather than raking through the stacks at IDEM, I'm expanding my CSO or combined sewer overflow education by raking through Alternative editor Steven Higgs' file cabinet. Hopefully, my summarization of an article Steve wrote for IDEM in 2000 about the E. coli riddled Little Lick Creek in Hartford City (our next destination) will better prepare me, and others, for what to expect.

Reading the article, I learned something new right away. Not all strains of E. coli, a bacteria living in the intestines of warm-blooded animals, produce the same results. One of the more threatening strains, O157:H7, causes the bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps often associated with an E. coli infection. This strain and others are found in Little Lick Creek.

Three variables, according to the article, account for this strain in Little Lick: runoff from nearby agribusinesses, failing septic systems and, not surprisingly, untreated waste from CSOs.

May 3, 2008

As we delve into combined sewer overflows or CSOs, (having everything to do again with poop, only now, from we humans) many of you are probably thinking, "Here we go again." I know I did.

But I've learned through the "Indiana Environment Revisited" project that one of the major environmental threats we're up against is the export of human and animal waste. And while other looming threats like the pending coal plant in Edwardsport or the construction of I-69 have nothing to do with what comes from our bodies, one major connection tying these and many environmental movements together is water.

The mercury from coal plants, the destruction of Indiana's wetlands by I-69 and the contaminants from CAFOs and CSOs all threaten our water, the most important natural resource on Earth.

As this is our only "Indiana Environment Revisited" piece this issue, it looks like it's up to me, for the moment, to explain the threat of CSOs and why anyone should care, as I am learning them from the Improving Kids' Environments (IKE) Website.

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April 6, 2008

The first CAFO supporter is in.

The e-mail came on a Monday. No name was attached, just an address and the initials DP. "We all love our technology," DP wrote, "TV's, Computers, I-pod's. I don't believe consumers will pay for a 1975 production system."

I'd like to start by saying I don't own an iPod.

All joking aside, although I really don't own an iPod, I'd like to make it clearer where I stand on CAFOs, considering I knew little about them until about a month-and-a-half ago. Based on the information I've learned in that time, the call here is not to eradicate factory farms, as CAFO’s are also called, though in a perfect world, we'd give farming back to the farmers.

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March 23, 2008

The e-mails are pouring into my inbox. "Your articles and videos are excellent," "thank you for letting people know what is going on," I read. It's great to revel in the support from people who understand just what kind of wreckless establishment CAFOs are. And while the support is welcomed, I wonder where the other side is.

If CAFOs are allowed to be built without setbacks and to operate with effectively no regulation, there must be support for it. And I expected, somewhat, to hear from those people.

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If the feedback we've received is an accurate reflection of how people statewide or nationwide feel about CAFOs, citizens want permits for CAFOs to be granted under the strictest of conditions and run with the highest standards of health and safety. Otherwise, Indiana's public-private CAFO alliance is a complete and deviant local assault.

One of two things are happening. Either CAFO supporters aren't threatened enough to defend their position or the majority of people in both rural and urban Indiana don't know about the problem. Of those who do, the sentiments are the same -- they are thrilled to have a media entity care.

Indiana Environment Revisited

March 9, 2008

Editor's note: This is the first installment of Amber Kerezman's blog about her journey into one of the planet's darkest corners -- Indiana's environment. In the coming weeks, she will chronicle her experiences on the Alernative's "Indiana Environment Revisited" project with first-person commentaries. An archive will be maintained at Amber's blog.


An invasion, to me, has always meant the unwavering presence of an unwelcome guest, a permanent infringement. I realized after Alternative editor Steve Higgs and I took our first "Indiana Environment Revisited" day trip to Randolph and Henry counties, CAFOs, at least by my definition, are that invasion. We met people who felt the violation and literal stink of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.

February 10, 2008

Murray McGibbon sits on a plush beige sofa, surrounded by native African Zulu masks that scream of far away places. The 2 p.m. sunlight streams in on the native South African and IU theater professor as he discusses The African Tempest Project.

The project, he says, "was a hands-on workshopping of Shakespeare's play within a South African context."

McGibbon's receipt of a Lilly Endowment New Frontiers grant enabled six students from IU and 14 from the University of KwaZulu-Natal to produce The African Tempest Project this past summer in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

And it all might happen again. If more funds are granted through the Lilly Endowment, IU will return the favor, housing several South African students while rehearsals for The Tempest are underway in Bloomington.

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