Charli Wyatt

February 24, 2008

Latino students and others who are learning English may get left out of a proposed law that aims to close achievement gaps and other disparities between Indiana students of different backgrounds.

HB 1107, authored by Rep. Greg Porter (D-Indianapolis), would require the Indiana Department of Education to establish standards for teacher training programs in "cultural competency," or the ability to understanding how a student's background can affect learning style.

November 21, 2007

Ann Kreilkamp isn't the hunched old hag most people think of when they hear the word "crone."

In fact, it's this unappealing image of aged womanhood that Kreilkamp - a spritely, bespectacled woman with short, frenzied hair and seemingly boundless energy - is bent on doing away with.

Next year, the Bloomington resident will launch Crone: Women Coming of Age, a semiannual publication dedicated to declaring and exploring the ways and wisdom of advanced womanhood.

"The crone is that part of us that is wise, and is authentic, and has learned from experience," says Kreilkamp, who has a Ph.D. in philosophy from Boston University and now lives in Bloomington.

November 21, 2007

Forget about "upcycling" or "aging in place" or "tase." The cultural watchword of the year is "locavore."

So says the Oxford University Press (OUP), publisher of the New Oxford American English Dictionary, which chose "locavore" as its Word of the Year for 2007. The term refers to people who prefer to eat only locally grown food.

Nothing says cultural significance, however, like being on the cover of Parade Magazine. On Nov. 11, the day before OUP announced its selection, the ubiquitous national weekly featured a segment on local food as part of an issue titled "What Americans Eat."

"That means we've entered the mainstream of the mainstream," says Maggie Sullivan.

November 7, 2007

For the first 17 years of his life, Ra’ed Almickawi lived in a tent in the desert with his parents and nine brothers and sisters. And he was happy.

He awoke every morning to his mother’s fresh-baked bread. He never had to wash his salad greens, which came from the organic garden that he, his father and his brothers tended.

His mother helped him with his homework between their homemade lunch and homemade dinner. It wasn’t always comfortable sleeping in tight quarters side-by-side with his brothers, but he was never lonely, and he always had someone to look out for him.

October 14, 2007

Improving conditions for bicycling in Bloomington was the top priority expressed by the public during the city’s alternative transportation workshop last month.

The city’s planning office will use the feedback to update the city’s Alternative Transportation and Greenways System Plan, which has not been revised since it was originally adopted in 2001.

According to the original plan document, the plan’s goal is to “mitigate traffic congestion and improve the health, fitness, and quality of life of its residents,” and includes bus and pedestrian options as well as cycling. In addition to bike paths and signed routes, the plan includes “sidepaths” – a wide sidewalk open to bicycles – and multi-use trails that would be open to any non-vehicle traffic.

It was cycling, however, that received the most attention at workshop, which was attended by about 20 people. Planners heard repeated calls for better bicycle access to College Mall and the west-side retail area, the city’s main shopping hubs. The obvious routes are dangerous, participants said, and getting to those routes from outlying neighborhoods by bicycle is difficult.

October 10, 2007

A mammoth delivery truck pulls up in front of Mother Hubbard's Cupboard, and two women hop down from either side of the cab.

They jog around to the side and rear freight doors, which they open to reveal dozens of boxes of fresh cut green beans, instant mashed potatoes, canned grapefruit juice and nonfat powdered milk thrown together in a four-foot-high jumble.

"Did a little bit of crazy driving on the way here!" Brooke Gentile observes cheerfully, eyeing the cattywampus cargo.

Gentile oversees operations at Mother Hubbard's, a community food pantry south of downtown Bloomington on Walnut Street. She seems born for this job.

October 10, 2007

Bloomington resident Allison Strang got a taste of what life is like for Palestinians living in the West Bank when she tried to pass through military checkpoints to reach Nablus, a Palestinian city surrounded by Jewish settlements, in 2003.

"At the second checkpoint, (Israeli soldiers) weren't letting anyone in that particular day, for whatever reason," she said.

Strang, who was traveling as part of a six-person delegation sponsored by the Bloomington Peace Action Coalition (BPAC), was riding in a minibus along with several Palestinians. One of the Palestinian passengers invited the Americans to stay in his home for the night.

"We hung out with his kids and talked to him about what his life was like," said Strang. "He lives a five-minute journey from his work, but some days he can't get to work because (the Israeli military) will close off the gates to him or make him wait for hours."

September 26, 2007

Sustainability report ready for public

When it comes to community sustainability, things are looking up in Bloomington.

Public transit use? Up. Job market? Up. Greenhouse gas emissions? Up. Way up.

These are among the trends revealed in the Bloomington Sustainability Assessment Report, the first of its kind prepared by the Bloomington Commission on Sustainability.

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