Student Reports - Civic Life
Daniel Frohman doesn’t live far from Bryan Park. With its open areas, he goes there every day to walk his dog, Kiva. Today was no different. While some lay on blankets or watched the kids play, Frohman played Frisbee with his brother, Ben, and his brother’s girlfriend, Frankie. Running among them was his dog.
“We got Kiva from the Bloomington pound,” Frohman says. “We wanted a dog after we were out visiting some friends that had a really cute dog. … We were thinking the pound would be the best place and it would also help out.”
Frohman, a 16-year-old at Bloomington High School South, is one of the hundreds of people who adopt animals from Bloomington Animal Care and Control (BACC) every year. However, this is not a new trend. Since 2006, BACC has seen a steady increase in the number of adoptions combined with a decrease in the number of incoming animals.
Fallen leaves crunch beneath the steps of 20-plus sixth graders as they run about with clipboards in hand behind Edgewood Primary School. Carroll Ritter watches the miniature scientists, equipped with tape measurers and calculators, in their quests to determine the diameters and circumferences of surrounding trees.
"Yes, I knew it!" exclaims a boy, pumping a reddened fist into the air when his math comes out correctly. Within the next 30 minutes, each student's calculations will prove a familiar mathematical concept: pi = 3.14.
"Today's exercise is a practical use of math with hands-on outdoor experience," says Ritter, the environmental education coordinator at Sycamore Land Trust (SLT). "A lot of subjects can be taught using the outdoors. It's fun, it's practical, and it's real world."
On a bench outside the First United Methodist Church, John Hammond, 52, sits clutching a black lighter and a slowly burning cigarette. Across the street, people mingle at the bus stop, their hands shoved into pockets, their faces downturned against the cutting November wind. An empty Styrofoam cup drifts down the sidewalk, colliding with the skittering leaves left over from fall.
The sound of buses makes the otherwise quiet street sound monstrous. Groans of engines and the screech of brakes echo against the stone face of the church. Women in business suits pass by, walking quickly and avoiding eye contact. Men in shaggy coats nod and say hello.
Hammond's bright blue eyes see it all from below the brim of his red and white baseball cap. "I worked all my life," he says. "My background is psychology and business management from IU, with 25 years' management experience. You wouldn't expect to find somebody like me down here. But it can happen to anybody."
When he's not teaching a class, helping students during office hours, or spending time with his children, Richard Schrimper, a senior lecturer of accounting at IU, devotes his time to his true passion: the forests of Brown County. Having hiked in the woods there for over 25 years, the trees have secured a place in his heart.
With the acquisition of a new property in Brown County, Schrimper immersed himself in the breathtaking beauty of the forest and also secured some financial freedom. His trees earned him $78,500. The Nature Conservancy (TNC), a conservation organization that protects plants and animals, bought the rights to the trees on Schrimper's land.
"It was too good of a deal," Schrimper said. "I just couldn't pass it up."
Susan Sandberg eases the glass door of the jail lobby open, quickly peeking over her black-framed glasses to survey the room. Like a scene from a corny made-for-TV movie, a gust of wind blows her short blond hair.
Today, she dons a black leather jacket, blue jeans and pearls, a departure from her colorful, everyday ensembles, which usually feature chunky turquoise jewelry and red shoes.
"I don't normally wear my pearls to these things," she says with a laugh. "But I've got to rush off after this, jump into my little black dress, and I'm off to another event."
Mike Black stands casually behind the counter of his downtown market, wearing a zip-up North Face, light-colored jeans and faded New Balance shoes. He greets customers as they enter the store, knowing most by name, often knowing what particular lottery ticket or pack of cigarettes they buy before they tell him.
"Downtown is like a big family," he says with a smile. "I know everybody."
Since opening Black's Mercantile on 221 N. Walnut St. a little over three-and-a-half years ago, Black, 55, has provided downtown with a comfortable environment to shop for groceries.
Volunteers file in, as Karen McEwen slides her dark hair behind her ear and asks for help. She needs to get donated books out of her car.
She sorts the books, deciding if they are worth keeping or selling. She looks them up on the Internet, peering over the edge of her glasses while also fielding questions from volunteers.
"Karen, where can I find this type of book?" one of the volunteers asks. "Karen, they asked for this, but we don't have it," says another. "What should I send instead?"
Chef Daniel Orr trots around the kitchen of FARM restaurant with ease, dabbing each plate with his culinary touch. Whatever the order, whatever the day, Orr knows "real food."
And from experiences on his family's farm in Columbus and his eatery in Bloomington, he can attest to the significance of supporting local farmers and buying local food.
"FARM is community-driven, where we support local farmers," he says. "We do sustainability projects, such as composting and recycling. We try to give back to the community, and, hopefully, we will earn the trust of our locals and people that come in from IU."
Dustin Hale sits down at the Monroe County Public Library and clasps his trembling hands. He keeps his head down for a minute, only making eye contact with the Peyton Manning face on his t-shirt. He rubs his fingers above his lip and tugs on the few short hairs he missed while shaving.
"I'm a little nervous," he admits.
Hale is not nervous because he is in an unfamiliar place. The 21-year old has autism and is nervous because he likes his routine and gets flustered when it changes. A typical day does not include a sit-down interview.
Hale spends his time job searching, hiking, reading or watching the Indianapolis Colts on TV. A diligent worker, he is focused on finding an employer who will hire an applicant with special needs. It is a task that proves difficult for any adult with autism. Hale pushes onward, however, and tries his best.
Jordan Bleckner leans back in his office chair and looks over paperwork at his desk. The phone rings, and he swivels in his chair to pick it up. The 21-year-old IU junior from Woodcliff Lake, N.J., is the 2008 Union Board Live From Bloomington (LFB) director.
Bleckner's job this day in April was to ensure everything was ready for this year's LFB Club Night, an annual fundraiser for the Hoosier Hills Food Bank (HHFB).
Club Night is one of many charity events for local organizations that add a touch of creativity. These types of fundraising events have been around for decades, like LFB's 22-year run, offering residents chances to help out in ways other than the typical walk-a-thons and marathons.
"I just wanted to be in charge of doing something good for Bloomington because I just love this town so much," Bleckner said. "Whether it be big programs or little ones, they're still great for students and the community."
Collaboration between organizations, such as LFB's with Hoosier Hills, has allowed these out-of-the-ordinary events to grow in number and variety.