The Brown County Hour started with a flash of inspiration in 2007. Planning, learning and acquiring new skills started a year later with around two dozen volunteers, which led to its premier July 24 on WFHB Community Radio.
The show features Brown County residents and adopts a flexible, hour-long variety-show format with a range of elements that includes arts, music, history, storytelling, theater and natural resources. After it airs each time, the Brown County Hour will be archived and available for download and podcast on it Web site and WFHB.
She was righteous. She was positive. She was young at heart. Until the end.
Battling Stage IV breast cancer didn't change Kim Fernandez's energetic personality. She brought spontaneity and laughter to the Bloomington Clay Studio (BCS), according to co-owner Shu-Mei Chan. BCS is a community-based studio founded in 2008 by Chan and her husband, Daniel Evans.
Losing her nearly six-year fight to breast cancer, Fernandez died on May 18, 2010, at age 47.
"She was fearless in a lot of ways," Evans says.
Downtown Bloomington is home to many local businesses, including a variety of art galleries. A majority of these galleries exhibit eclectic mixes of paintings, photography, jewelry, pottery, and more.
To stand out in a crowd this broad can be a difficult task. However, David and Martha Moore, owners of Pictura gallery, make it look easy. Pictura is a fine art photography gallery located on the corner of Sixth Street and College Avenue. It offers some of the best local and world photography.
"You can go to New York," David says. "You can go to San Francisco. But you don't have to. You can come to Pictura."
In December of last year, Amy Countryman submitted her undergraduate thesis for an open-access community orchard to the City of Bloomington. It was a school project, and she thought nothing more would come of it. But about a month later, Lee Huss from the Bloomington Tree Commission called and said the city was interested in her idea.
Since then the project received approval from the city, along with an offer for an orchard location. A plant selection committee was created, along with a board of directors. Plans have been laid out for around 80 trees, and with the help of Bloomington residents, the project won a grant for at least 20 trees from The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation (FTPF). And last Saturday the orchard had its first community work day.
"Bloomington was ready for this project," said Countryman. "People are really excited about it. And it just took some folks getting together and organizing."
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.
Just outside the door of the Wandering Turtle Art Gallery & Gifts sits a table with refreshments and a smiling young woman to make sure patrons get what they need. Mellow, groovy, jazzlike music greets customers as they walk through the door. Their eyes instantly flood with colorful paintings, pottery, jewelry and more.
Outside, limited parking, crowded sidewalks and people of all ages are signs it's First Friday again in downtown Bloomington.
First Friday is a version of GalleryWalk, which started around 2002, according to Miah Michaelsen, the city of Bloomington's assistant economic and sustainable development director for the arts, when nine downtown galleries came together to coordinate events and exhibit openings to help each other out.
"I think it's a great example of what appear to be competing businesses coming together and promoting each other," Michaelsen says.
Long-time Bloomington Alternative readers know that we operate on an academic calendar here in our utopian little university town. But in our case that doesn't mean we go on vacation when the school year ends at the beginning of May. It means we really get down to work.
My obligations as a lecturer at IU effectively end this time of year, allowing the time I truly need for my writing projects. More on those in a minute, but this summer they include a book proposal on my autism-and-the-Indiana-environment exploration, some investigative reporting in northern Kentucky and a series of first-person accounts of my experiences with the medical industry over the past two years, emphasis on "industry."
And one of the perks that come with teaching at a journalism school is access to some of the best aspiring journalists the place has to offer. The last two editions have introduced Alternative readers to three of them -- Clinton Lake, Megan Erbacher and Kara Gentry. They enable us to recapture some of the local focus that we tend to lose during the school year, not to mention adding some new young voices to our biweekly journalistic fare.
Lydia Comer sits perched on a railing outside of her house watching the traffic on Atwater Avenue rush by. A big, wispy, brown dog sprawls contentedly in the side yard, while a calico cat leans against the screen of the open window. A few of Comer's 15 housemates stand in the doorway, and the conversation meanders between different kinds of for-profit, cooperative structures and who's making dinner tonight.
"I knew I wanted to be here before I got here," she said. "I was the first person to sign on for this house."
Comer lives at 630 E. Atwater Ave. in one of the two cooperative, or co-op, houses in town rented by Bloomington Cooperative Living (BCL). BCL is a local non-profit organization that tries to "foster an economically, ecologically, and socially sustainable society by promoting the value of cooperation and diversity," according to its Web site.
"Peak oil" -- what is that? The concept has been discussed since 1949, when geologist M. King Hubbert theorized that the extraction of the black gold followed a simple bell curve, meaning that after passing the peak in the curve, extraction would decline. After peak, never again would we be able to extract, and use, as much oil as we had previously.
In 1956, Hubbert made a startling and controversial prediction: America's oil production would peak in or around 1970. Hubbert's peers were confounded, as it was inconceivable that the United States, the world's largest oil producer in the first half of the 20th century -- literally the "Saudi Arabia" of the West -- could possibly decline in production.
So Hubbert was ridiculed, that is, until soon after 1970, when it became obvious that U.S. production had indeed peaked that year. (Peaks in production, whether in individual oil fields or oil nations, or worldwide, are only recognizable in hindsight, by comparing production in subsequent years.)
Notwithstanding John Mellencamp's paeans to its small-towns, Indiana's reputation as a rural state just isn't that well supported by its demographics. For instance, although Illinois has a population of 13 million people, to Indiana's six, the vast majority of the Illini population is concentrated in the immediate area of Chicago.
Take out Chicago, Aurora, Elgin, Joliet and Waukegan and Illinois' population drops to 5 million people. Take out Indianapolis and its surrounding cities, and the population of Indiana drops only to four-and-a-half million, just half a million less than Illinois.
Now factor back in the greater land area of Illinois (53,000 square miles (again, removing Chicago and its environs from the calculation)) versus that of Indiana (33,000 square miles (not counting Indianapolis or its satellites)) and you get a population density of 95 people per square mile for Illinois versus 136 for Indiana.