July 16, 2006

East 10th Street is a constant blur of activity, the drone of one car's engine hard to distinguish from the next. But just across the street from Stone Belt, a small porch and farmstead, built in 1892, presents an island of tranquility next to the busy road. The white exterior stands in stark contrast to the property's well-cultivated greenness.

The Hinkle-Garton Farmstead, donated to Bloomington Restorations, Inc. (BRI) in December 2004, is the legacy of Daisy Hinkle. But unlike the sleepy exterior of the once self-sufficient farm, Daisy was known for her go-getter attitude and community involvement.

Part of the last generation to grow up on the farm, Daisy earned degrees in composition and music education. And the halls of her house were filled with the sound of students receiving lessons from the talented lady in the front parlor.

Lisa Morrison, of Morrison Marketing and Media, wants to make these sounds familiar once more to the Hinkle-Garton Farmstead. Selecting the property for a series of "house concerts," Morrison hopes to help BRI raise the money it needs to sustain the house, while also helping fortify the Bloomington music scene.

December 31, 2005

Bakehouse manager Joanna Pollack calmly helps the frazzled employees who scurry behind the counter, typing orders, spreading homemade schmear onto fresh bagels, and ladling hot soups into bowls. The aroma of fresh-brewed, hazelnut-blended coffee is soothing amid the chaos. Saturday is the busiest day of the week.

Pollack sweeps a loose strand of curly brown hair behind her ear as she weaves through clusters of customers sitting at tables. She delivers a "scooped" bagel — middle scooped out for lunch meat — to a young man sitting with a group of friends talking about tests, projects, and last weekend.Scooped bagels did not exist on the Bakehouse's menu three or four years ago, before students suggested adding it.

Businesses like the Bakehouse listen to students because more of them than ever before are calling downtown Bloomington home. With roughly 1,300 to 1,400 new student apartments downtown, bars and restaurants are flourishing.

But the increased number of people is causing parking issues and concern for public services.

November 13, 2005

Ask any Bloomington resident to sum up the city's character and history in a few words and two would likely be "Hoagy Carmichael." Festivities and ceremonies celebrating Carmichael's life and career are endemic to the city.

Currently underway is a bronze sculpture of Carmichael at his piano, booked to appear in People's Park. Hoagy will face his audience just blocks from his birthplace and the IU School of Law, which he attended. City Councilman Chris Sturbaum says that the Carmichael sculpture has been well-received. Only 30% of the funding remains to be found.

The latest in a series of Hoagy Carmichael celebrations was last week, when a "Hoagy Birthday Bash" fundraiser for the sculpture was held at Bloomington High School North.

But this native son's legacy is uncertain at his alma mater, Indiana University. An IU source confirms the university has plans to dismantle the "Hoagy Carmichael Room" in Morrison Hall and replace it with a biology lab.

November 13, 2005

On eight streets running north and south, from Indiana to Rogers, 91 restaurants and 200 stores are tucked away in Bloomington's ever-changing Downtown/Kirkwood district. Recent, small venue changes gave Opie Taylor's a new image and brought Utown to B-town. But large-scale additions face controversy and expose differing views about the city's future skyline.

Another major project on the corner of Fourth and Indiana near the Sample Gates is underway after difficult negotiations. The building that houses Dagwood's Deli is being demolished for a three-story complex, with office space on the top levels.

Dagwood's owner John Santos said his five-year lease gave him limited influence in negotiations about the impacts the six-month project will have on his business. 'I might as well be on the right side of the fence or be left out in the cold,' he said.

October 2, 2005

I had to travel up to Chicago last week on business — which isn't in itself remarkable. What was remarkable was that I upgraded to a Sebring convertible, even though it was raining (I guess a Miata is next). But, more important and the subject of this column, was that I made a decision to take the roads a little less traveled.

And one of the great ironies, not to mention joys, of my life is that despite having more electronic and mechanical gadgets than anyone short of Agent 007, I still get called a Luddite with frequency — by both friends and detractors.

The satellites are out tonight

So it was that this Luddite slapped his Garmin M5 GPS to the Sebring's windshield and commanded it to lock onto the $15 billion-dollar taxpayer-funded GPS satellite constellation. Lock, load, and find me a route from where I was, to where I wanted to be.

But I wanted a route with a catch. I wanted my electronic Man Friday to take me deep into the City of Big Shoulders — but not via the deep-vein thrombosis of the Interstate highway system. I've had enough of I-65 for a lifetime, thank you. So, with a tap of a pen and a click of a button, I told Man Friday to get me there anyway he wanted to, so long as he kept me off the big highways.

And he gladly obliged.

August 7, 2005

Alternative report

Bloomington Beacon has released its first annual "Report to the Community" on the establishment of a community center for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning (GLBTQ) citizens in south-central Indiana.

The report summarizes the mission, history, structure and community need for the center, as well as Bloomington Beacon's accomplishments over the past year and goals for the immediate future.

Excerpts from the report are published below.

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