'Student Reports'

January 12, 2008

Sallyann Murphey did not plan on being a teacher. With a degree in politics and modern history, she started her career as a journalist and producer for the BBC. In 1991, she and her family moved to a farm in Brown County. Murphey enrolled her daughter in Harmony School, and her career changed direction.

She questioned her daughter's social studies curriculum and brought her concerns to the school. But instead of being brushed off, she was invited to teach her own class. Seven years later, she finds herself both teaching at Harmony School and working as an advocate on behalf of the school and its mission.

Murphey is passionate about Harmony School's practices. She believes in the school's mission and works to create other schools around the country that accept and support its ideas.

December 29, 2007

Sanae Sentissi, the owner of Casablanca Cafe, moved into the blue house at Fourth and Grant streets before the area became known for its ethnic restaurants. But no matter where she lived, she couldn't completely take herself away from Morocco.

Her husband at the time helped some of their friends open Puccini's, another ethnic restaurant on Fourth Street. After he quit working at Puccini's, they opened Casablanca in 1994, bringing a taste of Morocco to Fourth Street.

Sentissi was one of the first on Fourth Street to share ethnic culture through cuisine, helping make the tree-lined avenue the ethnic restaurant row that Bloomington knows today.

"There was only Siam House back then," she says.

December 29, 2007

When asked how many boards and commissions she serves on, Charlotte Zietlow says she doesn't know. "And I don't really want to know," she adds with a laugh.

Short, gray hair frames her lively eyes, which peer kindly from behind small glasses. She offers coffee, leaves and quickly returns with a steaming plastic foam cup and two kinds of Coffee-mate creamer.

Zietlow is the economic development coordinator for Middle Way House, a Bloomington nonprofit that provides housing and support for domestic violence victims. Her newest task is to raise funds for Middle Way's New Wings Community Partnership.

December 15, 2007

Sitting at a messy desk inside her tiny office enclosed by curtains, Jaime Sweany laughs at the fake Turtle University diploma that hangs on the wall. The diploma says she is a "Master of Turtles."

Sweany, 49, is the master of turtles at Wandering Turtle in downtown Bloomington. She's no stranger to owning a small business and the challenges that go with it. Before opening the Wandering Turtle in 2003, she owned two other small businesses in Bloomington -- Wild Birds Unlimited and Illuminessence Photography.

"I've never had a real big business," says Sweany. "I owned Wild Birds Unlimited for about seven-and-a-half years. It was still a small business, but it was probably a more established business."

December 15, 2007

Buff Brown's alarm clock buzzed at 4:30 a.m. the entire week of Sept. 26 to Oct. 2, 2006. He woke up and got dressed each day before he started the task that required him to wake so early, surveying downtown Bloomington's three parking garages.

Brown, the founder and president of Bloomington Transportation Options for People (BTOP), chose the 5 a.m. shift to survey how many cars were parked in the parking garages.

"At 5 a.m. it was pretty dead, and it was dark and cold," said Brown of his survey experience. "There was a cleaning guy the first day at one of the garages who saw me and asked me what I was doing, and after that he didn't bother me for the rest of the week."

What Brown was doing was gathering data that went into BTOP's groundbreaking 2006 Downtown Parking Garage Survey. This survey's results generated a community discussion about downtown parking. But the discussion has not transformed into tangible actions, according to Brown and BTOP.

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