Wednesday, June 28, 2006

GANA Meeting Minutes

GANA (Green Acres Neighborhood Association) Meeting
6/28/06, 7-8 p.m.
First United Church on 3rd St.

Betty Byrne, Stanley Routon, Noriko Hara, Susie Velasquez, Judy Serebnick, Julia Jackson, Timi Sharkey, Georgia Schaich, John E. Gaus, Jessica Gaus, Nathan Harman, Maggie Jesseph, Kim Fernandez, Ann Kreilkamp


  • Solstice Party wrap-up
  • Set date for first meeting with Planning Department
  • What’s next for sustainability
  • New GANA brochure
  • Tamantha Sharkey request for small business in home
  • Garage sale update
  • Ice cream party update
  • Block captains
  • History of neighborhood project
  • CONA update
  • Quiet Nights

With Georgia Schaich as meeting chair, we went through the whole agenda list quickly, made a number of decisions, and some headway on ongoing concerns. See below:

The Process
SOLSTICE EVENT: everybody agreed it was a great success, is glad we did it, and especially happy to see so many children there.

PLANNING MEETING DATE: We decided on Saturday, September 9, for the first of six meetings with the Planning Department to help us plan the future of Green Acres. On this day we will assess our needs, in part by walking the neighborhood to help identify what we like and what we’d like to see more of.

SUSTAINABILITY: Ann Kreilkamp reported that Lois Sabo- Skelton, who was ill the day of the Solstice party, felt thrilled when she heard the parade drums and horn coming down the street. She said that the passing parade made her feel “safe,” and that Green Acres “once again feels like a real neighborhood.” She also mentioned that for the past year on walks with her dog Sammy she has noticed that people are more friendly (unlike before, she said, when they “seemed suspicious of each other”)—that she can feel the energy of the neighborhood changing. Ann showed her the visual presentation of the permaculture visioning process (these materials were laid out on a table at this and the May meeting), and she grew so excited that she “wants to make it part of the permanent record of the city”—and will see that it’s introduced at a city council meeting. Plus, she knows a documentary film maker whom she will get to film that presentation with the aim to document the process over the next few years as we work towards transforming Green Acres into a sustainable village. Also, the Center for Sustainable Living has asked Green Acres to make a sustainability presentation at the Simple Living Fair in October (Alert: I found out that this event date had changed from September to October when I got home from our GANA meeting.)

GANA BROCHURE: Tim Mayer has volunteered to design our new GANA brochure. Julia Jackson, Timi Sharkey, Kim Fernandez, and Ann Kreilkamp signed on to brainstorm the content for this brochure.

TAMANTHA SHARKEY HOME BUSINESS REQUEST: Timi Sharkey, a single mother with four children who lives on 8th Street, is a hair dresser who wants to put in a single chair for a home hair styling business in her basement. Her clients will be by appointment only, will park in her driveway, and she's thinking about offering a discount day for seniors, especially those who walk around the neighborhood! We were all solidly behind her request, noting that we support single moms who wish to work at home, that the business will not bring in a lot of traffic, and that home businesses are in line with sustainability goals to have people work and live in their own neighborhoods. Ann Kreilkamp agreed to write a letter of support on behalf of GANA to the city .

GARAGE SALE UPDATE: Julia Jackson heads this committee for a neighborhood garage sale sometime in September, for neighbors to sell their stuff out of their own front yards. So get ready! You've got two months to clean out those closets and basements!

ICE CREAM PARTY: Our second “Two Scoop Salute” winning entry to Edy’s Ice Cream contest—thanks to Charlotte Zietlow’s no-doubt-eloquent essay—will be held on Charlotte’s South Bryan Street driveway on August 5th. Details still in the works. Maggie Jesseph, Julia Jackson, Jessica Gaus, Timi Sharkey, and (maybe) Stanley Routon all signed on to help. We decided that we will again bring food to this event to donate to the Hoosier Food Bank. Last year our $500-worth donation was much appreciated.

BLOCK CAPTAINS: Georgia keeps promoting this idea, vital to create infrastructure for the continued growth and vitality of our neighborhood association. However, the idea has been slow to catch on. She went over some of the block captain’s responsibilities, and they include the following: get to know neighbors on your block; alert those who don’t have email to any neighborhood events and other important information; come with block report to monthly GANA meetings and report on block; report needed info to and from your block to GANA. (In other words, become the (benevolent) “gossip” of your block! (The now maligned word “gossip” comes from the Middle English “godsib, “ or “god-sib” (sib as in sibling, kinsman), and meant “godparent”— one who looks after another!) Kim Fernandez (Edwards Row) and Betty Byrne (200 to 100 South Overhill Street) signed up as the first two block captains of Green Acres! Thank you Kim and Betty! And may there be many, many more. Please email Georgia ( if you wish to take on this responsibility and connect more fully with your nearby neighbors.

NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY PROJECT: Georgia brought up this idea, something that Prospect Hill, among other neighborhoods has done. Is there anyone who wants to take on this project? You could begin by researching, through county records, the ownership of your own home. It would be a wonderful way for all of us to begin to connect with the roots of our neighborhood. (Suzie Velasquez, a new person to the group, remembers moving to a little house on 8th Street when it was surrounded by fields. Stanley Routon, who has lived on Edwards Row for 50 years, remembers when you could see fields all the way to K-Mart—and there was no K-Mart!)

CONA (Council of Neighborhood Associations) REPORT: Georgia attended the latest CONA meeting and was saddened to see that only four of 37 possible Bloomington neighborhoods attended. CONA wants to get back on its feet, so that neighborhoods can continue to support and inspire each other with what they are each doing. Anyone want to be our CONA representative, and attend once-monthly meetings? A great way to network with others oriented towards encouraging vital and secure communities within the larger Bloomington umbrella.

QUIET NIGHTS: Once again, in September, the IUSA (IU Student Association) will leaflet all neighborhoods with the Quiet Night rules (11 p.m. week nights, 1 a.m. weekends), hopefully, with GANA volunteers to help in Green Acres. More later.

We adjourned at 8 p.m., for refreshments prior to our Speaker, Mark Brostoff of the Community Emergency Response Team.

Next Meeting
(last Wednesday of each month): July 26.

Happy summer!

Ann Kreilkamp
GANA scribe

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Summer Solstice Party Report

4 p.m – 7 p.m. (actually, more like 8:30 p.m.)
East end of 7th Street

Photo by Georgia Schaich

Dear neighbors,

As usual, with any first-time event, planning for our first Summer Solstice party was filled with “what ifs.” What if nobody comes? What if it rains? What if it’s too hot? What if everybody’s out of town? What if they don’t find out about it? And on and on. Not that we voiced our fears that audibly, but they did simmer sotto voce—at least my mind.

Georgia Schaich and Stefano Conard and their committee are to be congratulated for their meticulous planning—two workshops to make decorations, hand-outs for 250 houses, signs on 20 Green Acre intersections, Jiangmei Wu’s new Green Acres logo on three new banners, and so on and on—they, and we, pulled it off! And we can thank Lady Luck, who had the state of Indiana come and mow the long weeds down on the morning of the very day that Stefano was going to load up his big mower way out in the country and haul it into town; and who scheduled a terrific thunderstorm that didn’t release until exactly the minute we finished cleaning up.

All in all, somewhere between 50 and 60 people came for all or part of the event, including some friends of Green Acres residents and—our fondest wish!—many, many children. And it was hot, as hot and humid as we had hoped it wouldn’t be. But it didn’t seem to matter; trees on the state-owned empty lot at the east end of 7th street provided plenty of shade. Amazingly, nor did it matter that this lot abuts the bypass. Greenery shielded us from its visual impact, and, as for the car noise, one person remarked, “just think of it as the ocean.”

As people walked towards the party area, they were greeted by wonderful music from Rob Turner and two other musicians and by “GANA babies” that lined both sides of the street (merry little critters atop sticks made of old CD’s that glinted in the sun, straggly, multicolored yarn, sprouts of orange curled paper, and other sundry recyclables). As each entered and signed in, he or she was invited to make a wish to string onto the Wishing Tree. “Public? Or private?” We asked, pointing to a large banner type piece of paper or a tiny slip of paper to be rolled and inserted into a tiny bottle. Most people chose a private wish. A few declined altogether, one with the remark, “If I got started I’d never stop!…”

The Center for Sustainable Living had an informational table there presided over by Lucille Bertuccio, Gina Weir and her son Sam. Next door stood the table for the Monroe County Citizen Corps Council, manned by Mark Brostoff and an I.U. intern, Kevin Caress.

Sylvia Von Bruggen stood under the shade of the largest tree with a table full of recycled odds and ends for kids to decorate flags and their bikes. Some of us put ivy garlands in our hair. A ping pong table set up for food began to groan under the weight of cole slaw, potato salad, hot dogs, fixings for “schmores,” fruit, several pies (including one from Green Acres mulberries — edible GANA!), plus drinks and chips. (Some of this food came thanks to our Small and Simple Grant from the city.)

Photo by Georgia Schaich

Stefano had cleared a circle and stacked wood for an open fire, and around 5 p.m. he lit the fire, so that it would reduce to glowing coals by the time we returned from our parade (Val Fernandez stayed back to tend the fire).

And what a parade! Led by children holding the Green Acres logo banners aloft and heralded by Nathan Harman’s incredible, booming marching band and Todd Davison’s clarion trumpet calls, we paraded with flags on foot and with bikes up 7th street to Hillsdale, over to 5th, then looped back to Overhill and 7th. A short haul, but then there were all the children, some of them carried, others wobbly on bikes, still others recalcitrant—so it took awhile.

By the time we returned the Sun was not so hot, and we all took turns with sticks at the fire with our hot dogs. Lots of visiting ensued, friends greeting friends and others meeting for the first time.

As the meal wound down, Georgia asked children to draw names for the door prizes that had been donated by local area businesses, making the five winners surprised and happy. Rob Turner, who received a fire extinguisher (!) as his prize noted in an email later, “First door prize I have ever won!”

As the Sun descended into the west, and while still licking sticky fingers from schmores, we were called to gather around the Wishing Tree. Spontaneously, the group formed a circle and held hands. Ann Kreilkamp talked about the ancient significance of Summer Solstice as a time of manifestation and renewal, where the Sun, the giver of life on our planet, stands still in the sky at its northernmost point, prior to turning back to the south. Summer Solstice as the point of most illumination, the longest day and shortest night. She compared the Wishing Tree and its hanging wishes to our neighborhood which joins earth to sky and supports us all, “no matter how weird we may be!” Then, to the beat of Nathan’s drum and a chant to thank the Earth and the Sun she led us in a spiral dance to the center of the tree, ducking under the branches with their waving public wishes and tinkling tiny private bottled wishes.

Four people had written out the larger, visible, public wishes. We read them aloud:

I wish that…

• “Humans learn to live sustainably and share the earth with other people and other species.”

• “GANA will continue to grow and come alive, and be an amazing prototype of a sustainable community within a sustainable community… A source of inspiration for other communities!”

• “For the interaction of many-a-neighbor through the exchange of fruit and other Green Acres local edibles. May our days be sweet.”

And finally…

• “May all beings be happy and create the causes for HAPPINESS.”

A fitting finale to a great GANA party—which however, didn’t end, but instead continued, people drawing up chairs in a circle to listen to Nathan and his Dad (who have been playing music together since Nathan was ten years old) drum and strum in such total harmony that they seemed like one being.

(By the way, your secret is safe. As the party wound down, all the wishes were cut off the tree and buried in an undisclosed Green Acres location.)

Be merry!

Ann Kreilkamp
GANA scribe

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