Sunday, April 3, 2005

GANA Meeting Minutes

GANA (Green Acres Neighborhood Association) Meeting
4:00 p.m., Sunday, 4/3/05

Georgia Schaich, Julia Jackson, Halley Walsh, Jelene Campbell, Nathan Harman, Marian Shaaban, Diane Dormant, Ann Kreilkamp, Aggie Sarkissian, Evelyn Lentz, Herschel Lentz, Shirley Bushey, Gilbert Bushey, Ginny Kleindorfer, Kathy Ruesink, Kadhim Shaaban

• GANA Plant Share and Home Safety Kit
• New GANA website
• Report on Walk the Neighborhood event
• More on a possible City Repair project
• What should be discussed on this email list

Another great meeting with G3eorgia moderator and 16 people present. Diane and Jelene reported Plant Share Committee’s plans for and promotion of the upcoming Plant Share event on Saturday, April 23 (rain date, April 30). The whole group ironed out other details for that event. Julia gave an update on the planned GANA website and got suggestions for further features. Those who Walked with the Mayor shared their experiences of that afternoon. Nathan passed around a booklet illustrating cob materials and construction. We found a simple solution to a recent dispute concerning the email list. Total meeting time: 90 minutes.

The Process:
• The title, GANA Plant Share and Home Safety Kit hints at as change in plans. We started to discuss what had been previously planned as a three-pronged event, including Plant Share, Yard Sale and Home Safety Kit at three different Overhill Drive locations, then bogged down over yard sale parameters.

Do we want to advertise to the public, or is it just for the neighborhood? Would people be allowed to drop things off and then leave? Who would be responsible afterwards if their stuff didn’t sell? What about big items like old couches? Could people bring free stuff and just drop it off? If so, how do we avoid getting people’s junk? What’s junk? Would trades be part of it? We slogged through this morass (astrological hint: Mercury is retrograde until April 12) until finally someone made the brilliant suggestion that we postpone the yard sale until later this summer, that we make it an event for any Green Acres resident who wants to take charge of their own stuff on their own front lawn, and that we would advertise to the public. This created instant agreement.

That decided, we simplified further and reduced the other two events to one location, Lois Sabo-Skelton’s long, wide cement driveway at 121 N. Overhill Drive.

In contrast to the above discussion, the committee report on the Plant Share was a marvel of efficiency. Diane, Jelene and Nathan reported that it will include not just plants (that they will label), but garden tools and other garden items, pots and potting soil, water and plastic bags for plants to take home, a brochure table with local gardening events and plant information, and a “plant prize” drawing for whoever brings a plant to share. They passed around a draft of the flyer they will distribute to the front doors of all 351 houses in Green Acre4s. They defined four goals for the Plant Share event: to foster a sense of community, to provide information on gardening ad upcoming gardening events, to beautify the neighborhood, and to improve habitat. (Tip: free mulch at the University School stables off the bypass!)

The Safety Kit part of the event will consist of a table with materials for a Home Safety Kit to assist in the event of disaster (kits sponsored by Monroe County Citizen Corps Council that funnels Homeland Security money into public safety projects). Teenaged Halley will gather neighborhood children to collate these materials for neighbors to take home.

The design and construction of the new GANA website moves ahead. Julia brought her laptop to show us the test site, but discovered that the Bakehouse lacks an internet connection. So she told us about a few features, including pages for a Bulletin Board, Services, Resources, and a way for residents to create their own personal Profile Page for the site. Somebody suggested the HAND phone number be included on the site, and we all loved the idea of a page that lines up the Green Acres landlords with the houses they rent. When the website is finally up and running it will be connected to http://housiernet, (a nonprofit community network for Bloomington and Monroe County).

Six people from Green Acres participated in the Walk the Neighborhood with the Mayor event on Friday, April 1, including Lois, Jelene, Nathan, Julia, Kathy, Diane, and Ann. All but Diane walked, and she held a little soiree for us at her home afterwards. We were joined by about ten officials from various city departments. Besides the mayor, Mark Kruzan, and City Council member and Green Acres resident Tim Mayer, I remember people from utilities, planning and HAND departments, though there may have been others.

We walked from the firehouse down Roosevelt, turned right on 5th to Overhill, left on 7th to Eastgate, then to Diane’s house on Hillsdale. During the walk, little groups formed and unformed, and the Green Acres people got to mingle with city people from various departments and discuss our concerns and ideas to improve our neighborhood. For example, Nathan got to talk to a planning person interested in his ideas for natural ecological solutions to water problems; Julia and Ann got to talk with the Mayor and Tim Mayer about the possibility of city trash cans on some of our street corners. (They referred us to HAND’s Small and Simple Project Fund for neighborhood projects that could be applied to public baskets, especially along routes to campus.)

Along the route city people took pictures of things we showed them — trash littering lawns; rental signs out for way longer than necessary; poor lighting on certain corners; how and where rainwater pools and backs up on Eastgate lawns; security issues due to illegal loitering on the railroad for homes that back up to it on Eastgate; traffic calming needs on especially Eastgate and Hillsdale; deep, dangerous, cliff-like ditches from running and pooled rainwater at the corner of 5th and Hillsdale, then along 5th to Overhill, and especially the corner of 5th and Overhill.

The city officials got to experience the dangerous fast driving on Hillsdale as they tried to cross it on foot. We pointed out what appear to be overoccupied rentals and rentals notorious for loud parties. The mayor instructed the HAND official to call, right then and there, to see if these rentals were registered. Two of them were not! This means a $1500 fine for the landlords. (So if you see a new rental sign go up, encourage landlords to be responsible by calling HAND to check if the house is a registered rental.)

The party at Diane’s was an inspired great way to end the fun tour that took a bit over an hour. She invited two other neighbors from Hillsdale to also attend, and served wine, sparkling water and canap├ęs. After mixing for a short while, the whole group gathered to discuss further the issues already mentioned here plus a few others — including the confusing rules around street parking. The mayor instructed his secretary to keep notes and said he would get back to us with responses to all of them. Finally, we handed him a few letters from neighbors who weren’t able to participate in the afternoon’s event.

Nathan talked a bit more about some City Repair project ideas, especially that of cob benches on private lawns for people who walk the streets and passed around a booklet showing the cob project that he build for his thesis at IU. He said that the city has no problem with putting public things on private land if behind the city right-of-way (for every house, that’s up to the water meter).

Finally, the recent dispute between Diane and Ann (and others privately backing one or the other) concerning what types of discussions belong on the email list quickly resolved when Julia mentioned that discussions tangential or larger than meeting notices and reports can be included on the Bulletin Board of the new GANA website.

The next general meeting will be in June. Meanwhile, the By-Law Committee and the Garage Sale Committee will be forming to meet in May. If you are interested in either of these committees, please do let me know. Thanks.

And remember to bring your plants on April 23, Plant Share day. The flyer to announce the event will give details.

Ann Kreilkamp

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