Wednesday, October 25, 2006

HAND staff: Rental Issues

GANA Speaker Series (no regular meeting)
Wednesday, October 25, 2006, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
First Christian Church on 3rd Street

TOPIC: RENTAL ISSUES Ordinances and Compliance Procedures for Over-occupancy, Weeds and Trash.
With Carol Jack, Lisa Abbott, and Vickie Provine of the city office of Housing and Neighborhood Development (HAND)

Seventeen people present, including several from Elm Heights and East Side Neighborhood Associations

Carol Jack, the HAND Compliance Officer, described the ordinances for both over-occupancy and weeds and trash, detailing the numbers of citations between August 1 and October 25, this year. Vickie Provine stressed the importance of communication, both between neighbors and between neighborhood associations and city offices. Carol, Vickie and Lisa, the Director of HAND, those took questions and those present got into a vigorous discussion.

The Process
This was a meeting with a lot of technical information. Please bear with me, as it is all interesting and gives food for thought.

Compliance Officer Carol Jack began by showing us a map of Bloomington with four color-coded zones. Five HAND people rotate through these zones every three months, one person per zone, with the fifth person rotating off. Between August 1 and October 25,388 tickets were issued for trash, and 116 tickets for weeds. Twenty-four complaints were filed for over-occupancy, with eight determined not valid and sixteen ongoing.

As of 1985, over-occupancy zoning changed from five to three unrelated persons (and any dependents), except for grandfathered rental units, which continue to have a five-occupant limit, even if the ownership of the structure changes hands. The occupancy limit for a particular rental unit is governed by the zoning ordinance and the property maintenance codes (based on the number of square feet of bedrooms), and is supposed to be posted somewhere inside the house. If the occupancy load on the lease is three people, then the tenants can purchase parking permits for three cars plus one car for visitors.

The procedure to determine over-occupancy can be long, involved and difficult to prove. HAND staff first needs to interview the tenants, and may have to make six or seven visits to the home before they even find anyone there. Tenants almost always answer the questions, though sometimes the landlord has coached the renters as to what questions HAND will ask.

HAND then sends a letter to the landlord asking for a copy of the lease and the occupancy load. If HAND determines that there are too many people living in a rental unit, and the situation is not corrected, HAND requests permission from the Board of Public Works to go on to the property to abate the situation. If still not corrected, a memo is sent to the Director of HAND (Lisa Abbott), who then passes it on to the city for suit against both landlord and tenants in small claims court. As of January 1, 2007, the fine for a first offence will be $2500 and for a second offence $7500.

There are 21,562 registered rental units within city limits. Each unit is inspected for conformity to the property maintenance code once every three, four or five years. This year 1,592 inspections have been done to date.

Triggers for complaints are usually parties, trash, cars and noise. Complaints can be made anonymously, though if you want to know the result, then you need to leave your name, which does then enter the system.

Though some long-term landlords coach renters, new landlords are not usually a problem, and some old ones have been fined enough that they’ve stopped renting to too many people.

In terms of defining over-occupancy, if someone is living in a place and not on the deed and not a dependent, then even if that person is not paying rent, that place is still counted as a rental and must be registered. In some neighborhoods 50% of new sales are to parents who buy them for their college age kids; these are also considered rentals and must be registered. It costs $62 to register a rental, and that money goes for an inspection for the permit plus one re-inspection. It’s easier to prove a rental is unregistered than to prove it over-occupied.

The discussion that followed brought up a host of examples of problems relating to compliance with these ordinances. For example, one person in Green Acres counted 32 cars at the end of Roosevelt and Clark one weekend. The problem is compounded by the fact that parking is not enforced on weekends.

Another Green Acres resident said that this semester the rental house next door to him has loud parties every Friday and Saturday nights that can last until 5 A.M. So far not even a call to the police has produced results.

Several suggestions were made, all of which involved the point that Vickie Provine stressed in her presentation. Communicate! Lots of suggestions from participants, to wit:

  • Meet your new neighbors when they move in, hand them the city regulations on quiet nights, trash days, etc. Welcome them to the neighborhood! They may not have any idea that they are actually in a neighborhood where people that don’t go to college actually live until you let them know. Give them a gift.
  • Ask a young neighbor to help you with a small task, with the idea that everybody loves to feel useful.
  • Invite them to neighborhood meetings and events.
  • When a loud party goes on too long, walk over there in your pajamas! One man even takes his pillow, asks "Can I sleep here, since I can’t sleep at home . . ."
  • Do a neighborhood intervention in the middle of the night—all of you at their door in pajamas!

The point is with all of these ways of dealing with parties—it helps to establish communication with students. Once we resort to the police, we’ve lost the chance for creating a greater sense of neighborliness in the place we live.

Though situations involving how to work with the wild, unfocussed energy of student renters occupied most of the discussion, some time was also spent on the issue of "naturalized" lawns. In Lisa Abbott’s opinion, if you want to have grass over eight inches high, or a messy yard, then go live in the country rather than the city. This was countered by the idea that some in Green Acres would like to work with nature in a way that involves less grass and more gardening—with a corresponding drop in noise and fumes from gas mowers.

All HAND staff agreed that people take the state of their lawns very personally, and said they have been threatened by people who didn’t want anyone telling them what to do with their property!

According to Lisa Abbott, a "naturalized" lawn should look intentional and planned, not just trashy and messy. But of course one person’s mess may be another person’s permaculture garden.

In order to address this issue the city will soon launch a pilot project, details still to be worked out. The thrust of it: if you wish to have a naturalized lawn you will need to contact HAND or the Environmental Commission and let them know your intent.

There was lots more, but hopefully at least this information can help us work constructively with renters and landlords.

Thanks to HAND staff for agreeing to spend the evening with us. One final note: they and other city officials are there for us if we need them. Ideally however, they are the court of last resort, rarely needed if we can communicate with each other in a truly neighborly fashion.

Ann Kreilkamp GANA scribe

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Saturday, August 5, 2006

Ice Cream Party

GANA Ice Cream Party
2-4 p.m., August 5, 2006
213 S. Bryan

Our “second annual” ice cream social drew at least 50 people, and what struck Georgia Schaich, who was there the whole time, signing people in and talking with whoever sat next to her, was the variety. Life-long residents, IU students, young families, adult children and grandchildren of long-time residents — all of us swirling about or sitting on lawn chairs with our cups of ice cream softened in the heat.

Georgia and I felt particularly happy to see students arrive, and mingle, and discover that they live in a location that is not just a a temporary dive from which they commute to and from classes, but one that is beginning to remember itself as an old-fashioned neighborhood and beginning to envision itself long-term as a sustainable village.

Actually, we were lucky; the heat wasn’t all that bad that day, and in the shade of Tom and Charlotte Zietlow’s side yard next to their large gracious, two-story house I could almost imagine us as at a garden party in the south. Or, taking a slightly different angle of view, the occasion felt like an extended family reunion, with people of different ages, interests, occupations, and so on, some of whom know each other well, some don’t; some of whom met for the first time at our Solstice party six weeks earlier, others regulars at GANA meetings.

Lots of us greet each other by name now, genuinely eager to say hello, and catch up on each other’s lives. Nathan Harman and Maggie Jesseph came with their quiet, vibrant little one, Laurelynn, as they have brought her to monthly GANA meetings since her birth four months ago — and she, with electric black hair and startled, intense, calm gaze, was passed from hand to hand, with us old ones amazed, as usual, at just how fast these young ones grow.

At around three o’clock, we announced that the new GANA tee-shirts, piled on the table next to the ice cream, were FREE — so of course, there was a general movement in that direction, sticky fingers pawing through small, medium, large, and extra-large.

I didn’t stay for the whole event, but was there long enough to note that, in comparison to last year’s first ice cream social, I sense an increased level of relaxation in each other's company that reflects our increasing sense of connectedness. I hope there will be a “third annual” — and, if we are to continue the tradition, it will depend on whether or not we win next year’s “Two Scoop Salute” contest from Edy’s Ice Cream. (Thank you Edy!) Last year, Diane Dormant penned the winning essay; this year, we basked in Charlotte Zietlow’s eloquence (thank you Charlotte!), and next year? Who will rise to the occasion, for we certainly like the ice cream, and the company, not to mention being the-neighborhood-that-won-the-prize-two-times-in-a-row on a hot, humid, leafy, summer Indiana day.

Ann Kreilkamp
GANA scribe

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

GANA Meeting Minutes

GANA (Green Acres Neighborhood Association) Meeting
7/26/06, 7-8:30 p.m.
First United Church on 3rd St.

Betty Byrne, Stanley Routon, Noriko Hara, Ginny Kleindorfer, Julia Jackson, Jelene Campbell, Rob Turner, Kathy Ruesink, Marian Shaaban, Kadhim Shaaban, John Gaus, Jessica Gaus, Georgia Schaich, Nathan Harman, Maggie Jesseph, Ann Kreilkamp

• Adopt-A-Sign
• Ice Cream Social update
• GANA tee-shirt update
• Garage Sale update
• CERT (Community Emergency Response Team)
• GANA brochure
• Block captain update
• Neighborhood Plan with City update
• Fire Extinguishers
• 3rd and Atwater Corridor

With Georgia Schaich as meeting chair, we went through the whole agenda list quickly until we got to the agenda item called “fire extinguishers,” when we entered a rousing discussion that spilled over to the final agenda item as well. See below:

The Process
Adopt-A-Sign: Ann Kreilkamp suggested that we divvy up the responsibility for putting out and taking up the signs for our monthly meetings and other events. (You find them at intersections from the day before to the day after a GANA event.) I think it was Nathan Harman who then suggested that we divvy the signs up among the various folks who come to meetings, so that for each event they can be responsible for putting out their sign on their block and taking it up again. Great idea! We passed around a sign-up sheet and these people did: Stan Routon, Julia Jackson, Jelene Campbell, and Nathan Harman. (Come on folks! We’re going to need more people to adopt a sign, since there are 17 of them. Anybody interested? If so, please email me.)

Ice Cream Social (aka Two Scoop Salute): Ann reported for Charlotte Zietlov, who was attending another meeting. The party is on for August 5, between 2 and 4 p.m. in Charlotte’s driveway at 213 S. Bryan. She will make cookies, and will contact those who signed up to help. So come one and all, and bring your friends too, for our second annual summer ice cream social.

GANA tee-shirts: still not here! The internet company from whom Georgia ordered them keeps promising quick delivery, and in fact they were supposed to be here in time for this meeting.

Garage Sale: Julia Jackson reported that it will take place some Saturday in September, but not in a central location. Instead, each household will put their stuff out in front of where they live throughout the neighborhood. Jelene Campbell suggested that we follow the example of another Bloomington neighborhood, and hand out maps of the neighborhood with locations of our various garage sales. Great idea!

CERT: Green Acres is going to be the first Bloomingtion neighborhood to have a CERT-trained team prepared to instantly respond in the event of a community emergency. (For more on the importance of the training and what it involves, see Mark Brostoff’s talk in the Speaker Series Report for June, 2006, GANA website archives). This training has been tentatively scheduled to take place over two weekends, October 21- 22 and November 4-5. Several people objected to Sunday morning, since they go to church, so Georgia will communicate that to the Mark Brostoff, the CERT team organizer. We need ten people from this neighborhood to sign up. So far the list includes Rob Turner, Lois Sabo-Skelton, Brian Boyer, Georgia Schaich, Julia Jackson, Betty Byrne, John Gaus and Ann Kreilkamp. If I’ve forgotten anybody, please let me know; and let me know if you now wish to join the team and take the training.

Block Captains: Georgia has been busy moving this project forward, as she realizes its importance for the continued vitality and growth of GANA. She has made list of 19 short blocks in the eastern half of the neighborhood (where, at least at this point, most GANA participants live), has made phone calls to people who live on those blocks, and so far she has signed up 12 block captains who have agreed to be the eyes and ears and voice of their little neighborhood parcel. They will be the ones to let their immediate neighbors know what’s going on with GANA, and will seek input from them for GANA. The block captains have agreed to meet at 7 p.m. next Tuesday, August 1, at Georgia’s house, 202 South Hillsdale. They include Kim Fernandez, Kathy Ruesink, Nathan Harman and Maggie Jessephs, Marian Shaaban, Timi Sharkey, Jelene Campbell, Betty Bryne, Ann Kreilkamp, Georgia Schaich, Phil Askew and Noriko Hara, Betty Hardy, and Ed and Irene Hartke. Please be there, all you block captains! Georgia was thrilled to tell us that we already have 179 houses covered from the 12 who have signed up. That’s almost half of Green Acres.

Neighborhood Plan with City (for more info this, see archived meeting reports for May and June on the website): We set tentative dates. The first meeting will be on September 9, from 1 to 4 p.m., when we will walk the neighborhood together and then meet at the firehouse on 3rd street to talk about when we’ve seen and what we need. The other dates are all evenings, from 7 to 9 p.m., hopefully at the First United Church, as follows: September 27 (Tuesday), October 18 (Wednesday), November 8 (Wednesday) and December 5 (Tuesday). If you’re interested in helping to plan the future of Green Acres, then please participate in at least some of these meetings.

Fire extinguishers: Nathan brought up the idea of having Corson Fire and Safety (the only remaining fire extinguisher service outfit in town) come to the neighborhood and check our extinguishers for a reduced fee. (Fire extinguishers are supposed to be checked on a yearly basis, and then every five or six years serviced more thoroughly.) It sounded like a great idea, until Kadhim Shaaban interjected an even better one. Actually, he said, we can check them ourselves, so no need to pay anything! He spoke at length about what it takes to check one (it’s not difficult, though complicated to explain here), and he will bring his extinguisher to the August meeting to show us how. So if you want your fire extinguisher to be part of that meeting, bring it with you.

3rd and Atwater Corridor: Georgia said that the neighborhood associations of Elm Heights, East Side and Bryan Park have asked us to join them in solidarity to reject all nine plans that have been put forth by the Indianapolis consultant to the city regarding how to deal with the worsening traffic congestion on these two streets. (See the Herald-Times last week for a big report on the packed meeting at the City Council chambers where most speakers roundly criticized the whole endeavor as way too car-oriented, unsustainable, and terrible for bikers, walkers, and the neighborhoods affected.) We spent some time discussing this whole subject, but since there were only a few of us at that meeting, more of us need to become familiar with the plans. You can do that by going to city website, click on Planning Department, then Public Works Projects. The 3rd and Atwater Project will then come up, so you can see for yourself and hopefully enter your comments in the space provided there. However, just what it would mean to “join” other neighborhoods, we don’t really know. Would we write a letter from the neighborhood association — or what?

Finally, Kadhim and John Gaus briefly championed the idea of re-opening 7th street to go through, which they say would lessen the pressure on both 10th street and 3rd street.

By the way, if you gave any in-kind contributions to GANA during this year (time, talent, stuff, food, etc.), then please let Georgia know before August 10 so she can complete her documentation for the Small and Simple Grant.

The meeting adjourned a full half hour later than usual, but a few hardy souls did stick around to watch the DVD that Maggie Jesseph and Nathan brought to educate us on why it is so important to nourish a sense of community in our neighborhoods. “The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil” tells the story of how the Cuban people responded when the Soviet oil spigots turned off in 1990 and forced an immediate withdrawal from that island’s addiction to oil for food, transportation, and so on. Now that the phrase “peak oil”(and the disruptions it will undoubtedly cause) is finally seeping into our national awareness, this movie is a very timely, cautionary, and yet beautiful and hopeful tale. The DVD is available for rental at the county library. See it. It motivates.

Please note my new email address:

Ann Kreilkamp
GANA scribe

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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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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Backyard Wildlife Habitat

GANA Speaker Series
Lucille Bertuccio
Director of Bloomington's Center for Sustainable
Living 8:00 – 9:15 p.m., May 31, 2006
(after our monthly meeting, see meeting report)

Lucille introduced us to the concept of a "Backyard Wildlife Habitat" and its benefits.

The Process
The Center for Sustainable Living has endorsed the National Wildlife Federation concept of wildlife habitats in people's yards as a part of a nationwide movement to encourage natural surroundings for birds and butterflies. At this point, the city of Bloomington itself has been registered but not certified as a wildlife habitat. So far, 140 Bloomington homes have had their yards certified, and we need 60 more for the 200 yards required for Bloomington to be officially certified. To get certified, backyards must provide food, water, shelter, and places for birds and butterflies to raise their young.

The certification process is not difficult. See

Lucille presented a number of slides to show what backyard habitats can look like, and described their benefits to birds and butterflies. Two keys:

  • Work with different levels (canopy trees, understory trees, bushes and shrubs, plants, moss)—so that the critters can have a diversity of places to shelter and nourish themselves.
  • Work with native plants that are adapted to this environment (including its insects). This eliminates the need for water, chemical fertilizer and pesticides.

The point is, she says, "we need to work with nature rather than against her."And "when we increase biodiversity, we heal the fabric of nature." Monocultures, for example, large green lawns with but a single tree, are wastelands to wild creatures, take up huge amounts of resources (including gas for terrifically polluting lawnmowers), and poison the earth’s soil, air and water supply. Instead, Lucille says, rather than call it a "weedy lawn," rename it "flowery mead"!

Lucille brought up a number of details that few of us know. Like the fact that certain creatures require a single plant for a certain function: for example, the zebra swallowtail butterfly eats only the paw paw leaves and the monarch butterfly larvae can only live on the swamp milkweed. So it’s good to know which native plants are necessary if you want to attract certain species of butterfly.

Most birds need cavities or holes to raise their young. So build birdhouses (which need to be species-specific), and keep those old trees with holes in them. Also, if you want birds, then don’t deadhead your plants, as birds eat their seeds.

Lucille told us of packets of seedlings sold by the Department of Natural Resources specially designed to attract certain species. (Google DNR to get more info on these inexpensive packets that neighbors of which could share the cost: 50 each of 4 species of your choice, all for $90. Nathan Harmon agreed to spearhead this idea in Green Acres.)

In conclusion, Lucille told us that as time goes on, fewer and fewer butterflies have been visiting her yard. She implored us to help her own backyard habitat by creating habitats in Green Acres so that the butterflies won’t have as far to fly from one nourishing spot to another.

Ann Kreilkamp
GANA scribe

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GANA Meeting Minutes

Photo by Georgia Schaich

GANA (Green Acres Neighborhood Association) Meeting
5/31/06, 7 – 8 p.m.
First United Church on 3rd St.

Betty Byrne, Lucille Bertuccio, Tim Mayer, Sue Mayer, Jan Ley, Becky Hrisomalos, Frank Hrisomalos, John Stuckey, Peggy Stuckey, Kathy Ruesink, Noriko Hara, Phil Eskew, Stefano Conard, Diane Dormant, Nathan Harmon, Maggie Jessephs, Georgia Schaich, Kadhim Shabaan, Marion Shaaban, Kim Fernandez, Maggie Sullivan, Rachel Johnson, Vicky Provine, Laura Jesseph, Sylvia Van Bruggen, Ann Kreilkamp

• New GANA logo
• Summer Solstice Event Update
• Sustainability Proposals
• City’s intro to Green Acres Neighborhood Plan Report
• Intro to Green Acres Permaculture Vision

We viewed the new GANA logo and decided to purchase signs. Stefano Conard reported on pre-event workshops for the upcoming Summer Solstice Festival. HAND and Planning Department officials conveyed the city’s framework for the collaborative neighborhood planning process. Ann Kreilkamp and Sylvia Van Bruggen gave a quick visual presentation of a short- and long-term permacultural vision for Green Acres.

The Process
This meeting felt very energetic, partly due to the larger-than-usual number of people present, and partly, I feel, to our deep satisfaction at the clear, warm feelings and beautiful design of the new Green Acres logo. Over the meeting hour the momentum seemed to build, so that by the time of the final agenda item, when we viewed a presentation for a possible long-range permacultural vision for Green Acres, we seemed to have collectively entered an unusually expansive atmosphere where we could more fully embrace the idea of devoting our time, talent and skills in various projects to further build and enhance community in our little corner of the world.

Logo: Georgia Schaich, who facilitated the meeting, introduced the beautiful new logo created by Green Acres graphic artist Jiangmei Wu with Julia Jackson. Our Small and Simple Grant money will pay for logo banners as well as logo signs with event notices to be placed at key neighborhood intersections before events.

Summer Solstice Festival Report: Stefano Conard and Georgia reported on the first pre-event workshop, where we made little “GANA babies” to decorate the festival grounds for our parade and potluck July 17th. Another workshop to finish the job is scheduled for next Wednesday, June 7. (So if you want to get wild and creative with your neighbors and assemble hilarious objects out of recycled materials, let us know!) Nathan Harmon and Rob Turner will coordinate and provide music for the parade and dinner afterwards. We will also have tables to make masks, create garland crowns, decorate flags and bikes, plus a “wishing ceremony”—for children of all ages!

Sustainability Proposals: Adam Lowe and Stefano both came up with sustainability proposals to send to the Sustainability Commission (due in June 2). Adam’s proposal, still in the idea stage, is to retrofit a Green Acres home for green design to be sold to a single mother. Stefano’s proposal—to build solar/greenhouse additions to three Green Acres homes—is more detailed, and he read it to the group. This proposal includes a pledge by Worm’s Way for a 40% discount on all materials for a hydroponic greenhouse system and will cost approximately $989 per greenhouse. (If anyone else has a sustainability idea, email or drop your idea off at Showers (401 N. Morton St.), the officer of the mayor.)

Neighborhood Plan Report: Vicky Provine of HAND and Rachel Johnson of the Planning Department presented a time framework that they hope to use to work with us to prioritize our values and devise strategies to implement a long-range vision for Green Acres. The process will begin in September, take about six months and involve six meetings, with a formal or informal presentation and public release of the plan at the end. Any Green Acres resident or stakeholder is invited to participate. The planning documents for McDoel, Broadview and Prospect Hill neighborhoods are on file at the library, and can be accessed through the site.

Permaculture Design for Green Acres: Ann and Sylvia Von Bruggen attended their final week of a two-week Introduction to Permaculture course held at McCormick State Park where they and Kevin Polk (who will move to Green Acres in August) spent five days in intense walks and conversation to envision a long-term sustainable future for Green Acres that transforms it from a suburban neighborhood into a vital village that is at least in part self-sufficient and very productive, both in terms of human and natural values. In order not to get bogged down, the three participants in this thought-experiment decided to give themselves permission to act as if there were no obstacles, that whatever they wanted they could have. The results were shown to the group at our meeting in the form of a giant paper wheel that encompassed a number of sectors (e.g., community values, food production, transportation, education, etc.) and ranged in rings outwards from short to near to long-term goals.

Ann and Sylvia brought up one example to show the process. Agreeing that one of the things that Green Acres lacks is places for neighbors to meet, they came up with the idea of “pocket parks.” On a map of the neighborhood they pointed out small corners of land that jut out into the street, or seem to be otherwise unoccupied and uncared for and that could be loaned to GANA as an experiment to place picnic tables and swings or slides for children so that people who walk the neighborhood could have a place to meet and sit. The idea was eagerly received by others and Kadhim Shabaan pointed to one intersection where four pocket parks on each corner could constitute the beginnings of a village center. The visuals for this visioning process will be available to peruse — and discuss, correct, and add to — at the July 17th Solstice event.

The meeting then adjourned for fruit, nuts, cheese, lemonade and conversation before our Speaker, Lucille Bertuccio, gave her presentation at 8 p.m.

Next meeting
June 28th, 7 p.m. (last Wednesday of each month).

Happy Summer, and see you at the Solstice event, if not before (bring children, bring your friends, join the parade!)

Ann Kreilkamp
GANA scribe

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Friday, April 28, 2006

Emergency Preparedness

GANA Speaker Series
Mark Brostoff
Chair, Monroe County Citizens Corps Council

8:00 – 9:00 p.m. April 28, 2006 (after our monthly meeting, see meeting report)

Mark described the history and purpose of the Citizens Corps Council and its CERT training for emergency preparedness in neighborhoods.

The Process
"CERT" means Community Emergency Response Team. Mark wants to put these teams in place in every Bloomington neighborhood, with Green Acres as the first neighborhood to model this idea in action.

Citizens Corps (with its motto, "Uniting communities, preparing the nation") was instituted in the wake of 9/11 by the newly formed Homeland Security Department as a way to bring emergency preparedness to cities and neighborhoods. Monroe County has received $50,000 for this purpose over the past three years. Its most popular program is CERT, started in 1985 in LA after the Mexico City earthquake when 100 rescuers died because they weren't trained.

The CERT mission is to "do the greatest good for the greatest number." CERT training prepares regular citizens to work during the first 72 hours of a disaster, before professional first responders (EMT, police and firemen) arrive.

Certified CERT teams work in pairs; they wear special gloves, helmet, vest and backpack full of first-aid and other needed equipment (like a big wrench and a crowbar) and go door-to-door to ascertain the condition of each home and its occupants. (Their equipment comes at no cost, via Homeland Security Department.) They identify who needs help, administer basic first aid, turn off gas, put out small fires, and are trained to help psychologically with people in shock and otherwise suffering. CERT teams do not self-deploy, but respond when called upon by the local CERT captain.

Google CERT to find out more information about this program that can help us help each other during any emergency.

As Mark presented the CERT program, one by one he removed all the equipment from a CERT backpack (besides crow bar, wrench, first aid, also a mask, goggles, space blanket, and so on). The training takes 21 hours, can be done in a variety of time frames, and concludes with a simulated disaster.

Mark has trained three local teams so far, two for IU, and one for a local company. Green Acres would be the first neighborhood to have a CERT team in place. To get our imaginations going, we discussed what, for example, might happen if a train full of toxic gas derailed in Green Acres.

Fifteen people are needed for a training, in our case about ten people from Green Acres and Mark would fill in the rest with others on a CERT training waiting list. He stressed that Citizens Corps prefer intergenerational teams, to include older people and even teenagers. By the time he was done, and we asked for a show of hands, to our surprise seven people wanted to sign up: Georgia Schaich, Kim Fernandez, John Gaus, Betty Byrne, Julia Jackson, Nathan Harmon, and Ann Kreilkamp. Even this many, Mark says, is probably enough for him to fill out a team, but I hope that there are a few teenagers in the neighborhood who would like to do this with us! Anyone out there?

We decided that the best way for us is to do the 21-hour training in one weekend plus another half-weekend, sometime in October. He will let us know what dates are possible.

If you wish to be a member of this team—learn a valuable skill, bond with your neighbors, be on call to help the rest of your neighbors, sport a spiffy CERT backpack and vest and helmet that remains in your possession unless and until you move out of Monroe County, let me know. Thanks.

And thanks, Mark, for arousing us to appreciate the necessity and availability of this timely training. I, for one, was stunned to realize that I wanted to join the Green Acres CERT team.

Ann Kreilkamp
GANA scribe

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Prospect Hill

GANA Speaker Series
Bill Sturbaum
Prospect Hill Neighborhood Association

8:00 – 9:00 p.m. April 26, 2006 (after our monthly meeting, see meeting report)

Bill, who moved to Prospect Hill in 1964, inspired us with his story of how Prospect Hill evolved into a vital, flourishing, highly-sought-after neighborhood.

The Process
Bill began by passing around a photo of a pretentious two-story house on a tiny lot amidst modest bungalows. His neighborhood, Bill says, faces this very real possibility right now, and the outcome of the current situation in Prospect Hill may set a precedent for all of Bloomington.

The background
A house was sold to someone who wanted to demolish the house according to a plan that would have a new house in character with the existing neighborhood. Then it was sold to another owner who wants a new plan with a 70-foot-long, two-story house on a block where all the existing houses are one-story. In order to do this he will need a variance. Prospect Hill has invited the new owner to meet with them, and on the basis of what happens at that meeting will decide to support or fight this project. In any case, they will all converge at the next Board of Zoning Appeals Meeting on May 18th where a decision will be made.

Besides the precedent-setting character of this situation, Bill wanted to emphasize that his neighborhood is quite familiar with and used to the idea of working with city officials—the Mayor’s office, City Council, HAND, to the Board of Zoning Appeals, the Traffic Commission, the Planning Office—whichever office appropriate for whatever they need done. Given their experiences over the past 20 years, they “have a lot of confidence” he said, that they can make things happen when they work with the city. And by the way, he added, we need to realize that we are very fortunate to live Bloomington where the city government is so very responsive.

In this and every issue that comes up, Prospect Hill proceeds as follows: the executive committee meets, comes up with two or three suggested solutions to the problem at hand, and then gives it to the whole group to debate, with whoever serves as a facilitator taking no position on the issue. One of those suggestions may be taken, or some other solution entirely may emerge. They follow Roberts Rules of Order, and “in a gentle way, keep to the topic.” If an issue continues to be contentious, they table it for later.

Prospect Hill got going in 1987, in response to a mayoralty campaign in which one candidate wanted to put an east-west corridor through 3rd St. They discovered that if they could get their neighborhood designated “historic,” then there would have to be a study before the government released the money. This indirect approach to the problem at hand proved successful. In three years they had gotten national, state, and finally, local designation as a “historic district.”

There used to be 500 semi-trucks a day going up Prospect Hill, (loaded with TVs from Mexico!). In order to get that stopped, they had the ingenuity to measure the decibels which, it turned out, were equivalent to an airplane taking off! So they just took that fact to the city and got the truck traffic stopped

Many times now, Bill has bought and rehabbed old houses—seventeen in all—“never,” he says, “with the intent of making money, but of changing the neighborhood.” He bought the first house with a credit line from his own home, and just kept going. He rents the houses until he finds a renter that he wants to sell to, and at times has offered the house to them at below the appraised value and/or carried the contract on the mortgage himself. Through the years, he says, he has “come out even” financially in these neighborhood-enhancing ventures.

After the original three-year push to form an “historic district,” Prospect Hill residents realized that they had learned to work together. Meanwhile, other people got wind that something special was going on in Prospect Hill and wanted into the neighborhood. (Plus, at that time, big old houses there could be had for very little money.) Their neighborhood association is now 20 years old, and keeps a waiting list of people who want to buy into the neighborhood. They are organized into “block captains,” who, among other things, keep track of when a home owner is going to leave town, and report in at every meeting. They call and ask the seller to hook up to a willing buyer before the realtors can list it, thus saving both seller and buyer realtor fees.

Bill suggests that in order to begin to do the same thing in Green Acres, we need to think of money “as a tool, not and end.”

“For any vacancy,” he says, “find out who the owner is, and then offer a three to six month option (for $500 to $1500). During that time, take care of the property, paint and clean it up, and then sell it to a new home owner.” And, he adds, “if an owner doesn’t appear in that time, then buy it!”—since you can deduct the interest on the mortgage, plus insurance, depreciation, and any repairs. He suggests these three ways of getting capital: 1) Bloomington Restoration—BRI will lend money interest-free for six months (beyond that, you must pay interest and have the loan paid back in three years); 2) Investment Groups: these invest in contracts and will lend money— find or form one of your own; 3) a home equity loan on your home; and finally, 4) refinancing your home.

Many of the Prospect Hill homes have front porches, which fosters neighborliness, and many of the blocks are very narrow, through which cars must move slowly. This neighborhood is also close to downtown, another drawing card.

Over the years, Prospect Hill Neighborhood Association has moved reached out to the streets with tiny houses that were not part of the original Victorian milieu, and their email list (it used to be a snail mail newsletter) goes out to hundreds of people. Like Green Acres, Prospect Hill also includes about 400 homes.

Both Bill Sturbaum’s long-time vision of Prospect Hill as a caring, close-knit neighborhood and his courtly, gracious manner has, no doubt, helped ease their way forward through any number of difficult issues. We thank him for giving us so much food for thought as we ponder how to help Green Acres Neighborhood Association grow into its own unique maturity as a model of urban sustainability.

Ann Kreilkamp

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GANA Meeting Minutes

GANA (Green Acres Neighborhood Association) Meeting
4/26/06, 7 – 8 p.m.
First United Church on 3rd St.

Kathy Ruesink, Jelene Campbell, Noriko Hara, Phil Eskew, Stefano Conard, Diane Dormant, Nathan Harmon, Maggie Jessephs, John Gaus, Georgia Schaich, Kadhim Shabaan, John Gaus, Jessica Gaus, Ann Kreilkamp


  • Pick-It-Up
  • PlantShare
  • Summer Solstice Festival
  • Trees
  • Neighborhood Plan Request
  • CONA dues
  • Sustainability

We received updates on plans for the three summer events—Pick-It-Up, PlantShare, and Summer Solstice Festival. We heard an update on the Neighborhood Plan Request, and decided to pay CONA dues. We discussed our sustainability goals.

The Process
Georgia Schaich facilitated the meeting which took the usual hour, with break for refreshments afterwards prior to our scheduled speaker, Bill Sturbaum of Prospect Hill Neighborhood Association.

PICK-IT-UP: This Saturday, April 29th, from 10 a.m. to noon. Meet at Phil and Noriko Hara’s, 2415 E. 4th, to receive trash bags and block assignments. Afterwards we will gather at Diane Dormant’s house, 316 N. Hillsdale, for a light brunch. (Rain date is Sunday, April 30.) PLEASE COME HELP PICK UP TRASH FROM OUR NEIGHBORHOOD. THE MORE OF US WHO PARTICIPATE, THE FASTER WE CAN GATHER AT DIANE’S!

PLANTSHARE: Saturday, May 13th, at Jelene Campbell’s, 2521 Eastgate Lane. Also pots, tools, other types of garden stuff. She has a garage in case of rain, and is willing to pick up plants if needed. We will put posters at neighborhood intersections to announce the event.

TREES: No report at this time as this committee has not met.

NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN REQUEST UPDATE: Besides Green Acres, two other neighborhoods are vying to be the one picked by the city—Bryan Park and Elm Heights. The three plans have been passed on to the mayor’s office with a decision due shortly.

CONA DUES: We agreed to pay $30 annual dues to CONA (Council of Neighborhood Associations).

SUSTAINABILITY: This discussion involved three separate aspects:

First, we began with a review of Stefano Conard’s draft of an overall, long-range, visionary flow chart for GANA sustainability that shows possible interrelationships between our neighborhood and other entities. These include the following: the City of Bloomington, Indiana University (SPEA/HYPER); IUPI (for technical support); Community Projects (e.g., community gardens, storm water use, trees, traffic control); Home Projects (e.g., P.V. electricity, green roofs, passive solar heating, food production); Outreach (e.g. newspapers, TV, other community groups); and U.S. Government and Indiana State grants. We then brainstormed about other possible additions to this chart, and added Bloomington businesses and schools as other future partners.

Then, Phil Eskew told about the short presentation on “Sustainability 101,” by the Sustainability Commission at the library during Earth Week that they attended along with about 30 others. The speaker discussed negative impacts (e.g., pesticides and burning fossil fuels) and positive impacts (e.g., local food, recycling), with the goal of getting a community-wide discussion going this year to prepare for a visioning process in 2007. Afterwards, a panel discussion featuring members of the sustainability commission discussed “the three E’s,”—economic, environmental and social equity—as all being equally important. If you wish to see this power-point presentation, log on to

And finally, we disccussed the Sustainability Commission’s Proposal for Solicitation of Sustainable Ideas, due in June 2, to be reviewed by the commission and one of them selected by June 8.

By the way, here’s our Mission Statement: The Green Acres Neighborhood Association fosters commitment to our place, promotes vitality, builds resilience to stress, acts as a steward, and forges connections beyond the boundaries of the Green Acres Neighborhood.

Next Meeting
MAY 31, 2006
(Last Wednesday of each month)
7-8 p.m., First United Church on 3rd St.

Ann Kreilkamp

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006


GANA Speaker Series
Peter Bane and Keith Johnson
Long-time permaculture teachers
Newly relocated to Bloomington

8:00 – 9:15 p.m., March 29, 2006 (after our monthly meeting, see meeting report)

Peter and Keith introduced us to the concept, philosophy and practice of “permaculture.” The group then discussed permaculture in the context of neighborhood concerns — trees and voles.

The Process
Lucille Bertuccio, of Bloomington’s Center for Sustainable Living and our scheduled speaker, unfortunately called to say she was ill. However, it just so happened that Peter Bane and Keith Johnson were in town briefly to sign closing documents for their new home. I had invited the two men to my house for tea, and when they arrived, asked if they would substitute for our friend Lucille. They graciously agreed. (We will schedule Lucille for a later date.)

And what a wonderful synchronicity, to have two knowledgeable and well-known permaculture teachers speak to us just as we begin to get a grip on what it means to envision our fair neighborhood as a sustainable village within the greater Bloomington area. For “permaculture,” as Peter said by way of introduction, or “perma-culture,” means “permanent culture,” i.e., culture that can sustain itself over time. Permaculture, he told us, is “applied ecology.” As we learn to understand the complexity and diversity of natural systems we can put this knowledge into practice to design systems that mimic, utilize and enhance natural laws to encourage abundance for all.

Peter Bane has been a permaculture teacher for over 15 years and publishes the national magazine, “Permaculture Activist” (, now in its 21st year. Keith Johnson has been designing and constructing natural gardens for over 30 years. They now relocate to Bloomington from Earthhaven, an intentional community in North Carolina. Let us welcome them!

The first principle of permaculture, says Peter, is to “observe and interact.” As an example, he spoke of this area of the country as “a former mosaic of prairie and forest” with a vast diversity of native plants. So, in our neighborhood, he suggests, plant fruit and nut and berry bushes and trees, since they naturally grow well here and create food for us and other creatures. He also suggested that as we think about places for the city to plant trees in our neighborhood that we consider locations that will also be people-oriented in some way — for example, where a tree could serve as a gathering place.

Peter mentioned that, since it floods, Green Acres was originally a seasonal wetlands, and that instead of trying to funnel water into expensive storm drains and even more expensive sewage treatment plants, we could start imagining ways to utilize rain water in our neighborhood. Like catchment systems for rain off roofs for gardens and washing needs. Like shared backyard ponds and other water features to attract birds and wildlife.

Over and over the two men talked about how in nature waste for one species becomes food for another, and how we can design systems that take advantage of this fact. Species like to live with one another, said Keith, rather than apart (like in formal gardens), because when together they nourish each other.

And they talked about how, in permacultural understanding, “the edges are where the action is.” Edges — where two or more plant or animal species or ecosystems collide — generate conflict, dynamic unrest, and this in turn attracts new species to create more diversity, and thus stability. So, with a pond, for example, design it to have fingers. That will give it more “edge” and thus encourage nature to allow in more plant and animal species.

Likewise with human culture. Let us design systems in our neighborhood to encourage “edge,” through interactions and exchange of our diverse ages, backgrounds, skills and knowledge. To create stability, encourage diversity. Humans are part of nature. Permaculture principles permeate our lives too, or they can.

At about this point, I looked around the room to see everybody’s jaws dropping, as we began to take in the first glimmers if this new (and very, very ancient) way of understanding the natural world and our place as creators inside it who can use our native intelligence to experiment with different ways to work with nature in order to enhance her capacity to feed and shelter us and all her creatures.

Then Diane Dormant dropped a bomb. “What about voles? she asked, sheepish. As if she felt terrible for bringing us all down to this nagging pesky problem that we all share. Their tunnels create spongy, uneven lawns that are hard to mow and those who are frail or elderly have trouble walking on them without stumbling. What’s more, they eat certain plants from underneath leaving them sitting on air. Diane said she’s tried everything, and nothing works. After $400 of time, energy, and worthless remedies, her little creatures have become bolder, actually running over her feet!

Keith reeled off a number of alternative ways to work with voles. These include planting daffodils to circle plants the critters like; encouraging friendly snakes and shrews that will eat them (no need to bring snakes and shrews in, just allow them when they appear); and laying gravel, about six inches worth, in the primary root zone of their favorite plants (their tender little paws have trouble digging through gravel).

Peter added that, as with anything in nature, we need to start our investigation of how to deal with moles and voles by asking “what is the yield?” i.e., what do these species give us? What is their purpose in nature? And our response to that question can then be the first step towards designing a system that will both include them and help us.

I must admit here to being a total convert to permaculture, since last November when I took the first half of their two week long course. In its breathtakingly philosophical attitude and nitty-gritty practical approach, and in its challenge to use our long-dormant inventive imaginations, I feel that permaculture offers real hope for the future, in that it can galvanize us to re-make our world. In my view, permaculture should be adopted as the curriculum for all U.S. schools — just as it has now been embraced by some Indian tribes for their schools as “Native American science.” What better way to ensure our children’s future? What better way to galvanize the children than for them to realize their own actions can make a huge difference?

I would love you to join us for the second week of the Peter and Keith’s Permaculture Design Practicum, to be held in Spencer, Indiana, May 5-13. Contact: or call 317-259-4417 or 812-336-4486.

I close with a quote from the Permaculture Activist website by one of the founders of permaculture in the '70s, Australian Bill Mollison:

“The ultimate end to a growth economy is the same as an analagous growth: cancer. But for national economies, the victims are nature, soils, forests, people, water, and quality of life. There is one, and only one, solution, and we have almost no time to try it. We must turn all our resources to repairing the natural world, and train all our young people to help. They want to. We need to give them this last chance to create forests, soils, clean waters, clean energies, secure communities, stable regions, and to know how to do it from hands-on experience.”


Ann Kreilkamp
GANA scribe

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GANA Meeting Minutes

GANA (Green Acres Neighborhood Association) Meeting
3/29/06, 7 – 8 pm
First United Church on 3rd St.

Georgia Schaich, Julia Jackson, Betty Byrne, Stefano, Ann Kreilkamp, Kim Fernandez, John Gaus, Jelene Campbell, Nathan Harman, Maggie Jesseph, Adam Lowe, Marian Shabaan, Kadhim Shabaan, Noriko Hara, Diane Dormant, Kathy Ruesink, Al Ruesink


  • Neighborhood Plan
  • Small and Simple Grant
  • Tree Committee Report
  • Plant Share Committee Report
  • Dr. Houze Building Construction Update
  • Pick-It-Up Committee Report
  • Summer Solstice Committee Report
  • Flow diagram overview

We discussed the overall purpose of the Neighborhood Plan and bureaucratic details of the Small and Simple Grant. The Tree Committee reported on their meeting with John Huss, City Urban Forester, and the city’s offer of four trees. Plant Share Committee and Pick-It-Up Committees reported on times, dates and locations of their respective upcoming events. We learned of sidewalks on 3rd and Hillsdale in exchange for Dr. Houze’s building permit overreach. Summer Solstice committee reported on still-evolving plans. We received flow diagram hand-outs to discuss at the next meeting.

The Process
This meeting was smoothly facilitated by Julia Jackson, who successfully steered us through a large agenda in the usual hour, followed by a ten-minute break with refreshments prior to scheduled speaker(s).

NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN: Our intrepid neighborhood networker and grant writer Georgia Schaich let us know that she got the Neighborhood Plan in to the city on March 24, two hours ahead of the deadline, thanks to great help from both Nathan Harman and Adam Lowe.

This year four neighborhoods hope to be the one chosen to work with the city on an overall 20-year plan for its future. This neighborhood will demonstrate “maturity,” that is, will show that it is far enough along on fleshing in its own vision of itself to receive the city’s help with infrastructure plans — roads, signs, parks, paths, sidewalks, etc.

Each year one neighborhood is chosen. Three neighborhoods — Broadview, McDoel Gardens and Propect Hill — have already developed their plans, and work with the city to create their specific character. For example, McDoel Gardens sees itself as a “conservation district,” and its plans reflect that vision. This is our first attempt at a Green Acres Plan and we will work the next year to further develop our vision of Green Acres as a sustainable community.

SMALL AND SIMPLE GRANT: Georgia also spoke of the details of the $1000 Small and Simple Grant that she and Sabrina Grossman wrote up and successfully submitted to the city last month. This grant, to help fund GANA events, must be used up by August 11. Unfortunately, the process is somewhat cumbersome: rather than the money being held in a special account that we draw from when necessary, each line-item needs to be presented to the city for disbursement of funds at the time needed. We discussed possible ways to alleviate the red tape involved.

The Small and Simple Grant is a matching grant. GANA will donate $100 out of its own kitty, plus contribute the 100 volunteer hours GANA members have already signed up for. East Side Bloomington, Inc. (the association of businesses on 3rd Street between High Street and Smith Road) has enthusiastically agreed to at least a $75 in-kind donation and probably much more, since it will solicit donated goods and services from its member businesses. Georgia suggested that we also invite the realtors who work with Green Acres to participate somehow in the grant.

TREE COMMITTEE: John Gaus reported on the meeting that he, Georgia and Tim Mayer had with Lee Huss, City Urban Forester, who showed them the city’s computer-generated maps that catalog the location of every tree in every neighborhood. Huss asked that the group suggest three or four locations for several mature trees that the city has earmarked for Green Acres this spring. Tim, who obviously came prepared, suggested the following: 7th and N. Bryan by the new Ambulance Bay, Roosevelt along the new sidewalk area between 3rd and 4th, Jefferson between 7th and 8th, and Overhill from 3rd to 5th. In addition, in response to the group’s concern about all the blacktop that has been created in the Dr. Houze construction project on 3rd Street and Hillsdale, Huss said that the city would donate three mature red oak trees to be placed near the new sidewalk on 3rd St (see Houze Update below). If you wish to join the tree committee, please email John at

A general discussion of trees ensued, and continued off and on all evening, including during the speakers’ presentation. What kinds of trees are best? Should we only use native trees, or are exotics okay? How about flowering trees, fruit and nut trees? What kinds of fruit trees actually produce enough fruit in Bloomington? How to balance our need for trees with solar needs for gardens? John Gaus spoke again of our need for an urban Forestry ordinance” in Bloomington, which, as Diane Dormant commented, “after all, does bill itself as ‘the city of trees’.”

PLANT SHARE COMMITTEE: Jelene Campbell reported that the Plant Share event this year will be held from 9:30 to 11:30 AM on Saturday, May 13, the day before Mother’s Day on her driveway at 2521 Eastgate. (She has a garage in case it rains.) Email Jelene at if you wish to donate plants and cannot get them there or will not be there that day, as she will pick them up. Jelene will also get donated plants from a few plant clubs to which she belongs.

DR. HOUZE BUILDING CONSTRUCTION UPDATE: Julia Jackson reported that as part of Dr. Houze’s deal with the city — in exchange for having gone beyond his building permit to remodel his Chiropractic clinic by black-topping part of the next lot (which he also owns) — is that he will be required to extend the sidewalk both from Hillsdale to Overhill and, moving around the tree on the corner of Hillsdale and 3rd, to extend the sidewalk down Hillsdale to the edge of his property.

Julia also reassured us that the city promises to keep the zoning on the Green Acres part of 3rd Street “single family residential.”

PICK-IT-UP COMMITTEE: Noriko Hara reported that she and her husband Phil and Adam Lowe will coordinate a neighborhood Pick-It-Up Day, Saturday, April 29th, from ten to around noon (with April 30 as rain date). So far, eight people have volunteered to help, and will meet at Noriko and Phil’s house, 2415 E. 4th. Diane Dormant will offer refreshments at her home afterwards. Please email Noriko at if you wish to help, and Diane at if you can stay for refreshments.

SOLSTICE CELEBRATION COMMITTEE: Stefano, who dreamed up the idea for this celebration, asked for and received our permission to change the date from June 24th to June 17th, due to a crucial scheduling conflict that would make it impossible for him to attend on the original date. He then reported on where plans stand now. We will have a banner (with logo and design by GANA member and graphic artist Jiangmei Wu) and a brochure (to be designed by graphic artist Tim Mayer). We will offer (at cost) tee shirts with the GANA logo. The event will include a parade led by Nathan Harman’s percussion band through the streets of Green Acres to the empty lot at the Bypass end of 7th Street where we will hold a barbeque. This will be our signature event for the year, and more committee members are welcome. The committee will meet next on April 12. If you wish to join the committee and/or attend the meeting please contact Stefano at

GANA OVERALL FLOW-DIAGRAM: Finally, Stefano handed out the first draft of a flow diagram that visually presents one possible overall perspective on how we can accomplish our goal of creating Green Acres as a truly sustainable community. The diagram includes home and community projects, plus outreach to media, IU, IUPUI, City of Bloomington, federal, state, and other grants. He asked us to contemplate this diagram so that we can discuss, amend, and further develop it at GANA’s April meeting.

The next meeting date
(last Wednesday of the month):

APRIL 26, 2006
7 – 8 PM
First United Church on 3rd Street

Be well!

Ann Kreilkamp
GANA Scribe (secretary)

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Sustainability Commission

GANA Speaker Series
George Huntington
Bloomingfoods General Manager
Member of Bloomington Sustainability Commission

8:00 – 9:00 p.m. February 22, 2006 (after our monthly meeting, see meeting report)

George brought us up-to-date on the initial stages of the newly formed Bloomington Sustainability Commission, sent around numerous pieces of paper that documented their process and responded to our questions.

The Process
George Huntington has lived in Bloomington all his life, “within an eight-block area,” he says, centered in Green Acres. Now on East Gate, he began on Edwards Row, when that street was literally the end of town, before the by-pass. He and his friends used to play in fields where the Travel Lodge and Jiffy Lube and Red Lobster are now. He remembers 50 kids living and playing on the streets and lawns of Green Acres when he was small. “When I graduated from I.U.,” he says, I decided I had a decision to make. What was my most important value? Would I base my life on how much money I could make? On my profession? Or on where I lived? I chose to base my life on where I lived.”

He wanted to focus his talk to us on the beginnings of this first, development year of the Sustainability Commission, and warned us that, since its members are still structuring their identity and educating themselves as to what sustainability is all about, that we can’t expect actual results yet! In fact, he was amazed and impressed that GANA already wanted input from the commission, since the commission is just now deciding the kinds of presentations that will benefit the public. And he was pleased to recognize that Green Acres intends to serve as a model neighborhood for sustainability in this city and beyond.

History of the Sustainability Commission: in May 2005 City Councilman Dave Rollo introduced an ordinance to the city council with a mission “to educate, monitor and recommend initiatives on sustainability to the community.” The ordinance passed and was signed by the mayor.

For the next three months, potential candidates for one- and two-year terms were interviewed, with six each chosen by the mayor and the city council. Due to the city’s concern for balanced representation to ensure the commission’s credibility, the ultimate makeup of the commission includes members from the business and professional sectors, the development and real estate sectors, the academic sector, and the arts and non-profit sectors.

The first official monthly meeting was held in October 2005 with the task to develop an official mission statement. He said that though both “gratifying and interesting,” the process was also “like herding cats, with many fifteen-minute discussions on single words!” Finally, he and another member volunteered to try to synththesize what everybody was saying and invited them all to email him their versions of the mission statement. Their submissions, he said, were “amazingly similar” and all included what they call “the three “E’s”— Environmental, Economic, and (social) Equity for current and future generations as core values.

Since that meeting they have set up two committees: the Indicators Committee and the Education Committee, and are in the process of forming two more: the Partnership and Resources Committee and the Initiatives Committee.

The Indicators Committee: creates indicators to measure sustainable methodologies and will report on an annual basis. Some examples of indicators identified so far:

  • in the area of resource conservation, one indicator is solid waste generation, measured through per capita solid waste sent to landfills.
  • in the area of environmental health, one indicator is vehicle miles traveled, measured through vehicle miles per capita.
  • in the area of public health and safety, one indicator is infant health, measured through mortality rates.
  • in the area of transportation, one indicator is use of public transportation, measured through local surveys.
  • in the area of economic development, one indicator is economic diversity, measured through growth of industry sectors and manufacturing.
  • in the area of land use, one indicator is tree cover, measured by percentage of city under tree canopy.
  • in the area of civic participation, one indicator is philanthropic donations, measured through donations, demographics, organizations in community.
  • in the area of human dignity, one indicator is economic self-sufficiency, measured through percentage for savings and percentage for basic needs.
  • in the area of education, one indicator is adult literacy education, measured through literacy programs, public library.

The Education Committee: seeks to educate themselves about sustainability issues as well as the public — through a speaker program, through focus groups at the library (two sessions each on February 27 and March 1 — please call ahead to reserve your spot; some are already “full,” but they’ve decided to move the venue to accommodate everyone), and eventually through classes of various kinds (for example, on retrofitting an older home for passive solar).

The Partnership and Resource Committee: seeks to identify and foster resources, partnerships and networks with various individuals, groups and institutions in the community to amplify sustainability initiatives. An example of this is the resource manual a SPEA class put together at IU to help commission members familiarize themselves with sustainability issues.

The Initiatives Committee: will decide on which sustainability initiatives to put before the mayor for his possible signature into law.

Besides his long term commitment to healthy food grown and sold locally and his two-year term on the Bloomington Sustainability Commission, George sits on the boards of five or six other non-profits as well. We are very grateful for his exemplary citizenship as he serves and brings his food expertise to many sectors of his beloved hometown community. And we thank him for his generosity in sharing the commission’s mandate with us at this early stage in its development.

You can learn more about the Bloomington Sustainability Commission online at the city website,

Ann Kreilkamp
GANA scribe

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GANA Meeting Minutes

GANA (Green Acres Neighborhood Association) Meeting
7:00-8:00 PM, 2/22/06
First United Church on 3rd St.

Betty Byrne, Georgia Schaich, Rob Lowe, Stefano, John Gaus, Julia Jackson, Nathan Harman, Maggie Jesseph, Kathy Ruesink, Adam Lowe, Rob Turner, Noriko Hara, Ann Kreilkamp

The agenda included discussions about trees, the new GANA website, the Small and Simple Grant (we got it!), the Neighborhood Watch Workshop (February 23, 7 PM at the Bloomington Police Department), upcoming spring and summer GANA events, and the 2006 Neighborhood Plan Form (due March 24).

We talked of various ways to save trees and came a fuller realization that we do have a tree issue in Green Acres. We explored the various uses of our new GANA website in building community. We discussed how we will use the Small and Simple grant and decided to start work on a Neighborhood Plan in cooperation with the city.

The Process
The atmosphere in this meeting felt extremely energized, with ideas zinging back and forth on all discussion topics. And, besides the five committees that formed during January meeting, we also added a new Tree Committee, to help John Gaus in his work with the city’s Tree Commission to help save trees. They include Rob Turner, Nathan Harman, Adam Lowe, and Stefano. Our evening’s speaker, George Huntington, General Manager of Bloomington Foods and a member of the city’s brand new Sustainablity Committee, remarked that he was impressed by how “on top of things” GANA seems to be, in that we already want to know what the commission is doing to promote sustainability! (See my report on speaker George Huntington to follow.)

TREES: John Gaus, who last month made an impassioned defense of trees, began by telling us that shortly after he moved here seventeen years ago he wrote a letter to the editor of the Herald-Times telling about the tree ordinance where he had lived in Hamburg, Germany. In that city, anyone who wanted to take down a tree had to receive permission. He said that several weeks later another letter appeared in the H-T, to the effect: “Well, Mr. Gaus, if you like Hamburg so much, go live there, not Bloomington.”

Thanks to Tim Mayer’s encouragement, John attended a recent Bloomington Tree Commission meeting. Among the topics discussed was their concern that we prepare for the Elm Ash Borer that is coming from north Indiana and will most likely infect ash trees here. Also, the commission informed him that we should not “top” trees, and brought out a brochure showing how to trim trees so that they do not die. He said that maps of Green Acres put it as one of the first extensions to Bloomington after World War II, developed street by street, so that each street has a different width. The city has jurisdiction over the first five feet beyond the pavement on private property, and can plant trees there. John told us that five to ten fairly large trees are earmarked this year to be planted in Green Acres.

John said that the least we can do about robbing the insects and squirrels and birds and ourselves of tree cover would be to plant a new tree anytime we remove one, dead or alive. Rob Turner responded that there is much more we can do, and mentioned a January 30 New York Times article in the travel section about how some U.S. cities are saving certain mature trees by designating them with “landmark” status.

That we do have an issue about trees in Green Acres became obvious when Julia Jackson told us about a scammer who went down Overhill Drive offering to top trees last year, then either did a terrible job or took the money and ran. Also, she arrived home last week from work one day to discover that her neighbor had ordered several fairly large trees removed that were either just inside or on her property line with no consultation from her.

Stefano mentioned that the state nursery near Brownstown has free or cheap trees (like $15 for 100). Georgia reminded us that we want to plant more fruit and nut trees for sustainability reasons. That segued into the dilemma most of us face when planting gardens. How to get enough sunlight without taking down trees? Kathy Ruesink told how her garden has shrunk year by year as the trees grow, and that she now plants more shade-loving plants.

GANA WEBSITE: Julia was happy to tell us that if you google Green Acres Neighborhood Association, GANA comes up first on the list (above a Green Acres neighborhood in Palo Alto, CA!). She also reminded us that the new GANA website functions both for archival research and to keep us up-to-date on neighborhood activities, events and meetings. And of course, the website is a wonderful introduction for anyone in the market to buy a home and whom you would like to see as a neighbor. Georgia pointed out once again that the more we focus on bringing new families and other home-owners into our neighborhood the more stable it will become and the more we will deepen our fledging sense of community. And that “selling” Green Acres to prospective families and those who wish to live more sustainably should be easy to do, given the fact that we can walk or bike to shopping, downtown, and the university. Prospect Hill neighborhood has partnered with realtors for years to bring new home-owners in there, with the result that they now have a waiting list of people who would like to own homes in that bustling little community.

SMALL AND SIMPLE GRANT: Georgia Schaich and Sabrina Grossman worked under a short deadline to complete a grant that would help fund both needed GANA materials (a brochure, to be designed by designer Tim Mayer, and a banner and tee shirt, to be designed by Jiangmei Wu) plus upcoming spring and summer events, including Plant Share (April), “Pick It Up” Clean Up Date (April), and our new Summer Solstice signature event on June 24. Georgia and Sabrina turned in the grant on the due date, Monday, February 20, and within 24 hours, Vicky Provine from HAND called to say that we got the grant, all we had asked for, $1000 (subject to approval by mayor’s office and completion of legal contract)! So thank you thank you, both Georgia and Sabrina. It’s wonderful to see neighbors jump on opportunity when it calls, and really exciting to recognize how neighborhood efforts to turn our dreams into reality get instantly affirmed by the city.

NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH WORKSHOP: Georgia and Betty Byrne and Ginny Kleindorfer attended this workshop along with representatives of other city neighborhoods to discuss ways we can cooperate with the police department to keep Green Acres safe.

NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN: the city has admitted to Georgia that Green Acres has been neglected recently in terms of improvements to its infrastructure. What would help us to get their attention is to develop a formal Neighborhood Plan. Other neighborhoods, including McDoel Gardens, Prospect Hill, and Broadview, have each taken a year or more to develop plans for their neighborhoods in conjunction with the city. A neighborhood plan will demonstrate to the city that Green Acres is ready for further infrastructure improvements. (I.e., the squeaky wheel gets the grease!)

We decided to begin by putting the Neighborhood Plan form out to the GANA list for anyone who wishes to respond to the parts of it they feel called to address. Then, before the March 24 deadline the Executive Committee and any other interested GANA residents will gather to try to collate and formalize our Green Acres plan for the city’s review.

Now that we have our committees in place, it’s time to get to work! Plant Share people especially, your event is in April! If you need the email addresses of your committee members, please email me (

By the way, Edy’s Ice Cream has invited us to apply again for the Ice Cream Social that we won last year and celebrated with an impromptu July 4th afternoon party. Last year four of us applied, and Diane Dormant’s application won. If you wish to eat ice cream again with neighbors on July 4th, visit for more info on how you can write your winning 350 words-or-less essay. Hey, Party Committee members, go for it!

Until further notice, our meetings will be held in the First United Church, at 7 pm on the last Wednesday of each month.

Next Meeting: MARCH 29. As usual, I will send a reminder notice a day or two prior to the meeting.

A big hello to all GANA neighbors!

Ann Kreilkamp
Scribe (Secretary)

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Susie Johonson, Director of Hand

GANA Speaker Series
Susie Johnson
HAND Director

7:00 pm, January 25, 2006

Susie Johnson, Director of HAND (Department of Housing and Neighborhood Development), handed out brochures and told us about a number of programs for which some Green Acres residents might qualify. The following four programs are all possible through a direct entitlement from HUD (Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development). They offer grants and loans for housing initiatives to people whose income falls within current HUD guidelines to sustain and develop neighborhoods within Bloomington city limits.

Purchase Rehabilitation Program: A loan program that helps people purchase homes in need of repair. HAND will offer down payment and closing cost assistance up to $5,000. For rehabs, they will help determine what needs to be done, receive bids and select a contractor, and work with the project from start to finish. They will also assist financially by providing a deferred second mortgage with no payment or interest if the owner stays 15 years.

HAND offers a regularly scheduled 14-hour class called Home Buyers Club that teaches people how to purchase a home. Income-eligible graduates may be able to access up to $3000 in down payment and closing cost assistance (for the next class, see schedule on their website:

Owner-Occupied Home Rehabilitation Program: two types of grants of up to $7,500: 1) the Emergency Home Repair Program for emergency repairs that includes, for example, roof leaks, an inoperable or unsafe furnace, electrical malfunctions, roof leaks; and 2) Home Modifications for Accessible Living, for example, ramps, doorway ad hallway widening, handles and grip bars in bathrooms, additional lighting in kitchens.

So, if you know of an elderly or otherwise handicapped neighbor who might need HAND's help, please talk with them about this program that helps them be able to stay in their own homes as long as possible.

HAND also has a Rental Rehab Program for owners who rent their homes, a $1 for $1 loan, if the owner rents to a low-income family for five years.

(Unfortunately, HAND's HUD allocation for 2006 includes a $102,000 cut from 2005 (about 10%).)

HAND also

  • has a Rental Inspection Program: registered rentals are inspected every three to five years.
  • works with tenant complaints against landlords and landlord complaints against tenants (though they advocate people solving their disputes themselves, if possible).
  • issues weed and trash tickets (contact Jo Stong:
  • provides staff support to Bloomington Historic Preservation Committee.
  • provides Clean-Up grants.
  • provides Small and Simple grants (one of which Georgia Schaich and Sabrina Grossman will be attempting to get for GANA by the March due date).

Ann Kreilkamp

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GANA Meeting Minutes

GANA (Green Acres Neighborhood Association) Meeting
7:00 PM, 1/25/06
First United Church on 3rd St.

Stan Routon, Hershel Lentz, Evelyn Lentz, Betty Byrne, Ginny Kleindorfer, Georgia Schaich, Jelene Campbell, Dan Matisoff, Sabrina Grossman, Mike Diekhoff, Julia Jackson, Marian Shaaban, Tim Mayer, Rob Turner, John Gaus, Jessica Gaus, and Ann Kreilkamp

Agenda and Summary
The incoming agenda included a report to outline the results of the neighborhood survey, and, based on the survey, a discussion of what committees we need to form. Several other topics were also discussed, including 1) cars driving over and/or parking on grass, 2) tree-cutting, 3) traffic calming, and 4) sidewalks.

The Process
We were highly gratified to see 17 of our mighty band of GANA neighbors turn out for our first monthly meeting of 2006, held in a new place, and on a new evening. The meeting itself followed the first speaker in our new Speaker Series, Suzy Johnson, of HAND (My report on this event to follow.)

After a short break with tea, cookies and grapes, we reconvened, with Georgia Schaich as meeting facilitator.

Georgia reported on the survey results. Here are a few facts from that report. (The entire summation of the survey will be emailed to you on the GANA list-serve, and archived on the new GANA website.)

42 households turned in surveys (32 owners, 10 renters), out of approximately 400 that were put in Green Acres doorways. (That’s 10%, quite good for a survey of its kind.) Questions not usually asked made this survey interesting. For example, we asked about interests and talents that people would like to share with others. Many people responded, and the top four were cooking (15), gardening/landscaping, yoga and environmental concerns (11 each). Green Acres neighbors like to help each other out: 15 said they would help homebound people dig out after a snowstorm; 15 said they would help elderly or handicapped neighbors carry trash and recycling to the curb and back; 10 each said they would house sit and/or pet sit, and a few even volunteered to walk dogs!

Stan Routon told us about cars that drive across the grass from one house to the other at the southeast corner of Overhill and 3rd St. City Councilmen Tim May and Mike Diekhoff mentioned that Zone 3 No Parking (with “no parking” signs) includes the area between Union and North Hillsdale, and that the rest of the neighborhood has residential parking. (for more: see Parking on the grass is a planning violation.

John Gauss wondered whatever happened to traffic calming, and his question inspired a recounting of the long unfortunate traffic-calming-tale of 2005, when we pursued (thanks to Lois Sabo-Skelton’s decision to hand-deliver a petition), but then backed off, due to what appeared to be miscommunication with the city, the idea of a roundabout at the intersection of 5th and Hillsdale. That issue is currently on the back burner.

At this point Georgia brought up the idea that what we need to go forward now as a neighborhood association is standing committees to pursue common interests. “For example,” she said, “traffic calming. That is obviously an interest.” She handed out a sheet of paper for people to sign up for a Traffic Calming Committee and six did: Rob Turner, Stan Routon, John Gaus, Lentz, Betty Byrne, and Ginny Kleindorfer.

Then John Gaus stood up and gave an impassioned defense of trees, reminding us that Bloomington is called a “tree city,” and that he and his wife Jessica, on their morning walks around the neighborhood, are saddened to notice that when neighbors decide to get rid of a tree they just do it. “To me,” he said, “a tree is something for everybody. I know I can’t stop it,” he said, and then, adopting a loud, mean tone, he mimicked the landowner who says, “I can do anything I want with my property!!” Tim Mayer responded that 15 to 18 years ago the city tried and failed to get a tree ordinance in place. He also said that there is a Tree Commission inside the Parks and Recreation Department, and that John might talk to Lee Huss to get on that commission.

Georgia then said that she would like to work with someone on a Small and Simple Grant from the city, and Sabrina Grossman, a grant-writer, volunteered to help her. Julia Jackson said she wants to work with Stan and others on a Garage Sale Committee. Stanley graced her with one of his wonderful smiles and Jessica Gaus, Betty Byrne and Rob Turner also signed up! (And psst to my next door neighbor, Aggie Sarkissian, you want to do this, too!) A Party Committee (Dan Matisoff, Julia Jackson, and Jelene Campbell) and a Gardening Committee (Jelene Campbell and Sabrina Grossman) also formed.

None of these five committees is full. Nor is the Executive Committee full. It currently has three members (Georgia Schaich, Julia Jackson and Ann Kreilkamp) and seeks two more. If you are at all interested in any of these committees, or would like to pursue other topics, please post your interest to the GANA list-serve. (If you know anyone who would like to get on the list-serve contact Julia at

Tim Mayer reported on the construction currently ongoing at Dr. Norman Houze’s Bloomington Chiropractic Center property at Hillsdale and 3rd, saying that though Dr. Houze owns both lots between Hillsdale and Overhill on 3rd, because Dr. Houze had gone over the property line on one of them with a blacktop driveway, he would have to give something back to the city. We all agree that a sidewalk on 3rd would be a fitting trade. The Planning Department is watching the situation as it develops; nothing has been decided.

And Tim Mayer had one piece of very good news: The sidewalk that has been put in on Jefferson from 7th to 8th street will be extended from 4th to 5th street this year — with a sidewalk on the west and curbs on the east side of the street. He reminded us that the reason sidewalks are very slow to be built is that the storm water infrastructure underneath them is extremely expensive. This year’s city budget has allocated a quarter of a million dollars for this one small sidewalk project.

We ask that these committees work on their own and then report to the whole group at our monthly meetings.

We all expressed gratitude to Tim Mayer and Mike Diekhoff, city councilmen who represent in Green Acres, for attending this meeting, though, unfortunately, Wednesday evenings are usually also city council meetings. They both volunteered their phone numbers, should we wish to speak with them about any GANA concern. Tim: 332-5269, and Mike: 333-0210.

George Huntington, General Manager of Bloomingfoods and a Green Acres resident, will be the next speaker at our Speaker Series, held in conjunction with our monthly meetings. George is a member of the newly formed Sustainability Commission and will discuss that topic with us.

Until further notice, our meetings will be held in the First United Church, at 7 pm on the last Wednesday of each month.

Next Meeting
FEBRUARY 22. As usual, I will send a reminder notice a day or two prior to the meeting.

A big hello to all GANA neighbors!

Ann Kreilkamp
Scribe (Secretary)

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