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