Wednesday, December 10, 2008

GANA Pitch-In

Time: 6:30 pm
Location: Kindly hosted by Al & Kathy Ruesink at their home on E 5th St

Topics Discussed
Sidewalks, two student projects (urban orchards and aging in place), a Permaculture Learning Center, Service Learning volunteers, elections/Executive Committee openings, the new H.T. neighborhoods column, and when/where/how to hold our regular meetings.

Ann Kreilkamp, Kevin Polk, Kimberly Wagner, Kathy & Al Ruesink, Erik Schedler, Katie Zukof, John & Jane Spearman, Valerie Cox, Georgia Schaich, Jelene Campbell

The Process
After sitting down to a pitch-in dinner featuring cider, salads, pizza, several delicious potato dishes and cake, we began to discuss the neighborhood.

Kathy reported on her discussion with City Councilman-at-Large Tim Mayer, who said he expects the city to move on building a sidewalk on the North side of 3rd between Overhill and near the Bypass in 2009. The State's Bypass construction this spring will include sidewalks within 500 feet of the Bypass, but that may still leave a short gap in the sidewalk construction projects along 3rd. Kathy also mentioned a forthcoming City Planning survey of bicycle and foot traffic on 3rd street near the Bypass. She will report back to us as things develop. Georgia suggested we also let BTOP know we want to stay informed about hearings on transportation issues that affect our neighborhood.

Kevin and Georgia reported on their meeting with SPEA student Amy Countryman, who is putting together a neighborhood orchard proposal for the Tree Commission. You may recall that we have worked several times with her adviser, Burney Fischer. Ms. Countryman was still in the exploration phase of her project when we met. She had just met with the Tree Commission and City Forester Lee Huss, who had concerns about planting fruit trees in front yards and along streets, where they could create a slippery mess. Instead, Huss preferred to establish the orchards in public parks. Georgia mentioned the possibility on working with IU on its long vacant lot near 3rd and Bryan. Kevin pointed out that since high resident/occupant turnover places many trees in jeopardy, the neighborhood association and city may share an interest in encouraging people to save the trees they have further back on their own property. Amy suggested that the neighborhood association could host talks by the City Forrester on the value and preservation of these trees, and run training/volunteer sessions to prune and care for neglected trees (perhaps in exchange for informal harvest rights, Kevin added).

Ann asked about the status of the project by School of Social Work professor Jean Capler's aging class. We haven't heard from them since they met with us in October. Kimberly will follow up with one of the students, who is an intern at her workplace.

Ann talked about the Permaculture Learning Center she hopes to build in the neighborhood. She recently added a pond and several large swales to the lot she just bought next door to her house. She hopes to have the neighborhood and Permaculture Guild work together to create a garden and learning center there. It's possible she will use the house on that property for interns in that program some day. Short-term, she needs help setting up the garden, adding a deer fence (Al suggested a double row of brambles such as raspberries and blackberries), and building a picnic area as a “Pocket Park”. She hopes to have Permaculturist Keith Johnson lead and teach neighborhood volunteers in these activities. Everyone was enthused. Jane said she would be willing to trade lots of labor for learning more about sustainable in-ground gardening.

Katie mentioned that one way to harness student energy for neighborhood projects would be through the IU Service Learning office's COPSL program. Kevin noted that several service learning volunteers he met at the Crestmont garden actually live in Green Acres.

We visited the topic of elections and Georgia pointed out that it was unclear what that would mean now that we use the Executive Committee Model. It's clear we need new people and probably more people involved with the routine and occasional leadership of GANA: organizing meetings, publishing meeting minutes, writing grants, working with CONA (which handles our finances) and managing the list serve and the blog. Jane said she would be willing to be Georgia's understudy for meetings and CONA representation. Valerie was interested in learning how to administer the list serve and Blog. Kevin will post a request for a few more people to join the Executive Committee this winter.

Georgia mentioned that City neighborhood advocate Vickie Provine and H.T. columnist Carrol Krause are planning a monthly column on neighborhoods and community building. They would like to meet with neighbors who have ideas and stories to share. They plan to meet at Vickie's home, 710 W Wylie St, on Sunday, January 18, 2009 at 3:00 p.m. If you would like to attend, please let Vickie know. Her work number is 349-3505.

We discussed meeting dates, times, locations and formats. Several people said they missed the monthly speaker's program. Al wanted to see some new signs to replace the temporary ones that worked so well for about a year. Ann felt the large room we used to use at First United Church was too cavernous for our little group. Al mentioned that a small room near the entrance is now available. Kimberly was in favor of consistent meeting dates and times, though Kathy thought we could vary the format somewhat, with maybe 3 big talks in a large space each year (she thought talks on weatherizing and property improvement would be appropriate; Al thought we might also look for a sociologist who could talk about community building).

In the end, we decided to hold a pitch-in meeting for everyone interested in Executive Committee work at Ann's at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 7. Tentatively, we're planning to hold our regular meetings the first Wednesday of each Month at a location to be announced here on the blog.

We adjourned around 8:45 p.m.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

GANA Meeting

Time: 7:00 p.m.
2621 E Edwards Row


  • pedestrian/bike access to Sahara Mart from Green Acres
  • neighborhood GANA membership due
  • new community permaculture garden

  • Attending
    Kevin Polk, Kimberly Wagner, Ann Kreilkamp, Chris Huntington, Valerie Cox, Kathy & Al Ruesink, Katie Zukof, Sabrina Grossman, Daniel Matisoff

    The Process
    We began the meeting with three handouts Kevin had prepared: a google map of Sahara Mart and its relationship to the neighborhood, a record of the emails Kevin has received on the topic of ped/bike access to Sahara Mart and a copy of an email Dan Matisoff sent out detailing his research into the matter. We began by looking through these background materials, noting the interest in this topic and the controversy surrounding it.

    There are two obvious ped/bike routes to Sahara Mart through the neighborhood, plus another two less obvious ones These are:

    1)Go east on DeKist, and cut through the unkempt, 10-feet wide swatch of private property through to the back of Sahara Mart.

    2) Go east on 3rd Street from Overhill Drive.

    3)Alternative routes: go east on either 5th Street or DeKist Street, crossing the right of way through to the commercial district (Jiffy Lube, Red Lobster, Travelodge) that parallels the west side of the Bypass, then go west on 3rd St. to Sahara Mart. All three of these have the advantage of not driving a car, as well as the advantage of not having to negotiate two left turns: from any Green Acres street that fronts 3rd Street, and into Sahara Mart entrance.

    All three of the principle alternative routes also have both disadvantages and obstacles standing in their way.

    What follows is a list of the pros and cons of each possible path, including elements from our discussion at the meeting.

    Edwards Row

    • 100 ‘ shorter than 3rd St path
    • safer at present than 3rd St.
    • no path now
    You really have to watch your step, or you will stumble and it’s very difficult to take bike or stroller or cart across the 10-foot stretch.
    • the 10’ swatch is privately owned
    We apparently haven’t got permission to use this access: someone has put up “no trespassing” signs. Who? We also wondered who cut down the pine trees that used to shield the back of Sahara Mart from Edwards Row (cut down at least 1.5 years ago, but perhaps not long before then), who took down the fence that was there, and who put the gravel in back of Sahara Mart that looks like a parking space?!? Chris Huntington, who grew up on Edwards Row, remembers that the private 10’ swath is owned by the three home owners directly across from it, jointly, each with 1/3 ownership. Kevin is one of them, but has not been able to verify ownership with the Recorder of Deeds or his neighbors. He is still chasing down a couple of leads and may have more to say on the subject soon.
    • Extra car traffic/steep street raises safety concerns
    A number of people both at the meeting and through emails mentioned that once access to Sahara Mart through Edwards Row was made official by sanctioning some kind of an obvious path, then the situation might escalate into people people driving down that narrow street and parking there while shopping, or for eight hours as employees — especially if Sahara Mart’s way-too-small parking gets crowded. Also, an official path might lead to more lights on the street for safety's sake, which would disturb neighbors who want to sleep without more ambient light. Plus, the steep portion of this street ices over in the wintertime. And, one email pointed out, pedestrians create trash as they walk along, discarding candy bar wrappers, etc.

    Third Street from Overhill to Sahara Mart and beyond

    • Would support pedestrian access to many businesses across the bypass and 3rd.
    • Would provide safe route for foot traffic from East-side neighborhoods.
    • It’s lighted.
    • No sidewalk now.
    And the possibility of getting one is iffy. Dan spoke with Eric Greulich of the planning department, who mentioned right-of-way issues: the city might have to buy private property in front of three houses. Plus, the steep slope might necessitate a retaining wall. Dan also heard from City Council member Tim Mayer, who lives on Bryan Street, who said the city is looking at the idea of possibly taking out one lane of 3rd Street for ped/bike access. But Tim and Eric cautioned that any path there would take until at least 2010 to be constructed. We pointed out that any new sidewalk should continue from the new sidewalk that went in from Hillsdale to Overhill,and that the intersection-from-hell of 3rd and the Bypass should also be changed to make it easier for pedestrians and bikes. Also, it would be great if there were a crosswalk from Overhill to the other side of 3rd Street to allow for walking access to shops on the south side.

    Another alternative was discussed: that of seeing if the Sahara Mart owner would undergo the expense of creating a set of steps leading up from the back of the Travelodge Motel up to the Sahara Mart parking lot. This would also require permission from the Travelodge owner. These steps would make access from either 5th Street or DeKist much easier.

    When discussing the 3rd Street path, Dan Matisoff stressed that the city planning department is now putting a great deal of emphasis on neighborhood input for any planning decisions. He said that if we want to move forward in asking for a path on 3rd Street, then they would like an official letter from GANA. Kathy Ruesink volunteered to move that idea forward.

    In general, though people’s feelings were very strong about the idea of working with the access problem to Sahara Mart as an on-the-ground example of moving through obstacles to create a walkable, sustainable community as stated in our neighborhood plan, and although participants arrived with strong feelings about which path idea was best, we all listened respectfully to each others’ ideas and came away with a pool of shared knowledge of just how many factors there are to consider, just how difficult it is to solve this problem, and how much time it will take to get what we all agree we want.

    Other Agenda Items:

    Voluntary membership dues for GANA are due now. $5 per household. We collected dues from five households at the meeting and a promise from one other to send by mail to Ann K. at 134 N. Overhill Drive, Bloomington, IN 47408. Ann will also graciously welcome others’ dues!

    Permaculture Garden
    Ann K. has purchased the property on the corner of DeKist and Overhill with the intent to create a permaculture community garden on its enormous, sunny side lawn. The house will stay as is, a rental, for the time being. This project will hit the ground running in 2009. More info to come.

    Next Meeting
    December 10, potluck 6:30 p.m., Al and Kathy Ruesink’s house, 2605 5th Street.

    Ann Kreilkamp
    GANA scribe

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    Sunday, November 16, 2008

    Found Kitty!

    Hi, I am Norma Jean! I usually live with Ann Kreilkamp or the Sarkissians on North Overhill Drive, but I panicked during a cold storm and was gone for nearly three days. Now I'm safely home again after Scott and company heard me mewing in their crawl space on the corner Dekist and Overhill and Armen and Aggie coaxed me out. Thanks, everyone for your concern.

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    Friday, August 29, 2008

    Green Acres One of the Most Walkable Neighborhoods in the U.S.A.

    It's true! According to independent rating service, our neighborhood ranks as "very walkable", placing it in the company of the trendiest neighborhoods in Chicago, Boston and New York City.

    When long-time Green Acres resident Georgia Schaich read about WalkScore in a recent Bloomingfoods newsletter, she found the site and entered her address. WalkScore instantly used Google Maps technology to compute a score based on her distance from schools, churches, restaurants, stores, parks and other amenities. On a 100-point scale, scores below 50 mean that most destinations are too far to walk. But scores above 70 suggest that you most likely could get by without a car.

    WalkScore does not pretend to be a perfect measure: scores don't take into account actual road design (such as the lack of crosswalks on 3rd and the Bypass), and they vary somewhat by address within a neighborhood.

    Nevertheless, Georgia was elated with her score: 80 points. By comparison, Lincoln Park in Chicago was only 76, and even trendy New York City neighborhoods scored only 83. "We're sitting pretty in Green Acres!" said Georgia. "I think we should boast about it more."

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    Sunday, August 24, 2008

    French & Spanish Classes

    French & Spanish Classes IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD!
    for children and adults, ages 4+

    Instructor: Katie Zukof
    Katie Zukof is a former high-school teacher and a creative & dynamic instructor who incorporates songs, games and stories into every lesson.
    Children's French: September 1 - December 17; meets 2x week for 45 min.
    Mondays 5:15 - 6 pm & Wednesdays 4 - 4:45 pm.
    Children's Spanish: September 2 - December 18; meets 2x week for 45 min.
    Tuesdays & Thursdays 4 - 4:45 pm.
    I am asking for a 6-week commitment from parents for the children's classes; at that time parents can decide whether or not to continue through December.
    Adult French: September 1 - October 27; meets 1x week for 1 hour.
    Mondays 6:05 pm - 7:05 pm.
    Adult Spanish: September 1 - October 27; meets 1x week for 1 hour.
    Mondays 7:10 - 8:10 pm.

    Location: My home; 2615 Dekist St.
    Cost: Children's Classes: $6/lesson. $72 (cost for the first 6 weeks) due on or before the first lesson.
    Adult Classes: $8/lesson. $72 due on or before first lesson.

    Private lessons & tutoring also available.
    For more information or to register, call 812-339-8198 or e-mail

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    Sunday, August 10, 2008

    Ice Cream Social on gorgeous afternoon

    Twenty-five GANA neighbors gathered on Sunday, August 10 for our annual ice cream slurping party.This year we met in the shade at Ann's house on Overhill. The afternoon was gorgeous, not too hot or humid, and we circled our chairs near the ice cream which, of course, got pretty soupy after two hours. We were old, college-age, and middle-age, plus three dogs who got along pretty well, considering that one was a lot smaller than the others. Rather than grabbing ice cream and wandering off, most people stayed to talk and laugh and breathe in the sweet summer air. No children this time, unfortunately, but we heard there was some special event for kids on this day that probably took them away. Our event was supposed to end at 4 p.m., and didn't. We finally pulled out the chairs from a few, Kevin loaded up his big ice cream table on his workhorse of a bike, Georgia loaded the chairs into her tiny car, Ann's puppy Emma finally got exhausted from all her running around, and it was with real regret that we finally went our separate ways.

    Edwards Row residents meet new 4th Street residents

    Jessica and John Gaus

    GANA sign with Ann K.'s street bench

    Gilbert and Shirley Bushey

    Bill Schaich and Ignacio Lledo

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    Monday, August 4, 2008

    Where are all the "For Rent" Signs in Green Acres?

    My little white puppy Emma and I walk to and from campus regularly in the early mornings. A couple of months ago, while walking I noticed that unlike other years since my 2003 arrival in our wonderful town and neighborhood, there are hardly any "For Rent" signs displayed. This surprises and puzzles me. Why? Usually these signs are up most of the year, scattered throughout the neighborhood, as many as four or five on each side of most blocks, creating a decided "temporary" feel to the place. Many of us have disliked the signs for that reason, and especially dislike it when landlords leave them up for all or most of the year.

    So, it was with great surprise and astonishment that this year I see hardly any "For Rent" signs up in the entire neighborhood. You'd think that especially in spring and summer they would appear, in time to attract new renters for the usual August IU arrival.

    I brought this subject up at our potluck meeting at my house in early July, and asked for opinions as to why this is the case. One neighbor said she thought that maybe the economy is so sluggish that people aren't getting out-of-town job offers when they graduate, and so elect to stay on.

    I'd like to think it's because renters like where they live and for that reason elect to stay on for more than one year. Or even better, that some houses that were formerly for rent are now occupied by their owners, or by new owners, the houses having been sold. I know that's true in a couple of cases, and would love to extrapolate but know that's foolish.

    Any other theories on this subject? I'm going to contact the city's HAND department (Housing and Neighborhood Development) to see if they have any clues. It may be a city-wide development and not just Green Acres.

    Ann Kreilkamp

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    Tuesday, June 17, 2008

    Sign Toppers Have Arrived

    Here's a photo I took today of Kevin Polk with the new sign toppers and his bike. He called me this morning with the news that the sign toppers had arrived and he was about to ride them down to our dear neighborhood cheerleader Vickie Provine at Bloomington's HAND Department. The signs are to be installed by the Public Works Department sometime this summer on top of all 38 intersection street signs in Green Acres. This excites me, this very first physical manifestation of our growing neighborhood awareness, and our ultimate aim to nourish neighborly feeling in Green Acres to the point where it morphs into its own unique and sustainable little village in concert with other neighborhood villages throughout the city of Bloomington.

    A few facts from Kevin about the signs:
    Total cost for the signs + mounting brackets: $917.70. GANA paid $346.35, and a Bloomington Small and Simple Grant paid $571.35 in matching funds. Kevin wrote the grant, and the toppers were made by Hall Signs, Inc.. Thanks so much, Kevin!

    Kevin also sent along a few facts about his fabulous bike. Says its a "Bridgestone MB-4 with about 20,000 miles on it. In April, I installed a Free Radical hitchless trailer from Xtracycle. This involved lengthening chain and replacing rear brake and derailleur cables. The FreeRadical moves the rear wheel back 15 inches, which lowers the cargo and spreads the weight between the wheels. I have transported fencing, 6-foot garden stakes and a 4-foot, 80-pound wooden swing several miles safely with this rig. I routinely transport 4-6 bags of groceries smoothly and comfortably. Past mods include: front fender, comfortable saddle and a Nitto Albatross handlebar from Rivendell Bicycle Works.

    "Two weeks after installing the FreeRadical, I saw someone else riding one in the neighborhood!"

    Nothing like a great idea whose time has come. Ditto for the signs. Prospect Hill neighborhood has them. It's about time we had them too. To me, these signs symbolize our desire to re-cultivate the near-sacred "sense of place" that has gone missing in the U.S. for several generations and that, as we bring it back, helps us feel safe, connected, and welcoming.

    Ann Kreilkamp

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    Wednesday, June 4, 2008

    GANA Meeting: 5th St., Bypass, HAND Grants

    7-9 pm First United Church on 3rd St.

    Sign toppers, 5th street construction, Neighborhood Cleanup, meeting dates, Bypass widening, Neighborhood Improvement Grant projects, blog and list serve access

    Georgia Schaich, Ann Kreilkamp, Kevin Polk

    Our next meeting will be a potluck at Ann's house at 6 pm Wednesday, July 2. Please RSVP by comment to this article with the dish you plan to bring. (We'll remind you closer to the date).

    We invite neighbors to become blog authors and post their own announcements.

    The Process

    Was it the severe thunderstorms and tornado watches that kept attendance down this time? Or was it summer, or the new meeting date? Or the fact that we didn't announce the "speaker" (a DVD on the eco-theologian Thomas Berry) until two hours prior to the meeting? In any case, attendance and meetings were our first topics of the meeting.

    Does it make sense to meet monthly? After all, South Griffy Neighborhood Association only meets twice a year. Georgia pointed out how valuable it was two years ago to have monthly speakers as a way to self-educate and build a vision. Somehow, though, our energy seemed to dissipate the following year as we labored with the city to craft a neighborhood plan that force-fit our permacultural village vision into official bureaucratese. Ann commented that now it seems time to regroup and take a fresh look at what we're doing and how we're doing it. We could meet for three months each spring and fall, when people are here and not yet so busy. Or we could meet quarterly, or bi-monthly. Kevin wanted fewer meetings but more events, with the host of each event empowered to call meetings specific to planning that event.

    Does it make sense to meet in the church when the huge room dwarfs our tiny group each time? Everyone present(!) enjoyed the home potluck and meeting events that we held last November and December. Maybe we should host meetings at private homes until participation starts to overwhelm those venues. Ann offered to hold the next meeting as a potluck at her house at 6pm, Wednesday, July 2.

    Kevin noted that the blog needs more authors. Ann and Georgia thought the blog would make a great internet kiosk where neighbors could post announcements (workshops, baby sitting, pet sitting, homes for sale, rentals, services, trades, free stuff etc.). Kevin agreed, and will invite all neighbors from the discussion list on as authors.

    Kevin said he has received many requests to post kiosk-type announcements to the discussion list. He pointed out that the list is not moderated, so anyone who receives GANA email should address the list directly by sending email to But the best place for neighborhood buy/sell/trade/giveaway announcements is our virtual kiosk, and all GANA members will receive invitations to participate.

    The GANA sign toppers will be manufactured by mid-month and handed over to Public Works to install sometime this Summer. GANA paid $346.35 for the toppers and the City of Bloomington chipped in $571.35 for the project.

    Ann called the City about the work on 5th Street and was told it would be done in a month, weather depending.

    The Neighborhood Cleanup went well. Workers from the City's HAND department praised the high volunteer turnout, and many participants and neighbors said they were pleased with the help and the end result: very much cleaner streets. Thanks to all who participated and especially to the volunteers who distributed fliers to the whole neighborhood and spent the morning directing traffic and picking up trash from neighborhood streets: Ann Kreilkamp, Katie Zukof, Eric Schedler, Jelene Campbell, Kimberly Wagner, Kevin Polk, Ignaci Lledó, Georgia Schaich, and George and Linda O'Donnell.

    Ann and Kevin have been in contact with Brandon O'Leary, President of South Griffy Neighborhood Association (SGNA), regarding action on the Bypass widening project. CAC has drafted a letter to INDOT about the situation. If the State does not show signs of cooperation on pedestrian/bicycle safety and noise issues in the community the bypass no longer bypasses, GANA, SGNA and others may consider stronger action.

    Letters of Intent for the Neighborhood Improvement Grant are due September 26. Will we be ready? The grant provides 50-90% matching funds for projects from $3K-$40K: parks, public art, physical improvements, playgrounds, amphitheaters, kiosks, plantings, etc. We have submitted two letters of intent in the past year, but not pursued it due to lack of support within the neighborhood. Georgia felt that an artistic entrance feature such as an arch would really set us apart as something unique. Other suggestions in the past have included a neighborhood compost/chipper area, a grape arbor over the walk between Roosevelt and Jefferson on 4th, and pocket parks. What's exciting enough to galvanize neighborhood involvement?

    We adjourned at 8 p.m.

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    Saturday, May 24, 2008

    The David Gohn Band to play at Max's Place

    Jelene Campbell, who hosted the PlantShare, invites you to hear her band play live at Max's Place on Saturday, May 24th.
    "We'll play under our former name, The Other Side, at 7pm," says Jelene. "We'll play all the tunes on our CD, Brand New Ride plus a few favorite covers. Then we'll play our other set at 8pm under our new name, The David Gohn Band. We play roots/americana which is a combination of blues, folk, country, and rock and roll so there should be a little something for everybody."

    Neighbors can sample some of the band's original music at and

    Max's is an all-ages place for music, pizza, calzones and local brews. For discount pizza coupons, visit

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    Saturday, May 10, 2008

    Plant Share

    2521 Eastgate Lane
    8:00-9:00 a.m. bring any plants you wish to donate
    9:00-10:30 a.m. PlantShare (donations not necessary!)

    The annual tradition continues at Jelene Campbell's house:

    • Share your leftover seedlings, plant divisions, indoor houseplants, etc. Also extra garden tools, gloves, materials, etc.
    • Put plant in a pot or a plastic bag with roots wrapped in wet paper towels.
    • Provide the name of the plant and, if possible, planting instructions (e.g. sun/shade, size, color, annual/perennial/season of bloom).
    • Bring plants to the PlantShare between 8-9am. If you need a pickup, leave a comment below.
    • If it rains, the PlantShare will be held in Jelene's garage.
    Join in the fun and help make Green Acres Beautiful!

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    Neighborhood Cleanup

    9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
    7th Street between Roosevelt and Jefferson

    Every year, many of us in Green Acres emerge from our winter naps to find unwanted tires, debris, old furniture, oil, car batteries, etc. in and around our homes. How can we get rid of this stuff without paying exorbitant hauling and disposal fees?

    This year, all you need to do is bring these items to the drop-off site (below) on Saturday, May 10, and the City of Bloomington will recycle, donate or dispose of them for free.

    Drop-off site (click picture to enlarge)

    STREET CLOSURE - the drop-off site---7th street between Roosevelt and Jefferson--will be closed to traffic on Saturday, May 10, from 8am to 2 pm. Volunteers and Bloomington Housing and Neighborhood Development (HAND) department staff will direct cleanup traffic West-bound through this area.

    AT THE DROP-OFF SITE - HAND will provide: a trash truck capable of eating trash or even couches. A vehicle for disposal of iron and metal. A truck for disposing of tires (must be off their rims). A chipper for wood (not vines, weeds, grass or roots - wood must must be 6" or less in diameter and not have any wire or metal in it. All chipped wood is available and free for the taking within the neighborhood). Containers for hazardous materials including latex paint (which must be dried prior to disposal), aerosols, flammable liquids, pesticides, fluorescent bulbs, batteries and old medications. HAND staff will handle all hazardous material.

    SPECIAL RE-USE AREA - the drop-off site will have an area for items too good to throw out, but which you no longer want to store. All free for the taking!

    DON'T BRING - Grass, weeds, vines, televisions, computers, monitors, appliances with Freon, liquid latex paint, large construction materials, explosives including ammunition, asbestos, or radioactive materials. HAND will not be able to accept or dispose of any of these items.

    BLUE HAND-BAGS - will be available at the drop-off site for you to pick up litter from your front yard and nearby streets and sidewalks. Once full, you can leave them at the drop-off site or curb-side with your normal trash pick-up (no stickers needed). If you know of areas in need of cleanup or have some small items you can't carry yourself, please leave a comment below so that volunteer help can be scheduled.

    A PLANT SHARE - on Eastgate Lane is tentatively scheduled for the morning of the clean-up. Bring your seedlings and cuttings to swap and share (watch this space for details).

    VOLUNTEERS - Please be at the drop-off site at 8:30am on May 10 to sign waivers, attend the orientation and have some scones. To volunteer (if you haven't already done so), send email to kevpolk at google dot com.

    WEATHER - HAND advises that in case of severe thunderstorms during the event, you should avoid natural lightning rods such as isolated tall trees and bicycles and get inside the nearest building or car immediately. If in a car, pull over well away from flooded roadways or any trees that could fall on the vehicle. If unable to take cover in time, kneel or crouch with hands on knees.

    See you at the cleanup!

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    Wednesday, May 7, 2008

    GANA Meeting: Cleanup, PlantShare, Biointensive

    7-9 pm First United Church on 3rd St

    • Update on sign topper project
    • Report from latest MPO meeting on bypass project
    • Final report on SPEA urban forest and tree planting project
    • Report on Plant Share, May 10 (same day as Clean-up)
    • Report on upcoming CONA neighborhood association day at market, June 7
    • Final info and planning for big Green Acres Clean-Up with the city this Saturday, May 10
    Our speaker for the evening will be Graham Montague, a “biointensive” gardener. According to Graham, “This is a combination of Rudolf Steiner’s biodynamic gardening with French intensive market gardening principles. It honors both planetary forces and soil conditions for optimal yield and sustainability.” Graham, who recently moved into Green Acres, is a naturopathic physician who worked on a registered biointensive mini-farm for four years in Paoli. He will include photos in his presentation.

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    Thursday, April 17, 2008

    Tree Planting with SPEA Students

    South Roosevelt Street
    Photo essay by Georgia Schaich.

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    Wednesday, March 26, 2008

    GANA meeting: Trees and Cold Frames

    7-9 pm First United Church on 3rd St

    7 p.m. Meeting

    • Reports on the four grants: Small and Simple (sign toppers), Clean-Up, Neighborhood Improvement (kiosks and benches), Capital Improvement (pocket parks?)
    • Discussion on the 5th street "improvements."
    • Discussion of the Bypass widening.
    • Report on the Urban Forest student project in Green Acres.
    7:45 p.m. Refreshments (thanks Ann!)

    8:00 p.m. Speakers: Green Acres residents Eric Schedler and Katie Zukof will discuss season-extension gardening using cold frames.


    Katie Zukof, Eric Schedler, Graham Montague, Summer Vergiels, Jelene Campbell, Kevin Polk, Kathy Ruesink, Ann Kreilkamp, Jessica Gaus, John Gaus; SPEA Forestry students Kendra Vorenkamp, Kevin Glenn, Gavin Vandergriff.

    Photo by Georgia Schaich

    The Process

    Because Kevin had three grant-related announcements, Katie volunteered to take notes.

    First, the Small and Simple Grant for the sign toppers was approved. Once we decide on colors (see poll at right), the signs will be manufactured and installed—hopefully before Summer Solstice, when the neighborhood may have some type of get together. Ann explained that the idea behind the sign toppers was to do something to get started on physical change in the neighborhood. Kevin remarked that the neighborhood needs to become a place again, not a short-cut.

    Second, our Neighborhood Cleanup Grant proposal was approved. However, the dumpster vendor was unavailable for our first choice of dates, May 10, because they were already booked for IU move-out weekend. Worse, the vendor won't support our second-choice date of May 17, either. That's two of the four dates provided in the grant instructions, so now we're waiting for HAND to find a new vendor who will work with one of these dates. For the cleanup itself, HAND will provide a collection point for refuse including spare tires, used car batteries, motor oil and large objects, and recycle or dispose of them for free. A chipper will be available (yes, you may keep the mulch). We may also use the collection point for a neighborhood freecycle exchange for used but usable items.

    Third, Kevin has submitted a Letter of Intent for this year's extra Neighborhood Improvement Grant. The letter outlined our plans to put permanent signs/kiosks/benches in the public right-of-way to announce neighborhood events such as meetings, ice cream socials, plant shares, etc. The City was receptive to the idea, but not the part about cob benches (because they used unfamiliar building materials). Kevin would rather develop pocket parks, playgrounds, etc., but the signs were a pressing issue last year when the temporary event signs became too weathered to use. Part of the problem is that the temporary signs announcing GANA events may not be posted for more than 3 days (never mind that rental signs can stay up for months). Those present said they'd be happy to pass wooden sandwich signs from yard to yard every three days to get around that rule. There will be another opportunity to apply for Neighborhood Improvement Grants in the Fall. If we want pocket parks, we need to hammer out the details with the City this summer.

    Next we discussed the Bypass widening. John asked if it would be possible to use trees as a sound barrier. Ann said it is not in the plan, but the plan is only 85% complete, so our input could still make a difference. She mentioned that Tim Mayer has been pushing for some sort of sound-proof fencing.

    The current plan includes a pedestrian underpass below the Bypass on 7th. Perhaps a pocket park could be worked into the plan near there. City Planner Bob Woolford has pointed out that revolving neighborhood Capital Improvement Grant funds become available from time to time to do projects spelled out in Neighborhood Plans. However, to happen, this requires a clear vision and that the neighborhood take the initiative early and often to communicate that vision to City Hall.

    Kevin pointed out how we missed such an opportunity with the 5th Street drainage/sidewalk project. In late 2006, city planners sought input from GANA on alternatives to just burying the existing creek on 5th that crosses Hillsdale and Overhill. Not only did the planners seem to consider our suggestions (re-digging the swales to expose the creek or putting in rain gardens upstream and in the center of a roundabout on 5th and Hillsdale), but a staff hydrologist had already done drawings and analysis for all of these ideas. We expected to be invited to the next meeting, but time passed with no further word. The next thing we knew, the contractor had been hired and the project was getting underway, with none of that green, sustainable stuff we had been talking about. The plan had been finalized without us. Worse, the project going in lacks any visible way of satisfying EPA Rule 13 (which requires some way to clean the runoff)—the City's original impetus to talk with us about sustainable alternatives.

    The lesson: to avoid being left in the dark, we need to take initiative in these discussions and check in with the City on a regular basis.

    The monthly MPO Citizens Advisory Committee meeting regarding the Bypass coincides with GANA's meetings. Those present felt it was important enough to attend the MPO meetings that we decided to move the date of the next few GANA meetings to the first Wednesday of the month. Thus the next GANA meeting will be held May 7.

    Summer and Graham noted that traffic along Hillsdale, 7th and Clarke is much too fast for pedestrian safety, especially for children. Ann and Kevin briefly mentioned the City Repair projects that had been discussed for traffic calming in Green Acres. A proposed roundabout on 5th was opposed within the neighborhood and the City is hostile to neighbors painting intersections. Nevertheless, many GANA members would like to make Green Acres safe for walking, even at the expense of convenience to through-traffic. Speed bumps and other traffic-calming measures were briefly discussed.

    The SPEA Urban Forestry students announced that they will be planting two mature trees in front of the fire station at 3rd and Jefferson on April 17 from 2:30 to 3:45 pm. If the neighborhood or class gets more volunteers we could plant up to 10 trees in the City rights-of-way in Green Acres (see graphic below for possible locations). John spoke about how in Germany, private property owners must apply to municipal authorities to plant or remove trees, because the trees outlast the owners and tenants.

    Potential tree planting sites by tree size.

    The students want to do an online survey so that they can get more input. They need about 50-100 people to respond. Various methods were discussed; the students will start with an online survey and see if that nets enough response. They also offered to comb the recent tree inventory for any data of interest to the neighborhood, such as sick trees that may need to be replaced soon. Kathy asked how the 5th street project affects the planting locations. Apparently, there will not be an area for tree plantings between the sidewalk and the street.

    The students also passed around a mock-up of their very ambitious brochure about the trees in Green Acres.

    We adjourned for refreshments around 8:10 p.m. When we reconvened, Eric began his presentation.

    A cold frame is a short box with a transparent top and no bottom. Eric and Katie, who moved into a house on Dekist last fall, used cold frames as mini-greenhouses to extend the growing season through the winter.

    Their cold frames are 8 inches tall on the South or sun-facing side and 12 inches tall on the North side. Even when outdoor temperatures reach 25F, interior temperatures remain above freezing. During the day, temperatures can reach 60F and higher even in January. Because of its small air volume, the cold frame heats up quickly and must be opened on sunny days.

    To build one, Eric suggests starting with three 8-foot untreated boards, two of them 12 inches wide and one 8 inches wide. Cut one of the 12 inch boards in half and angle-cut the resulting pair of 4-foot boards so that one end is 8 inches high and the other 12. For the lights, Eric used storm windows available at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. $100 was enough to build several cold frames from 1-inch stock. Next time he and Katie might use 2 inch stock for durability.

    Cold frames provide extra warmth, but not extra sunlight, which limits the crops that will grow in them. Arugula and cilantro will grow visibly throughout the winter. Chard, lettuce, beets, radishes, carrots and spinach may be planted in late summer and harvested all winter.

    Some plants such as cabbage, broccoli, sometimes even carrots, are too tall for cold frames. For those it's better to build a plastic-wrapped tunnel over metal half-hoops for season extension. However, cold frames provide easier access to the plants than tunnels.

    Cold frames can also be used as big seedling flats for plants that are already accustomed to outdoor conditions: leeks, onions, lettuce and broccoli. You could start these in March and plant them out later. Eric and Katie have also sowed peas and fava beans in cold frames, and were able to fork the soil afterwards because it was not frozen or waterlogged. Then, when it was warmer, they could take the frames off.

    For our next meeting (May 7), Graham plans to talk about biointensive gardening, though we may have to find a Plan B if Summer's having her baby!

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    Tuesday, March 25, 2008

    Sign toppers approved!

    We did it! Our small and simple grant proposal for sign-toppers was funded. Now we need to select a final color scheme. To do that, please vote for your favorite in the poll on the right-hand column of this page. The picture above sketches our color options. Once we decide, our sign vendor will clean up the lines and fonts.

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    Saturday, March 22, 2008

    Utilities Projects in Green Acres

    The City of Bloomington has informed us of two Utilities Projects in the neighborhood during the week of March 23rd through March 29th.

    Manhole Installation March 24th (weather dependent) at the intersection of East 5th Street and Overhill Drive. This intersection will be closed to through traffic between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 during the installation.

    Water Service will continue March 25-March 28th (weather dependent) on East 5th Street from the dead end to Overhill Drive. The street will be closed to through traffic between 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. throughout the project.

    Traffic control personnel will be in place for both projects. Questions can be directed to Project Manager John Neal at 349-3697, T&D Director Tom Staley at 349-3637 or Public Affairs Specialist Jon Callahan at 349-3940.

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    Wednesday, February 27, 2008

    Meeting: Bypass, Grants, Forestry, Curitiba

    7-9 pm First United Church on 3rd St.

    Meeting 7:007:45 pm

    • Efforts to engage with the bypass project
    • “Aging-In Place” community forming here
    • Small and Simple Grant and sign toppers
    • Neighborhood Improvement Grant topics
    • SPEA graduate “urban forest” project for Green Acres
    Featured Program: 8 – 9 p.m.
    DVD presentation of “A Convenient Truth: Urban Solutions from Curatiba Brazil”

    Ann Kreilkamp, Georgia Schaich, Al Ruesink, Kathy Ruesink, Jessica Gaus, John Gaus, Jelene Campbell, Kevin Polk; Special guests Vickie Provine and Jo Stong from Housing And Neighborhood Development (HAND) and IU Urban Forestry students Kendra Vorenkamp, Sarah Sutton and Gavin Vandergriff.

    The Process
    Ann began with a report on various efforts to engage with the bypass project. Ed Hartke has agreed to go to the MPO meeting on the bypass (held, by amazing coincidence, on the same night each month as the GANA meeting), and said he would contact Ann and give an update. (Look for it here!) Also Tim Mayer is working on it.

    Ann also discussed a new “Aging-In Place” community that has been meeting for six months here in Bloomington. It is interested in helping people who want to grow older in their own homes find ways to do this, and to make Bloomington a “liveable community” for all ages. They meet once a month, and Ann will attend their meetings.

    Next came a discussion of grants. Kevin announced that he had turned in the small and simple grant proposal for the sign-toppers, and Vickie announced that it was accepted!

    Two more grant deadlines are pending: Letters of Intent for another round of Neighborhood Improvement Grants are due March 7, and the application for a Neighborhood Clean-Up Grant is due on March 17. Kevin agreed to prepare these proposals, too. In both cases, however we will need volunteer participation!

    For the Neighborhood Improvement Grant, we would place a permanent sign at a prominent neighborhood entrance where meeting and event announcements can be posted. So we need volunteers to visit and talk with neighbors at potential sign locations, work on the design, solicit bids/donations, and help build it.

    For the cleanup grant, Jo explained that if approved, the city would bring heavy equipment and dumpsters to the neighborhood for 4 hours on a Saturday (probably mid-May) to dispose of bulky items including tires, as well as some hazardous substances (NOT wet latex paint, however! To get rid of this, you need to pour it out on a flat sheet and let it dry, or treat it with a hardener often available at hardware stores). A shredder will be available for heavy yard waste (tree trimmings), and neighbors will be most welcome to keep the mulch if they wish.

    Next, we heard from three students from Burney Fischer's Urban Forest Management Class, who spoke about what they might do in Green Acres for a Term Project. Kendra had read our Neighborhood Plan and thought a brochure on sustainable yards or on the advantages of planting trees would address one of our objectives. Sarah asked if there were any historically significant trees in the neighborhood, and Ann said the Plan actually mentions one on the grounds of the Raintree House. This might be a focal point in the brochure. Another option involved planting trees. Gavin passed around an SPEA survey of trees in Green Acres that showed 33 spots where trees could be planted on the public right-of-way. Georgia pointed out that Lee Huss with the City of Bloomington had recently committed to getting us mature trees if we provide the labor. Ann noticed that many of the plantable areas are near rental houses. "How do we contact the landlords?" Vickie said she can get a list from HAND, though it may take awhile to generate. In the end, it looked like the students may provide us with both a short, custom brochure and some tree plantings. Hooray!

    We adjourned for refreshments at 8:00 pm and began watching A Convenient Truth: Urban Solutions from Curatiba Brazil. It told the story of how a land-locked city in Brazil took a pro-active design approach to traffic, trash/recycling, housing, poverty and parks as its population swelled to 2 million people. (A 15-minute online talk by Curatiba's three-time Mayor, Jaime Lerner, also touches on some of the points in the video).

    For traffic, the Mayor declared major areas of the inner city car-free zones. Shop keepers threatened to sue, but when the changes took effect, increased pedestrian traffic improved business so much that neighboring areas petitioned to become car-free, too. To get people into and out of the city, planners used dedicated bus lanes and one-way streets to move people rapidly through the city. To keep the articulated buses moving, architects designed shelters where people bought fares before boarding. These were elevated, with wheelchair access, so the buses would not need to lower special ramps for handicapped passengers. The result: a transit system as efficient as a subway for less than 1/100 the price.

    Trash/recycling improvements began when planners noticed that the poor were dumping their trash in their own neighborhoods. They could not afford city services. So the city began buying bags of trash from them in exchange for bus tokens (the buses were paid by the mile, not by the rider, so it cost the city no money and greatly improved the mobility of the poor). Very quickly, the poor neighborhoods spruced up. When planners pushed for city-wide recycling, they had no budget and everybody said that Brazilians would never recycle. So they came up with a "trash that isn't trash" publicity campaign for the schools and painted the slogan on the side of the collection trucks. Volunteer labor built the sorting facility on city land. The volunteers, many of them poor and illiterate, were "paid" in bus tokens and literacy and job training. Within a year (this was 1988), Curitiba had become the first major city where everybody recycled.

    Rather than build uniformly depressing low-income housing at the outskirts of the city, Curitiba chose to develop compact, visually varied mixed-use villages along the major transportation and utility corridors. There people rent-to-own apartments directly above their own businesses (the application process and fees include entrepreneurship classes).

    Curitiba faced the threat of flooding from thin rivers that ran through it. Rather than channelize these with concrete structures as so many other cities have done, the Brazilians took a far less expensive approach: they bought out and relocated the people living in the flood zones. Then they built parks that would act as flood basins, using such sustainable maintenance techniques as grazing sheep to keep the grass trimmed.

    At this point (perhaps 5 minutes before the end), the DVD froze up, so we called it a night. But it was very inspiring to see how even a huge city chose not to roll over for the blind pressures of growth, traffic and economic swings. In each case, creative thinking and a refusal to give up led to greater abundance, humanity and security for everyone in Curitiba.

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    Wednesday, January 30, 2008

    Neighborhood Plan and Capital Improvements

    GANA Speaker Series
    Bob Wolford, Program Manager
    Nate Nickel, Senior Long Range Planner
    City of Bloomington

    TOPIC: Follow-up to last year's Neighborhood Plan and introduction to the Capital Improvement Fund and other resources to help achieve GANA's goals.

    Nate and Bob brought GIS and aerial maps of the neighborhood and spoke to us about the upcoming sidewalk project from Hillsdale to the end of 5th and the bypass. They also discussed the widening of the bypass, and how the City's new Neighborhood Capital Improvement Fund can be used to start implementing some of the objectives found in the Green Acres Neighborhood Plan. Four neighborhoods including Green Acres are eligible to participate in this fund, which is about $250,000.

    Some possibilities discussed: sidewalks on 3rd to connect with the new Sahara Mart, evening out the street pavement (which is causing bicycle accidents—Bob suggested a call to public works, where Susie Johnson maintains a paving list, Nate recommended the Alternative Transportation Greenways Group), better street lighting, trees along major streets such as Hillsdale (no changes likely until current drainage work is done—see below), as well as gateway features, traffic calming/city repair and pocket parks.

    A $450,000 project to install sidewalks and storm drains will begin in a few weeks on the East end of 5th Street, working its way over to Jefferson Street.

    The Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), a citizen's advisory group, will be holding hearings regarding the forthcoming 45/46 bypass widening. Bob and Nate stressed how important it is for neighborhood representation at these meetings. Unfortunately, they are scheduled for the last Wednesday of the month—exactly when GANA's regular meetings are held! Options: send a volunteer to represent us to MPO, or change our own meeting date and descend en masse on the MPO from here on out. Ed Hartke will attend in February and let us know what's happening.

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    GANA Meeting Minutes

    7-9 p.m., First United Church on 3rd St.


    • Current state of GANA: people leaving, coming in, new e-mail list, need more people to take responsibility.
    • Report: sign toppers.
    • Report: SPEA Professor Burney Fischer project to work with GANA and other neighborhood associations on cares and concerns we have with our "urban forest."
    • Report: Walkable Cities workshop.
    • Notice: H-T reports night attack on Eastgate lane.
    • Discussion to select projects that we want to implement from the Green Acres Neighborhood Plan in 2008.

    Georgia Schaich, Kathy Ruesink, Al Ruesink, John Gaus, Jessica Gaus, Kevin Polk, Ann Kreilkamp, Jelene Campbell, Diane Dormant, Aggie Sarkissian, Adam Shahrani and Rebeca Shahrani

    The Process
    Ann opened the meeting by announcing that she will be handling the meeting agendas and speakers, so that Georgia, who has borne the brunt of this work in recent years, can attend to other commitments for awhile. "It feels like in many ways like we're starting over," said Ann. "Many of the people who have put enormous energy into making Green Acres what it is have moved away: Sylvia Bruggen, Jiangmei Wu, Julia Jackson, Nathan Harman and Maggie Jesseph. We still have a strong core, but we need to keep reaching out."

    In a similar vein, Kevin discussed the GANA list serve, which he pointed out should be more secure and better archived than simple email. However, IU shut down our list serve when its manager left last year, so we had tried to rebuild it on Google Groups, which makes it easy to switch managers. However, getting a Google account seemed like a lot of hassle to several people present. That may explain why only a few people signed up. After some discussion, Kevin agreed to run the list serve from his private server. Those present seemed comfortable with that because Kevin is a permanent resident and can provide log-ins for temporary/replacement list administrators where needed. (Follow-up: all 67 people who have received Ann's announcements are now on the list, and anyone who signs up at a GANA event will be put on the list, too).

    Kevin also requested digital photos of Green Acres in all seasons for this blog.

    All present supported a proposal to apply for a Small and Simple Grant (deadline: February 18) for Sign Toppers with the GANA logo and the words "Green Acres Neighborhood" to be installed above all the street signs in the neighborhood. This would cost approximately $315, plus a one-to-one match from the City of Bloomington. The sign toppers would help define Green Acres as a destination, not just a short-cut. Kevin will take the lead on this and several other grants for GANA this year.

    There was also some discussion of a related project to install permanent signs to replace the badly weathered temporary signs that periodically announce GANA events. This might be a good candidate for a Neighborhood Improvement Grant (deadline March 7).

    Georgia suggested that we also pursue a Neighborhood Clean-Up Grant (deadline March 17).

    Ann announced that Burney Fischer, who teaches "Urban Forest Management," a senior/graduate student level course at IU, would like to use Green Acres as a case study neighborhood for his students, who will do survey/inventory in the neighborhood in conjunction with Lee Huss, the City Forrester. (Burney also led an effort to inventory Bloomington's trees last year.) We would get a copy of the final student report.

    Ann mentioned that the Herald-Times had mentioned an attack on a woman walking on Eastgate Lane at 11:30 p.m. several weeks back. Her assailant tore at her clothes, but was scared off by noises in the neighborhood. Student energy, perhaps?

    Ann attended the amazing Walkable Cities workshop sponsored by CONA on January 19 (here's her report).

    We briefly discussed a list of projects from the 2007 Neighborhood Plan. These included:
    • Gateway features
    • City repair
    • Pocket parks
    • Bus shelters
    • A sidewalk on 3rd st.
    • Drainage on 5th st.
    • Bypass planning
    • Permaculture
    Georgia asked whether anyone knew why the trees were being cut down next to Sahara Mart on 3rd.

    Our speakers for this month, Nate Nickel and Bob Woolford, from the Bloomington Planning Department arrived and the meeting was adjourned around 8:15 for refreshments and a break before their presentation.

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    Monday, January 28, 2008

    9 Houses for Sale in Green Acres

    For details and pictures, please visit

    Individual Properties
    (with Broker, MLS numbers)

    409 N Clark St: $132,000 (F.C. Tucker, 10050076)
    3 bed, 1.5 bath, 936 sq ft, car port, 0.14 acres
    NOTE: Property sold 1/9/09 for $124,000

    2415 E 4th St: $134,900 (Century 21, 10050124)
    2 bed+study, 1 bath, 1250 sq ft, 1-car attached garage, 0.25 acres
    NOTE: Property sold 5/4/08 for $130,00

    2611 E 5th St: $155,000 (Century 21, 10049463)
    3 bed+study, 1 bath, 1675 sq ft, 0.19 acres
    NOTE: Property sold 6/30/08 for $146,000

    6-Pack of Houses for $1.35 Million
    ER Lewis & Company, LLC is selling six houses in Green Acres together as a package for $1,349,000. The houses are leased through August, 2009. The properties (with MLS numbers) include:

    2600 Dekist St (10050390)
    5 bed+study, 2.5 bath, 2270 sq ft, 0.26 acres

    422 N Clark St (10050384)
    5 bed, 2 bath, 2368 sq ft, car port, 0.1 acres
    NOTE: Property sold 4/25/08 for $238,875

    428 N Clark St (10050376)
    5 bed, 2 bath, 2368 sq ft, car port, 0.1 acres
    NOTE: Property sold 4/25/08 for $216,125

    2304 E 8th St (10050375)
    4 bed, 2 bath, 1664 sq ft, 0.15 acres
    Note: Property sold with 330 N Roosevelt 5/29/08 for $382,00

    330 N Roosevelt (10050372)
    4 bed, 2 bath, 1488 sq ft, 0.14 acres
    Note:Property sold with 2304 E 8th St 5/29/08 for $382,000

    2222 E. 5th (10050389)
    5 bed+study, 2 bath, 2500 sq ft, 2-car garage, 0.22 acres

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    Saturday, January 19, 2008

    Walkable Communities Workshop with Dan Burden

    City Council Chambers
    10:00 am to noon
    Sponsored by CONA (Council of Neighborhood Associations) and B-Top (Bloomington Transportation Options

    Report by Ann Kreilkamp,
    February 4, 2008

    Dan Burden is a nationally recognized authority on developing, promoting and evaluating alternative transportation facilities, traffic calming practices and sustainable community design. Dan is the executive director of Walkable Communities and partner and principal designer of Glatting Jackson Kercher Anglin of Orlando Florida,, 1-866-347-2734.

    Dan’s philosophy and work follows in the tradition of urbanist Jane Jacobs and her 1961 book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, a powerful critique of U.S. urban renewal policies of the 1950s. Jacobs, says Dan, prompted us to start thinking about returning cities to what they used to be: dense, complex, diverse, multi-use, protected, pedestrian and bike friendly centers for human and cultural exchange.

    Now 64 years old, Dan has documented the walking and biking conditions in 200 U.S cities and towns since 1996 and says he expects to go another 12 years. Armed with hundreds of images from his travels, Dan demonstrated how walkability is both cornerstone and key to designing liveable communities that create conditions to inspire whole, happy, healthy lives for those who live in them.

    Dan wants to turn planners into heroes, by designing walkable cities. After noting that streets now make up 85% of the public realm, he discussed a variety of tools available to transform streets, including:

    • curb extensions
    • tree wells
    • boulevards and medians
    • trees and planters
    • two-way streets with narrow lanes and bike lanes
    • lamps
    • human scale
    • functional art
    • roundabouts
    • buildings with transparent windows that face and protect the street
    Most anyone in the crowd that filled City Council chambers nearly to capacity for Dan's talk would recognize the many slides he showed of Anytown, U.S.A.: anonymous strip-malls and desolate parking lots relieved only by chain link fences around far-apart, run-down businesses—all ripped through by straight, monotonous, multi-lane roads.

    Some of these photos were “before” shots of areas as they used to be, before far-sighted citizens, local officials, and developers joined forces to transform them into highly complex, diverse, protected, multi-use, green spaces that people flock to on foot or by mass transit. And, for those areas still desolated, Dan utilized computerized renderings to gradually cover these ruined areas with businesses, restaurants, plants, trees, houses, paths, public art and people, walking, biking sitting on benches, playing, talking.

    Let us imagine, for example, how Dan might consider what has become perhaps Bloomington’s most notorious intersection, 3rd street and the bypass, soul-deadening to motorists and downright terrifying to pedestrians and cyclists.

    First, let us draw out a few implications from one likely assumption: that the trend towards more expensive oil continues to increase. At some point the number of cars on roads will then begin to decrease to the point where the long-planned widening of the bypass is actually canceled. This unusual about-face helps create transformational change in the way public officials, developers and the general public thinks about the town in which we live.

    A la Dan Burden, in re-imagining that intersection, let’s imagine buildings that house both businesses and upper-floor dwellings close to and facing the streets with parking behind, trees and plantings and, at the actual intersection, a roundabout with beautiful plantings and benches and courtyard for pedestrians to cross to all four corners.

    Furthermore, at least half of the parking areas of both the mall and the strip mall near it on 3rd street are also transformed—into a parklike setting with winding paths and outdoor market stalls for local products and areas for people to gather for performance and discussion.

    Third street itself has been transformed, all the way from its intersection with Highway 446 on the east, to make room for a high speed rail or trolley all the way to College St. That and other mass transport share space with one 9-foot lane for car traffic, one 7-foot lane for bicycles, and one 6-foot lane for car parking, all going both directions, and you get the idea. (All these size dimensions are those Dan, after long experience, judges optimal). Voila! Third Street has restructured itself—from a frustrating and dangerous auto drive-through corridor into multiple destinations that foster “bumpability,” a word Dan favors to indicate humans interacting up close and personal, rather than locked inside machines competing with other machines to get nowhere fast.

    After viewing Dan’s presentation, it’s easy to conjure up this kind of transformation of East Bloomington into a magnetic hub and draw for people from all parts of this city and county to gather and not only do business, but meet and greet and celebrate.

    With example after example, Dan showed us how any urban area that has been gradually desecrated by our insidious worship of automobiles at the expense of the people in them can be rejuvenated, come back to life, provide a healthy and welcoming atmosphere for human habitation and exchange. Walkable communities put urban environments back on a scale for sustainability of resources (both natural and economic) and lead to more social interaction, more local businesses, plus the bonuses of increased physical fitness, diminished crime and social alienation.

    By designing for people rather than for cars, we return to the idea that cities were invented to maximize exchange (goods, culture, friendship, knowledge) and minimize travel.

    Dan pointed out how the dominance of the automobile in design of cities has created the fattest nation in the history of the world, with diabetes and depression running rampant in both adults and children. 20% of every dollar earned now goes into medical expenses that also entail all sorts of hidden costs, for example larger hospital gurneys and morgue tables that now cost two or three times more.

    Dan reported that the lowest point in his journey so far was in a little town next to Littleton, Colorado, where not only do they not have a town center, but public restroom facilities are limited to two portable plastic outhouses. Dan asked the city fathers when they were going to build decent restroom facilities for visitors, and was told that they were afraid the town’s teenagers would destroy them if they did. To Dan, this just shows how much the desertification and anonymity of our car culture depresses our teens and leads to outbreaks of frustration and violence. And yet, he said as he put up the next image of teens laughing and talking on a downtown street, in the very next town over, which has a town center, teens are welcomed.

    I’ll end this report with a few more facts/opinions from Dan that are worth pondering:

    • Australia in the ’80s was like the U.S. in Midwest cities in the ’50s—more focused on people than cars.
    • Seattle: 800 blocks now have back-in diagonal parking—much safer.
    • Florida has the lowest rate of volunteerism (and almost no walkable cities).
    • Commuting makes people more unhappy than anything else. (From a google search: Americans now spend more than 100 hours a year commuting to work, for an average drive-time of 24 At an nationwide average drive-time of about 24.3 minutes.)
    • U.S. children have a [free-roaming] range 1/9 of their parents when they were children.
    • Even though our GNP has grown hugely since the Depression, our happiness line has flattened.
    • Least healthy [and least walkable] cities, in this order: Las Vegas, Houston, Atlanta, Detroit.
    • Narrow streets (9 or 10 feet lanes), make drivers slow down and be remain vigilant. As streets widen, traffic accidents increase.
    • Parking: need to change from “minimum required” to “maximum allowed.” Vancouver, B.C., has the greatest density in North America, and they’ve been reducing traffic for ten years straight.
    • Bike lanes: have 22 benefits, only two of which are for the bikes themselves (so even without bikes, bike lanes are essential). To a question about how car door openings are a danger when there is a car parking lane next to a bike lane, Dan said, no problem: “Just make the car parking lane 6 feet and the bike lane 7 feet. Usually, it’s the reverse.”
    • To a question: How does narrowing a street allow it to carry more capacity? His answer is complex, but for one thing, it causes speeds to go down, and so requires less space between cars. Above 30 mph, streets lose capacity (San Luis Obispo a good example).
    • Roundabouts: good if designed for cars to go through between 15 and 20 mph. When proposed, 70% of the people will be against it. After 7 weeks operational, 70% will be for it.
    • Land use needs to partner with transportation to yield lower cost and better tax base.
    • If a road is wider than two lanes, then screen and shield so no more than two lanes are visible
    • Streets need to feel enclosure (example: tree canopies).
    • Build networks rather than freeways.
    • Each locale needs to celebrate its own characteristics.
    • Design to get away from fear and towards hope.

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