Though the U.S. contains less than 5 percent of the world’s population, it confines nearly 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. Furthermore, as of 2008 it had 2.3 million in jails and prisons, according to the International Center for Prison Studies at King’s College, London.
Reducing the population in the Monroe County jail is the goal of a local, grassroots organization, Decarcerate Monroe County (DMC). In its own words, DMC “is a local coalition challenging the belief that cages, coercion and confinement keep our community safe. DMC believes people are safe when they have their basic needs met and when they feel empowered and free.”
In his state of the city address on Feb. 16, 2010, Bill Schmitt, mayor of the southern Indiana city of Jasper, addressed the topic of what to do with the city’s idle coal-fired power plant. One option, he said, according to the Dubois County Herald, would be to convert the plant to a “green-energy-producing facility.”
Little did anyone realize at the time that his comment would turn out to be an early salvo in what has become a bitter, protracted battle between the people of Jasper and their local government.
Bloomington Web Master Emily Brown stops by the Bloomingfoods on Sixth Street every morning for breakfast on her way to work at City Hall. During breaks, she often enjoys lunch there as well.
She didn’t realize the store functioned as a cooperative grocery until she spoke with a member about the benefits a year and a half ago.
“This is the first community that I’ve lived in with a co-op that I knew of,” the 30-year-old Brown said.
Third-year MFA photography student Audim Culver said she can display her work in just about any of Bloomington's local coffee shops. However, when it comes to finding a gallery space, she must to seek options out of town.
"You can always get a show at a coffee shop," the 28-year-old IU student said. "There are those more grassroots places. But as far as finding a more legitimate gallery space, that's when things get more difficult."
Two years ago, the idea of picking fresh fruit from a public tree without paying in Bloomington was unheard of. Now, thanks to Amy Countryman, an entire orchard is dedicated just to that cause.
“This is food, and it’s free,” the 35-year-old force behind the Bloomington Community Orchard said. “You should be able to come in and pick apples and take them home just because you can, and because we care about each other like that.”
About 75 protesters gathered at IU's Sample Gates on Nov. 17 for a solidarity march on the two-month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. A mix of students and local residents, the demonstrators condemned corporate influence and the social ills it perpetuates.
As they marched down Kirkwood to the Monroe County Courthouse, the protesters chanted, "The people, united, we will never be defeated" and sang, "Everybody pays their tax, everyone but Goldman Sachs!"
The Bloomington rally and march were coordinated with similar events from New York to Berkeley, during which almost 300 protesters were arrested nationwide.
The streets of Bloomington swelled on Oct. 15, 2011, with Occupy Bloomington protesters who demanded a cultural revolution that rewards humanity and justice over avarice and sociopathy. The march began at People's Park and proceeded to the Farmer's Market and back to the park, with stops at Chase bank, the Monroe County Jail and the Farmer's Market.
As motorists, downtown shoppers and market-goers honked, smiled and otherwise demonstrated support, the marchers chanted "We are the 99 percent; you are the 99 percent," "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out," and "This is what democracy looks like."
It is time for 17th Street to go on a diet. More than a decade ago, it served as a primary connection between Ellettsville and Bloomington. Accordingly, it was designed primarily for through traffic. It has wide car lanes, no sidewalks, inconsistent shoulders, intimidating and dangerous intersections, and a low level of commercial development.
Times have changed! Traffic has declined substantially. Dense residential developments are on both sides of 17th street. Thousands of students cross 17th street on foot each day. But the streetscape is still an uninviting nightmare for pedestrians.
The following is a statement about changes in the Farmers Market made by Megan Hutchison, District 5 City Council Candidate, at a news conference on March 12, 2011.
I called this press conference Thursday after learning about changes to the Saturday Market at City Hall. On Thursday morning, I attended a Citizen’s Breakfast hosted by City Council President Susan Sandberg, County Council President Julie Thomas and County Council, District Four Representative Sam Allison. The breakfast is held monthly and offers residents a welcoming environment to discuss issues of importance to them.
At the breakfast, we were all surprised to hear the new rules regarding tabling for community groups at the Farmers’ Market. A member of a nonprofit organization that frequently tables at the market learned that there would be fees to set up tables near the market. In the past, local organizations were able to participate in the Farmers’ Market to inform and engage community members for no cost. It’s a great way for farmers’ market customers to learn more about community events and how they can get involved in issues and organizations they are interested in.
Federal funding keeps the Middle Way House (MWH) emergency shelter running. It keeps the heat on, it keeps the water running, and it provides money for a full-time staff.
“It’s absolutely required to have 24-hour-a-day staffing,” said Toby Strout, director of MWH. “We’re not allowed to have volunteers.”
That funding might be cut this year due to the passing of H.R. 1 -- the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011.