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Holiday Roundup: Our Top Stories of 2018

Wow! 2018 has come and gone! This brings us to the time of year when I go back over the stories we’ve done to see which ones were the most viewed — and to take a look at my personal favorites. It’s a busy season for all of us, but I hope you find some time to relax in a comfy place and check out any stories you missed. Or reread the ones you loved!

As I was looking through our most-viewed stories, it was interesting to see how many were from previous years — on a variety of topics! We are continually pleased at how our stories hold up over time. Our writers give the stories nuance and context, which also allows for a longer shelf life, whether they’re looking into our environment, such as in stories on local water quality, endangered species, and logging on the Tecumseh; things to do, as in pieces on southern Indiana waterways for canoeing and kayaking, hiking the American Discovery Trail, and Hoosier haunts; or the contributor’s take on local history, like the trains of the 1970s and, of course, the iconic Rooftop Quarry. And we expect many of our Top Stories of 2018 — about the arts, outdoors, and socially relevant issues, among other topics — will be enjoyed for years to come.

The arts

We kicked off 2018 with a story on the opening of FAR Center for the Contemporary Arts, by Claude Cookman and photographer Chaz Mottinger. Pictura owners David and Martha Moore are on a mission to bring different kinds of art together in a historic building at Fourth and Rogers streets (thus the name, FAR). And later in the year, writer and photographer Sam Welsch Sveen visited galleries Twisted at Artisan Alley and Delinquent Gallery & Tattoo KAIJU to see new “lowbrow” and edgy art spaces.

(left) New space — Delinquent Gallery & Tattoo KAIJU offers “lowbrow” and boundary-pushing art in Bloomington. Delinquent owners, tattoo artist Chris McVillain, left, and curator Brian Aldridge, right, with art for their inaugural show, "Kai-July." | Photo by Samuel Welsch Sveen (right) One of Columbus’s architectural treasures, the Miller House and Garden, was built in 1957 for industrialist and chairman of Cummins Engine Co. J. Irwin Miller and his family. The Millers’ cylindrical fireplace is a centerpiece in the open floor plan of the house. | Photo by Adam Reynolds

(left) New space — Delinquent Gallery & Tattoo KAIJU offers “lowbrow” and boundary-pushing art in Bloomington. Delinquent owners, tattoo artist Chris McVillain, left, and curator Brian Aldridge, right, with art for their inaugural show, “Kai-July.” | Photo by Samuel Welsch Sveen (right) One of Columbus’s architectural treasures, the Miller House and Garden, was built in 1957 for industrialist and chairman of Cummins Engine Co. J. Irwin Miller and his family. The Millers’ cylindrical fireplace is a centerpiece in the open floor plan of the house. | Photo by Adam Reynolds

Photographer Adam Reynolds and writer Jenny Elig took us to Columbus’s Miller House and Garden — the family home of J. Irwin and Xenia Miller — and gave us a look inside the architectural jewel. Writer and WFHB Music Director James Manion and photographer Chaz Mottinger took us to Blockhouse Bar for a Q&A with bandleader and drummer Ben Lumsdaine, whose Call & Response House Band features local and national jazz artists.

But my favorite arts story — written by Michelle Gottschlich with the help of Monroe County Public Library Community Librarian Christine Friesel — has to be about the memoir of Edwin Fulwider, who grew up in Bloomington in the early 1900s. The piece includes many passages of the forgotten memoir, which allow you to picture the “rich landscape of local art, life, and history” of Bloomington in a bygone era, as Michelle writes. And you can read more by checking out the only known copy of the memoir at the Monroe County History Center!

(left) On Wednesday nights at Blockhouse Bar, the Call &amp; Response House Band features local and national jazz artists. From left: Barclay Moffitt, tenor sax, Philip Wailes, bass, Ben Lumsdaine, drums, and Evan Main, piano. | Photo by Chaz Mottinger (right) Edwin Fulwider was born in Bloomington in 1913 and grew up to be an esteemed artist. However, he’s been largely forgotten in his hometown. Fulwider wrote a memoir about growing up in Bloomington in the early 1900s. | Photo courtesy of <a href="http://covingtongallery.com/contact-a-0.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Covington Fine Arts Gallery</a>

(left) On Wednesday nights at Blockhouse Bar, the Call & Response House Band features local and national jazz artists. From left: Barclay Moffitt, tenor sax, Philip Wailes, bass, Ben Lumsdaine, drums, and Evan Main, piano. | Photo by Chaz Mottinger (right) Edwin Fulwider was born in Bloomington in 1913 and grew up to be an esteemed artist. However, he’s been largely forgotten in his hometown. Fulwider wrote a memoir about growing up in Bloomington in the early 1900s. | Photo courtesy of Covington Fine Arts Gallery

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The outdoors

Including stories about protecting the environment and learning more about what folks are doing outside for work and for play, one of our most-popular categories every year is the Outdoors. Writer Susan M. Brackney provided information on how to avoid planting invasive plants and what the state government is (and isn’t) doing to help the problem. Writer, and now beekeeper, Erin Hollinden gave us a firsthand account of starting her own beehive and helping to save the world, with plenty of support from a community of experts and other beekeepers. We also had a guest column by Matt Flaherty that discussed Indiana University’s solar energy plan and its shortcomings.

(left) Photographer Chaz Mottinger visited three farms to give us a closer look as they prepare for the spring market season: Barnhouse Farms, Linnea's Greenhouse, and Living Roots Farm and Sustainable Living Center (pictured here). | Photo by Chaz Mottinger (right) When writer Erin Hollinden decided to start her own beehive, and save the world, she found plenty of support from a community of experts and other beekeepers. Here, Hollinden's bees cover one of the frames lifted from the hive. | Photo by Marla Bitzer

(left) Photographer Chaz Mottinger visited three farms to give us a closer look as they prepare for the spring market season: Barnhouse Farms, Linnea’s Greenhouse, and Living Roots Farm and Sustainable Living Center (pictured here). | Photo by Chaz Mottinger (right) When writer Erin Hollinden decided to start her own beehive, and save the world, she found plenty of support from a community of experts and other beekeepers. Here, Hollinden’s bees cover one of the frames lifted from the hive. | Photo by Marla Bitzer

Early this past spring, photographer Chaz Mottinger visited three local farmers and their farmsteads — Barnhouse Farms, Linnea’s Greenhouse, and Living Roots Farm and Sustainable Living Center — to see how they were preparing for the local farmers’ markets. Later into spring, we posted a video by Duane Busick about the Azalea Path Botanical Garden and Arboretum, which is home to one of the largest collections of azaleas in the Midwest. The 80 acres is filled with more than 400 varieties of azaleas, nestled along the backroads of Gibson and Pike counties in southern Indiana.

Writer Allison Yates gave us eight fun and weird places to visit in Indiana over the summer, including a wolf sanctuary and a “teeny” Statue of Liberty museum. And this fall, writer Sean Starowitz asked the question: Can Bloomington Be Called the ‘Biking Capital of the Midwest?’  In it, he discusses Bloomington and Monroe County’s vast number of hobby-biking opportunities; in a second installment, he took on some of the pitfalls in current biking infrastructure within city limits.

(left) While the city’s biking infrastructure leaves much to be desired, Bloomington has plenty more to back its claim as the Biking Capital of the Midwest, argues writer and avid biker Sean Starowitz. Pictured here, biker Jesse Smith rides on Hobbs Hollow Flow Trail in Brown County State Park. | Photo by Devin O’Leary (right) Bev Knight’s collection of more than 400 varieties of azaleas at her family’s Azalea Path Botanical Garden and Arboretum is known nationwide for its woodland flowers (among other plants). | Image by Duane Busick

(left) While the city’s biking infrastructure leaves much to be desired, Bloomington has plenty more to back its claim as the Biking Capital of the Midwest, argues writer and avid biker Sean Starowitz. Pictured here, biker Jesse Smith rides on Hobbs Hollow Flow Trail in Brown County State Park. | Photo by Devin O’Leary (right) Bev Knight’s collection of more than 400 varieties of azaleas at her family’s Azalea Path Botanical Garden and Arboretum is known nationwide for its woodland flowers (among other plants). | Image by Duane Busick

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Our columnists!

Before I get to our stories that discuss social issues, I want to give a major shout out to our columnists. Ruthie Cohen kept our tummies happy with Stirring the Pot. She gave us a wide variety of recipes this year, some taking on a single ingredient, such as mustard, or raiding her entire pantry. And after getting hooked on The Great British Bake Off, she branched out more into baking, talking to professional and home bakers, and even trying her own recipe using phyllo.

(left) “Baking is an art that people consume,” home baker Elizabeth Bauder says. “It’s a creative outlet. It’s a way to love people.” Pictured here are her parade-worthy cinnamon rolls. | Photo by Ruthie Cohen (right) Jasmine (Nina Donville) teaches Nomfundo (Adrianne Embry), right, how to talk to nail salon clients during a rehearsal of "Nice Nails." | Photo by Chaz Mottinger

(left) “Baking is an art that people consume,” home baker Elizabeth Bauder says. “It’s a creative outlet. It’s a way to love people.” Pictured here are her parade-worthy cinnamon rolls. | Photo by Ruthie Cohen (right) Jasmine (Nina Donville) teaches Nomfundo (Adrianne Embry), right, how to talk to nail salon clients during a rehearsal of “Nice Nails.” | Photo by Chaz Mottinger

Jennifer Pacenza’s Behind the Curtain took us far and wide this year. She kicked it off with ÓperaMaya, in which creator and director Mary Grogan brings the Maya culture to Bloomington — and introduces opera to the Maya in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, where few have experienced the art form. Jen reviewed a number of theater performances, such as IU Theatre’s Nice Nails, which took on a variety of social issues, including immigration, trans awareness, and labor laws; Jewish Theatre’s Church & State, which discussed “God, guns, and politics”; and IU Theatre’s controversial play The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? that Jen says gives audiences “a flurry of emotions — love, betrayal, disgust, pity, and delight.” She also got to talk to a childhood hero, Double Dare’s Marc Summers, about the making of a documentary, presented by Bloomington Playwrights Project and IU Cinema, about his life on the messy Nickelodeon show while struggling with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder.

(left) William Morris, the attorney, radio DJ, and aspiring Episcopal deacon, says the foundation of all his work is teaching. Even on his radio show, "The Soul Kitchen," he says, "I'm teaching people different kinds of music." | Limestone Post (right) “Helplessly watching your child experience pain changes you at a basic level,” says writer Troy Maynard. When his daughter was just three weeks old, her heart stopped and she had to undergo heart surgery. | Courtesy photo

(left) William Morris, the attorney, radio DJ, and aspiring Episcopal deacon, says the foundation of all his work is teaching. Even on his radio show, “The Soul Kitchen,” he says, “I’m teaching people different kinds of music.” | Limestone Post (right) “Helplessly watching your child experience pain changes you at a basic level,” says writer Troy Maynard. When his daughter was just three weeks old, her heart stopped and she had to undergo heart surgery. | Courtesy photo

In his column, My Dad Voice, Troy Maynard continued his introspective, humorous, and heartfelt fatherly storytelling while reflecting on allowing your kids to grow up and “ultimately trust them to fly on their own,” in Fly Away; realizing you can’t have the good parts of being a parent without the difficult, in Some Like It Hot; and discussing the fine line of overprotective parenting and how hard it can be to watch your child suffer, in Sock It To Me. In his latest, A Big Step to Fill, Troy remembers his step-father and says that “deep down inside, we’re all 12-year-olds who need something solid and predictable in our lives.”

Writer Michael G. Glab took on a variety of guests in his monthly column, Big-Mike’s B-town, in collaboration with his WFHB show, Big Talk! Profiles this year included attorney, radio DJ, and aspiring Episcopal deacon William Morris; Bloomington’s first female firefighter, Jean Magrane; historic preservationist Derek Richey; jazz expert David Brent Johnson; misfit Darran Mosley; Hoagy Carmichael’s son Hoagy Bix; and local Black Lives Matter spokesperson Vauhxx Booker, among others.

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The socially relevant

I tend to appreciate our socially relevant stories the most, and we had some great ones this year! A few were about bettering the self, such as a story by Allison Yates on dance and its ability to cultivate self-love, build friendships, and provide stress relief “in a world where women’s voices are undervalued.” There’s also a story by Jennifer Pacenza, as she learned more about honoring your body through body-positive fitness — as opposed to diet culture. (This is one to read or reread before setting New Year’s resolutions!)

(left) When Syd Bohuk’s alarm chimes, they swallow a bright blue pill, and continue with their day. Bohuk says this pill — PrEP, an HIV-preventive medication — has become a part of their daily routine, and is much less scary than they had originally anticipated. | Photo by Nicole McPheeters (right) Writer Jennifer Pacenza, pictured far right at a Bollywood dance class, spoke with experts who say a body-positive fitness model is more important for achieving physical and mental well-being than exercise regimens promoted by fitness and weight-loss industries. Pacenza says it's important to find a way that you love to move your body. | Limestone Post

(left) When Syd Bohuk’s alarm chimes, they swallow a bright blue pill, and continue with their day. Bohuk says this pill — PrEP, an HIV-preventive medication — has become a part of their daily routine, and is much less scary than they had originally anticipated. | Photo by Nicole McPheeters (right) Writer Jennifer Pacenza, pictured far right at a Bollywood dance class, spoke with experts who say a body-positive fitness model is more important for achieving physical and mental well-being than exercise regimens promoted by fitness and weight-loss industries. Pacenza says it’s important to find a way that you love to move your body. | Limestone Post

Other stories connected the individual to the broader community. Writer Hayley Miller and photographer Nicole McPheeters looked into PrEP, which can lower the risk of contracting HIV by more than 90 percent in some people. They talked to Positive Link and folks who take PrEP about stigma and other barriers to taking the medication. Nicole also worked with Michelle Gottschlich on a story about The Language Conservancy, which has helped save indigenous languages across the nation. The Bloomington-based nonprofit has also partnered with the United Nations, which will expand their efforts worldwide.

This leads us to two of my other favorite stories of the year — both very different.

John Mikulenka wrote a passionate piece about the preservation of intentional communities, often referred to as “communes.” He explored Needmore and May Creek Farm, which were formed in the 1960s and ’70s, and their need to “bend with the times” as the early members age. The details he includes in this piece are captivating, especially the life and death of Needmore’s Ann Barlow, who left readers with one of my new favorite quotes: “If life ever becomes disorienting … exhale and just follow the bubbles.”

(left) Ann Barlow stands on the porch of her house in Needmore, an intentional community in Brown County, in May 2017. Known in the 1960s and ’70s as communes, places like May Creek and Needmore have had to “bend with the times” to survive, says writer John Mikulenka. And now, as the founding members continue to age, their biggest concern might be finding and keeping the next generation of community members. | Courtesy photo (right) How do people with similar values unite when their methods of action conflict with each other? Writer and organizer Alexandria Hollett says this question is illuminated by “the difference between organizing campaigns on the one hand and symbolic activism on the other.” Pictured here on the east side of Bloomington in 2014 is a Black Lives Matter protest, in solidarity with protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. | Photo by Alexandria Hollett

(left) Ann Barlow stands on the porch of her house in Needmore, an intentional community in Brown County, in May 2017. Known in the 1960s and ’70s as communes, places like May Creek and Needmore have had to “bend with the times” to survive, says writer John Mikulenka. And now, as the founding members continue to age, their biggest concern might be finding and keeping the next generation of community members. | Courtesy photo (right) How do people with similar values unite when their methods of action conflict with each other? Writer and organizer Alexandria Hollett says this question is illuminated by “the difference between organizing campaigns on the one hand and symbolic activism on the other.” Pictured here on the east side of Bloomington in 2014 is a Black Lives Matter protest, in solidarity with protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. | Photo by Alexandria Hollett

Writer Alexandria Hollett took on an engaging piece about organizing the left and uniting people with similar values but conflicting methods of action. She discussed the difference between organizing campaigns and symbolic activism, pushing activists to emphasize “long-term strategy and tangible wins over disconnected and short-lived protests,” and talked to several local activists about “building the world we all deserve.” I appreciated the deep look into activism strategies, especially in another politically exhausting year.

Here’s to the year ahead! We hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season with loved ones!

And P.S.: There are plenty of great stories that didn’t make this list, so click here for a complete LP archive.

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Lynae Sowinski
Editorial Director at Limestone Post
Lynae joined Limestone Post in the summer of 2015. She works with all contributors and manages the editorial content for the site.

A Bloomington native, Lynae graduated with honors from Indiana University’s School of Journalism in 2012 with a minor in sociology. She started her editing career at Bloom Magazine as a high school intern and, over the course of almost eight years, advanced to the position of associate editor. Among other duties, she managed the website, magbloom.com, which won Best Journalism Website in 2012 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
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