While 2020 is a year most of us would like to forget, it is worth remembering how our community responded with remarkable resilience and resolve to the two biggest issues of the year: racial justice and the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite Limestone Post’s challenges due to the pandemic and beginning our first year as a nonprofit organization, our contributors created content on these and other topics popular with our readers: the arts, outdoors, profiles on interesting people, and in-depth looks at events, projects, and other initiatives in Bloomington and beyond. Because of their great work, we received more page views in 2020 than in 2019, even though we published fewer articles. True, some people may have had more time to read this year, but we’re glad they turned to LP.
Here is our 2020 recap of the articles and photo essays we posted in Limestone Post.
Racial Justice and COVID-19
As usual, the most-read stories on Limestone Post reflect the critical concerns people have in the community. Our coverage of racial justice and COVID-19 issues topped the list. While our photos of the Enough Is Enough march and protest against police brutality got considerable attention, a profile on Vauhxx Booker, by Michael G. Glab, was read by even more people than when it was first published 2018, due in part to the national coverage Booker received after being assaulted on July Fourth.
Ellen Wu, an associate professor of history and director of the Asian American Studies program at Indiana University, wrote three stories for us in the past year that epitomize our coverage of social-justice issues. For the first, “Bloomington 2019: The Year of the Farmers’ Market Controversy” (which we published at the end of last year but became our most-viewed article of 2020), Ellen interviewed eight women of color to get their perspectives on why they did not feel welcomed or even safe at the city-run farmers’ market. Ellen followed this in the spring with “Ethos of New People’s Market Focuses on Food Justice, Mutual Aid,” an article about how a group of vendors, community organizers, and university professors created “a farmers market model unprecedented in Bloomington and Indiana” — and how their plans had to pivot during the onset of the pandemic. In October, Ellen wrote a companion piece to her People’s Market story, on the People’s Open Pantry, whose goal is to support community access to healthy food.
A specific pandemic-related issue was covered in August by Diane Walker in an article she wrote about the residential eviction crisis brought on by the pandemic. Later that month, Diane produced a show for WFHB community radio, titled “Eviction Crisis in Indiana,” in which she interviewed many of the people from her LP article, including Deborah Myerson, Forrest Gilmore, Jacob Sipe, and Jamie Sutton. (In September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a halt to residential evictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The new coronavirus relief bill would extend the CDC’s eviction moratorium until January 31, 2021, and provide “$25 billion to help families and individuals pay their rent and utility bills and remain stably housed, while also helping rental property owners of all sizes continue to cover their costs, including the costs of necessary to ensure residents’ health and safety.” But the crisis that Diane explained extensively will likely become an issue again.)
Jared Posey wrote about how the grim realities of COVID-19 — biohazard suits, protective masks, sheltering at home — raised fears and questions among children. In “Parenting Through a Pandemic: Role Modeling and Self-Care,” Jared created a guide for parents to teach children how to respond to this and future crises.
Of course, the pandemic reached almost every facet of life in the community, including the arts.
Longtime LP contributor (and part-time editor) Dason Anderson wrote two articles: “Bugs Come to Life in Ali Beckman’s So Fly Taxidermy,” about how Ali Beckman’s Instagram popularity led to a new book; and Dason and photographer Grayson Pitts gave us an up-close, behind-the-scenes look at Krista Detor and David Weber’s first theater residency at their artist retreat, The Hundredth Hill. A troupe of recent graduates from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts not only created two productions during the residency but they also performed them for live audiences — an all but unheard-of feat in theater during the pandemic. As Dason put it, the Emerging Theatre Artist Residency gave these young artists “the opportunity to rise above the generational stigma they’d otherwise face in a pre-COVID theater world.”
Photographer Paige Strobel toured several local galleries to find out how they were affected by COVID-19. In her photo essay, “Galleries Adapt to Pandemic While Artists Continue to Create,” Paige writes, “While the world looks different and extra precautions are in place, one can still experience the incredible artists and artistry this town offers.”
We published two stories with photos by Ian Carstens. The first, “‘Paper Pavilions’ Exhibition Looks at Race, Nature, and Public Art,” depicts a group exhibition of Midwestern artists, showing virtually and physically at the 411 Gallery in Columbus, Indiana. Curated by Sean Starowitz, an artist and the City of Bloomington’s assistant director for the arts, the exhibition allows artists to set the tone for the future of public art. The exhibition can be seen in Bloomington beginning on January 15 at the FAR Center for Contemporary Arts. One of the artists featured in Paper Pavilions is Bloomington artist Gnat Bowden. Bowden is also the lead curator of Abattoir Gallery, which Ian also wrote about this month. Bowden says Abattoir will exhibit across mediums while maintaining a safe space for LGBTQ+, Black, and brown people.
Even though we published it last year, M.J. Bower’s photo essay, “The Murals of Bloomington — Photos and Trail Map,” has been popular all year long, because of her comprehensive photo gallery and because people have used the trail map for outdoor excursions during the pandemic.
Bloomington and beyond
Laurie D. Borman is among the writers who had to postpone or kill at least one of their articles due to the pandemic. But Laurie still turned in two articles. Her first was on Quarry in the Uplands, a proposal by the Monroe County Plan Commission to turn a 100-acre former quarry property into a limestone heritage park that would highlight the history of the local limestone industry and the art of stonecutting. Laurie’s other article, “Women in Nature Gaining Skills (WINGS),” profiles a group that was formed to encourage women to participate in outdoor activities such as archery, hiking, kayaking, fishing, and birdwatching.
Each fall, we look forward to collaborating with the students in Rachel Bahr’s English 11 class at the Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship. Since 2016, they have completed a project called ‘Sense of Place’ and shared their work with Limestone Post. As student Richelle Elkes described this year’s project, “The purpose of looking at those resources was to allow students to question how people’s personal identities change over time, how it can be tethered to a specific building/location, and what a ‘sense of place’ might be.”
Beth Edwards is a writer and producer for the The Indiana Environmental Reporter (IER), an independent reporting organization supported by The Media School at Indiana University and IU’s Environmental Resilience Institute. This year we posted two of Beth’s IER articles: “Hoosiers Take On Home Gardening,” about the physical, mental health, economic, and environmental benefits gardening can give, especially when sheltering at home this year saw more Hoosiers digging in. Beth’s other article, “‘Amphibious’ Park in Clarksville Anticipates Climate Change Impact,” describes a 600-acre urban park project along the Ohio River near Clarksville, Indiana, whose developers say will be “the first climate-resilient park in the Midwest.”
Limestone Post’s favorite sage, Ruthie Cohen, continued her “Stirring the Pot” column with “plant power” recipes and a tribute to a Spice Girl (a.k.a. her daughter Leigh). We look forward to 2021 for more tasty morsels (of food and thought) from Ruthie.
LP columnist Michael G. Glab hosts a show on WFHB, called Big Talk, in which he interviews “the most fascinating, creative, and successful people” in Bloomington. In a normal year, Michael would write profiles on some of those interviewees for his LP column, “Big Mike’s B-town.” It didn’t happen this year, but Michael still contributed two interesting pieces for us. He wrote an article on Indiana’s high school mascots about some of the odd and fascinating mascots and nicknames adopted by Hoosier prep teams in the past 120 years or so. Michael says team names like the Miners, Spuds, Eels, Jets, Peppers, Tornadoes, and Railsplitters tell the story of our state. In another post, he also shared an exclusive excerpt of the new memoir by Bloomington icon Charlotte Zietlow, “Minister’s Daughter: One Life, Many Lives,” which Glab helped to write.
Speaking of columnists, I’m happy to announce that Jennifer Piurek plans to write a regular column for Limestone Post beginning next month. You’ll have to stay tuned for more details, but you can check out the first article she wrote for LP, an insider’s look at “IU 2020,” a documentary series that began in 2016 and followed 12 Indiana University students during the entirety of their undergraduate careers. Jennifer is the director of communications and special projects at IU’s Office of the Provost, but she says her column will cover pop culture, current trends, “slanguage,” and a raft of other topics.
We’re also looking forward to a column by Rebecca Hill that focuses on science, particularly with regard to research projects and the people in our community who conduct them. Becky is an LP Board Member who has written feature articles and columns for national publications on issues of science, library, education, science education, parenting and family, and other topics.
As is usual for Limestone Post, many of the articles we wrote in years past are still being read today. Credit the in-depth work of our contributors for writing informative stories that have long shelf lives. This year, for example, readers found (or revisited) Diane Walker’s “Lick Creek Settlement Holds Piece of Black History in Indiana,” Michael Waterford’s “Best Southern Indiana Waterways for Paddling Fun,” and Susan M. Brackney’s “150 Species in Indiana Now Listed As Endangered or ‘Special Concern’,” among many others.
Bring on 2021!
You can read those stories and all of our content for free, because we want Limestone Post accessible to everyone. You can also subscribe for free so you won’t miss any of the stories our contributors are working on. We’re committed to bringing you informative and inclusive articles in the new year. We hope you’ll join us.
Here’s to a safe, healthy, and prosperous 2021 for everyone! As always, thank you for reading!
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