Anyone else glad 2016 is almost over? National news has been depressing, to say the least. But, as I sit down to write this editorial, it’s refreshing to look back at some of our more popular stories of the year and remember that our dear town and the people in it are pretty great.
We knew before we launched Limestone Post that you all are interested in a wide variety of topics — for example, the foodie is also an avid hiker, the activist is also really into photography — and we honor that wide variety of interests in the types of stories we run. And we’re pretty pleased that you keep proving us right.
Sense of place
If we had one theme this year, it’d be “sense of place.” Everyone has their favorite spot — maybe it’s Rooftop Quarry or the Indiana University Jordan Greenhouses. But as the landscape of Bloomington changes, people really hold their favorite places in our town close to their hearts. The Chocolate Moose building is gone now, but before it was demolished writer Sarah Gordon and photographer Natasha Komoda took a look at how the conflicting goals of property development and historic preservation affect our sense of place. In response to this story, Rachel Bahr’s high school English class at the Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship did a photography project, called “This Is Where,” which shows how personal, poignant, and different each person’s sense of place can be. This sense of place can also come from a feeling of acceptance and inclusion, such as writer Zak Szymanski’s take on finding queer space from Misfit Toy Karaoke.
Caring for others
With nonprofits focused on nearly every vulnerable population and concern in our community, it’s clear that Bloomingtonians care about our neighbors. Writer Sarah Gordon spoke to many local residents about food insecurity within a number of different populations and what our town is doing to help. Writer Paulina Guerrero looked into how some groups, such as the Indiana Recovery Alliance, are finding that harm reduction often has better results when helping with the drug epidemic than the decades-old war on drugs. Writer Michael Glab sifted through a ton of data to figure out whether Bloomington’s water is safe to drink; turns out, while Bloomington is doing okay, drinking any water can be a gamble. And Ann Georgescu talked to IU students who are helping to break the school-to-prison pipeline by becoming mentors to students in the Madison Juvenile Correctional Facility, Indiana’s only maximum-security detention center for juvenile girls.
Where would we be without our thriving arts scene? We’ve published a number of photo galleries this year, including one by photographer Justin Banks, who uses a Rolleiflex 3.5 F camera to shoot street scenes of Bloomington, and another by Nathan Clark, who takes stunning photos of everything from Lake Monroe to the Milky Way using long exposures. Bloomington’s thriving music scene is no secret, but many people might be surprised at how wide-ranging it is — from students such as Miller Susens at the Jacobs School of Music teaching youngsters how to play instruments (and having to defend that choice of major) to Plan-It-X Fest. TJ Jaeger wrote about the folk-punk festival in Spencer, offering enough tips and tricks to make sure you — and your inner anarchist — get the most out of it. And the IU Arts and Humanities Council has created the First Thursdays Festival, a monthly event to “celebrate and showcase” a range of creative endeavors, which is free and open to the public.
Bloomington is also a sports town. Do you know about Terry Hutchens? An old-school sportswriter in the digital age, he has a regular gig at BtownBanners.com, freelances for other news sites, writes books, and teaches journalism at IU. Or maybe roller derby is more your style? Non-skating official Silken Tofu has reached the highest level of officiating in the sport in which our local roller derby league, Bleeding Heartland Roller Derby, competes. Marathon runner Anna Weber is another high achiever. She put her pursuit of a Ph.D. at IU on hold to train for the Olympics, and back in February she competed for a spot on Team USA. (She came in 56th out of 244 women.) And we’ve got a bird’s eye view of the route of the Hilly Hundred, Bloomington’s most popular biking event (if you don’t count Little 500), taken by Aerial 812 with a drone.
There’s also a bunch to do outside of Bloomington. Adventure-travel writer Michael Waterford this year explored intriguing places in Indiana. His first trip was to “ludicrously pleasant” Oldenburg, which has two restaurants on the Southeastern Indiana Chicken Tour (yes, it’s a real thing). Then he made his way over to New Pekin, which claims to have the “Oldest Consecutive 4th of July Celebration in the Nation” with a celebration every year since 1830. And then he went to Vevay, older than the state itself and home to the first successful commercial winery in the United States. Just outside of Bloomington, in quintessential Brown County, there’s a Sycamore Land Trust property called the Laura Hare Nature Preserve at Downey Hill. Aerial 812 took a video of the fall colors in the mature hardwood forest and trails through the rolling hills this fall. Videographer TJ Jaeger visited Dinky’s Auction Center in Daviess County on a late-summer evening to capture an Amish tradition — the Friday night auction. We also saw a group of travelers pass through Bloomington during their cross-country race, the Motorcycle Cannonball Run. All of the 95 motorcycles were at least 100 years old, in an event that writer Dason Anderson calls “a grueling test of grit and mettle for both rider and machine.”
I hope this trip down memory lane gives you something to read — or re-read — and some downtime this busy holiday season. (And for those looking for even more to read, click on your favorite Limestone Post contributor listed below, in no particular order, to see all their work in the magazine from 2016.) Here’s to hoping everyone has a wonderful, safe, and loving time with friends and family in the coming weeks! Happy holidays! And happy New Year!