Awareness-raisng special programming on homelessness on WFHB. 7p-9a.

From a WFHB press release:

Bloomington Community Radio pre-empts normal programming for national special on homelessness

On Wednesday, February 20 and Thursday, February 21, Bloomington’s community radio station will once again unite listeners with people all across the country to raise awareness of the defining social justice issue of our time.  WFHB is one of more than 120 independent radio stations carrying the National Homelessness Marathon, a 14-hour live broadcast featuring the voices and stories of homeless people from around the U.S.  WFHB will air the entire fourteen-hour program, currently in its eleventh year, starting at 7pm on Wednesday and ending at 9am on Thursday, when the station returns to its regularly-scheduled programming.  This year is extra-special because the national broadcast will feature a segment produced by WFHB News Director Chad Carrothers.

“We slept out in a tent in the middle of winter, so that was kind of rough…we had like fifty blankets it seemed like and we were still cold…tryin’ to fight, we gotta figure out something, and I remember saying we gotta find something because we can’t be out here forever”

– 22-year-old Josh Morales, Shalom Center client

Josh and his father Abraham are featured in WFHB’s special segment “Father and Son: Generational Homelessness”, exploring how being homeless together has bonded them in a way that transcends typical father-son relationships.

As a local lead-in to the National Homelessness Marathon, WFHB will air an hour of locally-produced programming on these issues, including a feature-length interview with the Morales father-son team and a rebroadcast of the recent memorial service for the people who died homeless on our streets this past year.  Airing from 6-7pm on Feb. 20, the local programming will include Joel Rekas, director of Bloomington’s Shalom Center, a day facility for local people struggling with poverty and homelessness.

“It’s unacceptable in a country like the United States that this continues to be an issue”, says Rekas.  “We’re twenty years out now from this being identified as a major social issue, and unfortunately for most of us, a walk downtown in a big city involves stepping over people on the sidewalk and lying on park benches and we don’t blink an eye.  Folks experiencing homelessness have really become part of the urban landscape.”

There are approximately 4,000 homeless individuals and families living in poverty right now in the Bloomington area, according to Rekas.  That’s just one reason why WFHB News Director Chad Carrothers channels significant volunteer effort into local coverage of the issue.

“The best way to understand someone is to really listen to what they have to say,” Carrothers opines.  “Radio can be a very personal and intimate experience.  The stories told to me by people living on the streets of my town leave the mike wobbling in my hand.  The stark reality is overpowering.”

While WFHB News regularly produces its own stories and special features on homelessness, being a part of a national broadcast is a unique opportunity to bring different communities together.  The Eleventh Annual Homelessness Marathon will originate from Nashville, Tennessee.  It will be hosted by Nashville’s community radio station WRFN and a committee of activists on poverty and housing issues.

“As the Marathon has grown, its philosophy has evolved. When I started, I thought I had to scold people and tell them why they ought to care,” confesses the Homelessness Marathon’s director, Jeremy Weir Alderson.  “But now I know that Americans really do care, and that no matter how grave the failings of our society may be, homeless people aren’t on the streets because that’s where we, as a people, want them to be.  I now mostly look at the Marathon as giving people the reasons for what they already know in their hearts.”

The Homelessness Marathon isn’t a fundraiser; there isn’t a single pitch to donate a dime to anyone.  Instead it’s what Carrothers calls an “awareness raiser”:

“There’s no 800 number, there’s no slick ads for donations.  These are real people talking about what life is like for them.  They don’t want your money, they want to be understood.  They want you to think about how your life is different from theirs, but also how it’s similar.  They want your humanity.”

This special programming will air February 20th and 21st from 7pm to 9am on Indiana’s original community radio station, WFHB 91.3/98.1/100.7/106.3 FM and live on the web at  More information is available by contacting News Director Chad Carrothers at or by calling (812) 337-7827.  Additional information about the Homelessness Marathon can be found at

Men Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Discussion @ MCPL Auditorium. 7-9p.

On behalf of Nu Alpha Alpha Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., I
would like to invite you to participate in our “Men Against Sexual Assault
and Domestic Violence.”  This program will be held at the Monroe County
Public Library’s Auditorium on Thursday November 15, 2007 from 7pm-9pm.
The program will be divided into three sections. First, a representative
from the Middle Way House of Bloomington Indiana will speak about sexual
assault/domestic violence.  Then, we will facilitate a dialogue on the
issues surrounding sexual assault/domestic violence. Last, there will be a
resource fair providing information about preventing sexual
assault/domestic violence and ways to support victims of sexual
assault/domestic violence.

Please join us for this important conversation!


Russell Hollis, Basileus
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
Nu Alpha Alpha Chapter
P.O. Box 8542
Bloomington, IN  47407

media check for the week of 2007-08-19

I decided to go to the IU library to check out the book The Suburbanization of New York: Is the World’s Greatest City Becoming Just Another Town? (ISBN-13: 978-1-56898-678-4) and found a wealth of other interesting books in the HN80.N5 section on the 7th floor. I also checked out There Goes The Neighborhood (ISBN-10: 0-394-57936-4), a book about the politics of race and class in Chicago neighborhoods, and passed on Praciticing Community (ISBN-10: 0-292-73118-3), a book about similar dynamics, but in Cincinatti, though it also looked good.

I heard an interesting recording of a Michael Parenti talk on Alternative Radio on WFHB on Monday, 2007-08-20 that was kind of all over the place, but mostly about how identity politics are exploited to divide people who are marginalized by race, gender, or sexual orientation. He also suggested that the division of power in this country often finds people with very different ethnic, gender, sexual, or other cultural identities on the same side of that power divide.

I read this article by Dave Zirin, author of What’s My Name Fool?: Sports and Resistance in the U.S., Welcome to the Terrordome, and other books about sports and politics. Zirin writes about the difficulties in sending copies of his books to a Texas death row inmate because

“It contains material that a reasonable person would construe as written solely for the purpose of communicating information designed to achieve the breakdown of prisons through offender disruption such as strikes or riots.”

The offending content, according to the TXDOC, included quotations such as this from baseball great Jackie Robinson:

“I felt tortured and I tried to just play ball and ignore the insults. But it was really getting to me. … For one wild and rage-crazed moment I thought, ‘To hell with Mr. Rickey’s “noble experiment.” … To hell with the image of the patient black freak I was supposed to create.’ I could throw down my bat, stride over to that Phillies dugout, grab one of those white sons of [expletive] and smash his teeth in with my despised black fist. Then I could walk away from it all.”

I use for managing my bookmarks. Often, I want to access my bookmarks through my browser instead of having to visit the site. The Bookmarks Firefox add-on lets me do just that.

Roy F. Baumeister’s talk, Is There Anything Good About Men? is really interesting. It talks about the different ways that culture have used men and women to achieve its ends. It also talks about how a fundamental difference between men and women is that men favor wider, shallower relationships and women prefer closer, more intimate relationships and how this has driven the different cultural realms that are inhabited disproportionally by men and women. At the base of this, claims Baumeister, is the evolutionary reality that far more women reproduce than men. The wider, shallower, relationships or more risk-taking activities favored by men, in general, facilitates the differentiation that will allow some men to reproduce.

On a somewhat related note, this is a program that my friend is working with. The program is trying to organize
Men of Strength (MOST) Clubs in DC and other communities. A friend who works with the Middleway House, a Bloomington shelter for women and children affected by rape and family violence says that young men who stay in the shelter really lack a community of other males to critically examine their ideas of identity and masculinity and to model ideas of gender or relationships that differ from the violence that they’ve experienced. These clubs seem like a rare example of something that might begin to provide this support/education. The clubs are described as:

Men of Strength (MOST) Club has provided young men in Washington, DC and California high schools and colleges with a safe and supportive haven to connect with male peers while exploring masculinity and male strength.

Exposing young men to healthier, nonviolent models/visions of manhood, the MOST Club challenges members to define their own definition of masculinity and to translate their learning into community leadership, progressive action, and social change.


  • Provide young men with a safe, supportive space in which to connect with male peers through exploring notions of masculinity and male strength.
  • Promote an understanding of ways that traditional masculinity contributes to sexual assault and other forms of men’s violence, perpetuates gender inequity, and compromises the health of men and women.
  • Expose young men to healthier, nonviolent models/visions of manhood.
  • Build young men’s capacity to become peer leaders and allies with women in promoting gender equality and preventing men’s violence.

I have Debian Etch with KDE installed as my workstation at work, and I had a hard time figuring out how to make Iceweasel (Debian’s all-free software version of Firefox) the default browser instead of Konqueror.  Turns out it was as easy as

$ update-alternatives –config x-www-browser

Free skin cancer screenings @ the Volunteers in Medicine Clinic (333 E. Miller Dr.). 5-7pm. Free.

Free skin cancer screenings in May. Please call Karen at 812.353.5669 for more info or to schedule an appointment:

The skin screening clinics are May 8th and 22nd from 5-7 PM at the Volunteers in Medicine building, 333 E. Miller Dr. Appointments are scheduled every 10 minutes, allowing the 2 dermatologists enough time to look at each person thoroughly. The clinics were created with the intention of serving people who are uninsured or underinsured. Please do get the word out to anyone who you feel would benefit from this free service. They can call me Monday through Friday from 8-4:30 PM.

We will be offering free sunscreen packets starting in May, available for pick-up from the Olcott Center, 619 W. First Street, Bloomington. These packets are available in large quantity up to 250 if you know of any organizations that would be interested in picking them up from our office and distributing them to our members of our community. They can call me now and place their order.

haters vs. (fun) lovers scoreboard explaination

What’s the score? Did you get fired, have a flat tire, drop your ice cream cone, or get yelled at? Chalk one up for the haters. Did you go swimming, see your grandma, have a picnic, or take the whole day off? Thanks! You just scored one for the (fun) lovers. Let us know how you’re doing. For more information, check out

bloomington event calendars,,,, and

public comment on downtown parking

This is my comment for the city’s request for public comment about parking:

I was unable to attend the public meeting asking for comments but would like to submit my thoughts on the future of parking in Bloomington.Parking is an important issue in our community because, as we can see in the present, it has huge implications for how the downtown is used, how the downtown will grow, and whether Bloomington moves in a direction towards a more sustainable, ecologically conscious community, or in a more consumptive, less beautiful and liveable direction.

Since moving to Bloomington 3 years ago, I have already seen a number of parking garages and other parking facilities created. I am disappointed at the trend towards building these structures as it not only changes the visual character of the downtown, but it also encourages irresponsible automobile use in a city which has its small size and the easy pedestrian access that such smallness affords as one of its greatest assets. What is the point of making the downtown more accessible if the result is the more beautiful and historic buildings being overshadowed by new construction, or the enjoyment of walking around downtown Bloomington, dining at outdoor restaurants, or enjoying the many downtown public spaces is tarnished by increased automobile traffic. I think that new parking construction should be seen as a failure in the imagination of our community to seek solutions to an accessible downtown, especially when many alternative visions exist.

First, I think it is important to understand whether parking scarcity is a physical reality, or a perception. If it is largely an issue of public perception, then even if more spaces are created, the public may not actually feel an improvement in their downtown parking experience.

So, regardless of the final parking solutions developed by the city, education of people using our downtown must be a primary component.  I recently attended a workshop in downtown Bloomington at the city center building on 7th St. Parking was a concern for many of the attendents as nearly all of them drove, and most of them were somewhat unfamiliar with parking in the downtown area. All were able to find parking eventually, but the stressfulness and confusion of finding parking was mostly due to lack of knowledge as to the location of parking (garages, metered street parking, parking lots) being unclear and the regulations regarding parking (for instance, time limits, street sweeping days). Many of the perceptions about parking in downtown could be addressed through really simply measures like making less ambiguous signage designating no-parking zones and regulations on street parking.

Also, parking maps locating and describing downtown parking options, their restrictions, and pricing, could be erected in downtown Bloomington, especially at high-usage areas such as the Monroe County Public Library. Such signs would help users of the downtown more easily find parking options. This knowledge would easily be spread through word of mouth, making a fast and dramatic change in how people perceive the difficulty in finding parking downtown.

Growth in the city of Bloomington is happening, inevitable, and, as some would argue, desireable. This growth, however, demands solutions that are scaleable and sustainable with future growth. Considering car-centered solutions to downtown use puts the city in a dangerous cycle. As it becomes possible to have more cars in the downtown, it becomes more difficult, less pleasent, and less desireable for people to use non-automobile transportation in the downtown. More car traffic undeniably effects the experience that cyclists, walkers, and public-transportation riders have in their travel. If these transportation options become less desireable, or possible, these transportation users will have to resort to driving, thereby increasing any parking crunch that is felt by the city. The city must seriously pursue efforts which will reduce the number of cars in the downtown.

Bicycle parking is not a huge issue, but the accessibility of downtown streets to bicycles remains a challenge, and a deterrent for many who would otherwise consider it as an alternative to driving downtown.  More bicycle lanes and other efforts to make cyclists more visible, safe, and comfortable riding downtown would be one way to reduce the load on existing parking infrastructure. BT ridership is at an all-time high, but still restricted to certain segments of the population. Keeping parking space limited, but expanding bus services would be a good way of directing transportation users towards more sustainable transportation options. Forcing and enabling Bloomingtonians to challenge their perceptions and prejudices about public transporation is important for building a community-wide, diverse transportation infrastructure. Finally, the city could encourage car-sharing businesses to start operation in Bloomington. This would allow an increasing number of downtown residents to have access to cars, but in proportion to their actual usage needs. Alleviating parking issues has been one of the documented effects of car-sharing availability with one study showing that each shared car eliminated 14.9 privately owned cars! As downtown residence becomes more prevalent in Bloomington, this becomes a neccessary factor to address.

With so many options for improving access to downtown Bloomington available beyond new parking construction, it would be irresponsible for the city to choose to implement only construction-based solutions.

These solutions would be less costly, have environmental benefits or lessened environmental impact, and preserve the character of our downtown. Pursuing such options should be our transportation priority.


I was talking with Chiara last night about feeling like Bloomington was centered around changing to meet the needs of people like me (20-something, ostensibly middle-class, “creative class” types), and she was saying how she felt like any kind of city policy, even the support of social services had an underlying capitalist motivation (making the city more “livable” for a certain class of potential residents).  Strangely, I randomly came across this report at work, presented by city councilperson Steve Volan, titled PRELIMINARY REPORT ON THE “COLLEGE-DRIVEN METROPOLITAN AREA” that seems to speak to many of these motivations.

From the report:

Bloomington hasn’t really been a “college town” for at least a
quarter-century. It’s time for us all to retire that term. The
town you may remember from your childhood has broken away; it’s
now a metropolitan area, an enormous university the core of its
economic engine, an area complete with downtown apartments, 2
million bus riders a year, and enough bitchin’ restaurants to take
the Fort Wayne Convention & Visitors’ Bureau in a fight. This is a
core city now, with suburbs, even exurbs. The mayor now holds
state of the community addresses jointly with the county. We can’t
go back.

While I agree that looking at Bloomington’s growth relative only to the University is a simplistic analysis, the idea of economic growth as an underlying goal gives me the shivers.  I guess I just think that there is more to the idea of a community than the economy, and I think that an economy-focused understanding of community does not place all members of the community on equal footing in terms of power and decision making.


new free healthcare clinic to open in bton

So this was off the radar for me and a bunch of people that I know, but it’s pretty exciting. The existing CHAPS clinic is being supplanted by a new free clinic operated by Volunteers in Medicine of Monroe County which is slated to open in April. According to Nathan Ringham, the clinic “will serve as a primary and urgent care clinic for uninsured residents of Monroe and Owen County, whose household incomes are less than 200% of the federal poverty level. Nearly all services will be free and provided almost entirely by volunteer medical practitioners. ”

There is an informational video that describes the clinic’s mission. I thought some of the imagery used in the video perpetuated the stereotype of the uninsured as unhealthy, unhappy, and dependent, which was unfortunate. The clinic sounds like a really good thing, however.

Link to VIM Monroe County website


I was surprised at what 200% of the federal poverty level means.  For 2006, if your income falls within the following, you would qualify to receive healthcare services from the new clinic:

Persons in Household Household Income
1 $19,600
2 $26,400
3 $33,200
4 $40,000
5 $46,800
6 $53,600
7 $60,400
8 $67,200