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Catalyst Newsletter

Catalyst 45 - February 2014

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Sustainability News

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Read news articles published over the past month.

IUOS Sustainability  Course Development Fellowship Applications being Accepted  

sustainability course development fellowship

Jan. 30, 2014 -- The Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs at Indiana University Bloomington, in collaboration with the IU Office of Sustainability and the Integrated Program in the Environment, is seeking fellowship program proposals supporting faculty interested in developing courses that engage IU students with sustainability principles.

Now in its sixth year, the Sustainability Course Development Fellowship awards up to $8,000 to faculty interested in cultivating a sustainability component within their field. Preference will be given to courses that incorporate interdisciplinary perspectives on sustainability. The fellowship supports the development of courses at both undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as service-learning courses.

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World Wetlands Day, hike 

Feb. 2, 2014 -- About ten pairs of boots squished along the half frozen, half waterlogged path in 30-degree weather at Stillwater Marsh on Monroe Lake early Sunday morning. 

world wetlands

Natrualist Jill Vance let a 1.75-mile hike through the seasonal wetland area, which is managed by the reservoir's staff. Sunday was World Wetlands Day, an annual international event marking the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands.

The convention was signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, and was orignally signed by 18 parties. Since then, the number of signatures has increased to 168 participating countries. There are 2.177 Wetlands of International Importance, according to the Ramsar Convention website.

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Indiana Geological Survey report explores hidden water resources 

geological survey

Feb. 4, 2014 -- Abandoned coal mines scattered across southwestern Indiana may be a future source of valuable groundwater that could be used for a variety of purposes, according to a new report published by the Indiana Geological Survey.

More than 194,000 acres of Indiana are underlain by underground coal mines, and the amount of groundwater that fills the voids of these abandoned mines may be as much as 172 billion gallons, the report says. These potentially high-yielding coal-mine aquifers may represent resources of significant public and commercial value.

“Abandoned underground coal mines have often been forgotten once their intended purpose has been exploited,” said John C. Steinmetz, director of the Indiana Geological Survey. “Now, however, with this study, a potential new resource has been revealed. Not only does it document a source of water in the state that has heretofore not even been considered, but it opens possibilities for such other purposes as renewable geothermal heat-pump and cooling systems, and even for energy storage.”

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IU and Harmony School partner on children's woodland gardening initiative 

harmony school

Feb. 4, 2014 -- With funding from the George E. Archer Foundation and Audubon's Toyota TogetherGreen initiative, the Indiana University-based Bloomington Urban Woodlands Project is launching a children’s woodland gardening initiative with Harmony School.

Emphasizing the interconnectedness between nature and humans, this Fruits of the Forest initiative will teach how forests can be sustainably gardened for foods as well as for services that nourish people in a multitude of ways, including creativity and emotional health.

This spring, high school students in Emily Sprowls' botany course will work with elementary students in Jennifer Ruff’s multi-age classroom to propagate and plant native, edible woodland plants into IU’s Dunn’s Woods and the Harmony School campus using organic cultivation techniques. Students will literally experience the "fruits" of the forest by making tasty and nutritious snacks and dying T-shirts with native woodland plants. These activities will be complemented by lessons on organic gardening, forest ecology and ecosystem services. Sprowls was a 2012 Toyota TogetherGreen Fellow.

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Recycling center may close for lack of funds 

chad roeder

Jan. 27, 2014 -- Lack of community support and insufficient funds may cause the Downtown Bloomington Recycling Center to close as early as July.

The center reopened in October after being closed for a few months in order to improve efficiency, labor costs and problems with shipping.

Adjustments included reducing the number of hours per week the center was open and cost-saving tactics in sorting glass, cardboard and plastics the center receives.

Though these improvements provided a temporary fix, center manager Chad Roeder said it will take outside help to stay open.

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BHSS celebrates Water Conservation Month 


Jan. 23, 2014 -- Bloomington High School South is celebrating Water Conservation Month during Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 40 Days of Peace to bring about awareness of water misuse throughout the world.

BHSS student Imogen Todd said the month particularly focuses on misuse of plastic water bottles and alternatives to using them.

Todd said her Environmental Science class watched the documentary "Blue Gold: World Water Wars," which compared dwindling water supplies to oil scarcity. She said the film struck a chord with her classmates because it presented the idea of water as a precious, limited resource. 

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Spring is About to Fling!

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By Bill Brown, IU Office of Sustainability Director

As the snow melts, a growing river of activity is flowing through the halls of the E-House and spilling out into the campus and community. At the confluence of the two rivers of Academics and Operations we are reeling in summer sustainability interns and peer educators, luring faculty to design new sustainability courses, and setting bait for graduate student fellows with sustainability research funding. Approaching barges include the Student Sustainability Summit and the Food Summit.

Our 18 current academic year sustainability interns are scrambling to finish their initiatives in collaboration with the seven working groups. Our Campus Sustainability Advisory Board meets this month (Februrary 28 at 9 am in IMU Walnut Room) to hear from Provost Lauren Robel about how sustainability is integrated into the new draft of the Academic Strategic Plan.cop

The Education and Research Working Group is assisting with planning for another Community of Practice for faculty interested in teaching sustainability courses, some of which will bolster the Integrated Program in the Environment's new bachelor's degree in Environmental and Sustainability Studies, which was approved this week. They are also developing strategies and conducting an opportunity analysis for utilizing the campus as a living learning lab for sustainability teaching and research-making connections across campus and across disciplines.

The Transportation Working Group will launch a pilot bike loan program in April with 13 bikes rebuilt from the impound collection. Professor Craig Wood's advertising practicum team Agency 7 is providing a branding and an advertising campaign for that program. The bike loan program will be looking for 13 "ambassadors" for the pilot soon!

The Food Working Group is preparing for an April Food Summit, which brings together all the primary stakeholders in IUB's food procurement system to determine an authentic IUB definition for sustainable food, finding ways to track sustainable food purchases and increase the amount of healthy, sustainable food in the various dining options on campus.

The Environmental Quality and Land Use Working Group is collaborating with various units on a comprehensive and consistent approach to integrated pest management, looking for ways to reduce mowing, adding to prairie restoration along the Jordan River, increasing the amount of pre-consumer waste that is composted on campus and looking at alternative landscape plantings with native perennials that require less water, fertilizer, and pesticides.

Energy and the Built Environment Working Group is putting the finishing touches on a Peak Demand IU Mobile app, preparing for the Spring Energy Challenge, and collaborating with Diane Henshel's SPEA capstone class studying plug loads in IU buildings. SPEA grad student and IUOS sustainability intern Chris Round is researching large-scale solar financing options for IUB.spring energy challenge

The Resource Use and Recycling Working Group has been fine tuning campus recycling infrastructure by surveying users and developing better branding and educational materials.

Sustainable Information Technologies Working Group continues to explore strategies to move away from paper-based documents towards digital formats for operations and classroom instruction. They are also continuing to research ways to institutionalize electronic waste recycling and they are evaluating better ways to monitor and reduce plug loads due to computer equipment. SITWG is also assisiting with general campus sustainability efforts, such as streamlined sustainability metrics reporting and looking at ways to better capture and report data on building energy use through enhanced empathic dashboards.

With coordination by sustainability intern, Nadia Lovko, IUB is preparing its report for STARS 2.0, the leading campus sustainability reporting metric. IUB was the 7th institution to report under the original STARS 1.0 (300 more have since reported), and we will be among the first to report under the new metric. This is a massive undertaking that involves input from all of the working groups and virtually all campus units.campus garden

And, as further evidence that spring is just around the corner, the Campus Garden is gearing up for the growing season with volunteer sessions every Friday from 4 to 6 pm. Grow new friendships and your gardening knowledge at Hilltop!

Ready to get involved in making Indiana University an international leader in campus sustainability by 2020? Stop by, write, or call and we will find a place that best suits your interests and schedule.

Catalysts for Change

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Putting her Passion into Practice: Meet Angela Babb 

Angela is a Ph.D student and has spent six years here at IU. She previously worked as an accountant for a local organic gardening store after graduating from IU with a BS in Mathematics in 2007. Angela has been researching local food networks and deserts in Bloomington and also serves as co-chair of the Assessment Working Group of the Bloomington Food Policy Council. This acadmeic year, Angela serves as the Strategic Planning and Implementation for Sustainable Food intern for the Office of Sustainability.

By Anna Will, Communications Specialist

angela babb 

  • What are your hobbies?
    • I love biking, camping, watching movies with a nice big bowl of popcorn, and playing card games.
  • Where is your favorite spot in Bloomington?
    • I enjoy visiting Lake Monroe.
  • What is your favorite green tip?
    • Everyone should visit the Farmers' Market!
  • What influenced you to puruse an internship with the Office of Sustainability?
    • I studied food security and saw an opportunity for IU to shift their food purchases to more sustainable food sources. Sustainability is a big part of food security. This was something I really cared about and could make a difference with.
  • What does your internship position entail?
    • I help the Food Working Group by coordinating the strategic planning process through setting long term goals to shift food sourcing as well as increasing education initiatives. I am also helping to coordinate the Real Food Challenge course where students assess where food is coming from along with areas we can purchase more sustainable food from. I started the Real Food Challenge for our campus and was able to work with my fellow interns. Now, it has turned into a new course being taught out of the Department of Geography.
  • When did you become interested in food security?
    • Originally, I came back to IU to study climate change and more sustainable agriculture for my Master's. Soon, I found myself more interested in the vulnerable populations and consumption side of sustainability. My focuses really shifted to food access. I realized that in order for people to eat healthier and more sustainably grown food, we had to make them available to people. Unfortunately, there aren't many options for students to eat sustainably on campus so I hope to change that.
  • How has your internship experiences influenced your career choices?
    • My intenrship position definitely helped me to see different perspectives about the issue of food security and sustainable food. It helped me to connect with other community members with similar goals in improving national and global food systems. This internship has allowed me to see ways to enact change on the ground at an institution and actually put these theories into practice. I've learned how to obtain different contracts with vendors and navigate the procurement process. All of these experiences have assisted me in seeing where I want to take my career so I can be a positive influence for change. 
  • Any last thoughts?
    • The field of sustainability is increasingly more important everyday--not just with food but with other areas that people aren't very involved with. There is a huge range of opportunities for students who want to make a difference and secure the things they love for future generations.

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  • Green Drinks Bloomington
    • Dave Rollo will present a program entitled "Deer at Griffy Woods: Ecosystem Effects and Responsible Stewardship" at the next Green Drinks Bloomington. This presentation will be held at the Banquet Facility of the Upland Brewing Company on February 26th at 6 pm.
  • Student Sustainability Summit
    • You are invited to the Second Annual Student Sustainability Summit on February 27th! Students will have the opportunity to learn more about the sustainability initiative here at IU, meet faculty and staff working in sustainability, and discuss the future of the Student Sustainability Council. Come join us for snacks from Bloomingfoods at the Union Street Auditorium from 6-8 pm. This first 100 participants will receive a stainless steel water bottle! Please register for this event by February 25th at this link!
  • Bloomington Community Farmers' Market and Community Gardening Program
    • The BCFM and CGP is looking for an intern interested in working 15-20 hours/week with the daily operations of the Farmers' Market and Gardening Program. The intern will assist with all the aspects of the BCFM and CGP including on-site administration. Qualified applicants must have at least one year of college with course work in sustainable agriculture/gardening, event planning, recreation administration, or related fields. They will need some working knowledge of event implementation and volunteer coordination though experience with gardening and an interest in the Farmers' Market and food security is helpful as well. Applications can be found on the website and are due Friday, March 7th. For more information email or call 812-349-3738.
  • Linda Latham Scholarship
    • Attention all students interested in a career in energy or energy efficiency! The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy is hosting a Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings on August 17-22 in Pacific Grove, CA. In honor of Linda Latham, a scholarship fund has been formed to help pay for undergraduate/graduate students to attend this conference. Applicants must have studied energy/energy efficiency, climate change,environmental science, or a related field of study to be eligible. Complete the online application or email your application to All applications must include a copy of the applicant's Student ID and proof of student status. Applications will be accepted until March 21. A committee of ACEEE staff will review and choose 3 scholarship winners, whom will be notified by April 4th. For more information, visit the webpage.
For more opportunites, visit This Week in Sustainability