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Catalyst Newsletter

Welcome to our new Catalyst format. Previously sent out via our listserv as an e-newsletter, Catalyst will now be published on our website each month. When a new issue is published, those on our mailing list will receive a reminder email. Sign up to receive Catalyst reminders.

Catalyst 38 - July 2013

Sustainability News

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Read news articles published over the past month.

IU Bloomington sustainability interns to showcase projects

Alex AznarThe seventh annual Summer Sustainability Internship Symposium will include oral presentations by Angela Babb, Kayleen Glaser and Asmalina Saleh, followed by a poster session. Indiana Memorial Union Catering will provide a lunch featuring local and organic foods. Those interested in attending should register online. This event is free and open to the public.July 16, 2013 -- The Students in Indiana University Bloomington's 2013 Summer Internship Program in Sustainability will showcase their completed projects from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 2 at Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center's Grand Hall, 275 N. Jordan Ave.

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Learn more about this year's symposium>>>


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Permaculture Campus

By: Emilie Rex, Assistant Director of the IU Office of Sustainability

In late May, I had the privilege of joining twenty Indiana University students at Saint Mary of the Woods for the annual permaculture class offered through Collins Living Learning Center. I took the course because I was interested in how we might transform our Campus Garden Program into a permaculture space. The instructors, permaculture pioneers Peter Bane, Keith Johnson and Rhonda Baird, and my peers challenged me to expand my expectations beyond food production to include water and energy management, waste management, long-term design, biodiversity and more. I learned that for a large institution like IU Bloomington, permaculture provides a compelling framework for sustainability innovation within our garden space and beyond.

perm image 1

Former Campus Garden Coordinator Stephanie Hopkins
prepares an herb bed outside Bryan House for winter.
Credit: Aaron Bernstein

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, Merriam-Webster defines permaculture as: “an agricultural system or method that seeks to integrate human activity with natural surroundings so as to create highly efficient self-sustaining ecosystems” ( In reality, permaculture, like sustainability, has many definitions. As a sustainability professional working in higher education, several common themes resonated for me:

  1. Systems thinking: How do our actions and decisions fit into the bigger system? How can we decrease our reliance on unsustainable systems, and instead harness and build sustainable systems through ecological design that work with nature, not against?
  2. Locality, community, and self-reliance: How can we decrease our burden on other communities by working to become more self-reliant within our own local community? How can we work to rely on each other and simultaneously strengthen our sense of community?
  3. Adaptation and perennial thinking: How do we shift from short-term, reactionary thinking to long-term, adaptive planning? How can we decrease our burden on ourselves and increase our security in a changing and uncertain climate?
  4. Values: How can we embody the core values we share as a community (justice and access for all, respect, kindness, etc.) in everyday living? How does the way we live, eat, or transport ourselves reflect our values? How does our sense of place reflect our sense of self?
  5. Design as an educational tool: How can we transform our campus into a living-learning lab where students learn how to implement sustainability and permaculture principles and conduct cutting edge research while improving our campus infrastructure and systems?

Permaculturists have found ways to express big picture concepts through their design work, often using a series of techniques that predate industrialized agriculture. The results are biodiverse, self-sustaining, ecologically sound, regenerative spaces for human activity.

While many of our gardens employ techniques used in permaculture design, including the impressive Students Producing Organics Under the Sun (SPROUTS) garden, the IU Gardens Program has never used permaculture as a framework for designing a new space. This summer and fall, in partnership with the University Architect’s Office (UAO) and IU’s Edible Campus Steering Committee, we will begin a new permaculture design project in our previous location outside Bryan House, the historic President’s residence in the heart of campus. Students, faculty, staff and permaculture designers from the community will collaborate to design a new educational garden that adheres simultaneously to the tenants of permaculture and sustainability while meeting the aesthetic requirements of a highly visible event space.


President Obama congratulates the UMass Permaculture
Committee. Photo credit: Hines Farm Blog

IU is certainly not the first school to practice permaculture on a college campus. Last spring, President Obama recognized the University of Massachusetts at Amherst for groundbreaking work creating a campus permaculture program. In his address recognizing UMass students as the 2012 Campus Champions of Change Challenge winners, Obama praised their entrepreneurial spirit and innovation working to provide low maintenance high-yield spaces for food production on campus (Doherty, March 21, 2012, “UMass Permaculture Committee Took First Place in the Campus Champions of Change Challenge!,” Hines Farm Blog.)

If UMass can do it, can’t we? IU has often considered our campus as a living-learning lab where students, faculty and staff can experiment and innovate. Permaculture provides us yet another vehicle to do so.

If you’re interested in getting involved in this project or the IU Garden at Hilltop, please contact We're on the web:

Catalysts for Change

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McKenzie Beverage

McKenzie Beverage

  • Degree: Master's of Public Affairs
  • Current Position: Butler University Sustainability Coordinator
  • Previous Position(s): University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Program Advisor for Student Sustainability Committee
  • How has an internship with the IU Office of Sustainability helped you in your career? My internship with IUOS provided me with an important experience in leadership, management, and coordination. It taught me how to apply these important career skills to something I love...sustainability.
  • What campus sustainability issues are most important to you? Why? I am very interested in sustainability education and furthering environmental literacy through programming and curriculum development. It is important to capitalize on students' innate curiosities and desire for knowledge and infuse sustainability across all disciplines and their physical environment.
  • What is your favorite green tip? Support your local farmers! It's easy, healthy, and helps your communities! Then compost that food waste! There are many different ways to compost--all very easy and I assure you, not smelly!

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Volunteer for Hoosier to Hoosier Community Sale

Hoosier to Hoosier (H2H) is a volunteer-powered reuse program that aims 1) to divert reusable items from the landfill during student move-out, 2) to prevent additional resource consumption by selling collected items to students and community members in order 3) to raise funds for local charities and other organizations.

We could not pull this event off without the help of our wonderful volunteers! Click here for dates and sign up!

For more opportunites, visit This Week in Sustainability