I was invited by IUSB Professor April Lidinsky to speak to her Women and Sustainability (W360) class on February 21.   This was a wonderful opportunity to speak about my experiences with the local and state Green Party, my recent run for local office as a Green Party candidate, the party’s uphill battle against unfair ballot access in Indiana as well as St Joe County’s failure to count Green Party votes in the last two elections. 

The women in the class asked excellent questions and shared some of their amazing stories with me.  One young woman told us of her transformation to eco-feminism as a result of her shocking experience with breast cancer at age 29.  She was very interested in the Green Party’s values and work in the area and it was my pleasure to share with her and the rest of the class the local Green Party’s website.

Another woman noted she was a Republican but also agreed with the Four Key Values of the Green Party (Social Justice, Grassroots Democracy, Ecological Wisdom and Non-Violence).  We talked about how sustainability can only happen if we have a just society with respect for each other and our environment.  She shared that she was from Texas, had lived in Washington state and that upon moving to this area, had heard the air quality in this area was very poor because of our proximity to Gary.  She wondered if I had information on this.  I noted that yes, there is much evidence that our air quality is poor due to nearby steel mills and coal-burning power plants, including the one Notre Dame operates on campus.  I invited her to also visit the local Greens website for any archived information and to keep in touch with me via this blog site for anything she found there or elsewhere.  Her energy and interest is admirable and I hope I can work with her on this issue.

 I also presented my slide show on the history of the St Joe River’s contributions to the birth of South Bend and the plans for the hydroelectric plant designed for the East Race.  I love giving this slide show; I love sharing a little of the history of South Bend and our beautiful river plus the cool photos I found with help from the archivists at the public library (very helpful people there).  My favorite part of the slide show is sharing the plans for the below-water-level viewing chamber designed to allow visitors to observe fish swimming upstream on one side and the turbines of the hydro plant on the other.  Everyone is fascinated with this idea and becomes instantly animated when imagining visiting something like this in South Bend.   My “cherry-on-the-top” is a video clip of children watching migrating fish through the windows of a similarly designed viewing chamber in Seattle.   Their excitement and body language is worth the click. (Watch this blog for any news I get on this project).

 Thanks, April, for introducing me to your fabulous students; I see great things for them and thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my attempts and ideas to usher in sustainability in Michiana.