Our First Annual Bloomington Neighborhoods Celebration and WOW!

The newly resurrected CONA (Council of Neighborhood Associations) decided to hold a Neighborhood Celebration. Created a poster. A big poster. Here’s the top part of it.

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Sent it out to all the neighborhood associations to send to their email lists.

How did the evening go? Well, we were plenty worried. We had rented the ballroom downtown, and who knows, maybe 30 or 40 people would show up, huddled in that giant space on such a cold cold night (Monday night, projected to go to -7° F) . . .

Well, guess what! Something’s going on with the Bloomington grassroots, something wild and strange and rising. Who knows, our next meeting of CONA (Council of Neighorhood Associations) may have to be held in an auditorium! And the best part about it? Everybody lives in a neighborhood of some kind. I mean everybody. No one is excluded.

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Here we are, in full force.

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We spent our evening eating, drinking, and getting to know each other, trading stories about what works and doesn’t work building community in our various hoods. A great time.

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Even Mayor Mark Kruzan was excited and surprised —

Kruzan — and told a story about being coached in a course called “Macromathematics”s IU when he was a freshman by one Jon Lawrence, our new CONA president! Bloomington truly is a small town, where lots of folks have known and loved and agreed and disagreed with each other for, literally, decades.

CONA has been around for a long, long time. 20 years? For a few years lately, it had gone dormant. Well, no longer! After a few monthly meetings, the new CONA group decided to hold a celebration, and this was the result.

Just remembered that I got an email with a bit of the history of CONA after inviting our Green Acres email list, from one of my neighbors, Al Ruesink, who shared what he knows in lieu of being too infected with a cold to attend. Here’s from what he said there:

One of my reasons for attending would be to share a bit of the origins of what I believe to be the first CONA in Bloomington. As I recall, Tom Goby (deceased), Sherwin Mizell (gone from Bloomington), and I were key players in getting it going and my first meeting notes are dated November, 1971. Though I don’t think he was involved in the first meetings, by the time I went on sabbatical in 1974 it was being led by Jerry Marshishky, who is still in town. Since that time it has had a series of dissipations and restarts, but I have always considered it a good idea. It gives a more regular representation from the grass roots than City Council does and it provides a good way to share ideas for making neighborhoods really neighborly. Sorry I cannot make it tonight.

Wow! 1971. That’s 42 years!

May CONA live on, and may our neighborhoods continue to strengthen internally and with each other. My own vision sees Bloomington as a networked mycellium of villages, each village node intergenerational, and with its own history and character. Hopefully, within ten years, many of us can be living and working in place, helping each other, sharing skills and tools and meals and conversation, secure in the knowledge that we are here for each other, rooted in place, caring and connected to both the vast flow of human creativity as well as to this good, solid, nourishing mother, Earth.

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