Archive for December, 2008


Meandering Indiana – 10

December 11, 2008

Recently I spent a day at a workshop in Kokomo, and that led to meandering Howard County.

Now, most of us know Kokomo as a place notorious for its stoplights. Traveling US 31 to northern Indiana, your journey is intersected and interrupted by the boulevards of Kokomo. On the way to where you’re going, it’s a nuisance, but on the way back, it’s a literal smorgasbord of franchise dining and retail, not to mention Starbucks.

Starting and stopping through Kokomo, especially right next to the giant Delphi plant on US 31, gives you plenty of time to ponder the auto industry, not exactly cause for joy these days. Being caught there during a shift change used to be another nuisance, but nowadays it would be rather encouraging.

My workshop was held at the Johanning Civic Center, a large building on the east side of the road, which also houses Kokomo’s Automotive Heritage Museum. I stopped in there and wandered up and down the rows of classic cars, arranged chronologically so that the rise of the industry is illustrated in lavish detail. The autos are truly beautiful, reflecting the fascination of many generations of designers and builders who worked on them over time. What family does not share in their history? My mother once told me about riding in a rumble seat, and I pointed out to a fellow visitor the treads that showed how to climb up and in. Tremendous amounts of metal, chrome, and glass went into the Buicks of the ’50s, my father’s favorites.


In another part of town, the campus of Indiana University Kokomo has been a center of culture and learning for the city, with its art gallery, festivals, and lecture series. I have enjoyed visits to the university and also to the 1891 Seiberling Mansion, home of the Howard County Historical Society, which just won the Indiana Historical Society’s Outstanding Historical Organization Award. (Nice job, Kelly!) The society’s mission statement is well expressed: “The Howard County Historical Society believes in the daily relevance of history. As the custodian of Howard County’s unique heritage, the society preserves our community’s collective experiences. In sharing that history, we foster a sense of community — connecting us to our neighbors, the past to the future, and our home to the world.”

Like travelers at the intersections of Kokomo, the community now faces a crossroads between the past and the future, between its unique heritage and the widening world. I’d be first in line to support the I-69 extension to Evansville, but I’m not so sure we should bypass Kokomo.

This entry was posted by: Nancy

Indiana Recycling 19th Anniversary Celebration this Friday

December 2, 2008

This Friday is the first Friday of the month and that means that the Indiana Humanities Council is opening its doors to the public (truth be told, since we work here, we’re kind of open all the time during business hours–but these Open Houses are much more official and traditionally come with cheese and wine…and cookies.)

This Friday we have an extra treat. Not only can you come in and check out our outrageous Georgian Revival digs–a neat treat if you’re into that sort of thing, but this Friday we are celebrating the 19th anniversary of the Indiana Recycling Coalition.

They started their quest for a cleaner, more efficient Indiana way back in 1989 which, if I recollect properly was a the second big wave of environmentalism in this country and about time time politicians first started to really wake up to some real problems. Back then we were mostly concerned with acid rain which was literally washing away national monuments and eating through people’s roofs, holes in the ozone layer, and CFCs in hairspray and nearly everything in the household cleaner aisles.

In the 19 years since, we’ve seen the creation of the multibillion dollar bottled water industry and the mountains of plastic it brings with it, the rise of plastic bags, and perhaps most startling a huge increase personal electronics.

Now 1989 was no slo when it came to boomboxes, walkmans (walkmen?), cooler-sized “portable” TVs, VCRs, and even PCs. But 2008 has so much more and more of it. It’s not just that cellphones exist, but nearly everyone has one. And an iPod…and a digital camera…and a DVD player…and a DVD player in their car…and multiple computers…and an XBox, Playstation and a Wii.

And a home theater system.

And a wifi thermostat. Et. cetera.

Many of these electronics have high metal content that is incredibly destructive to the environment; and, by “environment” I mean “that place where humans live, work, and play.” There is no “environmental” concern that is not also (and perhaps most importantly) a human concern.

So come on out and congratulate the IRC for 19 years of fighting the good fight for you, (probably your parents,) and your kids. And in the meantime head out over to their website to learn more about who they are, what they do, and where they do it. [Celebration details after the fold.]

Hope to see you on Friday.

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