by Shay McFarland
March 21, 2016
When I first signed up for the Sustainability Studies minor at IUSB I thought I’d be trying to save endangered rainforests, not to prevent the sale of 25% of our public green space in my very own city of South Bend.
A business associate and dear friend of mine casually mentioned to me that she’d heard about “Elbel for Everyone” during a monthly South Bend Green Drinks event. She said to me, “You might want to check out their Facebook group page.”
Now I’m super busy. I work full time at IUSB and I am taking college classes half time to achieve my degree. Any deviations to my schedule, well, let’s just say it is very rough on me. My friend knows this, but she knows my heart too.
I saw what was about to happen. I read the call for folks to come late Monday afternoon to have our voices heard at the Common Council and Park Board meeting in the County-City Building. I coordinated with my co-workers, let my professor know that I might be late to class that evening, and I went.
I’d not been to anything like this before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Not long into it one of the organizers stepped up to the podium to address the Park Board. She turned to the packed room of citizens and asked those of us who were there to stop the immediate sale of Elbel without further research to please stand.
The ominous rustle in those ten seconds as generations stood up together took my breath away. Most of us were strangers to each other and probably, like me, to the process behind such proceedings. With a casual wave of her arm encompassing the silent standing crowd, she presented us together as one, concerned citizens asking for our voices to be heard before a decision was made that could irrevocably change our city green space forever and destroy wetlands that have existed here for thousands of years.
I have spent years working toward my degree. I have spent almost all of my adult life simply working to make ends meet for my kids and myself. There are things I can think back on and feel really proud of. This moment, when I simply took the time and effort to show up and “make my voice heard” as I stood among generations of strangers in a city that desperately needed to hear us… it’s in the top ten.
Would you like to get involved in sustainability a bit more but you’re not sure where to begin? If you’re already minimizing your carbon footprint and thinking ahead for the next generations by decreasing your water usage, perhaps you could join one of the local groups who are gathering and working together toward a sustainable future for Michiana. The Center for a Sustainable Future at IUSB is a great place to start. But most definitely check out Elbel for Everyone on Facebook and see what you might bring to the table too.
For further information and consideration, you might want to check out the following:
Indiana Natural Heritage Data Center for state-listed endangered species
Sundays at Elbel Nature Hike (check Facebook page for updates, changes may occur due to golf season)