Indiana University launches Sustaining Hoosier Communities initiative in Lawrence County

Bedford, Ind.—In partnership with rural communities, Indiana University’s Sustaining Hoosier Communities initiative addresses needs and opportunities with projects designed to strengthen health and prosperity of the Southwest Central Indiana region.

The inaugural program year launched today in Lawrence County, where community leaders and members will work with IU faculty, students and staff to complete 15 projects Lawrence County officials identified as priorities to reach economic, environmental and social sustainability goals. Teams will work on projects over the course of the 2017-18 academic year.

“This is an exciting new chapter for Lawrence County and IU as we embark on a collaborative partnership that builds upon nearly two centuries of strong ties between our university and the community,” said Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel. “We are fortunate to work with so many members of this community who share our commitment to making our great state an even greater place to work, learn, and live together.”

Undergraduate and graduate students participate with project teams through courses offered at IU Bloomington through a variety of departments and schools. This year, 19 courses will focus on SHC projects. Approximately 700 students will engage with the initiative through these courses.

Lawrence County officials and community leaders will collaborate with faculty to address projects that focus on infrastructure, health and wellness, arts, culture, economic vitality and environmental resources.

“This is an excellent opportunity for Lawrence County to examine and address some of our greatest opportunities and strengthen our community and the lives of our residents,” said Bedford Mayor Shawna Girgis. “I hope these projects will have a lasting impact that will be a testament to our county’s partnership with IU.”

The 2017-18 project topics will include:

Economic Sustainability

Bedford Shared Workspace

City Gateways

Complete Streets

HWY 50 Bypass

Little Theatre

Train Depot Visitor Display

Environmental Sustainability

Avoca Fish Hatchery

Gus Grissom Trail Design

Hoosier National Forest Dark Sky Designation

Social Sustainability

Civics and Financial Literacy Curriculum

Community Gardens

Diversity Commission

Gus Grissom Trail Use for Healthy Communities

Issues of Addiction

Youth Council

Lawrence County, population 45,518, is known as “Limestone Country” because of the stone terrain and active limestone industry found there. Caves, caverns, forests, and rivers make up much of the county, aside from its communities of Bedford and Mitchell. It is located 25 miles south of Bloomington.

Sustaining Hoosier Communities is one example of many types of community engagement Indiana University plans to pursue as part of the Center for Rural Engagement. Based on the EPIC-Network national model, Sustaining Hoosier Communities nurture a diversity of individuals, identities, and perspectives, and enjoy the benefits of a strong social fabric and civic engagement. These communities demonstrate a long-term commitment to their people, economic opportunities, and places. Communities within southwestern central Indiana will be invited to participate in future years.