Each year the Center chooses up to 5 fellows who work with the faculty and staff on a variety of sustainability projects and initiatives. Sustainability Fellows include professionals and practitioners involved in sustainability work as well as faculty members from other institutions. The Sustainability Fellows Program is made possible through generous support of an anonymous local donor. Each fellow will receive a modest stipend in support of their work.
Kay Westhues will be working with the Calumet Heritage Partnership to develop an oral history project about the Spring at Small Farms, a roadside artesian well located in Gary, Indiana. Small Farms was a rural, African American neighborhood of subsistence farmers. The Spring at Small Farms is one of 15 surviving artesian wells located in Indiana, according to Department of Natural Resources data. Although public springs played an important role in the development of several Indiana communities, little has been documented about their history. Narratives about African Americans' stewardship over natural resources are also a rarity in Indiana's historical record. The Spring at Small Farms has a rich history and is still in use. Westhues project aims to bring attention to this natural resource, increase knowledge about the importance of clean water, and encourage public stewardship of our drinking water sources.
Avanti Lalwani of Briter Products proposed a three year project to restore and revitalize the soil around the company's property. Briter Products, Inc. is located on 17 acres of land including wooded land, fill dirt land and deep topsoil. By amending fill dirt regions with materials generated by ongoing operations such as corrugated cardboard, grass clippings and compost materials such as coffee grounds in combination with planting plants and trees changes of the fill dirt region can be tested, monitored, and made public for further study and or conservation efforts. The project will: 1) Redevelop the soil by developing, testing, and monitoring methods to improve on soil health at the business location by using resources generated through ongoing operations 2) Create and disseminate practicable information on soil health conservation techniques for other small businesses 3) Establish a location for ongoing scientific observation for student groups and community members.
Fellowship Partners Angela Huff & Roy Saenz worked together on a project to designate the IU South bend campus as a "Bee Campus USA" by Bee City USA®. Roy has been a beekeeper for several years, and Angela has done extensive research on the effects of systemic pesticides on honeybees as part of her graduate coursework. If successful, the IUSB campus would be the second in the IU system to attain this status. Their activities will address the requirements of the program including forming a Bee Campus USA Committee, developing a habitat plan, hosting awareness events, and offering pollinator focused courses or workshops.
Therese "Theri" Zimmerman-Niemier of Bertrand Farm in Niles, MI, has 20 years of experience operating Bertrand Farm, an educational farm whose mission is to connect people to local food production in order to promote sustainable agriculture, health, and earth stewardship. Her Fellowship will focuses on small farming and environmental stewardship education. Plans include creating a small farmer hub on the 5-acre plot of land owned by Good Shepherd Montessori School (GSMS) off Eddy St between Jefferson and Colfax in downtown South Bend. Participating farmers will enter into a contractual relationship both with each other and with GSMS. Food for Thought Farm (GSMS Jr. High) will be a participating farmer in the hub relationship.
Chris Cobb will build on the work of Jennifer Betz and Kristi Haas, Fellows in 2016-17, who had a vision for a Michiana Environmental Coalition. The result was the formation of the Environmental Network of Northern Indiana (ENNI) to facilitate the relationships, skills, and other foundations for a network of individuals, groups, and partnerships committed to action. This year, Chris will focus on establishing ENNI as a functioning organization, developing organizational infrastructure, and outreach to environmental organizations and interested individuals in the region. The initial aim will be to convene a general meeting of environmental organizations active in northern Indiana in early 2018 to set an environmental policy agenda for that year.
David Hurley has a long standing interest and involvement in permanent remedies to poverty and homelessness. This led him to the position of Director of Development for Washington, DC’s largest non-profit housing developer and community development corporation. In that role, he raised over a million dollars in unsecured, flexible, low-cost capital to finance housing development activities. In addition to securing loans from churches, private individuals and religious communities, he successfully negotiated the Calvert Social Investment Fund’s first ever loan from its High Social Impact Investment Fund.
Since arriving in South Bend in the late 1990’s, he has worked as: a major gift fundraiser for the Brothers of Holy Cross, where he secured some of the initial gifts for the Holy Cross Village; started a business as a comprehensive financial planner where he was able to re-engage his interest in socially responsible investing; and was an active member of the Social Investment Forum. In addition to his professional experience, David has been an active board member of the NNN and was a founding board member of DTSB.
Jennifer Betz currently works as the Assistant Director of the MA Program of International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Prior to that, she taught Global Perspectives and facilitated student international experiences at Holy Cross College. Jennifer has experience teaching English and citizenship at La Casa de Amistad, directing adult education at St. Adalbert Parish in South Bend, and has worked both locally and internationally on community development, environmental, and peacebuilding projects.
Kristi Haas works with both the Templeton Religion Trust’s program Under Caesar’s Sword and as a research associate with the Catholic Peacebuilding Network, both on the campus of Notre Dame, where she also serves as the Founder and Chair of the Green Office Committee at the Kroc Institute, and on the Internal Advisory Board at the Center for Sustainable Energy. She has a strong background in project management, theology, peace studies, and has a longstanding passion for sustainable living (gardening, cooking, biking, composting).
Dave Blodgett is a well-known muralist and artist. Blodgett graduated with his Bachelors from IU South Bend in 1975 and got his Master's in Fine Arts from the University of Oregon in 1977. Since his graduation, Blodgett and his wife, Linda, have completed over 200 murals varying over eight states. Blodgett worked with Dr. Edwin Joseph, a professor at IU South Bend, as a Fellow in 2015-16 to teach SUST-S360 The Art of Sustainability together. Their class designed and installed an 8’x32’ mural depicting the history of agriculture for Green Sense Farms in Portage, IN, the largest vertical farm in America.
Therese “Theri” Zimmerman-Niemier has 20 years of experience operating Bertrand Farm, an educational farm whose mission is to connect people to local food production in order to promote sustainable agriculture, health, and earth stewardship. Additionally, she has extensive experience as a teacher and educator. At Bertrand Farm, organic and sustainable practices have been learned through firsthand experience. They have provided on-going education and training through years of work with GSMS, development of a curriculum for and implementation of a farm intern program, and numerous workshops and trainings made available to the public. They have managed a CSA for over 10 years and worked with other community networks such as the Purple Porch Cooperative and the Monroe Park Grocery Cooperative
Dave Blodgett is a well-known muralist and artist. Blodgett graduated with his Backelor's from IUSB in 1975 and got his Master's in Fine Arts from the University of Oregon in 1977. Since his graduation, Blodgett and his wife, Linda, have completed over 200 murals varying over eight states. Blodgett's major sucess pairs well with the knowledge of Edwin Joseph, a professor at IUSB as they teach The Art of Sustainability together. Their class will be designing a mural for Green Sense Farms in Portage, IN, the largest vertical farm in America.
Kris Krouse is Executive Director of Shirley Heinz Land Trust, a not-for-profit organization whose mission is "to protect habitats and eco-systems of Northwest Indiana through acquiring, restoring, and protecting environmentally significant landscapes for present and future generations." Krouse received his Bachelor's in Environmental Science in 2002 and his Master's in Business Administration from Indiana University Northwest in 2005. Krouse is investigating the possibility of setting up a land trust in St. Joseph County to help preserve natural habitats and eco-systems for future generations.
Brooke Hardy, BA graduate of Oberlin College (1996) and Masters graduate of Naropa University (2008), and Michael Patrick Griffin (Ph.D. in Theology from the University of Notre Dame) will collaborate on The Local Cup, a pay-it-forward coffee house in the Near Northwest Neighborhood building. Visitors may get a free cup of coffee or muffin or pay for the next person's order at the level they choose. Hardy and Griffin will be joined by Aireal Newbill, an intern in the Youth Leadership Training Program at The Local Cup. Aireal started as a volunteer in the spring when the weekly coffee shop first opened.
Boniface Njuguna is Founder and Executive Director of the Green Youth Foundation. He received his MBA from Indiana University South Bend. Through his foundation, Njuguna helps youngsters from Michiana assemble kits that include a solar lamp and cell phone charging kits that are then sent to his home country of Kenya. There, Kenyan youngsters put the kits together bringing light and the ability to charge cell phones to their villages that are not connected to the grid.
John Kennedy is Principal of South Bend New Tech High School. He received his MA in Secondary Education from the University of Albuquerque. New Tech High School is a magnet program that uses project based learning to help students develop skills to effectively communicate, collaborate, think critically and utilize technology to solve complex problems. Their goal is to graduate students who are well prepared to go on to college or enter the workforce immediately. John will be working with his faculty to incorporate sustainability and innovation into the existing New Tech curriculum.
Vince Gresham is Director of Environmental Studies at South Bend Greene Intermediate Center. He received his BA from Purdue in Wildlife Management. One of Greene Intermediate’s goals is to incorporate environmental studies across the curriculum. Through his fellowship Vince will continue to work on Greene’s environmental curriculum by developing additional courses in <em ">Wildlife Science, <em">Agriculture and Gardening, and <em ">Environmental Issues, Careers and Capstone Projects.
Read the 2014-2015 press release HERE
Jon Helmuth is President of Genesis Products, an Elkhart based company that supplies wood products for the RV industry. Jon is also the head of the Sustainability Coalition, a group of regional industry leaders committed to sustainable business principles. Jon will work on establishing a pilot site for the Genesis Project in South Bend. The Genesis Project takes vacant and brownfield lots and plants them with hybrid poplar trees that can produce sought-after wood for the RV industry while at the same time providing soil remediation and sequestering carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.
Kelly Hofferth will continue as a fellow for a second year. She will work as the Center’s liaison with Energizing Indiana to recruit households and businesses to sign up for free professional energy audits. Households that sign up for an audit receive 9 free compact fluorescent light bulbs and four low flow faucet aerators and shower heads. For each audit successfully completed, the Center receives a $25 donation from Energizing Indiana.
Sara Lowe is founder of Michiana Yardeners, a virtual gardening club on Facebook whose participants grow fruit and vegetables in the city in their own front and back “yardens.” Members share advice, seeds and plantings, and pictures of their creations. During her fellowship, Sara will work to increase the number of yardeners in Michiana, and organize a yardener’s cooking contest for next summer.
Read the 2013-2014 press release HERE
Jan Pilarski (on left) is co-founder of Green Bridge Growers, an urban social entrepreneurial venture that grows greens and fish aquaponically to produce revenue and create jobs for highly-capable young adults on the autism spectrum in Northern Indiana. As part of her fellowship she will work with the DoubleTree Hotel and the South Bend Century Center to turn the skywalk connecting the two into a “garden in the sky” to grow fresh organic herbs for local restaurants.
Willow Wetherall will be producing an event called Ignite Michiana to be held in March 28, 2013 in downtown South Bend. Ignite is a global event, where participants are given five minutes to speak about their ideas and personal or professional passions, accompanied by 20 slides. The presentations are meant to "ignite" the audience on a subject, i.e. to generate awareness and to stimulate thought and action on the subjects presented. Ignite events serve as an information exchange for fostering and inspiring an area's creative community. Speakers from the creative, technical and business communities present their current projects or favorite ideas. Ignite events highlight innovation in the business and non-profit sectors and provide opportunities for networking and the advancement of new ideas and economic development. Ignite Michiana would help showcase sustainability and innovation in our region and inspire continued economic revitalization and creative-problem solving.
Myles Robertson has been the "star" of our educational YouTube series, “What’s Up Myles?” The series follows the adventures of IU South Bend student Myles Robertson as he goes in search of sustainability. It consists of a series of short videos (taken with our flash cam or an iPhone) in which Myles interviews various sustainability professionals or prominent political officials or business persons in our area, as well as visiting lecturers from across the country. Now that Myles has graduated and moved on to Notre Dame, he will continue the series for at least another year. He will be producing episodes of his series and post them on our YouTube Channel.
This is Kathleen Petitjean’s third year as a Sustainability Fellow. During the last two years her project was to organize our annual Rain Barrel Art Auction. This has been a very successful event, particularly in its educational capacity. Kathleen will be taking her last six years of experience helping to envision and develop public/private partnerships around sustainability to the next level. She is proposing to create a new not-for-profit organization called “Greening the Bend.” Its mission will be to bring together the artistic, business, not-for-profit, educational, and municipal sectors of the community together to create and help fund sustainability installations. Her first project will be the installation of a green roof on the Century Center. This project has been simmering for some time now, but needs an extra push and some additional funding. As a Sustainability Fellow for the next year, Kathleen will work on getting her not-for-profit status, creating a board of directors, and holding her first major fundraising event, “The Rain Barrel Ball.”
Jessica Mikels-Carrasco will study the Natural Step framework and explore how its sustainability guidelines can apply to environmental education. During this period, Jessica will participate in Center’s TNS workshops so that she can become a trained facilitator of TNS as well. As a Sustainability Fellow, the collaboration and training gained by working with the Center for a Sustainable Future will greatly augment her career goals of applying social science research to improving environmental education for young people. In exchange, she will bring to the Center a commitment to expanding our approaches to sustainability to include the youngest members of society and help us to work on some materials that are directed to helping to educate them about the principles of sustainability.
Kelly Hofferth will be focusing on our Friends of the Future annual giving campaign. Her fellow’s project is to help develop our Friends of the Future campaign and increase our number of donors to 100 during the next year. This fellowship will help improve our development and outreach efforts.
Read the 2012-2013 Fellows Press Release HERE