How does GLACLU work?

I wrote an introduction to the Greater Lafayette ACLU, as we’re getting a ton of attention after the 2016 general election. People panicked about threats to civil liberties want to know how to contribute to local efforts.

The Greater Lafayette ACLU feeds into the Indiana ACLU, which is supported by the national ACLU. We support the IN-ALCU by helping to amplify state efforts, educate the public about our activities, and raise funds for litigation costs. Our responsibilities are as follows:

The GLACLU funds educational initiatives in Greater Lafayette and supports the state ACLU’s research, education, and litigation efforts.

The Indiana ACLU brings cases against government entities on behalf of Hoosiers whose rights have been curbed by anti-Constitutional laws brought within the state. Led by Jane Henegar and litigated by Bloomington attorney and professor Ken Falk, the Indiana chapter has an extremely successful record of litigation. Recent victories include:

Read the rest at glaclu.org.

How Social Media Changed Election Politics for Young Women

It’s still fun to see your name in print. From an article examining how the ways young feminists view Hillary Clinton changed after social media became the norm:

In the early and mid-2000s, after she left the White House and took up residence in the U.S. Senate, Clinton largely shifted away from a women-centered agenda as she worked to bolster her presidential résumé. At the same time, young bloggers like Lauren Bruce (Feministe) and Jessica Valenti (Feministing) were bringing feminist theory out of the Ivory Tower. “Each month seemed to bring a new site with feminist content,” Rebecca Traister writes in her 2010 book, Big Girls Don’t Cry. “At various points there were about six sites calling themselvesThe F-Word.”

Social media changed the landscape of feminism. Young women who might not learn about feminism in their schools or communities could find primers on Tumblr blogs with names like intersectional feminism 101. Their feminist awakenings thus involved, from the start, debates about second-wave feminism’s perceived failures of inclusivity. “Anyone who entered the feminist conversation in the Internet age has immediate access to not only research about those failures, but also to a lot of the conversations about them,” says feminist organizer and writer Shelby Knox, who’s 28. “The barriers are a lot lower for participation in the movement.”

Young women could now do more than read about feminist issues and discuss them in class; they could find communities of women on Twitter or Tumblr whose experiences they could relate to—or who could open up new vistas for them on what other women’s lives are like. They could participate in the creation of a new feminism—one that would be a far cry from Friedan’s. By 2011, the writer Flavia Dzodan was famously declaring on her blog: “My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.” Her words became a rallying cry.

As young women’s notions of feminism evolved and broadened, so did their idea of what constitutes “women’s issues” in the political arena. “If you’re taking intersectionality as the foundation of this kind of feminism, you wouldn’t just be concerned with how any particular policy issue is affecting women,” says Gwendolyn Beetham, director of the Global Village at Douglass Residential College, the women’s residential college affiliated with Rutgers University. “But you would be asking, ‘Which women, and how?’ And you would be asking this whether or not you are a member of one of those groups.”

I Wrote a Thing: Secret Fine Dining, Local Food, and Red Tape with Pop-Up Lafayette

popupthinklala-014-500x333A review of Pop-Up Lafayette, the new, elusive, all local and organic “supper club” that is taking over the imaginations of area foodies.

“Our political philosophies are layer upon layer,” one chef said. Another said, “We just want to cook beautiful food in an interesting way.” Another said, “We want to cook food we are lifted by.” Another argued that the Midwest doesn’t have an identifiable food culture apart from catfish and tenderloin sandwiches. They made a point of emphasizing their purveyors for the event: Everything was purchased or made or grown locally. Mt. Gilboa Farms from Benton Co., farmer’s markets, local gardens of friends and family, a pork farm from Mulberry, locally sourced honeycomb, Trader’s Point creamery, Union City beer from Indianapolis, all fair trade and/or organic. You get the picture.

The problem is the lack of knowledge and confidence us regular non-chef folks have in the kitchen. They spoke, for example, of the end-of-farmers-market routine, where the participating farmers donate what produce they have left over to local food pantries. The food pantries find that while they are grateful to have all this fresh food, people aren’t always sure what to do with it.

Lavender ice cream served with gooseberry puree, fresh honeycomb, and flaky pie crust.
Lavender ice cream served with gooseberry puree, fresh honeycomb, and flaky pie crust. Photo by Michael Dick of ISPhotographic.

As someone who likes good food and loves to eat, I wasn’t a strong cook until I got into the now discontinued “The Minimalist” columns from the NYTimes, where columnist Mark Bittman used a narrative recipe style to get you to take 3-6 fresh ingredients, add fat, heat, acid, and seasoning, and end up with a great, fresh meal. I kept going back to the squash salad course in my mind. This deceptively simple dish was quite good, perfect on a hot and humid summer day. I’d never eaten raw squash before. When I asked for a quick recipe to put on the site, they shrugged and discouraged it.

What Pop-up Lafayette would rather we do is get motivated, do dinner with friends, and learn how to cook from one another. Another alternative, one suggested, is to get into City Foods in downtown Lafayette for the regular — FREE — cooking classes they offer there as part of their mission. The other thing is to figure out how to repurpose leftovers, so, for example, how to roast a chicken, and then how to reuse the leftovers on days two and three.

Why all the secrecy? We have a serious red tape problem in town for new restaurants and food concepts, thanks to the ever fragmented laws regulating Lafayette, West Lafayette, and Purdue. Talk to any local cook about the combative relationship between the health department and the restaurateur.

We discuss nonsense food codes with Pop-up Lafayette in the linked article as well.

I’ve been talking about the “pop-up” concept with a lot of artists and foodies around town, and these are the first folks to make it happen. On the Think Lafayette Facebook page, we post a lot of pop-up art and parks and food installations in cities around the world. None of these are municipally sanctioned, and they are organically grown from the creativity of the community around them. I’d like to see more of this in Lafayette, and less “public” art with staged press releases so that local government can take the artist’s credit. As Dave Bangert said, city government is at its best when taking a backseat and letting the citizenry shine. Indeed, for artisans too.

Read the rest at Think Lafayette.

Bike Stuff and Ticket Sales

I’m pretty excited about this one. Today Think Lafayette started ticket sales. Our first event is sponsored by Bicycle Lafayette, a national dinner and movie screening tour that will take a stop in Lafayette this May called “Dinner and Bikes.”

Dinner and Bikes” (official site) is a national tour that shows communities around the U.S. how to take the lead in growing the national bicycle movement. It sounds pretty cool — it’s way crunchy, but also community goal-oriented and right up the alley of all the Community of Choice conversations that have been happening in Lafayette for the last year.

I’m excited about this for a couple of personal and professional reasons, but mostly because when my TL co-founder and I first started thinking about the idea of ticket sales and event hosting under the banner of Think Lafayette, it seemed like such a huge and overwhelming ordeal. But today we just rolled it out and it wasn’t a big deal at all. And lo, the ticket sales started rolling in.

It’s been a good year.

Think Lafayette, Redux


The old Think Lafayette design was fine (meh) but wasn’t going to work with our future plans, which included an overhaul of the blog structure and the addition of sales on the site. We gave it a little face lift.

TL is coming up on its first birthday soon. My favorite part of the project has been meeting all the cool creatives in the community that make the Lafayette area a nice place to live. I’ve shaken more hands and handed out more business cards on this project than on any other thing I’ve done prior, including the day job I adore. I know that many of the other TL contributors have also spent literal hours and hours attending events, networking, writing, editing, and promoting this project, all because we love where we live and want to drum up excitement in our friends and neighbors.

Indiana gets a lot of flack for being a flyover state in the Midwest — there’s something about “Indiana” that brings up an image of naivete and unsophistication in outsiders — yet our area of the state consistently makes top ten lists as a “Best Place to Live” for a variety of reasons from all kinds of periodicals. We have great public schools, safe neighborhoods, an abundance of good food, low cost of living, and excellent public resources here. A lot of us forget that and long for greener pastures. Some of us, however, are excited to be here, in this place at this time. It’s fun to share that enthusiasm.

Uptown Jazz & Blues Festival


The Uptown Jazz & Blues Festival is typically the last summer festival in the Greater Lafayette area. They always draw a fabulous crowd of music-lovers and excellent regional musicians who fill the historic downtown area with a night of jazz, blues, and dancing. It’s a great way to spend a summer evening.

I was thrilled when they asked me to build their website for the 2013 festival. We collaborated to make a colorful, information-packed site with artist information, online ticket sales using Eventbrite, and tie-ins for social media promotion.