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Page last updated on May 4, 2023 at 10:04 am

Greetings and welcome to our Board and Commission Appreciation Celebration! This is our first in-person “annual” celebration since 2019. 

 

As we celebrate your service to the City of Bloomington, we can also celebrate the opportunity to gather together again. 

 

First an acknowledgement: We recognize that the city of Bloomington sits on Native land. The city as well as City administrative buildings are on the traditional homelands of the Miami, Delaware, Potawatomi, and Shawnee people, and we acknowledge they are past, present, and future caretakers of this land. 

 

We also acknowledge that much of the economic progress and development in  Bloomington and Indiana resulted from the unpaid labor and forced servitude of People of Color - specifically enslaved African labor. 

 

We acknowledge that this land remains home to and a site of gathering and healing for many indigenous and other people of color and commit to the work necessary to create and promote a more equitable and just Bloomington.

 

I am delighted to welcome all our board and commission members to the same place at the same time. This celebration is a great tradition. Each of you devotes your time and talent to a particular aspect of city life, but you all share a dedication to the good of the greater community. This room is hosting a powerful and positive network of people who love and serve Bloomington. Thank you! 

 

I also want to welcome our City Council members and department heads who are joining us this evening.  

 

I also want to thank the people who made this event happen. Please join me in thanking Mary Catherine Carmichael for corralling the people and resources required to make tonight’s event possible, and the rest of the Office of the Mayor staff that worked together to make this happen. And thank you Parks and Recreation for this wonderful venue on our city golf course and just up the hill from our recently renovated first park. 

 

Another group of people deserve thanks -- our board and commission liaisons: the folks who connect and support our boards and commissions. They get you the information you need, arrange a million details, and often advise you, too, guiding you through often complicated laws, ordinances and policies. They attend meetings and events, keep up-to-date on developments and plan for the future. They do hours of prep work to support your efforts and everyone on the same page. They do it well, professionally, and with grace and almost unfailing good humor. Liaisons, please raise your hands, and let’s thank them!

 

But tonight is really about the 250 plus of you who serve, or served during the last two years, on more than 50 city boards and commissions. You are why we are here. Your collective thousands of hours - think about that - sustains and improves our City on a daily basis. We can tally up your time. But we cannot ever calculate the depth and breadth of your commitment, expertise, judgment, reflection, and innovation. Your lived experience, education, professional training, and experience are all part of your service to the City and strengthen the city's ability to make sound decisions. 

 

Like our City, you, members of boards and commissions are diverse. You come from different neighborhoods and backgrounds. From all across our city geographically, demographically, professionally, intellectually, age and stage of life, with passions or interests or even dare we say obsessions? Always reflecting passion and dedication I think. And ranging from arts, advocacy, academia, business, service, healthcare, science, education, or any number of backgrounds, you combine to make up such a rich treasure of experiences we all can draw from and learn from. And amplify individual abilities and energies into spectacular collective abilities and actions to make our City a better place. 

 

It is an honor to serve a city with an abundance of engaged and principled residents willing to commit to their city with the labor of love that this service is.   

 

There are very real threats to democracy these days. Around the world and in the United States we are seeing a fraying of the fundamental fabric of society. It is not extreme to say that Boards and Commissions are part of the civic fabric that makes democracies function and stay healthy. This is so important, particularly now. 

 

Besides that kind of higher-level musings, let’s remember, fundamentally, you all get things done. You got things done during the pandemic, despite interruptions and obstacles. You support people, animals, parks, trees, and a safe and accessible city for all. COVID responses included Spanish-language vaccination clinics and reversing our beloved 4th of July Parade for community safety. With things opening back up, we all get to benefit from the full fruits of your labors. 

 

You have made our City more beautiful with art installations that bring moments of joy, whimsy, and reflection into simple daily acts like parking our cars. And our vehicles are traveling on roads with traffic calming measures, or vehicle use is reducing as people enjoy the increasing miles of multiuse paths around and throughout Bloomington. Our City is increasingly more accessible, welcoming all residents to more and more places and helping them with loaned mobility aids in getting there. 

 

Seniors have a new resource guide to support them in finding fully what our City has to offer. Nonprofits in our community won digital equity grants to bridge the digital divide and increase access to work, school, play, and vital information. 

 

Earlier this year we once again celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, cut ribbons on exciting improvements at three of our parks, and celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with Fiesta del Otoño. You helped create space to affirm African, African-American, Hispanic, Latinx, and Indigenous American artists at the Black y Brown Arts Festival. 

 

Daily life is smoother for so many with great attention given to parking, public safety, public housing, our water system, our sidewalks, and all the basic aspects of daily life that we all depend upon. 

 

Our trees are protected and more planted as Bloomington becomes increasingly sustainable. The voices and visions of our young residents are amplified in support of our natural environment in Eco Heroes Art. 

 

The farmers’ market summer season was a weekly community gathering celebrating local agriculture and access to healthy, local food. Our animals - wildlife and pets - are also supported and protected by your work. 

 

Our City story is amplified through historic preservation. You help protect human rights.

 

You fund nonprofits that serve a range of critical roles in our community and work to increase housing options across the City. 

 

Commissions on the status of children and youth, Black Males, and Women increase opportunity, safety, and equity in Bloomington.  Children at Fairview Elementary were welcomed to their first day of school by diverse role models. And we petitioned statewide to the general assembly against the terrible reversals of basic reproductive rights. 

 

From protecting rights to planting trees; from safe sidewalks to seasonal fruits and vegetables; from public art to public right-of-ways. From young to old; from parking meters to playgrounds you support us, inspire us and improve our City every day in every way. We can’t possibly itemize all the ways you advance beautiful Bloomington in one evening.

 

And I want you to realize that all that you do, connects with all that happens in the city, even if not directly, in your precise board or commission role. Our community is thriving, even after a pandemic and recession. For example, right now, Retreat at Switchyard is under construction. This park-side, mixed-income building includes affordable housing units as well as units specifically designated for individuals being supported with assistance from LifeDesigns. This is one project among many that have added 1,121 affordable housing units to Bloomington since 2016. And it reflects $1MM annually now dedicated to affordable housing. Incredible changes are ahead for Bloomington Transit, including nearly $4mm new annual funding - for bus rapid transit, sunday service, reduced fares, micro transit. We expect to achieve a 60% all electric fleet by 2030. 

 

This week we break ground on the 50-million plus fiber-to-the-premises Meridiam project that will connect all Bloomingtonians and bridge the digital divide. Jobs and wages are growing and we are proud of Catalent’s commitment to bring 1,000 new competitive-wage jobs to Bloomington. This is $3.5 billion in new investments. 

 

Look at Hopewell – a new neighborhood in our downtown that is going to be a fantastic place to live, work, and play. This is a once in a century opportunity. We are the only city in Indiana with accredited police and ISO/1 fire department. Crime rates are declining. We have new investments in progressive policing and community health. Our first ever Climate Action Plan now has $1.6million annually to implement it. 

 

Very few parks departments in the US get a gold medal (1 per year annually). Our parks department is a two-time recipient of the National Recreation and Parks Association Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management and as I look around this beautiful city property, and think about Switchyard and all our parks, I am not at all surprised. We have been a Tree City for four decades. 

We have earned a 100% score on our Human Rights Campaign for six years running. We are a Gold Bicycle City. I could go on and on about how you and your partners are helping our community thrive. These lists may seem tiresome, but you’re the people who make it happen and you make so much happen that it’s hard to keep up! The pandemic threw us, but this decade of the 2020s will be a transformative one for Bloomington. The future is bright. 

 

All these things - and many others - are possible because of the significant work and time each of you has devoted to meetings, discussions, reading reports, gathering information, and making recommendations. All of that work adds up to your legacy and that legacy is Bloomington, a special and dynamic growing and thriving city that diverse Hoosiers call home. 

 

I would love to be able to call each of you forward individually tonight, to thank you for your selfless service. But we want to have time to mingle. So, when I call out your commission or board, please stand or wave or raise your arms in triumph for your hard work and let everyone know who you are. We’re gonna keep on a roll here so be ready and stand or wave energetically!! 

 

Animal Control Commission

Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Commission

Bloomington Arts Commission

Bloomington Digital Underground Advisory Committee

Board of Park Commissioners

Board of Public Safety

Board of Public Works

Board of Zoning Appeals

Cascades Golf Course Advisory Council

CDBG Funding Citizens Advisory Committee

Citizens' Redistricting Advisory Commission

City Council Climate Action and Resilience Committee

Commission on Aging

Commission on Hispanic and Latino Affairs

Commission on Sustainability

Commission on the Status of Black Males

Commission on the Status of Children & Youth

Commission on the Status of Women

Community Advisory on Public Safety Commission

Council for Community Accessibility

Dispatch Policy Board

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Commission

Economic Development Commission

Environmental Commission

Environmental Resources Advisory Council

Farmers' Market Advisory Council

Firefighters Pension Board

Historic Preservation Commission

Hospital Re-Use Steering Committee

Housing Authority Board

Housing Quality Appeals Board

Human Rights Commission

Jack Hopkins Social Services Committee

Monroe County Domestic Violence Coalition

MPO Citizens Advisory Committee

MPO Policy Committee

MPO Technical Advisory Committee

Parking Commission

Plan Commission

Plat Committee

Police Pension Board

Public Safety Local Income Tax Committee

Public Transportation Corporation Board of Directors

Redevelopment Commission

Sidewalk Committee

Traffic Commission

Tree Commission

Urban Enterprise Association

Utilities Service Board

 

Wow, what a beautiful thing!! I’ll close.

 

Hillary Clinton said, “A progressive is someone who likes to get things done.” This is a good summary of all of our efforts, I believe. During Toby Strout’s memorial service in 2017, it was said to get things done, “Rely on persistence, and her sister, insistence. . . .  and don’t forget tenacity.” 

 

To all of you who bring persistence, and insistence, and tenacity, thank you on behalf of our City. Please enjoy this shared meal and each other's company. We hope you might make a new friend or two tonight. 

 

Thanks again to all who made tonight possible, and thank you, thank you, thank you for your love of our cherished Bloomington.

 

Mayor Hamilton speaking at a podium to board and commission members during event.
 

Speeches