Monday, December 7, 2015

In the Region of the Blest - Bill Sturbaum (1928-2015)

bl_obit_BillSturbaum_1108Tribute to Bill Sturbaum 
I grew up here in Bloomington and Monroe County. Bill Sturbaum was my high school social studies teacher – all three years. Forty-three years later, he is sitting on the Bloomington Township Board, I am the Township Trustee, and I’m working with him as a PEER.  Talk about cognitive dissonance!

Throughout all those decades, he was contributing, helping to build, a better community.  Besides teaching history and English at Bloomington High School…South, he bargained contracts as a member of the teachers’ union. He helped transform Prospect Hill when it wasn’t cool to live there. He served on the Bloomington Plan Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals, Indiana State Teachers Association, and the Indiana Retired Teachers Association.  He served on the Bloomington Township Board for 17 plus years.

Bloomington Township Board Meeting 2015 (L to R)
Kim Alexander, Barbara McKinney, and Bill Sturbaum
During his time with the Bloomington Township Board, the Bloomington Township undertook a major expansion and renovation of the Fire Department’s Station 5 on Old N. SR 37, which quadrupled the facility’s square footage and added sleeping, fitness and training areas for the 24 hour firefighters.  The Township’s emergency family shelter, Rosie’s Place, was rebuilt and modernized. He was a member of the Township’s leadership who saw it through the difficult economic crisis of the last decade.
Bill’s commitment to lifting the burden on low-income people was unwavering.  Every year the Board had to approve the Township Assistance Guidelines and every year Bill would challenge the rules and regulations that we were required to list in the Township’s guidelines.  He felt they should be simplified and more humane; thus, Bloomington Township’s guidelines more often use the verb “may” versus “will” or “must.” He asked good questions and took time to understand the relevant information.  As you would expect of a natural-born teacher, he was always learning, even to the end.

At his last board meeting, we needed him there to have a quorum to adopt the Township’s 2016 budget. He had told me he wasn’t feeling well and hoped the meeting would be short.  We had one item that I knew might take time but it was only informational and so I put all the action items, which would take no time at all, at the beginning, so that he could leave as soon as that was done.  However, after the action items were done, our guests were there and he signaled them to begin and before long he was fully engaged, asking all sorts of challenging questions, and having a hearty discussion about the ideas presented.  I kept looking to see if his energy would flag and we could bring the session to an end, but his interest and engagement didn’t.  We closed the meeting after an hour and a half, an hour longer than I thought he would last.

2014 Bloomington Township Volunteer Firefighters
Breakfast with the Bunny with (L to R)
Alexander, the Easter Bunny, Sturbaum, Henegar
Like a natural born teacher, he encouraged me and others to run for office, to be always asking good questions.  He will be remembered for his good, sincere heart, his sense of humor, his optimism and happy demeanor.  He was so proud of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. When our paths crossed four decades after my high school years, I walked into his lovely cottage on Third Street and felt the warmth and comfort of his and Helen’s journey together.

I was in my 50s and had lived in different parts of this country before I came to appreciate what was so special about growing up here in Monroe County.  I grew up surrounded by men and women who served as volunteers on the Hill or in schools, in elected office or on boards and commissions, in a variety ways to make this a better community for all.  They took elected office because it was a part of what one did as a member of a community.  You took your turn.  It was what grown-ups do.  I believe that there was a “greatest generation” and that Bill Sturbaum was one of them.

*"In the region of the blest" comes from a poem included in Bill Sturbaum's obituary which appeared in the local paper, Herald Times.  The poem is "A Happy Man" by Edwin Arlington Robinson.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Remembering We Are Sustained By Each Other in the Web of Life

I've been meaning to write this "poem" down to share for quite some time. It is in Active Hope: How to face the mess we're in without going crazy by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone starting on page 114.

"Based on an interview with Joanna, this poem, edited into verse by Tom Atlee, founder of the Co-Intelligence Institute, expresses well the grace that comes from belonging to life:

When you act on behalf
of something greater than yourself,
you begin,
to feel it acting through you
with a power that is greater than your own.

This is grace.

Today, as we take risks
for the sake of something greater
than our separate, individual lives,
we are feeling graced
by other beings and by Earth itself.

Those with whom and on whose behalf we act
give us strength
and eloquence
and staying power
we didn't know we had.

We just need to practice knowing that
and remembering that we are sustained
by each other
in the web of life.
Our true power comes as a gift, like grace,
because in truth it is sustained by others.

If we practice drawing on the wisdom
and beauty
and strengths
of our fellow human beings
and our fellow species
we can go into any situation
and trust
that the courage and intelligence required
will be supplied.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


ACCESS TO CLEAN WATER IS A HUMAN RIGHT or so I thought. Apparently British Columbia is joining the ranks of local and regional governments selling the municipal water to for-profit corporations. I was horrified when Sacramento, California did this when I lived there. These companies, such as multi-national Nestle, bottle and sell the public's water at huge mark-ups. Thus, their corporate executives and shareholders enjoy comfortable profits. I guess, our elected leaders consider these folks more important than the rest of us. Low cost or free access to safe clean water is the sign of a civil society, a "first world" country. Many consider it a basic human right. Selling it to the highest bidder is wrong. It is certainly embarking down a slippery slope, from which it will be difficult if not impossible to return. Nevermind the short and long term consequences to our environment and future generations of the bottled water industry.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Child Homelessness and the Township


One of the Township's responsibilities is responding to requests for assistance with rent or mortgage.  We carefully evaluate the household's situation and, if children are in the household, their security factors into our decision.  Further, I believe that the Township has a responsibility NOT to contribute to the homeless population.  Especially when children are involved.  Hence, my interest this morning when I saw in the paper an article about a new report out on child homelessness and well-being, which has been issued by the National Center on Family Homelessness. 

The report is called America's Youngest Outcasts and can be found on their website.

It's great that the Township can choose to keep a roof over a child's head for one more month, but that's not enough.  Here is the Center recommends for effectively addressing child homelessness and well-being, with which I agree:

Effective responses to child homelessness must include:
• Safe, affordable housing.
• Comprehensive needs assessments of all family members.
• Family-oriented services that incorporate trauma-informed care.
• Identification, prevention, and treatment of major depression in mothers.
• Parenting supports for mothers.
• Education and employment opportunities for parents.
• Further research to identify evidence-based programs and services for children and families.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


I have received many lovely congratulatory messages from friends and family and fellow campaigners. My daughter's adoring accolades may warm my heart the most.
However, friends, I am blessed to share a vision with many others for a Township, for government, that is professionally run and fiscally responsible as well as responsive to the public, but, foremost, a township that is compassionate toward all. This shared vision includes dedication to collaboration as the way to meet the challenges facing our community.

Party headquarters Election Night
photo by David Snodgress, Herald Times
I am also blessed that Linda Sievers (my inspiring predecessor) agreed to manage the campaign and that a great team was formed with Board candidates Kim Alexander, Barbara McKinney and Bill Sturbaum. The team and inspiration blossomed because so many great and loving people stepped up to help with the campaign generously giving their time, energy, and resources to help us build on this vision for the Township. I am grateful to the Democratic Women's Caucus for their endorsement and training and to the Monroe County Democratic Party leadership for the training and resources they provided. They made our ability to be strategic so much easier.

And, to my father, Warren Henegar, who set an example for what a public servant and leader should be, whose shoes I strive every day to fill, and who told me many times "Lillian, you should run for township trustee"!

I am a bit awed by the challenges facing the Township in the next four years. But, like this campaign and the work we've enjoyed so far, it is a team effort. Nothing we do, except maybe dying and that I'm not so sure about, is done alone. A great group of people have shared our vision thus far, which makes me hopeful for the future.
Thank you thank you thank you!!!!

Township Staff who put the vision
to work everyday!

Bloomington Township Trustee
Lillian Henegar (D)   3427
Bill Eggleston (R)     1698

Bloomington Township Board
Matthew Shute (R)       1739
Michael A Lakes (R)     1686
Kim Alexander (D)        3165
Bill Sturbaum (D)          3222
Barbara McKinney (D)  3285

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Summer Becomes Fall

Remnants of Summer Clustered Against the Wall

Summer Becomes Fall

I took a walk this evening. Not very far. I noticed how summer has ended and fall is fully here.

The Hinkle Garton Farmstead is not far from my home.  The volunteers there keep a big garden and I wandered around it to observe what they had planted, how they laid it out, and what was remaining there.

The fields surrounding the Farmstead, now owned by the Bloomington Restorations Inc., cushion it from the ever spreading commercial and residential developments