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Civic Conversations


The League of Women Voters of Bloomington-Monroe County would like to thank WFHB Community Radio for broadcasting these podcasts. In addition to the audio files below, you can access all of these broadcasts at https://wfhb.org/category/civic-conversations. The WFHB news director is Kade Young. The current producer for the podcasts is Becky Hill (news@lwv-bmc.org), LWV-BMC. There are links to categorized podcasts below followed by the podcasts presented in reverse chronological order. Podcasts from past years can be accessed at https://lwv-bmc.org/podcasts_archive.

Gerrymandering, Voter Suppression

Perspectives on Gerrymandering, Ranjan Rohatgi, 4/17/22, 17 min. Link

 

Voting, Elections, Democracy
Indiana Women: Fearless, Anita Morgan, 12/12/2023, 21 min. Link  
Women in the Legislature, Laura Merrifield Wilson, 1/17/2023, 14 min. Link 

A Discussion on the 26th Amendment, Kate Cruikshank, 12/13/2022, 13 min. Link

A Student's Perspective of Voting, Annika Evenson, 8/24/2022, 13 min. Link 

Examining Indiana's Civic Health, Lisa-Mari Napoli, 3/10/2022, 13 min. Link 


Race, Ethnicity, and Gender

Issues with Legal System, Miriam Northcutt-Bohmert, 5/23/2023, 19 min. Link 
Status of Abortion Rights in the U.S., Jody Madeira, 6/21/2022, 19 min. Link 

The Story Behind the Graphic Novel Forgiveness, Joe Lee, 5/17/2022, 16 min. Link

Community
Vouchers and Schools: The Effect on a Community’s Economy,  Michael Hicks, 12/16/2024, 24 min.
Link
Our Health Department and How It Works,  Clark Brittain & George Hegeman, 11/14/2023, 12 min.
Link
How a Tree Canopy Benefits a Community, Ava Hartman, 10/17/2023, 12 min. 
Link
The Role of the Public Library in a Democracy, Greer Carson, 8/25/2023, 16 min. 
Link
Bloomington Health Foundation Focuses on Community, Michelle Gilchrist & Heather Robinson, 7/24/2023, 20 min. Link
Addressing Housing Challenges in Bloomington, Mary Morgan, 6/20/2023, 19 min. Link
Co-owners of Birthing Center Discuss Local Birthing Care, Julie Katz & Haddie Duhon, 4/18/2023, 18 min. Link 
Indiana Report Card on Public Health, Michael Lippert, 3/21/2023, 24 min. 
Link
Citizens' Climate Lobby, Marcia Veldman, 2/10/2023, 16 min. Link
Loss of Local News, Steve Hinnefeld, 11/21/2022, 18 min. Link
Lake Monroe's Impact on Bloomington, Maggie Sullivan & Michelle Cohen, 10/20/2022, 13 min. 
Link
Immigration: Policies and Societal Attitudes, Shruti Rana,  9/20/2022, 20 min. Link 
Refugees in Bloomington, Diane Legomsky, 7/14/22, 17 min. Link  
Community Voices for Health, Liz Grenat &Terry Amsler, 2/15/22, 19 min. Link  

 


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Vouchers and Schools: The Effect on a Community’s Economy

Guest: Dr. Michael Hicks, Ball State University

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

January 16, 2024


For our January podcast, we welcomed Dr. Michael Hicks, Distinguished Professor of Economics and Business Research and Director of Center Business Economic Research at Ball State University. His work has appeared not only in scholarly sources but also in such publications and media as Rolling Stone, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, NPR, and Fox Business News. In the podcast, Hicks discusses the impact of Indiana's voucher program on school choice and public schools and how this impact affects a community’s economy. Indiana has spent approximately $80 million since 2019 on voucher programs and other charter schools. Indiana currently spends roughly $10,095 per student on public education, while the average amount in the US is $12,612 per student. In his research, Hicks has found that quality public schools contribute directly to a community's economy. For instance, 30% of all home buyers consider the quality of public schools when buying a home; even a school's test scores can contribute to home-buying decisions. 

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Indiana Women: Fearless

Guest: Dr. Anita Morgan, Indiana University
Host: Becky Hill, LWV-BMC
December 12, 2023

In December, we welcomed Dr. Anita Morgan, the author of We Must Be Fearless : The Woman Suffrage Movement in Indiana. Morgan is the senior lecturer emerita at IU's School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI in Indianapolis. In the podcast, she shared the history behind the suffrage movement in Indiana and how it impacted Indiana women. She expounded on the role of African-American and Quaker women in Indiana and how they promoted the campaign. Finally, she discussed the role that the League of Women Voters played in the suffrage movement.   

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Our Health Department and How It Works

Guests: Health Officer Dr. Clark Brittain and Board Member George Hegeman, Monroe County Health Dept. Board
Host: Becky Hill, LWV-BMC
November 14, 2023

This month on Civic Conversations, we are joined by Health Officer Dr. Clark Brittain and Board Member George Hegeman of the Monroe County Health Department Board.  In our discussion, we talked about the Health Department's role and numerous services. With the recent legislative allocations towards Indiana public health, Dr. Brittain talked about the amounts received and how that money would be spent in Monroe County through the Indiana Health First Initiative.  

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How a Tree Canopy Benefits a Community

Guests: Ava Hartman, Forestry Director, Canopy Bloomington 

Host: Becky Hill, LWV-BMC

October 17, 2023

 

In October's Civic Conversation podcast, Canopy Bloomington's Forestry Director Ava Hartman joins the podcast to talk about Bloomington's tree canopy and its benefits to the Bloomington community. Among many benefits, according to Hartman, is the ability to mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in tree tissue. Hartman also discussed the City of Bloomington's 2019 Urban Tree Canopy Assessment and its findings. Currently, Bloomington has over 38% tree canopy with an attainable tree canopy of 61%.


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The Role of the Public Library in a Democracy

Guests: Grier Carson, Library Director, Monroe County Public Library

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

August 25, 2023

 

This month, we welcome Grier Carson, Library Director of the Monroe County Public Library, to discuss the library as a civic institution.  Carson talked to our host, Jim Allison, about the library's role in a democracy and how it protects intellectual freedom and access to information for everyone without regard to their social status, gender, race, or religion.  "The library has three goals," says Carson, "to provide equitable impartial access, to strengthen communications, and to improve people's lives."  He talked briefly about what is happening in Fishers, Indiana, at Hamilton East Public Library, saying instead of focusing on the appropriateness of content in the library and collection development policies, if we are genuinely concerned about the appropriateness of information, we should go after Google, Microsoft, Apple, Meta, and Twitter and access to content on the Internet. "Going after books is an easy, time-worn practice and amounts to window dressing in 21st-century culture wars," said Carson. "But it has very real and negative consequences for library professionals and their livelihood. It is ludicrous and careless."  


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Bloomington Health Foundation Focuses on Community

Guests: Michelle Gilchrist and Heather Robinson, Bloomington Health Foundation

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

July 24, 2023

 

In July, President and CEO Michelle Gilchrist (photo left) and COO Heather Robinson (photo right) of the Bloomington Health Foundation joined us to discuss their role in the Bloomington community and how the foundation works to address numerous health issues in the community.  Bloomington Health Foundation started in the 1960s as the Bloomington Hospital Foundation under the auspices of the Local Council of Women. In 2018, the Bloomington Hospital Foundation began to expand its community health focus and officially became the Bloomington Health Foundation. Their focus is on community health initiatives such as expanding community cancer services by connecting with the Cancer Support Community of Central Indiana and opening Cancer Support Community South Central Indiana. BHF also focuses on funding food security and mental health programming and avidly supports the STRIDE Center.


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Addressing Housing Challenges in Bloomington

Guests: Mary Morgan

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

June 20, 2023

 

This podcast features Mary Morgan, director of housing security with Heading Home of South Central Indiana (https://headinghomeindiana.org/). Mary and Jim Allison discuss what housing looks like in Bloomington and Monroe County considering the housing challenges nationwide. Bloomington faces a shortage of single-family homes while also seeing a surge in new rental properties. According to Morgan, U.S. housing trends are shifting to where the dream of owning a home may only be available to some. Rents have increased nationally, as they have in Bloomington. Despite the availability of Section 8 federal housing choice vouchers, obtaining low-income housing is still a challenge, especially to those recently homeless or coming out of jail, because it is difficult to find landlords who will accept them. Morgan says one solution to this is developing relationships with area landlords and working with them to help fill that critical need. Other topics included the effect of university students on available housing and the work being done by Habitat for Humanity.


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Professor Northcutt-Bohmert Covers Issues with Legal System

Guests: Miriam Northcutt-Bohmert

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

May 23, 2023

 

For the May podcast, we welcomed Miriam Northcutt-Bohmert, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Indiana University. Professor Northcutt-Bohmert shared information from her research on racial, ethnic, and gender disparities in our legal system. She talked about how our jail system has become the default repository for those with mental illness and substance abuse. She also shared how our Monroe County jails are coping with these issues and the various pretrial options and diversion available to those facing the correctional system. Finally, she provided her insight on the new Monroe County proposed jail.  


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Co-owners of Birthing Center Discuss Local Birthing Care

Guests: Julie Duhon and Haddie Katz

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

April 18, 2023

 

This month our host, Jim Allison, talked to Julie Duhon (photo right) and Haddie Katz (photo left), co-founders of the Tandem Community Birth Center and Postpartum House, which recently opened in Bloomington. Tandem offers birthing services, preconception support, and prenatal and post-natal care. Lactation care is also provided as are gynecological services to all women of all ages. Together they talked about maternal health in Indiana and Bloomington. Indiana currently ranks 46th out of the 50 states for maternal health, and in Bloomington, only 20.6% of women receive adequate early prenatal care. One issue with Indiana, says Katz and Duhon, is the significant rural population that does not have this type of care and for whom the closure of rural hospitals has resulted in a lack of access to care. The lack of transportation too, says Katz, is also a major hurdle to maternal health care.  


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Indiana Report Card on Public Health

Guest: Michael Lippert

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

March 21, 2023

 

In March, Civics Conversations welcomed Michael Lippert, a journalist with the Indiana Capital Chronicle, to discuss the 2022 American Health Rankings Report. Leppert talked to our host, Jim Allison, about where Indiana stands regarding public health in the United States. Overall, Indiana ranks 35th among all 52 states but ranks 45th in the nation for public health. In Indiana, we spend approximately $14 per person on public health. Leppert spoke about how this ranking comes from a protracted line of policy failures and lack of long-term commitment to the public health of Indiana citizens, saying that failure in Indiana's public health system is "not a weather event, but a climate event." 


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Citizens' Climate Lobby

Guest: Marcia Veldman

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

February 10, 2023

 

In February 2023, Civics Conversations welcomed Marcia Veldman, the Indiana State Co-Coordinator for the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. Veldman shared the origin story of the organization, which has 450 U.S. chapters and 150 international chapters. The Lobby is a strong advocate for the carbon tax dividend, in which fees are collected for the cost of burning fossil fuel and the money is returned to Americans. When asked if Congress could create an effective carbon tax, Veldman said that they should in fact pursue it, but it is unlikely that they would. In a recent conversation she had with Senator Todd Young, Young said that a carbon tax is necessary, but politically not feasible. However, Veldman is seeing some changes on the climate front, especially the Inflation Reduction Act, which was the single biggest climate change legislation to pass in recent years.


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Women in the Legislature

Guest:  Dr. Laura Merrifield Wilson

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

January 17, 2023

 

Joining us for January 2023 is Dr. Laura Merrifield Wilson. Dr. Wilson is the co-director of the Gender Center and Associate Professor of History and Political Science for the University of Indianapolis. She was also recently named one of the Indianapolis Business Journal's Forty Under Forty. In this podcast, Dr. Wilson talks about the increasing number of women in the legislature in Indiana and nationally. She shares that political ladders and hierarchies are now changing.

Once, a candidate's experience in government was an essential attribute for winning an election. Today, it is no longer a driving force. As a result, we see more younger candidates, particularly women, running for office. In addition, where politicians were once expected to climb the ladder through local, state, and national politics, an expectation that closed opportunities for many women, has changed. Currently, the U.S. Congress is made up of approximately 28% women, even though the U.S. population is about 51% women.


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A Discussion of the 26th Amendment

Guest: Kate Cruikshank

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

December 13, 2022

 

This month on Civics Conversations, Kate Cruikshank, political papers specialist for the University Archives at the Herman B Wells Library, joined us to talk about the 26th Amendment. The 26th Amendment lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 for all elections, state and federal. Ms. Cruikshank shared that the amendment was created after a long debate about lowering the voting age in response to those men returning from World War II, continuing through the Vietnam War.   Drawing from Indiana Senator Birch Bayh's archival papers, Ms. Cruikshank tells how Bayh was instrumental in the passage of the 26th Amendment. According to Ms. Cruikshank, maintaining these political paper archives is one way to show how democracy keeps going.  


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Loss of Local News

Guest: Steve Hinnefeld

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

November 21, 2022

 

This month, LWV-BMC Civics Conversation podcast host, Jim Allison, talked to Steve Hinnefeld about the impact on a community when local news sources die out. Mr. Hinnefeld has worked for over thirty years as a reporter and is a former reporter for the Herald Times. Approximately 2500 local, state, and national news sources have been lost. According to Mr. Hinnefeld, the loss of local news sources can lead to increased polarization, increased government taxes, decreased voter interactions, and many other situations. He also shared information about the growing influence of nonprofit news sources.  


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Lake Monroe's Impact on Bloomington

Guests: Maggie Sullivan, Friends of Lake Monroe, and Michelle Cohen,  Lake Monroe Water Fund

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

October 20, 2022

 

For October 2022, Civic Conversations welcomed Maggie Sullivan of the Friends of Lake Monroe and Michelle Cohen of the Lake Monroe Water Fund.  Maggie and Michelle shared information about Lake Monroe, water quality, and the impact on the Bloomington economy. Did you know that Lake Monroe produces Bloomington's 15 million gallons per day of drinking water? Or that 1.5 million visitors use Lake Monroe for recreation, fishing, and boating each year?  They talked about how their organizations monitor Lake Monroe and work with other stakeholders. 


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Immigration: Policies and Societal Attitudes

Guest: Shruti Rana, professor at Indiana University's Department of International Studies 

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

September 20, 2022

 

In the September 2022 Civic Conversations podcast, we welcome Professor Shruti Rana, a professor at Indiana University's Department of International Studies specializing in international law. She holds a degree from Columbia Law School, the London School of Economics and Politics, and UC Berkley. Professor Rana discusses the issues facing our immigration systems today. She responds to the recent shipping of immigrants to Martha's Vineyard, Washington DC, Chicago, and New York City by Texas, Arizona, and Florida governors. She shares how the constant changing of laws and policy impacts the backlog of separation and asylum cases and addresses the issue of how we as a society treat immigrants and how it ultimately reflects upon our community.  


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A Student's Perspective of Voting

Guest: Annika Evenson, winner of Brown County student essay contest.

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

August 24, 2022

 

In this podcast, we welcome Annika Evenson of Brown County. Annika is the winner of the League of Women Voters Brown County 2022 voter turnout essay contest. Annika placed first in the high school category of the contest. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Brown County High School. She is currently enrolled at the University of Evansville in exercise science with direct admission to their physical therapy program. In the podcast, she talks about the biggest roadblocks to voting, how to encourage more people to vote, and why voters are disconnected from the voting process.  Click here to read Annika's essay.  


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Refugees in Bloomington

Guest: Diane Legomsky, founder of the Bloomington Refugee Support Network

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

July 14, 2022

 

Diane Legomsky, founder of the Bloomington Refugee Support Network and a member of LWV-BMC, joins Civic Conversations to discuss the issue of refugee support in Bloomington and nationally. In the podcast, we talk to Diane about the mission of Bloomington Refugee Support Network and how it interacts with other refugee resettlement organizations like Exodus Refugee Immigration. Diane breaks down for our audience the differences between being a refugee and asylum seeker as well as a humanitarian parolee. According to Diane, most Afghans settling in Indianapolis are refugees, but those resettled in Bloomington are mostly humanitarian parolees.  


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Status of Abortion Rights in the U.S.

Guest: Jody Madeira, Professor of Law, IU Mauer School of Law, and Louis F. Niezer Faculty Fellow, Co-Director for the Center for Law, Society & Culture

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

June 21, 2022

 

In the June 2022 Civics Conversation podcast, our host, Jim Allison, talks to Jody Madeira. She is a professor of law with the IU Mauer School of Law and is a Louis F. Niezer faculty fellow as well as co-director for the Center for Law, Society, and Culture. Jody discusses the current status of abortion rights in the United States, especially in light of the recent leak of Justice Alito's draft on the Dodd v. Jackson Supreme Court case overturning Roe V. Wade, an almost fifty-year precedent on abortion rights in the U.S. Jody shares what she expects will happen if Roe is nullified and what those immediate effects on women's rights will be. She further discusses the controversial aspects of the initial Roe ruling and Alito's interpretation under Dodd and the expected impact of overruling Roe on gay rights, interracial marriage rights, and birth control.  

 

Note: On June 24, 2022, three days after this podcast, Roe v Wade was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. Click here to read the League of Women Voters statement on this decision.


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The Story Behind the Graphic Novel Forgiveness

Guest: Joe Lee, graphic novelist and political cartoonist 

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

May 17, 2022

 

Joe Lee is the author of the graphic novel, Forgiveness: The Story of Eva Kor, Survivor of the Auschwitz Twin Experiments. Joe talks about creating his graphic novel and working with Eva Kor. He shares what it was like to visit Auschwitz II-Birkenau and how those visits informed his novel. He also shares how his father's experiences in World War II and the liberation of the Nordhausen work camp influenced his decision to create the novel.  


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Perspectives on Gerrymandering

Guest: Professor Ranjan Rohatgi, Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science, St. Mary's College 

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

April 17, 2022

 

Professor Rohatgi was a member of the Indiana Citizen's Redistricting Commission. In this podcast, he discusses how gerrymandering works in Indiana, our past and present political culture, and his experience with the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission. He shares that gerrymandering has two adverse outcomes: (1) voters becoming disengaged from the voting process and being less inclined to vote and (2) polarization. He also shares how he would draw maps and how he teaches his math and computer science students about redistricting and fair maps.   


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Examining Indiana's Civic Health

Guests: Lisa-Marie Napoli, Director and Senior Lecturer of IU PACE (Political and Civic Engagement) 

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

March 10, 2022

 

Lisa-Marie Napoli talks to our host about the most recent release of the fifth edition of the Indiana Civic Health Index. She shares why it is critical, in a state that rates so low on voting turnout, that citizens need to be more involved in the voting process. Napoli talks about the increases in college student voting for the last election and explains some of the recommendations provided in the Index for school civics education improvements.  


Community Voices for Health

Guests: Liz Grenat and Terry Amsler, Community Voices for Health 

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

February 15, 2022

 

In this podcast, Jim Allison talked to Liz Grenat and Terry Amsler. Liz is the Executive Director of the Community Justice and Mediation Center and Project Lead for Community Voices for Health. Terry Amsler is the Program Director Emeritus of the Institute for Local Government’s Public Engagement Program and adjunct professor at IU's O'Neill School. Both Liz and Terry serve on the steering committee with the Community Voices for Health, a three-year grant-funded project that addresses the inequities in community decision-making about issues that affect health. The project is funded by the Robert Wood Foundation, and Bloomington was one of six sites selected. In the podcast, Liz and Terry talk about how Community Voices for Health has been progressing in our community by gathering feedback from a diverse selection of people and where that information will be used in the future.