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HomeCivic Conversations 2023

Civic Conversations (2023)

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 The WFHB news director is Kade Young. The current producer for the podcasts is Becky Hill (, LWV-BMC. Podcasts are presented in reverse chronological order. This is the archive for 2023. Podcasts from other years can be accessed at Podcasts (current year), Podcasts 2022, and Podcasts 2019-2021.


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.   


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.  


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%.


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."  


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.

Morgan Mary 2022

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 ( 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.


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.  


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.  


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." 


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.


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.