Illustration by Mike Cagle.


If you’ve been to the Monroe County Public Library (MCPL) lately, you’ve likely noticed that its bulletin boards are filled with flyers announcing public events and activities that aren’t related to books. 

“We get a lot of questions about a wide variety of topics,” says Erica Brown, an MCPL community engagement librarian. “We’re kind of in the business of helping people access information, so we think about what people in the community want to do, what do they want to know about, and how can we provide them with ways to learn.” One of the frequent subjects Bloomington community members ask about is environmental sustainability. 

To address this need, the MCPL partnered with the Center for Sustainable Living (CSL) to create a series of workshops called Resilient Together: Responding to Climate Change. The workshops will be held on four Thursdays and one Saturday at the library this fall. 

“The goal was to really help people make changes in the ways they live,” says CSL outreach coordinator Jack Cathcart. “None of it is complicated—these are things that anyone can do.”

The series begins September 17, with a workshop conducted by Ellen Jacquart, chair of Monroe County-Identify and Reduce Invasive Species (MC-IRIS). Participants will take a neighborhood walk to look for and identify invasive plant species, then learn about native plants that can be used for landscaping instead. The Solar Indiana Renewable Energy Network (SIREN) will offer the second workshop in October, highlighting ways the average homeowner might affordably move toward renewable options. 

In November, two workshops will focus on reducing waste. One workshop will be on composting; the other on what can actually be recycled in Monroe County, Brown says. The series wraps in December with a DIY workshop to turn old T-shirts into reusable bags. 

The hands-on, evidence-based nature of the programming is no accident. “I don’t think it’s enough to say something is true,” Brown says. “You have to show proof, allow people to play, and let them ask questions.”

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