Editor’s note: This post is Part 8 of “Celebrating the People of Bloomington,” a special retrospective revisiting some of the stories Bloom has published since its inception in 2006. The details in these stories have not been changed since they were originally written, but we have provided updates when possible. Each story highlights an individual who contributed to making Bloomington a compassionate, diverse, and creative community. For more stories from “Celebrating the People of Bloomington,” click here.

Elinor Ostrom Receives the Nobel Prize

AP Photo / Scanpix / Jonas Ekstromer / Pool

It’s December 10, 2009, in Stockholm, Sweden, and dusk has fallen. Undeterred by the cold, spectators are lined up outside the Stockholm Concert Hall to see the stars of the evening—the 2009 Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and economics.

Among them: Indiana University’s own Elinor Ostrom.

As the first female winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, Ostrom is being honored for her analysis of political economics and the distribution and management of public resources.

Elinor Ostrom died on June 12, 2012, in Bloomington. In 2019, IU President Michael McRobbie announced that a statue of Ostrom will be placed outside Woodburn Hall to honor Ostrom’s accomplishments, the first statue of a woman on the IU–Bloomington campus.

Jenn Cristy: Musician

Photo by James Kellar

In her senior year at Indiana University, Jenn Cristy broke the women’s Big Ten swimming record for the 50-yard freestyle. Six months later she was on the road, singing backup for John Mellencamp on his 2001 tour.

Cristy came to Bloomington on a swimming scholarship and was admitted to the IU School of Music. She was invited to perform the national anthem at an IU men’s basketball game her senior year and Mellencamp was in the house. “John came up to me and asked if I would record with him on Cuttin’ Heads,” she says.

Cristy stayed with Mellencamp for the next 18 months. Recently, she has been back on the road, performing with her own band and promoting her third album.

John Whikehart: Educator

Photo by Steve Raymer

In September, Ivy Tech Community College–Bloomington Chancellor John Whikehart cut the ribbon incorporating the John Waldron Arts Center into the burgeoning community college system.

The center will be used as an arts, performance, and gallery space in downtown Bloomington.

Whikehart, who first came to Bloomington as a student in 1967, has worked as a schoolteacher, an official of the Head Start antipoverty program, and as chief of staff for Frank O’Bannon when the late Democratic Party stalwart was
in the state senate.

Through all his jobs, Whikehart says he’s tried to help Hoosiers transform their lives. “I come from an era when there
was a belief that education and training could break cycles of under- employment and unemployment—which is what a community college is all about.”

Daniel Soto: Humanitarian

Photo by Pamela Keech

Growing up gay in Costa Rica, Daniel Soto did not encounter homophobia. “In my people it’s a blessing,” Soto says, “because we believe that you can travel in the world of your father and your mother, you can understand both, and you can unify the family.” As a young man in the early 1970s, Soto witnessed human rights violations while traveling with his father, a diplomat, in Chile and Argentina, and he became an activist.

Soto works for the City of Bloomington Community and Family Resources Department and for Amnesty International, flying to Latin America and Europe to testify on behalf of people imprisoned for their sexual orientation. “It still brings tears to my eyes when I think about these situations, because it’s inhuman,” Soto says. “I want to have the energy every day to help somebody.”

Jared Jeffries: Pro Athlete/Philanthropist

AP Photo / Kathy Willens

Jared Jeffries was a star on the 2000 Bloomington High School North basketball team that made it to the state championship game, and the Indiana University team that competed for the 2002 NCAA championship. Now playing for the New York Knicks, Jeffries remains active in Bloomington through the basketball camps and college scholarships he created. “I had a whole community to support me and help me,” Jeffries says, “and that’s why I feel like it’s my job to give back.”

Jeffries’ family has deep roots in Bloomington. When President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, Jeffries’ great-great-grandfather was staying in a Bloomington house on the Underground Railroad, and remained here.

“I have a lot of history here,” Jeffries says. “That’s what keeps me coming back, and what makes it so important for me to always be here.”

David Schell: Butcher’s Block Carves a Niche on the East Side

Photo by Steve Raymer

When David Schell needed a part-time job
in college, he followed his roommate behind the meat counter of Mr. D’s grocery store. “I never would have expected, three years later, to be considering what I was considering,” the 28-year-old says of starting an independent butcher shop in Bloomington from a business plan written as homework for a class at Indiana University.

Six years later, The Butcher’s Block has been an immense success—its weekly turnover can total up to 30,000 pounds of meat, including buffalo, elk, ostrich, alligator, goat, and wild boar in addition to beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, veal, and fresh seafood flown in daily.

Jared & Dayna Thompson: Funny People

Photo by James Kellar

Did you hear the one about the couple who moved to Bloomington from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and decided to start a comedy club during the Great Recession? Well, it turns out that the joke was on anyone who doubted that Jared and Dayna Thompson would succeed. They initially opened a franchise club, but soon decided Bloomington deserved an independent club. “The Comedy Attic is something we created and can be proud of because it fits the independent spirit of Bloomington,” Jared says.

The Comedy Attic has made Bloomington a destination for touring comedians. “Because it’s a small, throwback room, and because the response is so great, comedians have a great time when they’re here,” says Jared.

In 2013, Jared Thompson and Mat Alano-Martin founded the Limestone Comedy Festival, featuring local, regional, and national comedians.

Paul Daily: New Waldron Director Lays Out His Role

Photo by Shannon Zahnle

Paul Daily, an actor with New York and London credentials, is the new director of the John Waldron Arts Center, recently acquired from the City by Ivy Tech Community College–Bloomington with a commitment to preserve the center’s central role in the local arts community. Daily, 34, had been working for Ivy Tech in his hometown of Kokomo, Indiana, when he got the call.

The move to Bloomington, and to The Waldron specifically, is a homecoming for Daily. “I performed in both of The Waldron’s theater spaces when I was an IU student,” he recalls. “Right now my biggest challenge is assuring people we’re not turning the theaters into lecture halls.”

A Life-Changing Journey: Carrie Newcomer’s Tour of India

Photo by Shiv Ahuja

When Carrie Newcomer tells you
that her trip to India last fall was life- changing, you believe her. The 51-year- old Bloomingtonian traveled to India at the invitation of the American Embassy School in Delhi as a visiting artist focused on peace and justice.

“They told me they were looking for an artist who would build bridges instead of create walls,” says Newcomer of her trip.

One of the definitive voices of contemporary Midwest folk music, Newcomer performed concerts across
the country. While she was struck by the differences between the cultures, she was also intensely aware of the commonalities.

“I was so moved by the ways in which we connected, the thread that pulls us together as human beings,” she says.

Mutsa Mutembwa: Rhodes Scholar

Photo by Jeffrey Hammond

Indiana University field hockey defender and senior Mutsa Mutembwa has a passion for microfinance, reflected in her double major of economics and mathematics. “I’m a geek. I’m not going to deny it,” she says.

Mutembwa’s achievements have earned her a Rhodes Scholarship for postgraduate study at Oxford University, where she will study computational finance and mathematics. After Oxford, she expects to examine microfinance models in Bangladesh and Ecuador. Someday, she’d like to open a microbank in her native Zimbabwe.

“I have very big ideas,” she says, “and I am extremely driven to make something beautiful with them.”

Click here to download a PDF version of “Celebrating the People of Bloomington: Part 8.”