June 9, 2020 Meeting Minutes

Council of Neighborhood Association (CONA) 
Meeting Minutes
June 9, 2020, 7:00 pm
Present: Zoom meeting with approximately 35 participants. John Kennedy introduced CONA’s plans to meet via Zoom for the next several meeting until it is safe to meet as a group again. He asked participants to stay on mute until called upon as it is easier for all. He then introduced CONA’s guest speakers.
Special Guest: Gillian Fields and Ellen Jacquart, from Monroe County IRIS (Identify and Reduce Invasive Species).

Gillian started the meeting with the goals of IRIS is to educate people about the damage invasive plants cause. Invasive plants are plants that are not native to the area. They were most often imported from other countries and different types environments.
• Our native plant life developed in harmony with the animals, insects, and weather conditions. They support wildlife, birds, pollinators and the entire eco-system.
• Invasive plants out compete native forms and choke our forests and urban landscapes. They are contributing to the rapid decline of native plants and animal diversity.

Gillian expressing that getting together to find and identify invasive species is a great way to build neighborhoods and, in the process, help the environment, city, country, and world. Getting together with neighbors and working in one yard at a time can be beneficial for many reasons:
• It can feel overwhelming to try to eliminate invasive in your yard. But with help from neighbors, it is fun and not as much work as when you are on your own.
• Working together connects you with your neighbors’ through sharing a common goal.
• Get togethers are very informal and everyone is welcome to participate.

Gillian described her neighborhood’s process of getting started. Like anything, she believes it takes time and work from someone interested in taking the lead. Steps included:
• Partnering with IRIS to walk the neighborhood to identify invasive species and do a survey.
• They then identified neighbors who already knew about invasive and built a core group.
• Advertised workdays and walks through signage in visible areas, email listserv and talking one to one.
• Gillian’s group emphasize the positives and neighbors began to share native plants, seeds, extra mulch and dirt. They established a place to drop off extra pots and shared tools.
• Workdays are kept very flexible. Sometimes these days are after work, while other times they are on the weekends. People will meet at the foot of someone’s driveway and sessions are timed so there is no burn-out.

Ellen then spoke about the partnership and resources and programs available for neighborhoods. IRIS partners with 14 different organizations. She stated that the first step is identifying and learning what is invasive and what is native.

  1. Indiana University has provided IRIS with 8 tool kits they loan to Monroe County residents for invasive plan control. These tool kits include soil knives, folding saw, pruners, loppers and a pullerbear (weed wrench). In addition, the kit has plastic bags with equipment/instructions on how to use herbicides, safety glasses and gloves. You can reserve these kits from 8 different locations found at: mc-iris.org/tool-kits-for-loan.html 
  1. “Take Control” is a PowerPoint workshop at: ”mc-iris.org/information-for-land-owners.html” that covers how to identify common invasive plants in Monroe County and how to get rid of them. 
  1. Go to: “indiananativeplants.org“ to see a list of native plants for all condition of land.

Ellen shared some of the IRIS strategies, such as focusing on one invasive species per growing season. Japanese Honeysuckle is the current species they are working on. They have placed signage around Bloomington adjacent to the invasive plant with identifying photos and information. This is part of an educational initiative.

Nurseries are still selling invasive plants in Indiana and there is always a good native plant that works better than these invasive species. To find alternative there is a useful list of invasive plants and their alternative native at: “mc-iris.or/a-summary-of-some-of-the-worst-invasive-plants-in-monroe-county.html”.

Ellen and Gillian took questions. Much discussion ensued about winter creeper (euonymus), Lilly of the Valley, Barberry and how to eliminate these species. Chemical removal was discussed too.

John Kennedy thanked our guest from IRIS. He then asked if there were other subjects CONA should cover using the same format. He stated to send any suggestion to him through CONA.
There were 2 items from the floor:
• Sandi Clothier opened a brief discussion on how residents could support the “Black Lives Matter” movement. One suggestion was to strive to support businesses owned by African Americans. There is a list on the city of Bloomington website.
• Becky Holtzman reminded everyone that there a virtual town Hall meeting was scheduled for the following week for the Hospital Reuse site. She emphasized that feedback is important and go to the city website for more information on this meeting.

Adjournment: shortly after 8 pm

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