Without people from the Bloomington community giving their time and energy, there would be no Center for Sustainable Living. Together we get to live our passions and work together to find new ways of living sustainably.
The Board of CSL
Our Board oversees the organization as a whole, acting as advocates and ambassadors for the CSL’s mission and core values. At our quarterly meetings, they encourage constructive debate, share perspectives, and provide thoughtful feedback. They are available for counsel, assistance, or ad hoc meetings as needed, and they actively participate in our events.
Secretary and The Overlook Representative
“I admire that so many seemingly different projects are able to come together with a common goal, while supporting each other in their endeavors.”
Treasurer and SIREN Representative
“CSL embodies my belief that life is most fulfilling when spent volunteering to help others, and to make a difference in the world. For me that’s mostly meant helping others reduce their individual energy impact with solar and energy efficiency, which improves the environment for everyone.”
IT & Communications Coordinator
“I work to help others achieve their visions of what Bloomington and the world can be—how we can truly live sustainably—and through this work find valuable friendships.”
Discardia and Trashion/Refashion Representative
“It has been wonderful to get to know so many passionate and talented people with common interests in improving our community.”
Sura Gail Tala
Bring Your Bag Bloomington Representative
Little Free Pantry Bloomington Representative
Summer 2018 Intern
Our hardworking intern helped us dig into our past and update ourselves for our future.
Founders and Influencers
A few names stand out in the history of the Center for Sustainable Living, and we strive to remember and honor the energy, passion, and time they invested in this organization. The following people have been vital to the foundation and continuation of the CSL and each has a story that made them a force of nature all their own.
Christine co-founded the Center with Lucille Bertuccio, both involved in the creation of a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in Bloomington in 1990. Christine remembers walking around the Farmer’s Market, gauging the interest of local growers and receiving mostly positive feedback. The resulting partnerships between growers and consumers were so successful that Christine and Lucille were struck with the idea to start more sustainable initiatives.
Christine became particularly concerned about food issues and the human-environment relationship after seeing the destruction of Chernobyl in 1986. She grew up in Germany and was struck by the devastating impact of the event on surrounding communities. She saw the connection between environmental disasters and food quality, particularly the transference of chemicals from mothers to their children.
Christine’s sustainability lens led her to teach a variety of environmental courses at IU, IUPU Columbus, and St. Mary-of-the-Woods––including economics, ecological design, and sustainable agriculture. She also served as the regional director for the Environmental Fund for Indiana which the Center joined in 1998 in order to raise money alongside other environmental nonprofit organizations.
Throughout her involvement with the Center, Christine has shared her knowledge with the wider Bloomington community, leading workshops and speaking to groups about permaculture and other sustainability topics. Christine was also instrumental in the early attempts to further an Ecological City Design Group which focused on development issues such as bike/pedestrian-friendly streets and mixed-use zoning. She continued to work on city planning issues through BloomingVision, a CSL project which drafted comments for the Growth Policies Plan that was put forth by the City of Bloomington in the early 2000s.
As Treasurer of the Center for many years, Christine wrote many of the early annual reports and some of her reflections can be found in monthly newsletters. Her writings capture the evolution of the Center––its progress, its pains. In one particular newsletter, from January 2003, Christine’s thoughts on the Iraq War reveal much about her nature as well as her dedication to sustainability.
“Aren’t there enough wars already, including the relentless, undeclared war against our water, air, soil, and life support systems?”
Rather than participate in marches and protests, Christine described her individual response to the violence. Standing in front of the Monroe County Courthouse, she held a sign reading “Honk for Peace”, unsure of what to expect. The response she elicited from the community was overwhelmingly positive, and she knew at the very least she had made a ripple in others’ minds. She advocated for the power of love and believed in Ghandi’s assertion that love is the “strongest force the world possesses.” She says it best herself:
“I have seen evidence of the ‘strongest force’ in my own life, in small miracles of peace and healing that come from returning love for hate, love for resentment, love for discouragement and resignation, love for fear. These small demonstrations of the power of love have given me the conviction that thoughts speak louder than words, that every thought counts… and that thoughts of love reach where words don’t, into hearts and consciousness. There is no space or time for thoughts to overcome. They are instantaneous and faster than email. The humbleness part in practicing non-violence in a worldwide crisis like this is not knowing to what “inbox” that love thought will go and wield its power to transform, or where and how it will suddenly pop up as an instant message on the worldwide web of thought, but trusting that it will and doing it no matter what.”
Christine has a light in her eyes whenever she speaks of the Center. She clearly breathed life into the organization and it filled her with hope. Her power to help others is undeniable and her strength is fueled by gentleness and humility.
Originally from New York, Lucille worked as a park ranger in Central Park before she moved to Bloomington in 1988, around the same time as Christine. She met Christine in the effort to start a community-supported agriculture program, and the rest is history.
Lucille’s connection to the Center for Sustainable Living was so tangible, she nurtured its growth from the warmth of her own home. From board meetings to the Food Project, Lucille’s house was one of CSL’s headquarters in the early years.
Lucille loved plants and animals, and advocated for every organism big and small. Around the Center, she was known for her worm boxes and skills with composting. She taught many workshops and shared her knowledge with students of IU’s Collins Living-Learning Center through her “Edible Wild Plants” course. She valued wildlife deeply and did everything she could to help ecosystems thrive. Without Lucille’s determination and leadership, Bloomington likely would not have earned its certification as a Community Wildlife Habitat.
Lucille expressed her connection to nature in everything she did. She loved to read and write, and a series of her essays on the environment were turned into a book, Au Natural. She also wrote articles for Ryder magazine, including her reflections on the experience of a copperhead bite. As was typical of Lucille, she didn’t fault the snake but rather saw many lessons of life and death in the occurrence. Lucille was also known for her love for cooking––simple, unique meals enhanced with her knowledge of wild plants. She even made her own dandelion wine.
Lucille saw the bigger picture and she embodied sustainability in her daily life. She maintained a large garden at her home and avoided everything plastic (except her composting machine). After a trip to St. Louis defeated her old car, she decided that she didn’t need one anyway.
She wanted the rest of Bloomington to share her mission, described in her board member bio around 2000:
“I would like to see the vision of the Center become the mandate of Bloomington; infusing the city with livable streets, breathable air and drinkable waters. I would like to see school children out in the schoolyard and back yard interacting with nature rather than in front of a computer and their parents creating a backyard habitat that is healthy for humans and nonhumans alike. I would like to see bicycles and pedestrians enjoying the unpolluted air. I would like to see strong local currency and a folks buying locally. I would like to see green spaces rather than concrete: parks rather than parking lots. I would love to see an organic farm cooperative spring up around our city so we can buy locally grown organic produce. I would like to see schools and restaurants turning their food waste into compost and using the green spaces around them to grow healthy food. I would love to see the Simply Living event become a weeklong celebration. I would love to see folks slow down and enjoy the Earth and her beauty. I would love to see houses built of straw bale and cob utilizing energy saving methods and streets and cityscape of livable proportions and scale.
To realize this vision is my dream. That is why I want to work with the Center and why I wish to continue giving my heart, soul and spirit. Someday we will say, this is our community. Isn’t it wonderful?”
Lucille, circa 2000
Lucille’s drive is evident in every word she authored and her impact is clear in the eyes of anyone who speaks of her. She stayed on the board of the Center for Sustainable Living until she passed away in 2016. Her dedication to the organization, her sense of purpose, and her compassion will continue to be carried by those who build upon the work she began.
Jeanne came to the Center in 2000 when she and Joe Davis taught a workshop about cob building at the Simply Living Fair. Their interest in natural building techniques such as cob and straw bale led them to form the Natural Building Group as a project of the CSL. Their efforts led to the construction of the first straw bale home in Bloomington in 2003, built for a Habitat for Humanity family.
Jeanne’s contributions to the Center extended far beyond the straw bale house. She joined the Center’s board in 2001 and served the organization in a variety of capacities for 14 years. With a background in graphic design, Jeanne created a logo for the CSL which has remained part of the organization to this day. She assisted with the CSL newsletter as well as membership letters which helped gather donations for the Center. She served as the board’s Treasurer for several years after Christine stepped down. Furthermore, Jeanne was actively involved in other projects after the Natural Building Group dissolved, including the Food Project and SIREN. When the CSL started sending out less frequent letters for donations, Jeanne found a solution to the organization’s need for funding––the Trashion/Refashion Show. This event has continued annually for 9 years now, remaining a vital fundraiser for the Center as well as the catalyst for Discardia, a project that Jeanne helped establish. In 2015, Jeanne moved to California, but her work with the Center is an important part of our historical memory and she made waves that continue to sustain our mission today.