Thank you very much for helping make the 2010 Simply Living Fair and Midwest Permaculture Convergence a success!  The weather was beautiful, the fairgoers were delightful, and we survived the craziness that always seems to happen with an event like this.  (Note: be sure that the tent company does indeed set up tents the night before like they promised in their contract.)

If you would like to provide feedback on the fair, please fill out our 10-question online survey:

Check back here in January for details on the 2011 Simply Living Fair which we think will have a permaculture theme again but a slightly different format.  Interested in being on the planning committee?  Drop us a line at the Center for Sustainable Living Office – csloffice “at”



We still have tickets available for our four excellent tours today!  Each tour is $15 and leaves by van from Third Street Park (meet in the parking lot behind the Alison Jukebox Center off Smith Street).  Questions?  Call Maggie at 812-345-1592.

Morning Tours 10:00-12:00 (two options)

  1. Sustainable Neighborhood Tour – Explore Green Acres Neighborhood and learn how this group of neighbors have come together to create a community teaching garden and to support each other in creating green living infrastructure in their neighborhood.  Green Acres is located just east of the IU campus and contains a mix of owner-owned homes and student rentals which has inspired the neighborhood association to find ways to “bridge the gap” between townies and students.  Neighborhood residents are also very interested in green living and permaculture design, working to increase the number of community gardens and green features in their yards and open lots.
  2. Permaculture Design Tour – Visit the home of two of the foremost permaculture designers in the country and tour their nearly-off-the-grid homestead featuring hoophouses, passive solar heating, an involved water catchment system, and an amazing amount of food production.  Peter Bane and Keith Johnson are longtime permaculture designers, instructors, and authors who in just a few years have created a truly green home and landscape.

Afternoon Tours 1:00-3:00 (two options)

  1. Urban and Community Food Production Tour – Learn about urban food production by touring Grown in Town Farmstead, Willie Streeter Community Garden, and the new Bloomington Community Orchard.  Bloomington is truly blessed with a local food scene that is constantly expanding to increase the availability of fresh local food.  Learn about efforts to make gardening/orcharding accessible to all as well as updating city code to support “micro-farming” within city limits.
  2. Green Building/Solar Tour – Explore three buildings that demonstrate different uses of Solar Energy and green building design.  The New Wings (Middle Way House) building is a great example of retrofitting an old commercial building with green features such as a solar water heater, a green roof, a vermicomposting system, and courtyard food production.  Next, visit a small residential home that has been enhanced with a solar furnace that uses sunlight to heat the home’s air, reducing the need for heating from a natural gas heater.  (This installation was sponsored by the Southern Indiana Renewable Energy Network (SIREN) as part of an effort to install solar furnaces on low-income houses in the area; solar furnaces can also be purchased through Mann Plumbing).  Finally, tour a home in Evergreen Village, a green neighborhood developed by the Bloomington Housing and Neighborhood Development Department (HAND) featuring solar electric panels that convert sunlight into electricity.

There are still tickets available for the Local Foods Feast tonight (Friday)!  It will be a wonderful meal prepared by Food Works for Middle Way House featuring locally grown ingredients and including a short performance by the Bloomington Peace Choir.  Advance ticket sales have ended but we will have ticket sales at the door (or call Maggie at 812-345-1592 to reserve a spot).  Here’s the menu:

  • Summer Vegetable Ragu served over Baked Polenta
  • Bell Peppers stuffed with fresh Corn, Basil, Tomatoes, Ground Beef, and Cheese
  • Baby Greens Salad topped with vine-ripened Cucumbers and Tomatoes
  • Fresh Baked Breads made with Whole Grains (a Food Works specialty)
  • Butternut Squash Tarts  and Apple Cobbler

Drinks will include Iced Herbal Tea, Water, Freshly Pressed Apple Cider from Musgrave Orchard

Yum!  Hope to see you there!

Community Orchards!    Solar Bicycles!    Natural Building!

Living Car-Free!   Solar Furnaces!     Rain Barrels!

Permaculture Tours!    Energy Retrofits!     Wildlife Habitat!

Join the Center for Sustainable Living and the Bloomington Permaculture Guild four a four-day celebration of simple and sustainble living including speakers, workshops, children’s activities, hands-on demonstrations, tours, and green vendor booths!

Thank you to our sustaining sponsors

Branches Magazine Indiana Living Green Magazine

Special thanks also to the Monroe County Public Library for co-sponsoring our opening lecture by author Eric Brende on Thursday night.

Read on to learn more about the fair or browse our website for more details.

Saturday is the main event with a full day of workshops on sustainable living topics  including:

  • Renovating an old home for energy efficiency
  • Conserving water with rain barrels, cisterns, and low-flow faucets
  • Cooking with solar ovens
  • How to live without a car
  • Growing food in your backyard (or front yard)

There will also be activities for children all day long and a series of demonstrations including natural building, a visit from the Solar Bike Team of Bloomington High School South, and green vendors.   Keynote speaker Aaron Newton will talk Saturday night about rebuilding our local food system and his work creating a farm incubator in North Carolina.

On Sunday, tour sustainable sites around Bloomington with your choice of morning and afternoon tours.  Options include Urban and Community Food Production, Nationally Acclaimed Permaculture Design, Green Building Techniques for New and Old Buildings, and Strengthening Neighborhoods through Green Initiatives.

Need more?  Come to our pre-event lecture Thursday evening where Eric Brende will talk about his book “Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology” and his attempts to determine which technologies help us and which we are better off without.  On Friday, take a one-day introductory course in permaculture, a design system focused on working with Nature to produce abundance for people and the environment.  Friday night, join  us for a local foods dinner and a short concert by the Bloomington Peace Choir.

In town for the weekend?  Bloomington is a great town to explore – and don’t forget to visit the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market Saturday morning before the workshops begin.  The Bloomington Eco-Center will be open all day Saturday as a hospitality space for anyone interested in hanging out and exploring new topics with friends.

We are excited to welcome permaculture students and practitioners from around the Midwest for a chance to learn from each other, explore permaculture in Bloomington, and develop plans for more permaculture development in our area!  Bloomington is blessed with a strong permaculture presence, including nationally respected instructors and writers Peter Bane and Keith Johnson.  We have several special sessions and activities planned:

  • There will be an opening session on Friday evening after the local foods dinner, hosted by Rhonda Baird of the Bloomington Permaculture Guild (First United Methodist Church).
  • Saturday there will be several crowd-sourced workshop sessions throughout the day based on input from Friday’s session (pick up a schedule from the hospitality room).
  • Saturday there will also be hospitality rooms set up at the Bloomington Eco-Center to accommodate spontaneous discussions and also provide a nearby space for relaxation and breaks.
  • On Sunday, Rhonda will host a closing session from 3:00 to 5:00 in Third Street Park (Bloomington Eco-Center in the event of foul weather) with the hope of setting some goals for permaculture in the Midwest.

Most of our activities will be centered in or around Third Street Park.  Here is a map of the area with explanations of each facility:

  1. Bloomington Playwrights Project – Hosting the Saturday night keynote Aaron Newton
  2. Farmer’s Market – A great hangout on Saturday morning
  3. Monroe County Public Library – Hosting the Thursday night keynote Eric Brende and closing sessions on Sunday afternoon
  4. Garage Art (4th & Washington) – Free parking on weekends
  5. First United Methodist Church – Hosting the Friday night dinner and two tracks of workshop on Saturday
  6. Center for Sustainable Living/Bloomington Eco-Center – Will contain hospitality center for out-of-town guests on Saturday
  7. Rhino’s All Ages Music Club – Hosting one track of workshops on Saturday
  8. Third Street Park – Hosting Family Tent, Vendor Tent, and demonstrations on Saturday; also departure and arrival point for Sunday tours
  9. Alison Jukebox Center (inside Third Street Park) – Hosting two tracks of workshops on Saturday

Are you coming to Bloomington for the fair?  Here are a few things to know about our city:

  • Bloomington is home to Indiana University
  • We have an awesome farmer’s market Saturday mornings at the Showers Plaza (7th and Morton)
  • We have a great tourism office with information about lodging and things to do in town –
  • Free parking is available on Saturday in any of the university parking garages and the city-owned Garage Art at Fourth & Walnut Streets.
  • Beware metered parking spaces and 2-hour limits – they are enforced on weekends!
  • We will provide a hospitality center in the Bloomington Eco-Center (323 S. Walnut Street) during Saturday’s events

A lot of folks are unfamiliar with the term “permaculture” which has its roots in two different word combinations: permanent+agriculture (meaning sustainable agricultural practices) and permanent+culture (meaning a way for people live sustainably).  Here is a short explanation of permaculture from local instructor and practitioner Rhonda Baird.

Imagine a world of natural abundance, clean water and air, and community connection. Permaculture, an ethical system of design which reintegrates the human world with the natural world, helps us regenerate our landscapes—both physical and cultural. By understanding and working with natural systems we can repair the damage done to our planet over the past centuries—including re-foresting deserts, repairing soil, cleaning water and air, and increasing farm productivity through regenerative practices.

Permaculture comes out of systems theory (understanding how systems work) and also integrates information from many different traditions (indigenous wisdom, nature awareness traditions, horticultural traditions, forestry, and many other streams of knowledge).  Permaculturists work to design gardens, farms, homes, communities, and even cities that enhance both the human world and the natural world.  These designs help us live within the limits of our planet while strengthening our communities.  Permaculture practitioners and teachers around the globe have been at the forefront of sustainability education, relief efforts, and landscape scale regeneration.

Permaculture is based on three core ethics:

Care of the Land—This is the highest priority. If we don’t take care of the land and heal it, it will not provide for us. When we repair the soil, conserve and clean water, promote biodiversity, and create new opportunities for things to happen, we serve the land and allow it to support life to its fullest.

Care of People—Permaculture is quite clear that our goal is to take care of people. When we meet our needs—our real needs for belonging, security, participation, creative expression, autonomy, and so on—resilient communities will emerge.

Distribution of Surplus—We learn from nature that when an abundance of something is present, it quickly disperses to where there is lack—so that movement toward equilibrium takes place. The same is needed in our cultivated systems. Too much of anything in one place will make for disorder and pollution.

Beyond these core ethics, permaculture works with principles. David Holmgren delineated 12 of them:

  1. Observe and Interact
  2. Catch and Store Energy
  3. Get a Yield
  4. Self-Regulate and Accept Feedback
  5. Use and Value Renewable Services and Resources
  6. Produce No Waste
  7. Design from Patterns to Detail
  8. Integrate Rather than Segregate
  9. Use Small and Slow Solutions
  10. Use and Value Diversity
  11. Use Edges and Value the Marginal
  12. Creatively Use and Respond to Change

See for more information.