Environment and Resilience

Creating stronger, more resilient communities

Our environment is changing. As communities seek new approaches to flood control, water sources and treatment, food security, and parks and public land management, our center is a connection point to the research and resources that inform future steps.

We bring together researchers from Grand Challenge: Prepared for Environmental Change, the Indiana Geological and Water Survey, the Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands, and dozens of departments across the IU Bloomington campus with rural communities across Indiana to create stronger, more resilient communities.

Community member walks down an aisle at Lost River Market and Deli in Paoli, Indiana.

Local Food, Local Good

We are teaming up with IU Sustainable Food Systems Science to hold community interest meetings in counties across the Indiana Uplands. In this project, we listen and learn from community members about their food system to identify the needs and ideas for improvement; map the regional food system assets including farmers, markets, businesses and organizations; and gather and host regional conferences to promote coordination and cooperation across the region for economically energizing food systems projects. This project will allow IU and community partners throughout the Indiana Uplands to create regional strategies that will improve the regional food system, fostering social, economic, and environmental sustainability for residents.

Close up of lettuce growing in a rural Indiana field.

Understanding and improving seniors’ access to food

In the U.S., 20 percent of the population goes to bed hungry each night. Food insecurity among seniors impacts both the seniors themselves and those who they care for, with rising numbers of children living with grandparents as their guardians. Access to quality food is key to health and overall wellbeing among individuals and communities. A multi-disciplinary team is working with local leaders and residents to examine the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Thrifty Food Plane and produce a study of the strategies seniors use to stretch their food resources in order to inform recommendations to improve their access to nutritious food.

Examining water resources and preparing for a resilient future

Water is critically important to Indiana’s health and economy. Southern Indiana is known for its karst topography, but the ways that water flows through aquifers—and the sediment and run-off that impacts it—can be a mystery for municipalities and homeowners who need to plan for treatment and sourcing. Indiana Geological and Water Survey has launched a karst aquifer study and a springs inventory in the Indiana Uplands region to gain a better understanding of these resources and the region’s resilience for future water source and treatment demands.

Creating awareness and inspiring connections with Indiana’s natural resources and recreation

The Indiana Uplands boast beautiful natural landscapes and unique recreational opportunities that fulfil residents and tourists quest for adventure or relaxation. In partnership with the Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands at IU, we examined all recreational and public lands resources across the region and identified key opportunities to enhance these resources, creating a healthier and resilient Indiana and boosting tourism within our state. As part of these efforts, the Indiana Geological and Water Survey is launching improved topographical maps of the Knobstone escarpment, Indiana’s longest trail. These newly developed maps will support increased tourism along the trail’s corridor and expand opportunities for physical activity for new trail visitors.
 

Establishing an International Dark Sky Designation in Hoosier National Forest

Dark sky is critical to ecological soundness, as it impacts flora and fauna that relies on darkness to thrive. According to the International Dark Sky Association, light pollution has detrimental impacts on human health, affecting melatonin production and disrupting circadian rhythms. Because a vast majority of U.S. urban and suburban residents do not have access to dark sky where they live, it is a uniquely rural asset that can be leveraged for increased tourism and workforce attraction that yields positive economic and social impacts. The School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering is working in collaboration with Hoosier National Forest to monitor light using an innovative, rugged electronic sensor that gathers ongoing data to support Dark Sky Designation and offer insights into the level of light pollution in the forest.

 

Create thriving rural communities with us