Orange County residents collaborate with IU on Sustaining Hoosier Communities initiative

Dozens of Orange County residents joined an informational discussion Tuesday at the Orange County Community Center to learn more about the Indiana University Sustaining Hoosier Communities program, which is set to partner with the county starting this fall.

An initiative of the Center for Rural Engagement and based on the EPIC-N model, Sustaining Hoosier Communities is a year-long collaboration between IU Bloomington students, faculty and staff and a community selected through an application process. Community-identified projects are paired with IU Bloomington courses to address opportunities and challenges and achieve community goals.

“The Orange County community is very excited about this collaborative initiative,” said Orange County Economic Development Partnership executive director Misty Weisensteiner. “The steering committee is an exceptional group of community focused trailblazers who see collaboration with IU as a way to enhance the economic vitality of Orange County.  We believe the partnership will be a catalyst for change, help the county in ways that have not previously been feasible and build momentum and inspiration that will continue after the year-long program is complete. We are looking forward to meeting faculty, welcoming students and getting to work on the community projects!”

Tuesday’s meeting offered an overview of the program, process and the list of community-identified projects that are based on a vision for greater health and prosperity in the county. Possible projects include community gardens, accessible playgrounds, rural health and wellness programs and tourism opportunities.

“The planning process is truly a team effort,” said Sustaining Hoosier Communities director Jane Rogan. “IU and the community have an open dialogue as we prepare scopes of work together and ensure that the final goals match the community’s vision and the strengths of IU.”

Final project plans will be announced in the fall as courses start work in the county. The Center for Rural Engagement will seek to work with the community on projects that fall outside of the course-partnership model.

Media contact: Kyla Cox Deckard, Center for Rural Engagement
(812) 855-4992 office

The IU Center for Rural Engagement improves the lives of Hoosiers through collaborative initiatives that discover and deploy scalable and flexible solutions to common challenges facing rural communities. Working in full-spectrum community innovation through research, community-engaged teaching and student service, the center builds vision, harnesses assets and cultivates sustainable leadership structures within the communities with which it engages to ensure long-term success.