Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Hoosier Prairie

“[In Indiana] long before there were people there was land, including wetlands and prairies covered with grasses and wildflowers, especially in the northwest corner.”  James Madison, “Hoosiers”
Driving through Griffith, Paul and Julie Kern recently came upon Hoosier Prairie Nature Preserve, a 1547-acre parcel established in 1976 and now a unit of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.  Of the 350 native plants found there, about 50 are rare to Indiana.  In Paul and my history of IUN, “Educating the Region,” is an excerpt from an interview with Herman Feldman, Dean for Administration in the 1970s.  Feldman recalled:
  Irene Herlacher had discovered the Hoosier Prairie.  It was her secret place.  Development started creeping toward it, so she enlisted people to help save it.  Convinced, I told her to talk to F.C. Richardson, who was a botanist [at IUN].  On a hot July day, dressed in a double-breasted suit, F.C. met her in the Hoosier Prairie.  Police saw this white woman with a black man and decided they had to save her.
  We got former IU president Herman Wells involved.  The owner of the prairie, Edward Gaylord, was a right-winger who believed that universities manufactured radicals.  Wells and I walked into his office, and the door clicked shut.  He was sure we were con men but didn’t know why we wanted his worthless land.  After many months we got him to go there.  We were walking along, and a garter snake appeared on the shoulder of the road.  Gaylord got all excited and picked it up.  Suddenly he was all for saving it.
  Wells invited Gaylord’s mother to lunch at the University Club in Chicago.  He tried to flatter her, but she was unmeltable.  That’s when we went to State Senator Adam Benjamin got the state to come up with three million dollars.  We got the Department of natural Resources involved.  The family finally accepted the three million for the original 300 acres of prairie.
Spencer Cortwright reported:
            Northwest Indiana once had ample habitat known as wet prairie.  There once may have been nearly 1 million acres of wet prairie in Indiana, but sadly over 99.9% of it is destroyed or badly degraded by Eurasian weeds.  The array of flowers in wet prairie was astonishing; one of the royal species was “Queen of the Prairie.”  It takes a long time to restore damp habitats that can once again harbor Queen of the Prairie, but our preserve north of IUN campus finally harbors a few of these plants.  If conditions don't deteriorate, the plant will clone itself and spread!
Nyberg above and with Dean Zimmerman (right) of Enviro Watts
At Holley Savannah, an 11-acre restored prairie near North Newton, Post-Trib columnist Jeff Manes interviewed biologist Gus Nyberg, director of NICHES (Northern Indiana Citizens Helping Ecosystems Survive).  Jeff’s two children are named Savannah and Forest.  At Holley Savannah Nyberg has spotted legless lizards, hog-nosed snakes, rufous-sided towhees, and dickcissels.
 male dickcissel

In the IUN library courtyard for Thrill of the Grill I sat next to an incoming freshman from Valparaiso High School who plans to become an IUN Communication major.  I told him about IUN’s radio station and later ran into him when a volunteer was taking a group through the library.

I gave volume 45 to Marianne Brush (above), and she said we needed to get together more often so she’d be in the next issue prominently.  Her Facebook post reads, “Sushi, sashimi, sake, and Steel Shavings.  Say that fast five times.”

At Gelsosomo’s Pizza prior to a condo owners meeting I learned that Jen Sebring’s son wants to go into an aviation program at Purdue or Western Michigan.  Sandy Carlson went to the beach last weekend for the first time all year, she said ruefully. Tom Coulter complained of breaking out in hives after swimming in a cloudy swimming pool.  Kevin Cessna abstained from having a slice of pizza, being allergic to tomatoes.  That’s tough, being Italian, Sandy noted.  A large number of owners arrived and heard an impressive presentation from 1st American Management Company president John R. Marshall.  John Mario and I exchanged news about our sons, who played soccer and tennis together in high school, and our grandkids.

I have avoided watching the Republican convention but have kept up with the flap over Melania Trump using quotes from Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech.  At first Trump loyalists claimed it was just a coincidence until finally a speechwriter took the blame for it. Last night convention delegates evidently booed Ted Cruz off the stage for not endorsing Trump and instead urging Republicans to let their conscience be their guide.
above, Rev. L.K. Jackson observing St. Paul Baptist Church burning, May 2, 1963
 below, Rev. L.K. Jackson (right) with J.J. Overstreet and John Hunter (September 5, 1959)

I’ve been working on an article about Reverend L.K. Jackson, a civil rights pioneer in Gary known at “The Old Prophet,” in connection with the hundredth anniversary of St. Paul Baptist Church.  With Steve McShane’s help I was able to find a couple photos of him in the Calumet regional Archives’ collection of Post-Tribune negatives.
photo and painting by Jesse C. Johnson; below "Ferguson the New Selma"
IUN grad Jesse C. Johnson is both a painter and photographer who had a recent show called “Do You See What I See.” His paintings remind me of murals found on the walls of buildings.  In an artist statement he wrote:
            Issues of race, discrimination, prejudice and freedom of expression inspire me to paint [and] are the departure points for my paintings. Through my experiences as a child growing up in Chicago I feel very passionately about these issues and by creating specific imagery I aim to make the viewer question them.

My identity is woven into these paintings. By using visual elements such as the colorful forms and abstract structures I aim to make my work engaging for the viewer. In a recent body of work I used female mannequins to talk about the objectification of women in the American society.

No comments:

Post a Comment