Local woodworker blends past and present by salvaging downed red oak for new Waldron desk

Local woodworker blends past and present by salvaging downed red oak for new Waldron desk

By Laura Gleason Special to the H-T
December 11, 2011

BLOOMINGTON — The new desk in the foyer of the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center is not only an example of furniture as art — it’s got quite a story, one that makes use of historic images and destroyed trees.

If you walked into the Waldron when the building went up in 1915, the desk would look right at home. But the handcrafted work of art is also thoroughly modern, being ADA compliant, and incorporating local wood, much of it recycled.

Since Ivy Tech Community College purchased the Waldron building in the spring of 2010, artistic director Paul Daily has wanted a desk that would complement the building’s design and accommodate both the administrator and security guard who work the lobby. But all that Daily could find were pieces that either looked out of place or were too large or expensive.

“When we first started looking at desks, the one we found that we really loved, we could have gotten a car for cheaper,” Daily said.

A solution emerged when Daily connected with Nancy Hiller, a Bloomington woodworker who was excited about the prospect of doing something historically influenced for the former city hall.

“I rarely get to do anything like this,” Hiller said. “This is a cool project for a wonderful old building.”

Hiller, who owns her own woodworking business, NR Hiller Design Inc., is also known for her books. The most recent is the new IU Press book, “A Home of her Own.” She’s spent the past weeks installing her newest creation into the Waldron lobby.

Since Hiller couldn’t find any documentation about the Waldron building’s original front desk, she approached Elizabeth Schlemmer, manager of the genealogy library at the Monroe County History Center, to see if she could find anything comparable.

Schlemmer was able to find images of local desks from around the same time, but none seemed quite appropriate for the Waldron.

“The desks fell on different points of the fancy/formal/simple spectrum,” Hiller said.

After some digging on the Internet, Hiller discovered OfficeMuseum.com, an online gallery of photographs of 20th century office interiors.

Amid the images was a black-and-white photo from a French jewelry export business, taken in 1915. In the center of the office sat a simple, elegant paneled wood desk. Hiller printed the picture and used it as her inspiration as she started sketching designs.

The oak Hiller used for the desk is all from Indiana, and it’s all either been salvaged or recycled. Hiller hastens to point out that the wood is pre-consumer recycled material; that is, it came from scraps from other projects, rather than post-consumer materials.

“It’s an important ethical distinction,” said Hiller, who is preparing a pamphlet about the desk’s origins for people who are interested in the recycling and local resources that went into its creation.

Every piece of wood in the desk has its own story, and Hiller’s favorite comes from the countertops, which are made from an oak that fell down in Seminary Square Park, at South Walnut and West Second streets, during the massive wind storm in May.

Lee Huss, Bloomington’s urban forester, said that most of the city trees he takes down are rotten, but when he has something salvageable, he tries to make it available to local woodworkers.

“I jokingly refer to it as my Leave No Log Behind program,” Huss said.

So when the red oak fell down, he was pleased to donate it to the Waldron desk project. “The city is interested in the fact that it’s going back into the building that used to be the city hall,” Huss said.

Trina Sterling, the administrative assistant who works the front desk, appreciates the Seminary Square connection, as well.

“That’s the most exciting part of it — it’s using things from that horrible tragedy and having something beautiful come out of it,” she said.


1) Furniture maker Nancy Hiller and Reno Reynolds, an Ivy Tech technician, install a massive desk she designed and built for the Waldron lobby. It is constructed with locally grown and recycled oak. Hiller says: “The design of the desk is 100-percent period authentic, based on a 1915 original with glorious panels, simple moldings, shaped brackets and corner plinths with pilasters.” David Snodgress | Herald-Times

2) Nancy Hiller’s good pup watches as the master works. David Snodgress | Herald-Times

3) Furniture maker Nancy Hiller aligns part of the desk that she built for the Waldron. David Snodgress | Herald-Times

4) This shot shows the desk as it looked as it was being installed in the Waldron lobby. David Snodgress | Herald-Times

5) Furniture maker Nancy Hiller and Reno Reynolds, an Ivy Tech technician, install a massive desk she designed and built for the Waldron lobby.

David Snodgress | Herald-Times
Copyright: HeraldTimesOnline.com 2011

Ivy Tech card features Fairview Elementary School student’s art Drawing of snowman picked for cover of community college’s holiday card this year

Ivy Tech card features Fairview Elementary School student’s art
Drawing of snowman picked for cover of community college’s holiday card this year

By April Toler 331-4353 | atoler@heraldt.com
December 10, 2011

When faced with the challenge of creating a holiday card for Ivy Tech Community College, fourth-grader Justice Collins kept one thing in mind.

“She said not to make it Christmassy, so I just drew a snowman,” she said.

The 10-year-old’s vision worked.

Justice’s design was chosen out of more than 40 students in her fourth-grade class to be the design for Ivy Tech’s holiday card this year.

Friday morning, John Whikehart, Chancellor of Ivy Tech in Bloomington, presented Justice with a framed display of her card along with a handful of cards to send out to her friends and family.

The entire class also received Ivy Arts for Kids T-shirts.

Although Justice was a little taken aback by all the attention, her fellow students and teachers were full of excitement as they gathered around the plaque to admire Justice’s work.

“She’s so hard working. She is such a good girl,” said Justice’s teacher, Whitney York. “I’m very proud of her. She’s been working very hard this year.”

The card, which features a snowman adorned with a carrot nose, coal eyes and top hat and surrounded plenty of big, blue snowflakes, will be sent out to more than 1,500 people.

Justice’s design covers the front and back of the card. On the inside, underneath the college’s holiday greeting, it says, “Card illustrated by Justice Collins, fourth-grade student at Fairview Elementary School, a Leonard Bernstein Artful Learning School,” to let everyone know the artist behind the work.

Each year, Ivy Tech chooses a local school to take part in designing a card, Whikehart said.

“Last night, a couple of people were thanking me for the holiday card and said ‘It’s really unique,’” Whikehart said. “So people reacted very favorably to it.”


1) Fairview Elementary School fourth-grader Justice Collins, center, and her teacher, Whitney York, right, look at a display of the holiday card she designed for Ivy Tech Community College this year as other students look on. David Snodgress | Herald-Times

2) This is the holiday card Ivy Tech Community College sent out this year. It features a drawing by Fairview Elementary School fourth-grader Justice Collins. David Snodgress | Herald-Times

3) Fairview Elementary School fourth-grader Justice Collins gets a hug from classmate Ashlyn Mounce after being presented with a framed copy of the Ivy Tech holiday card she designed. Watching is Destiny Weedman.

David Snodgress | Herald-Times
Copyright: HeraldTimesOnline.com 2011

Ivy Tech provides theatre workshops to students at New Tech High School

Students to perform their works in the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center Rose Firebay

December 7, 2011

Ivy Tech began working with two English classes at New Tech High School on Oct. 24 to teach them about theatre production. Jeffery Allen, theatre professional and assistant director of Ivy Tech’s Center for Lifelong Learning, provided technical support, workshops, and advice to New Tech students over the course of six weeks.

“This is an activity of the Ivy Tech/Bloomington Playwrights Project Youth Education partnership, so the students had the benefit of learning about all aspects of theatre production,” Allen said. “They researched the different aspects of a professional theatre company – marketing, artistic direction, construction and everything in-between.”

“This theatre activity at New Tech High School is yet another example of the college’s commitment to provide comprehensive educational opportunities for students,” said John Whikehart, Chancellor of Ivy Tech’s Bloomington campus.

New Tech students adapted the plays Macbeth and Richard III into modern contexts, and created a theatre company as a class project.

Both English classes visited the Ivy Tech Waldron for a Q&A session about technical theatre, directing, and the best way to rehearse. Students refined and revised their work, and beginning on Dec. 12, will be at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center to put together their productions.

New Tech students present their finished work for only friends and family in the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center Rose Firebay on Thursday, Dec. 15.

Allen came to Ivy Tech after working for six and half years as the producing artistic director for Oddfellows Playhouse Youth Theatre in Middletown, CT. He is originally from Cleveland, OH, where he served as director of education at Cleveland Public Theatre (CPT). Before working at CPT, he spent four seasons with Great Lakes Theater in their education outreach program. Allen is a member of the Lincoln Center Theatre Directors Lab and Actors’ Equity Association. He received training from the National Guild for Community Arts Education, and holds a degree from Baldwin-Wallace College in OH.

The Center for Lifelong Learning Spring 2012 continuing education course catalog will be available on Tuesday, Dec. 13. Look for it in newspapers and at drop locations around town.

For more information about Ivy Tech/BPP Youth Education program classes or other Center for Lifelong Learning offerings, log on www.ivytech.edu/CLL or call (812) 330-6041.

Turning lemonade into leadership

Turning lemonade into leadership

Our opinion
December 3, 2011

Lemonade stands aren’t often the subject of editorials in The Herald-Times, or the source for stories of lives transformed by entrepreneurial effort.

But that is exactly what was shared at Thursday night’s local kickoff of a program that gives kids a chance to learn how small businesses are created.

Lemonade Day began in Houston, Texas, in 2007, and now has spread to 31 cities, including Bloomington. Participants receive instruction in basic free-market principles such as supply and demand and return on investment. Just as importantly, they learn about goal setting, philanthropy, teamwork, personal responsibility and other life skills that will serve them well, whether their careers are spent in the boardroom or on the shop room floor.

A number of local organizations are supporting the program, but principal sponsors are the Gayle & Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech, the city of Bloomington and the Boys and Girls Club.

We’ll be writing more about the program as it unfolds, culminating in Bloomington Lemonade Day next May 19. Learn more now at www.lemonadeday.com or by emailing bl-lemonade-day@lists.ivytech.edu.

Copyright: HeraldTimesOnline.com 2011

Letter: Storming the Bastille

Letter: Storming the Bastille

December 3, 2011

To the editor:

I am very respectful of the courage and tenacity of the several “Occupy Movements” to energize analysis and discussion of the most fundamental issues of our time — particularly how the wealthiest who are managing the global economy do not have to bear the responsibility of shipping so many of our manufacturing jobs overseas.

Admittedly, they were following basic economic principles that money, like water, will flow downhill to the point of lowest cost. But we are now painfully feeling the effects of the hidden costs of so many now unable to find work.

Solutions are difficult, but meeting challenges is the ethos of this country. Storming the Bastille did not bring prosperity to France. They still had to make an economy work with sound currency, financial and governmental systems. This will take much homework on all our parts.

Bringing back the WPA will not a recovery make, though. Jobs will be created by new Steve Jobs and Bill Cooks working in their garages developing new products and services for the planet. Here the Ivy Tech-Cook Entrepreneur Center is much appreciated.

But underlying this whole issue are the intellectual and moral fibers of what is most important — wealth accumulation or philanthropy?

Dan Enslow, Bloomington

Copyright: HeraldTimesOnline.com 2011

Learning, lemons and leadership

It’s your business

Learning, lemons and leadership

By Adam Wason
A Bloomington voice
December 2, 2011

This coming year the community’s youth will have a new opportunity to learn the ropes of entrepreneurship. Lemonade Day is a fun, experiential learning program that teaches youth how to start, own and operate a business through the age-old model of the lemonade stand.

Started in Houston in 2007, Lemonade Day has grown to serve more than 120,000 kids in 31 cities across the United States and Canada. This city’s first day was Thursday with a grand kickoff event. The foremost objective is to empower youth to take ownership of their lives and become productive members of society as business leaders, social advocates, volunteers and forward-thinking leaders of tomorrow.

Bringing Lemonade Day to Bloomington is the result of a partnership between the Boys and Girls Club, the Gayle and Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech Community College, and the city of Bloomington and Monroe County governments.

Community sponsors have already begun jumping on board. The Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County has been generous with grant support, as have the Coleman Foundation, Monroe County government and the city of Bloomington.

What do kids learn by participating in Lemonade Day? With a personal mentor or by participating in the community-wide training events, the kids are taken through a step-by-step curriculum of business operations, food safety and social responsibility.

They learn the basics of economics and financial literacy through the purchase of capital (the stand), managing supply and demand and earning a return on investment.

They learn about college-readiness through teamwork and problem-solving.

They also learn life skills and personal skill development through leadership training, self-direction, time management and philanthropy.

These lessons in business operations will culminate in the community-wide Lemonade Day on May 19, 2012. Lemonade stands will sprout up in neighborhoods, fire stations, city parks, churches and other locations throughout the community. By teaching kids these important lessons in entrepreneurship training, work force development begins at young age.

Your business can join in fostering the next great Bloomington entrepreneur. Sponsors, mentors, supporters and — most of all — lemonade consumers are welcome!

For more on Lemonade Day Bloomington, contact Adam Wason at wasona@bloomington.in.gov or 349-3418.

Adam Wason is assistant economic development director for small business for the city of Bloomington. Next week’s column will be from Jerry Conover of the IU business school.

Copyright: HeraldTimesOnline.com 2011