In the realm of imperfect sciences, welcome back to the Sun Current’s weekly calendar.
For all the years I have assembled some form of a community calendar, you would think it’s like riding a bike. You would think I could cobble together a simple calendar, 15 months after the last time I had done so, without much effort.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and in 2021 a well-rounded community calendar will take more than a week to appear, I have learned.
I have been assembling weekly calendars covering Bloomington for a decade. A few years ago I added Richfield to my formula when our Bloomington and Richfield publications were merged. It’s a more time-consuming process than you’d expect, and there is a method to my madness, both past and present.
I’ve never looked at the calendar as an all-inclusive resource. It’s not a one-stop shop for every event or meeting in the community. It would take far too much time and space to note every city meeting in Bloomington and Richfield each week. Beyond the councils there are several commissions meeting throughout every given month.
I have used the calendar as a simple way for readers to keep track of which local school boards and city councils are meeting in the upcoming week. It doesn’t tell you which issues will appear before the board or council in the coming week, but pointing readers to which week a governing body of interest is meeting seems like a worthwhile use of calendar space.
The calendar also notes which community groups are meeting on a regular basis, and when. I have assumed members of local Rotary or Optimists clubs know when they meet. The members don’t look to the newspaper to remind them. I include many of them as a public service, a reminder that they are meeting, and serving our communities. Their web addresses provide information about what the groups do, and when.
There are a variety of arts and entertainment programs offered in Bloomington and Richfield throughout the year. I try to highlight programs that are free or of nominal cost, and generally open and available to a wide variety of readers.
I have several websites bookmarked. Those help me keep tabs on upcoming community events that I deem worthy of including in the calendar. And as I said, the calendar is not an exact science. Events that are worthy may not be included due to space limitations. In some cases, I have tried to rotate notifications between groups or organizations that have ongoing meetings, but cannot make the cut every week.
As the post-pandemic calendars roll out, there will be growing pains.
Our elected boards and councils continue to meet, but the format varies. The Richfield City Council is returning to in-person meetings, and the Richfield Board of Education has had a hybrid format for its meetings, allowing residents to attend or participate through video conferencing. This week’s Bloomington City Council meeting, in contrast, remained an online endeavor.
For now, the weekly meetings will note the time, date and website for additional information. I’m not expecting Richfield meetings to return to online-only affairs, but I’m not going to try to detail the format of each meeting in the calendar. When the time comes that all meetings are open and permitting full capacity, I’ll add the meeting locations to the calendar.
There are outdoor summer events, something we had to live without last summer. Concerts, outdoor movies and other gatherings were my impetus for resurrecting the calendar. In at least one instance – next week’s outdoor movie at Hyland Hills Ski Area – the free event does require an advance ticket, available online. So double check the details online or make a phone call before heading out to an event.
The libraries are hosting mostly online events, so I’m not including those in the calendar. When open gatherings at our libraries resume, you’ll see those events added to the calendar.
I haven’t had a chance to determine how our service organizations are holding their meetings this summer, and likely won’t be adding them to the calendar until after Independence Day, at the earliest.
The road to pandemic recovery is long and winding, and the calendar will reflect that. Producing weekly calendars this summer, even the trim version you’ll be seeing this month, will take some time to perfect. It is more time-consuming than most people would guess, and there are never enough hours in a week. But it has proven to be time well spent in the past, and I’m eager to resume the weekly exercise, rather than wait until it is overdue.
Follow Bloomington community editor Mike Hanks on Twitter at @suncurrent and on Facebook at suncurrentcentral.