Ethyl Ruehman, a first-year public affairs major at Indiana University Northwest, is committed to building clean, resilient and united communities. Her work began with the creation of a blog “Sustainable Bee,” a vehicle for sharing the message of sustainability. Ethyl’s deep commitment to effecting change in Northwest Indiana – her home community – motivated her decision to remain in the region to pursue her degree in public affairs. In addition to studying environmental policy, she actively supports local sustainability initiatives. For example, she is member of the Beyond Coal Coalition, an administrator for a Greenconnect Facebook group, and is co-administrator of CoThrive Timebank, a community centered alternative currency based on the idea that no person’s hours are worth more than others. CoThrive is built on the principles of reciprocity and mutual benefit, and enables people to see value and fulfillment in their lives through community interactions. Ethyl’s leadership in creating the Northwest Indiana Youth Climate Council speaks to her willingness to create connections and assume leadership when action is required. She has earned the respect of the community as well as her fellow students and faculty. She is an agent of change seeking to “reconnect with and heal our earth.”
Our world is changing rapidly, and so is the way we interact with it-- and each other. In middle school, learning about sustainability was a fierce passion of mine. I have since gone on to learn the value of resilient local communities, regenerative agriculture and youth voices. I wholeheartedly believe that real solutions begin within communities at the grassroots level. Last year, I became a co-administrator for CoThrive timebank, a community-centered organization. It is built on the principle of reciprocity and the idea that EVERY person has something to offer. As I continue to study and build vital community planning skills to develop the timebank, making it more accessible to others, I also have been highly engaged with people/communities on climate action for building a regenerative region. I am currently dedicated to coordinating for the NWI Youth Climate Council. Youth voices are often overlooked in conversations that determine their future. On September 20, 2019, in solidarity with millions of youth around the globe, youth representatives from cities in Northwest Indiana voiced their personal stories related to contaminated water and environmental racism, and how they have been impacted. That day is the essence of what I want my work to embody.