Living Lightly’s 10th Year, by Barb Stedman

Sometimes mistakes turn out to be blessings in disguise.

Case in point:  For those of us who are planning this year’s Living Lightly Fair, a printing error on a street banner has proven to be a nice piece of serendipity.

If you drove down McGalliard Road during July and were near the intersection of Wheeling Avenue, you might have noticed that Living Lightly logos weren’t the same on our two banners.

Heading west, you saw a banner displaying the logo used during our first nine years – the image of a sun that has become familiar to East Central Indiana residents.

Heading east, toward the start of a new day, you saw a brand new circular logo, with a bright yellow sun rising above the verdant earth below.

While both banners were supposed to reveal our new logo, the unintended juxtaposition of the old and the new conveyed a perfect message about Living Lightly – where we’ve been and where we’re going.

The original logo was created in 2006 by Mona Luxion, who at the time was an architecture student at Ball State University. She was one of eight individuals who had begun meeting in February that year to begin brainstorming ideas for a sustainable living fair in East Central Indiana.

The two previous summers, I had visited the Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s Fair in Custer, Wisconsin, where more than 20,000 visitors from all over the Midwest gather each June to learn not only how to make use of  renewable energy sources like wind and solar in their home and daily activities, but how to use all resources more responsibly.

It was unlike any event I had ever attended, and I came home with my head and my notebook jam-packed with ideas for reducing my impact on the planet – from buying carpet made of recycled soda bottles to capturing passive solar energy in my home each winter.

I discovered that a similar, though much smaller, event had been created by a group in Bloomington, but nothing like it existed in our part of Indiana. Eight of us – Annette Rose, Rose Jeffery, Warren Vander Hill, Jon Creek, Lucinda Rarick, Lina Gordy, Mona, and I – decided to change that.

Collectively, we represented the Robert Cooper Audubon Society, the Five Rivers Group of the Sierra Club, Cope Environmental Center, and Ball State University. Every other week for 18 months we met to plan a “sustainable living” fair for ECI, developing the mission statement that we still hold to today:  “educating East Central Indiana residents about practical ways to live more sustainably and save money and resources for themselves and future generations.”

We decided to call our event the “Living Lightly Fair” to convey our commitment to living lightly on the Earth, and after much planning, fundraising, and awareness-raising, we sponsored the very first fair as a two-day event at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in 2007.

Then, as now, the fair featured an array of speakers, children’s activities, musicians, food, vendors, and exhibitors, all aimed at inspiring fairgoers with practical ideas for living more sustainably. The fair attracted 1,100 visitors during the course of two days, and the next year we moved the event to the beautiful campus of Minnetrista, which has proven to be a wonderful partner and supporter for the last eight fairs.

Even though the fair is now a one-day event, we typically draw around 2,500 visitors each September. Over the years we’ve covered dozens of sustainability-related topics – from organic gardening to solar energy for the home to landscaping with repurposed materials. We’re gratified to learn from visitor surveys that the vast majority of fairgoers still leave Living Lightly each year with new ideas or products that will help them live more sustainably in their daily lives.

Earlier this year, as we began looking ahead to our second decade, the time seemed right to refresh our image with a new logo. Once again, the talents of a Ball State student were put to good use – this time those of Keely Collier, an advertising major in the Department of Journalism.

Like our original logo, Keely’s new design still conveys the sun’s importance as a source of life and renewable energy, the vibrant energy of the fair itself, and the ultimate challenge to “live lightly.” But unlike the original logo, the new one also conveys the synergistic energy of sun and earth. It’s a visible reminder that everything beneath us is just as important as everything above us.

None of us who began meeting at the MT Cup in 2006 knew what to expect during that first year. We certainly couldn’t have predicted that Living Lightly would become a fixture of East Central Indiana, an annual event that ECI residents and the Ball State community greet with anticipation each fall, and the object of tremendous support from local foundations, businesses,and individuals.

Looking back on the past decade with pride and gratitude and ahead to the next decade with excitement about what we’ll continue to accomplish in ECI, I hope you’ll help us celebrate Living Lightly’s 10th anniversary from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17, on the grounds of Minnetrista.

Come experience the energy of “living lightly” for yourself!


Barb Stedman is a co-founder and current president of Living Lightly. She also is the director of National and International Scholarships in the Honors College at Ball State.

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