CREEPopolis

Why I Resigned From the Calumet Artist Residency

In late 2018 I announced my resignation from the Calumet Artist Residency, a group I helped incorporate as a 501(c)3 and initially served as secretary, until I was asked to serve as president. The reason, in short, is that I was done with taking complaints from creeped-out women and angry veteran activists about the behaviour of Corey Hagelberg and I didn’t see how doing so would help my career. The longer reasons you will learn as you read on.

I was asked to lead the Calumet Artist Residency in spring 2018. At this time the relationship between co-founders Corey Hagelberg and Kate Land (then serving as president) had become so dysfunctional that they were unable to communicate or work together productively.

This became immediately apparent during the first board meeting I presided over when she yelled “you’re a fucking asshole” three times in his face. Soon after she moved across the country, failing to complete things she’d agreed to complete before leaving: producing a fundraising video and designing a major piece of public art for the Gary Poetry Project. Until we produced the latter we could not receive major funding for our 2018 Gary Nature Project.

Mr. Hagelberg and Ms. Land also ended a contract-payment deal on a building in the neighborhood that was to have become CAR’s headquarters, a residency space for visiting artists, and a workshop/community meeting room. This was to be the major part of our Nature Project grant and had been announced in local newspapers and radio. So there I was, leading an artists residency unable to host artists in residence, with a dysfunctional board and publicly announced projects that would be unrealized, the momentum from the Gary Poetry Project being squandered, and almost no available funds to support the mission of the organization.

So why did I choose at this time to not only stay on but also to accept the leadership of this organization? Simply put, because I believed that, despite these problems, it was still a vehicle to do innovative cultural work in Gary. An organization accomplishes more and has more impact than individual action ever will. Too many good things were within reach to just let it wither. I had put a lot of time and work into planning, grant writing, copy writing, and keeping the group in the public eye when the others had lost interest. I felt the struggles could be worth it. And there was struggle.

One Sunday in spring 2018 Mr. Hagelberg refused to unlock the shipping container we were using as our HQ at the local farmer’s market, claiming it was his “private property” and that I “couldn’t tell him what to do.” I had to firmly remind him we had a scheduled event, promoted in local media, and that refusing to unlock the structure was a deliberate violation our bylaws and the spirit of the group.

Through a series of meetings with our major funders I was able to reestablish confidence in the organization. This despite Mr. Hagelberg’s persistent opinion that “well, they like us so they won’t care if things are delayed.” (They did care.) I successfully pressured him to complete the public art for the Poetry Project and the funds were released to support the Gary Nature Project – six months into the project. Excellent work across the city was supported: Weekly nature lessons for the Gary Parks Department’s Youth Services Bureau summer program, public hikes with the Green Urbanism Department, a beach trip for the kids in Naomi Millender’s summer youth program, and two reports for Redevelopment Department’s comprehensive plan.

The good times didn’t last long unfortunately. A whole set of new problems emerged that summer.

*

Back in October 2017 Mr. Hagelberg showed up to one of our weekly meetings held at my house, looking starry-eyed he proclaimed that he was “in love with Ashley.” He was referring to Ashley Williams, freshly graduated from college and hired by the Sierra Club to organize the Indiana Beyond Coal campaign. He had spent much of the past week “laying awake in bed all night thinking about her.”

Ashley, whom I’d worked with a few years earlier on the Break Free Midwest campaign, met with me later that month. Mostly we discussed organizing but at the end of our conversation she mentioned him and then made a funny face. She didn’t have to tell me anything, I already knew the problem.

Word had gone around about the contents of a long, rambling email he sent shortly after they met, proclaiming his love to her. She offered to let me read it and I declined. A few people who took up Ashley’s offer already had explained to me what they found most concerning. They asked, “Is this guy gonna harm her if she rejects him?” “Would he harm himself?”

I told Ashley that she was here to organize, that nothing should get in the way of that, and that if he was bothering her I would be willing to say something to him, if she wished. She never asked and instead dealt him a lot of mixed messages. And as he proved useful and sympathetic when she experienced problems in the early stages of the campaign the two of them seemed to grow closer. This opened a new set of problems for the Calumet Artist Residency and for me personally. Mr. Hagelberg became insistent that CAR formally support (or “sign-on” in activist-talk) the Indiana Beyond Coal campaign.

From the start I opposed our direct involvement and voiced many concerns: It was never made clear how our participation would benefit us or support our mission, especially as the campaign was focused on Michigan City, not Gary. I knew that antagonisms would emerge between the top-down model of the middle/upper-class Sierra Club and the local, grassroots environmental justice organizers, and I wanted CAR clear of that.

I spoke from personal experience about working with arts and activist groups in Chicago, how arts/cultural groups fair better (and preserve their autonomy) by offering indirect, rather than direct, support to activist or political campaigns. I also believed that Mr. Hagelberg’s intentions had more to do with his obsessions about Ashley than any social justice. This selfish impulse, rather than a legitimate social or political one, ensured he would fail to make clear, rational judgments when those antagonisms arose. And they did arise. At Indiana Beyond Coal’s very first public meeting.

After this Mr. Hagelberg became increasingly fixated on and resentful towards one of Ashley’s critics: Vince Emanuele, an experienced anti-war activist, Iraq war veteran, and co-founder of the Politics, Arts, Roots, and Culture (PARC) community space in Michigan City. (Which was letting Beyond Coal use their space for free.)

Mr. Hagelberg repeatedly found ways to interject Vince’s name into our CAR planning meetings that summer, often at puzzling or inappropriate moments. I repeatedly asked that he not discuss the Beyond Coal campaign’s problems with me as it was a distraction from CAR’s mission. Nevertheless he persisted, rattling off names of activists who “said they won’t work with Vince,” or claiming an intervention was being planned to address “Vince’s toxic masculinity problem,” etc.

He also was becoming frustrated with Ashley at times. She ghosted him as he was preparing a costly, locally sourced meal one night when Kate was visiting town with her new partner. Word of his embarrassing reactions that night made its way to me through numerous neighborhood gossip lines.

At one of our weekly meetings he was jittery and tense, pacing around my house frustrated that he’d stayed late over at Ashley’s but she didn’t want to have sex with him. My wife happened to be present that day and asked that I never again have him in the house while she was there.

After another meeting, as I was showing him to the door, he turned around and blurted out that, “Ashley lets me rub her shoulders and massage her back,” adding that “she also lets me touch her ass sometimes.” He was trying to create a cover for himself. I don’t think he knew that Ashley’s roommate Sarah Zawacki had already told me about catching him fondling Ashley, who was passed out on the couch, a few nights earlier.

Sarah Z told me she saw Mr. Hagelberg quickly remove his hands from Ashley’s ass upon being noticed and scurry out of their place. After I resigned from CAR, Sarah informed me of another incident with him. That one afternoon she woke up from a nap to find him in her bedroom, staring at her. Before she could say anything he walked out of her room without saying a word. Sarah moved out soon after. I also learned later that Ashley had spoken to Vince at some point about Mr. Hagelberg’s inappropriate touching.

I tried to talk to other board members in confidence about the incident with Ashley. For this I was accused of trying to start trouble, was told I had some kind of weird Alpha-Beta thing going, and was told that Sarah was probably lying. All of the board members I tried speaking to about this were women.

I would also later learn that he had been bothering a member of the city of Gary’s planning department, Sarah Koblites. This especially pissed me off. He had once asked me about her “availability” and I told him directly to leave her alone, that she was a busy professional, that our relationships with her must be strictly professional, and that she was far out of his league anyway. That didn’t dissuade him from sending her a series of long, rambling emails that she described as “creeper.”

*

The inevitable explosion in the Beyond Coal campaign happened in September 2018, immediately after NIPSCO announced that it would close its coal-fired power plant in Michigan City in 2028. Local activists felt betrayed that the Sierra Club/Beyond Coal (literal outsiders) were claiming victory and speaking for a community that would still be exposed to pollution for another decade. Newspaper articles made Beyond Coal representatives come across like managed opposition, enraging the local activists who’d volunteered months of their time and resources.

Some sort of heated exchange must have occurred between Mr. Hagelberg and Vince. I received a text message from the former stating that the latter had “threatened” him. Unfortunately I made a joke about the matter.

In mid October I got a call from a local organizer, Thomas Frank. He wanted to bring to my attention his concern over things Mr. Hagelberg had said to him the night before about Vince; that he had referred to him as “a killer,” someone who because “he had killed before would kill again,” and that because “he has PTSD people should not work with him.”

Regrettably I took no action then. I would later learn Mr. Hagelberg had the same conversation with a Michigan City office-seeker, a congregation in Gary, and even a CAR board member, who conveniently couldn’t recall the details of the conversation when I asked.

Less than a month later I received a volley of angry messages from Vince after he learned of the things being said about him. The messages promised protests at upcoming CAR events and mentioned a possible defamation lawsuit against Mr. Hagelberg. This put CAR is a tough spot: We were days from a mural dedication at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore that would be attended by the park superintendent and the mayor of Gary, among others.

Our legal counsel (full disclosure: my wife) explained to the other board members that in her opinion Mr. Hagelberg’s behavior (if true) could constitute a violation of CAR’s bylaws, that Vince had every right to protest our events, that his legal and civil rights likely were violated, and that he had legitimate grounds for a lawsuit, which while unlikely to ever reach a judge, would negatively impact the Calumet Artist Residency. She advised that the safest option was to remove Mr. Hagelberg from the board to lessen any liability or collateral damage to our reputation. The board informed him of the developments and asked that he not attend upcoming CAR events. We also asked Thomas Frank, Vince Emanuele, and another witness to submit written statements.

Mr. Hagelberg first reacted by claiming that I was “being duped” by Vince, Thomas, and others who were “out to get [him].” He then accused me of being part of this supposed conspiracy. Then he tried to play on our “friendship,” saying it was all a “big misunderstanding” and that I was risking all the “great things we accomplished.” I asked him point-blank if he had made those statements about Vince. He refused to answer. Some friend.

Never once did he indicate any awareness of his role in this mess. At least Vince apologized to me and expressed remorse over my resignation. Mr. Hagelberg threatened to send “very good lawyers who will work for free” after me and said that he “had a few theories” as to why I was behaving the way I was, and that I had been given “terrible advice.” I have no clue what he was on about with all of that. The guy who creeped a bunch of women out, who was causing liability and being evasive, was now telling me not to trust the advice of my wife!

I also learned that Mr. Hagelberg had, without notifying the board, allowed the Sierra Club to use the Calumet Artists Residency as a fiscal sponsor for the Beyond Coal campaign. For those unfamiliar with the workings of non-profits, this unilateral move essentially compromised the financial autonomy of our small community arts group in favor of a global NGO with a billion dollar budget. He didn’t even request they pay us a fee for the service, which is common in fiscal sponsorships.

The board of directors failed to have my back. They expressed that they “hadn’t signed up for this” and were thinking about leaving. They couldn’t “wrap their heads around” the fiscal sponsorship or liability problems. One member thought that the written statements “didn’t seem like a big deal.” They accused me of simultaneously “invoking the bylaws too much” and “making the matter personal.”

I knew then that to continue leading or even to continue being associated with the Calumet Artist Residency meant that I would have to give priority to putting out Mr. Hagelberg’s personal fires over developing innovative programs and building a support network. I would be choosing to allow liabilities not of my creating but of another’s to compromise my work and reputation. I saw that I would continually be forced to defend my reputation from questions about my values, ethics, and professionalism.

I had to deal with some problem of his making or due to his neglect every 2-3 weeks in the period between August 2017 until I resigned in November 2018. And even for a bit afterwards, as I detailed above. What I have detailed here are the most aggravating experiences in a year+ of aggravation. Now, I’m much happier now questioning the values of those who chose to work with someone like Corey Hagelberg and the Calumet Artist Residency.

— Sam Love, August 2019

 

Illiana Yacht Club

Finally made the hike around the Indiana side of Wolf Lake today, starting from the trailhead off 129th Street, near the Indiana Toll Road. The loop is 5.5 miles and the first stretch took me past a place with a great Region history, one I didn’t fully appreciate during annual visits as a child during the 1980s.

Escaping the sound of jackhammers tearing into Interstate we were soon enough on a boardwalk over the water. Ahead of us, the Illiana Yacht Club. Or as we simply called it “The Yacht Club.”

Region people have the tendency to reduce place names to a simple definite article plus as terse a descriptor as possible. US Steel is The Mills. The Indiana Dunes National Park is The Dunes. Southlake Mall is The Mall. Therefore the Illiana Yacht Club is The Yacht Club.

This likely creates a notion of the place far fancier than fact. In fact, my wife pictured a young me mingling amongst men in ascots and sailor hats. Cut off jean shorts and tank tops with a beer can in hand was more the style here. The setting was transmission towers, trailers, and a rutted road from 112th Street that my old man dutifully told us was a dumping ground for dead bodies. I never ventured much to that end of the property.

No doubt this place formed my awe at the industrial vistas of the Calumet Region and the uncomfortable relationship between landscape and nature. The entire journey from Gary to this northwestern-most corner of Northwest Indiana brought the contrast to the forefront.

The Chicago Tribune ran a history in 2002, and more details are at the Illiana Yacht Club’s website. Dave Novak, who married my Aunt Sandi, recalled: “Ahhhhhh, the friendly confines, 1st came by that place when I was about 10, on a bike, with my cousin Ed. Didn’t know how special it would be.”

And I don’t suppose I did either at 10.

Below are a series of snapshots, many made by my grandfather Frank Roorda, from 1979-1987.

The Novak and Roorda families.

This set dates from autumn 1981, wherein I make my introduction.

Above: with my grandma Minnie. Below: chasing my cousin Amanda.My grandpa was keen enough to capture some of the flora along the road in.

Below, October 1986.

As I was the only boy in my generation my choices of playmates was limited to adults more interested in sailing and drinking beer or my sister and female cousins. Here we play some sort of fort game.

September 1987. My old man pushed my cousin Lauren a little too hard on the swings, sending her flying. They soon made up.

Reinvest In Gary – Arts/Culture + Parks Engagements

Reinvest In… Gary

Phase One engagements
Arts/Culture and Parks committees
prepared by: Sam Love

Date/Event/Location/Attendance

Jun 16 – Mural unveiling, Gary Public Library, 75 persons
Jun 16 – Gary Gospel Fest, Gateway Park, 20 persons
Jun 16 – Multi-committee meeting at Steel City Academy, 25 persons
Jun 20 – Youth Services Bureau, Glen Ryan Park, 4 persons
Jun 24 – Miller Beach Farmers Market, 10 persons
Jun 27 – Youth Services Bureau, Borman Square Park, 21 persons
Jul 01 – Miller Beach Farmers Market, 10 persons
Jul 11 – Youth Services Bureau, Brunswick Park, 25 persons
Jul 12 – Youth Services Bureau, St Johns Lutheran, 10 persons
Jul 18 – Youth Services Bureau, Reed Park, 15 persons
Jul 25 – Youth Services Bureau, Tolleston Park, 12 persons
Sep 07 – Gary Homeschoolers Group, Douglas Center, 17 persons
Sep 08 – Aetna Manor block party, Aetna, 10 persons
Sep 11 – West Gary Quality of Life meetings, Brunswick Park, 25 persons
Sep 13 – West Gary Quality of Life meeting, St Johns UCC, 10 persons
Sep 15 – Steel City Academy, 20 persons
Sep 16 – Miller Beach Farmers Market, 12 persons
Sep 20 – LiveArts Studio, 6 persons
Oct 13 – West Gary Quality of Life meeting – Lighthouse Charter School, 10 persons
Oct 27 – Gary Green Link trail hike, 16 persons

Reinvest In Gary Plan – Arts and Culture, Phase I Report

Arts/Culture Committee Report
Prepared by Samuel Love, committee chair
15 November 2018

TOPIC: Arts and Culture

SUMMARY OF ISSUES:

Gary is a creative city with many creative people living and visiting here. There exists a great diversity of interests and talents. Yet we are not fully conscious of our cultural history and some tension exists around perceptions of ‘outsourcing’ arts opportunities at the expense of local artists. The closing of Emerson Visual and Performing Arts School and cuts to the public school system are a matter of enormous concern. Another frequently stated concern was lack of communication and disjointed/insufficient promotion of events. Respondents most certainly see a role for the city in hosting their own arts/culture events, promoting school and local arts/culture events, and generally helping local artists gain greater exposure.

NARRATIVE OF PROGRESS:

Gary has a long and distinct cultural history, and the past few years have seen a tremendous array of activity from groups like LiveArts Studio, Calumet Artist Residency, Decay Devils, Paint Gary, Square One Gallery, ArtHouse, the IUN Arts and Design program, Painted Board Studio, Lake Effect, Open House Gary, West Side High School and Theatre, Gary Historical and Cultural Society, Miller Beach Arts and Culture District, and other groups as well as individual working artists. These and other efforts have transformed the cityscape, especially in downtown and Miller. Ecological conservation, urban farming, and Green Urbanism projects add another dimension. Survey results show a citizenry highly interested and engaged with the arts, in the most broad, creative sense.

KEY FINDINGS:

Artists need multiple revenue streams, the city must support and sustain an environment for that possibility. (Meeting places, inexpensive restaurants, promotion of local arts, good roads and infrastructure.)

Most artists expressed their desire for independence, autonomy, and flexibility. But many expressed the need for help with permits, navigating bureaucracy, networking, and exposure.

Most frequently mentioned ways the city could support art: host events (block parties, festivals, showcases); bring greater attention to Gary artists, help them generate more exposure, show us off with mentions and postings on social media.

“Centralization” was a key idea that was expressed in different ways. This could be a central place for residents and guests to learn about upcoming events, an arts district, museum, or center where people could be guaranteed to meet/see/experience artists and their art.

Neighborhoods are key. Gary has distinct neighborhoods. The city can support exposure and better communication between communities.

Murals in downtown and Miller are very popular with young people and are a source of pride. Older residents have mixed opinions, especially with concerns about ‘outsourcing’ arts jobs at the expense to local artists or aesthetic concerns.

Allow the youth to lead the way. Listen to young people. “The kids are ‘up’ on what is good and their ideas are worth the ear.”

Perhaps the most frequently mentioned theme was supporting arts by supporting the schools, especially the public schools, and teachers.

Reinvest In Gary Plan – Parks, Phase I Report

Parks Committee Report
Prepared by Samuel Love, committee chair
15 November 2018

TOPIC: Parks

SUMMARY OF ISSUES:

Gary has 57 city parks but not enough staff or resources to maintain the majority of them. “Dirty” “depressing” “unsafe” were frequently mentioned terms. Conditions vary from park to park, but in general basketball courts featured broken boards and rims, were surrounded by weeds, and had cracked surfaces. A frequent complaint was about the lack of open swimming pools and the dangerous conditions caused by the unused pools. Litter was common at most of the parks. Recent park renovations have yielded mixed results, some successful (Marquette Park) and some not (Reed Park was frequently criticized). In some cases residents are tending to the parks themselves. Privatization of some parks features has been considered.

NARRATIVE OF PROGRESS:

Renovation and continuing improvements have made Marquette Park more accessible and attractive. Partnerships with the Student Conservation Association have gotten trees planted in unused park areas at no cost to the department or city. Partnerships with public and private conservation groups has led to ecological improvement at Brunswick Park. Ecological value of the parks acknowledged by leadership and many park users, tho residents near parks have concerns about safety, overgrown lots, aesthetics. Partnerships with arts groups has developed slowly, but has resulted in increased offerings to summer youth service programs. A National League of Cities program, “No Child Left Inside” provides additional support towards creating greenspaces within a 10 minute walk for all residents.

KEY FINDINGS:

Respondents want parks that are safe, attractive, serve multiple uses and users, and appeal to multiple age groups.

Exercise, sports, and playgrounds were the most popular activities, but respondents also appreciated parks as a place for quiet, reflective activities, or for their ecological value.

There is a need for some ecological training for the parks maintenance crew. In the case of Reed Park, workers were unsure what was a native plant and what was a ‘weed’, resulting in an unkempt park.

Continuing partnerships with ecological groups (SCA, Shirley Heinze Land Trust, Field Museum, Ecorealm). Find areas for tree planting but take care to preserve open space for play. Engage the community in this process.

Build relationships with local artists, streamline internal communication to make it easier for artists to use parks and pavilions for workshops and programs.

The Parks Department is conducting its own surveys and planning process. They have been extremely helpful to me during the Magic City planing process. Parks leadership is active, aware, involved, and possesses innovative ideas for change.

Gary Parks Survey
Magic City Comprehensive Redevelopment Plan 2018
out of 35 respondents
How often do you visit your neighborhood park?
1. Everyday 1.6%
2. Almost everyday 1.6%
3. A few times a week 20%
4. Once a week 11.4%
5. Rarely 37.1%
6. Never 20%

If you visit your neighborhood park, how do you get there?
1. Walk 45.7%
2. Bicycle 20%
3. Bus 0%
4. Car 45.7%

What are your favorite park activities (circle all that apply)
1. Art 28.%
2. Exercising 45.7%
3. Festivals/Parties 42.8%
4. Gardening 5.7%
5. Hiking 31.4%
6. Nature 34.2%
7. Playground 57.1%
8. Relaxing/Sitting 34.2%
9. Sports/Athletics 60%
10. Swimming 48.5%

Gary Magic City Plan – Arts and Culture survey results

The Arts and Culture Committee has reached our first 100 (and four) surveys! Still one more question to process and then a better presentation, but here’s the data.

updated: 6:43am // 4 Sept 2018

1 “Select one that best describes you”
Full Time Gary Resident 66
Part Time Gary Resident 16
Non-resident/lives in NW Indiana 22
Non-resident/lives outside NW Indiana 3

2 “How would you describe your interest in the arts? Please circle one:”
I love the arts and enjoy doing them 53
I love the arts but just enjoy observing 25
Casually interested in the arts 22
Not interested in the arts 4

3 – Which terms best describe you? Circle all that apply.
Art/Design Student 25
Collector 16
Curator 2
Dancer 23
Enthusiast 28
Musician 32
Painter 17
Patron 15
Photographer 17
Poet 9
Writer 25
Other:
Teacher 3
Actor 2

Singer, Singer w/ Chorus, Event Planner, Basketball, Promoter, Mentor, Film/Media, Me, Creator, Library Board Member, Extreme Hobbiest, Tech, Sports 1

4 – What are your favorite types of art? Circle all that apply.

Architecture 32
Comic/Illustration 26
Dance 44
Fabric/Textiles 17
Film 46
Graphic Design 29
Literature 25
Music 78
Painting 42
Printmaking 11
Sculpture 22
Theatre/Performance 38

Papercraft, Off the Cuff Writing, Mixed Media, Storytelling, Drama, Anime, Puppetry 1

5 In The Last Year Have You

Attended An Art Show 32
Attended An Arts Workshop 26
Attended A Concert 40
Attended A Dance Performance 32
Attended A Play 37
Attended A School-Related Event 27
Attended An Arts/Culture Event In Gary 27
Attended An Arts/Culture Event In NWI 18
Attended An Arts/Culture Event In Chicago 25
Read A Poem 45
Written A Poem 30
Written A Story 29
Written A Song 26
Painted, Drawn, Or Sketched Something 34
Performed Music 26
Danced 25