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City and Middle Way House combine for community awareness event



Taking a stand against sexual assault and violence in public spaces, the City of Bloomington staff, Middle Way House staff, community members, poets and musicians will join together to present Hands Across the Trail.

This event will take place Nov. 12 and is intended to inspire community members to cultivate a culture of consent and stand united against sexual assault, according to a City of Bloomington press release.

One part rally and one part flash mob, the event sprang from concern around safety on public trails after attacks on the B-Line trail this summer, according to the release.

“This is an issue we will never stop working on,” Mayor John Hamilton said in the release. “I want every woman — every person — in Bloomington to feel safe on our trails, on our streets and in their homes. Safety is the most basic of rights, and each of us deserves to be as secure as possible in our surroundings. Public safety is my first concern as mayor.”

Local activist Aubrey Seader said she wanted to take action and raise awareness so she and others can continue to use the trail without fear of attack.

“We’re often told that, as individuals, we are solely responsible for keeping ourselves safe and that if we’re attacked we probably could have been more cautious,” Seader said in the release.

Seader said she thinks the community could be doing more to end rape culture in Bloomington.

“I think if we’re going to ask women not to run alone, we have to have a long-term plan to end a culture that makes running alone unsafe,” Seader said.

Seader connected with Middle Way to create an event that would examine community responsibility, bystander intervention and other issues around sexual assault awareness and prevention.

With the addition of the city on board, the event has grown to include a rally that will feature speakers, musicians and poets, followed by a human-chain created on the B-Line to show the Bloomington community will not accept violence in public spaces, according to the release.

Speakers scheduled for the event include Middle Way House prevention staff member Gabrielle Schiller and triage specialist Donna Storm. 

The rally will also feature original poetry from teen poets in Bloomington High School South’s “Outspoken” poetry club.

Middle Way House staff will also provide tables where citizens can learn more about bystander intervention, consent culture, healthy communication in relationships and Middle Way’s Sexual Assault Advocacy program.

Staff will also have a safe place for people to speak privately about concerns or questions, according to the release.

Alyson Malinger

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