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Resiliency allows West Bloomington Revitalization Project to bounce back in 2022

Kristen Burhman is the outgoing head of the board of the West Bloomington Revitalization Project.
Kristen Burhman is the outgoing board president of the West Bloomington Revitalization Project.

The outgoing board president of the West Bloomington Revitalization Project says the culture of the group helped it come back in 2022 from the pandemic and six feet of sewage in the basement during last year's big Bloomington flood.

Kristen Burhman, noting the organization is largely volunteer driven, said they have faced a flood, a pandemic, and economic uncertainty in just three years.

“We are grateful for every volunteer, donor, and neighbor that contributed to that resiliency,” said Burhman.

The organization focuses on reviving the west side of the Twin Cities.

"We are mostly better," said Burhman. "It takes a lot of time to recover from that flood. That damaged a lot of our inventory for bikes and tools for our tool library, but we are getting back to normal and building up that inventory again."

Burhman said the more than 3,200 loans from the tool library show the numbers have largely returned to pre-pandemic levels.

"The Tool Library has been super strong. We have added several new items to the tool library. We have kitchen supplies now. We have some new lawn care items like a de-thatcher. We are always looking for opportunities to grow," she said.

The Book Bike gave away more than 10,000 books to children and adults in the last three years. The project also replaced the original 250-pound one-gear bike with a slightly lighter tricycle that has seven speeds and hand brakes.

The Bed Blitz program built and gave away more than 300 beds for children who now have a safe place to sleep.

Burhman said veggie and other food giveaways have helped feed hundreds of people. The project also brought back its annual block party, "West Fest," last year. And the Bike Co-op repaired and gave away more than 475 bicycles. The project conducted two bike safety and basic repair courses, and two woodworking classes.

WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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