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Thumbs up: Putting down roots for the future

Indianapolis neighborhoods are about to get an infusion of green in their backyards. Keep Indianapolis Beautiful (KIB) is re-launching their "My Tree and Me" campaign which provides a coupon for $20 off the purchase of a tree from participating retailers. To receive a coupon, purchasers must have a Central Indiana address where the tree will be planted. As a trade for the information, planters are then able to get on the project's website to track the impact their tree has on the community through an interactive tree locator map. The goal is to have 100,000 trees planted in Indianapolis by 2017, so grab your shovel and start digging. For more information, visit www.mytreeandme.org.

Thumbs up: Indy library gets high accolades

Good news: The Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library has been rated among the top 10 in the nation's largest library systems, according to the recent Library Journal Index of Public Library Service. Bad news: the ranking was based on 2009 data compiled by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. That's before library officials were forced to make all kinds of cuts in services, hours and staff to meet budget shortfalls created by caps on property taxes (which provide 80 percent of library operating budgets) and a piss-poor economy.According to the report, more than 312,000 people attended free library programs ranging from computer and job assistance workshops to youth literacy programs. Let's hope city leaders are taking notice.

Thumbs down: Ennui the people

This was supposed to be a thumbs up. Indiana's candidates for United States Senate faced off on Monday (Oct. 11) for a televised debate on IUPUI's campus. Unfortunately, the debate largely lacked substance and was – well, kind of boring. Republican candidate and long-time Washington insider, Dan Coats, lamented the "Obama-Pelosi agenda" of his Democratic opponent. Democrat Brad Ellsworth blasted Coats for his six years as a lobbyist for banks, oil companies and other bogeymen. Libertarian Rebecca Sink-Burris provided the comedy relief. None of this was particularly surprising. But the real let-down was that there are gravely important, substantive differences among the candidates, and the debate's rapid-fire format didn't allow for much deeper exploration. The candidates did their best. But the end result? Interrupted thoughts, lots of he-said-she-said-he-said, and precious little inspiration.

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