Retro campaign; homelessness in our cities

1950 Chevrolet …photo by Joe

While traveling across Ohio recently, I stopped at the Red Tomato (That’s right. Dan Quayle couldn’t spell tomato right (Or was that potato?), but I can — thanks to spell check.) in Mt. Eaton. The gentleman in the blue shirt (standing) owned this 1950 Chevrolet. Mint! After admiring it a bit, I talked to him about my candidacy and passed on a campaign card. I talk, in our campaign, about it being somewhat retro. That is, we would like to see the country, in a number of aspects, go back to the 1950s, when things were slower, more wholesome, and so on. I also wrote a column about homelessness recently. A USA Today article noted that a recent poll indicated a whopping 45% of Los Angeles residents believe homelessness is the biggest problem facing the city. Homeless tent encampments, for instance, now seem virtually everywhere there — including even at some city parking lots. “We all agree that no one wants people living in a parking lot,” said Eric Tars, legal director for the National Homelessness Law Center. “But the way to end the homeless encampments is to make them unnecessary, not illegal.” Our family intentionally moved to a hardscrabble part of Cleveland, Ohio for five years doing outreach to the poor and researching the systemic causes of metropolitan poverty and homelessness. For a look at some of what we found, see…

ELF 2FR; United Way; 4-H Clubs

ELF 2FR …photo by Joe

Just interviewed the owner of this alternative vehicle. It’s called an ELF 2FR. It is, in essence, a sort of “Smartcar”-like body over a bicycle. And the 2FR suffix is that it has room for two (small back seat). These are gaining popularity in the states, and in countries like Switzerland, Denmark, and the like, they are already in significant use. They are designed as local transportation, to be able to be ridden in inclement weather, and as more of the answer to averting yet more climate change… I also interviewed a woman who is on the Board for the local United Way. She said she has been volunteering with them the past six years, and noted, locally, they support 19 partner agencies. Anything from Big Brothers & Big Sisters, to the YMCA, to The Council on Aging, to a domestic violence shelter, to… Their motto is: Neighbors Helping Neighbors. And that, incidentally, is the crux of our platform… I also interviewed an adult mentor with a local 4-H Club. She said, yes, the youth learn about animal life cycles, and such, but more importantly, through the club they learn life skills in general. I am a big proponent of 4-H, and our agriculture platform reflects a paradigm, in general, that youth today should be learning about.

Painting; value of community; churches; “grandude”

photo (and painting) by Joe

With fall in full swing now, I’m trying to get in as many outside jobs as possible before winter — while continuing to hone my populist image (“Joe the Painter’). LOL. This was a shed I was painting in rural Bluffton recently… In recent weeks, I have done yet more newspaper interviews, sat in on council meetings, and so on… For instance, I interviewed a woman from Ada, Ohio, who is originally from there, but had lived in other parts of the country before returning to Ada. She said there’s just something about being around “…people you’ve known your whole life.” She said she can best describe it as comfortable and rooted. We would do well, I believe, to value this a whole lot more than we currently do in our increasingly transitory American society… I also did a story on a local, non-denominational Christian church. A “core principle” of the church? “Prayer is powerful.” And so are “works.” The church helps fund international missions work, as it helps fund local community work. In fact, it is churches like these that are, often, the metaphoric “glue” that holds these small town communities together… Note: I have also just become a grandfather for the first time. Our Sarah and her husband Gabe have had a little baby girl, Eliza Day. The “Day” is after well-known Catholic Worker Dorothy Day. We volunteered a good deal with Catholic Worker groups around the country over the years. Anyway… Sarah asked me what I’d like to be called by Eliza Day: I said: “Grandude.” Sarah asked if I had a second choice.

At nature’s pace in agriculture

rural Bluffton …photo by Joe

I just interviewed a retired farmer from Hardin County who collects, and restores, old tractors. He currently has two from the 1950s. He said he’d recently read that the John Deere Co. has just come out with a $1 million combine, and the top of the line tractors are now $500,000, with between 400 and 600 horse power. What’s more, with this advanced, high priced farm machinery, he said a “small farm,” anymore, is 1,000 acres, or more. Our platform calls for a return to a small farm, agrarian based society. To evoke this shift, in part, we need to go back much smaller tractors (like the one pictured here), and such. The smaller farm implements will go hand and hand with smaller farms. Note: I once interviewed author/farmer Gene Logsdon who advocates for this as well. One of his books: “At Nature’s Pace.” For more on our agriculture position paper, see…

“Hop on the bus, Gus.” Artificial turf? And the gospel goes to a trailer park.

…photo by Joe

Bluffton has become an RTA experiment in this region. A bus out of Lima (pop. 40,000) is coming here five times a day, making a loop through the village (pop. 4,000), then heading back to the downtown station in Lima. I contacted the RTA Director of Operations who said ridership was steadily increasing throughout the first three months of this. With climate change accelerating, we, so many of us, need to (metaphorically, and literally) “Hop on the bus, Gus.” …Just did a story on one of the local high schools here that put in a new $766,000 artificial turf field. It will, in large part, be paid by a local tax levy. But you have to wonder, also in large part, whether that money would be much better (spiritually) spent on helping Third World farmers grow crops in food insecure countries. The artificial turf, when grass has worked so well for, like, forever, seems a bit First World spoiled. Our foreign policy would line up with the latter. And speaking of food insecurity, I also did a story on a local church that hired a food truck and went into a low income trailer park recently to pass out free meals. A spokesperson for the church told me that these generally low income people were, many of them, struggling even more in the midst of the pandemic. And this was the church’s way of bringing the Gospel message to life, he said.

A+ for Model A? Soccer anyone? Native grasses and less mowing…

1931 Model A Ford …photo by Joe

Catching up on August… I interviewed a guy from Maine who was on a 9,000-mile retro-drive (on the Old Lincoln Highway, Old Rte. 66, and so on in his 1931 Model A. This design followed the Model T, which was the first car an “average Joe” in America could afford. Given our carbon footprint at this time, “mass production” of these things, and so on, might not have been the best way to “go,” literally. See our position paper on transportation to see where I think we need to “go” with all this, at this time… On the sports front, I interviewed a local woman who swam for “Team Ohio,” competed in the Sectionals nationally, and also swam in a “Zone Meet” in Columbus, which featured Michael Phelps — who won more Olympic medals than anyone (28) in the history of the “Games.” I also interviewed a local man who was the first in the area to ever play professional soccer. He played for the Columbus Crew. You know, former Green Bay Packer quarterback Brett Favre just came out saying youth under 14 shouldn’t platy tackle football because of the danger of CET. In high school, players hit harder, then harder in college, then even harder in the pros. While Brett’s caution is, indeed, merited, soccer might be the logical choice for more and more American athletes… I also interviewed a “naturalist” connected with a local park district here. She gives presentations around the county trying to promote the growing of more “native grasses” in yards, and such. She said these grasses are good for the soil, are good pollinators and contribute to having a relatively low maintenance lawn, depending, of course, on how many native grasses one plants. We are, indeed, strong on the environment. For more see…

I should have written on the card: “I need a ride to the White House.” Too late, I’m now a couple hundred miles from Mt. Eaton, Ohio. Mt. Eaton is Amish country. And we have spent a lot of time studying the Amish culture as we’ve traveled. Far from nostalgically “antiquated,” The Amish/Mennonites may have a much saner take on society — and how God wants us to live within the context of society…. I covered a village council meeting tonight that focused on an upcoming village festival; a pit bull biting a one-year-old; fire hydrant replacement at a nearby university; and the other activities of the local Public Works crew. This is democracy at a grassroots level. Our campaign talks about shifting much more power to local government where they are intimately familiar with their needs, their issues.

Make Nineveh Great Again?

Several years ago, when our Sarah was a sophomore at Franciscan University, she went with a group of students on a missions trip to Nicaragua. She was so impacted by the trip that in subsequent spring breaks, instead of partying in Florida, and such, she went to Haiti, twice on mission trips as well. And she helped lead the last trip. Sarah was forever changed by this. And wouldn’t it be great to have a “First Daughter” in D.C. who had a real heart for the poor in the Third World, and who worked ardently to get them as much help as possible? Just sayin.’ God never said: “Make Nineveh Great Again!” The repenting that happened there was probably far from the latter paradigm. It probably aligned itself with, not “Nineveh First,” but rather “Others First.” See, for instance, our foreign policy stance to get a feel for what that might look like in the year 2021.

Amish environmental stewardship

Amish country …photo by Joe

Coming back from seeing my new grandchild (our first) this week, I traveled through “Amish country” on Rte. 250 in eastern Ohio. What you see here is an “Amish farm truck.” Internal combustion engine vehicles (trucks, tractors, combines…) pollute. The Amish believe in being good environmental stewards of God’s creation. That simple. A word that pretty much sums up the Amish lifestyle, “simple.” We have interwoven some of the ethos of the Amish into our agricultural platform.

Great Depression, Russian Roulette, visual pollution…

Catching up on May and June (cont.)… McGuffey, Ohio, home of the Scioto Marsh, is having their 125 year Anniversary Festival this summer. I wrote a newspaper article on it. During the Depression, families moved from all over Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia… to eke out a living in the onion fields of the marsh. They lived in shacks on the periphery of the marsh and the whole family would pitch in. Life was hard, but folks shared, families were close, and people appreciated what they had. It would be a good lesson for us today. I just read that the average American household, for instance, wastes $1,500 of food each year… I also wrote a story about a local man who restored a ’70s stock car. It’s in beautiful shape, made for a good story… but, frankly, traveling around an oval at speeds over 200 mph is, in a very real sense for these drivers: playing Russian Roulette. What’s more, you have to wonder if God looks at it that way… I also interviewed an art professor from a local college. He teaches a course called “Visual Literacy.” He said most people are remarkably visual, yet they often don’t see. That is, a barrage of pop-culture imagery comes at people constantly through television, social media, and so on. And advertisers, show producers, and such, use subliminal, and not so subliminal, messaging to influence people to keep watching the show, keep buying the stuff, and so on. As there is a lot of noise pollution in society at this point, there is also a lot of “visual pollution.” We would do well to unplug as much as possible… In covering a local village council meeting, the mayor, in the aftermath of a village fireworks display, said the event went off magnificently. One of the councilmembers didn’t agree. She proposed “silent fireworks” next year, “…like they do in a town in California,” she said. No action was taken on this that night, and it would be safe to say that this council woman was in the minority. LOL.