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.

“If found…” and, “no greater love…”

Catching up on May and June (still cont.) I recently stopped in Rawson, Ohio (pop. 564 — although I’m not sure if that includes the cat), where I put up a campaign card in the post office there. I should have written on the card: “Please return to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” But anyway… These campaign cards, strategically placed, are our answer to the million dollar campaign advertising of ‘the other guys.’ Call me a: cock-eyed optimist… For a Memorial Day newspaper article, I interviewed a Vietnam Veteran in Bluffton. He was on the front lines, saw a lot of the ravages of war (“…shot off limbs, bullets to the head, shrapnel laced bodies…”), and he was totally mystified when he got back to the States and was treated with a fair amount of disrespect, and even anger by some of the American populace. While the geo-politics around the Vietnam War were, indeed, mixed, these veterans, nonetheless, needed to be treated as heroes, period. “No greater love does a man have than to lay down his life for his friends.” –John 15:13…

Defund the police? Quilts. Post-pandemic work

Died in the line of duty… photo by Joe

Catching up on May and June (cont.) The Bluffton Police Chief has spent the last year going through the archives looking for names and stories about the officers who have served on the Police Department, dating back to the late 1800s. His belief is that they should, indeed, be honored. And he has set up a rather elaborate historical display in the Department’s lobby. Defund the police? Hardly. We should be paying them more for what they do, in tandem with coming up with other creative community policing strategies. Our position paper on crime includes a number of these strategies, based on extensive cross country research to see what was working… Light one candle and knit one (or a hundred) quilts. I did a story for the local newspaper on First Mennonite Church’s “Quilt Project” here. More than 100 church volunteers combined to make this happen. Some donate money, others cut fabric, others sew. These beautiful quilts are then sent to families in the slums of Calcutta, refugee camps in the Ukraine, and any other outreach destinations America’s Mennonite Central Committee has around the globe… In nearby Ada, Ohio, I interviewed a man who is revamping that village’s tech system. His projection into ‘work in America post pandemic’ is that there will be a significant paradigm shift, with many more people working from home. This, in turn, will free up a significant amount of office space that could, conceivably, be converted into residences. This would spell less urban sprawl. More people living in population centers, so less driving. And on, and on… All common sense.

racing the oval, and housing bubbles

Catching up on May and June… I was the quintessential ‘track parent’ this spring, going to meets all over Northwest Ohio, then, eventually, all the way to Columbus for the State Finals. Our Jonathan made it to State in the open 400-Meter and the 400-Meter-Relay (he ran anchor). And while Jonathan finished 13th in the open-400, his relay team “made it to the podium” in 7th place in the State. It was all pretty exciting for the family, and a tribute to all of Jonathan’s hard work… In May, I interviewed a local man who restored a replica of a Tiny Lund stock car. Lund raced in the 1970s, won the Daytona 500, and eventually died in a fiery crash at the Talladega Speedway in 1975 — leaving a wife and young son behind. Besides the article, I wrote a subsequent column equating high speed auto racing to a form of Russian Roulette. Seems to me it’s a lot more healthy, and life giving, to race around the tracks Jonathan was racing around… In May, I also wrote a column on the current housing bubble. I said it portends that, as just one aspect of this, more and more people in American want to build new homes. I wrote: So then you have urban sprawl eating up more and more of precious farmland. You have more and more trees being cut down in a time when we need as many carbon sinks as possible. You have more and more places that need energy to heat and cool. And none of this, at this point, is, frankly: ‘cool.’ What’s more, it’s antithetical to common sense… For an in-depth look at our stance on the environment, see…