Average Joe Buckeye Blitz cont. This morning we drove into Cleveland for a whistle-stop in front of the West Side Market on the near west side. As we pulled up, a Cleveland documentary crew just happened to be out in front of the market interviewing “average citizens” about there take on the presidential election. When the crew looked up to, quite unexpectedly, see the actual “average Joe” mobile pull up, I mean, how perfect was this timing? After the crew got the quintessential “average presidential candidate’s” take on things, we rolled the banner out and went at it, enthusiastically calling to passersby, passing out literature and so on… We had worked up an appetite, and afterward walked about this absolutely fabulous market made up of booths run by people from all different nationalities. (If you long for diversity, come to this place!)… We then made a stop in Westlake, Ohio where President Bush had just been the day before for a rally. We, however, didn’t go to Westlake to campaign; but rather to meet with one of our kids favorite relatives, aunt Kathy– who owns Kathy’s Kolacke’s and Bakery Shop. (Kathy has a sign that says: “You are not what you eat!”). Our whole Health Care prevention policy focus goes out the window whenever we stop here… From Kathy’s, we went to West Park, Ohio to meet with Augi and Trena Pacetti. Wonderful couple. Augi teaches a class in “social justice” to students at Padua High School. He said he focuses on consistent life ethic topics that run the gamut from Third World poverty, to the environment, to discrimination… He said he tries to continually raise student awareness about things like “sweat shop” practices in the Third World so the students can be catalysts to try to help reverse these trends. Augi said the students had recently heard a talk by a man who was documenting sweat shop practices in Indonesia, including the plight of workers at a Nike Shoe plant there. Augi said the man explained the average worker in these types of plants made the equivalent of $1.50 a day, which meant their families had very little, if anything, for the basics in food, medicine… Meanwhile, professional athletes here who endorse the Nike lines, make millions. A disparity Augi tries to make clear to his students… After meeting with the Pacetti’s, I drove back into Cleveland to sit in on a talk by Gus Schumacher, former Under Secretary of Agriculture during the Clinton administration. He touted a program in the state of Maine where some 30,000 elderly are going to some 300 local farms for fresh produce, etc. What’s more, the elderly are allowed to bring their grandchildren, and children, to help work the farm for educational purposes, and so on. In return, the participating farmers get subsidy checks for participating in the program. Schumacher said besides connecting more people to the land through programs like this, we must also come up with programs to “grow a new crop of farmers,” because so many of the rural youth are now moving off the land. One of the Ohio farmers in the room tonight said with this exodus, and the demise of the small family farm in general, we are losing more than just the farm(s). “The culture of helping (often so prevelant in old rural America) is going down the tubes,” he said.