Tours of 2002
Ohio Tour, Border Tour and Final Tour of 2002
Ohio "Front Porch Tour": *8 months, 88 counties, 8,000 miles.
Included the following...
Declaration Tour: Bluffton, Tiffin, Bellevue, Oberlin, Cleveland, Akron, Ashland, Shelby.
Buckeye Trail Tour (1,300-mile Ohio loop on bicycles): Bluffton, St. Mary's, Bremen, Yorkshire, Versailles, Piqua, Troy, Tipp City, Fairborn, Yellow Springs, Beaver Creek, Mason, Seamen, West Union, Chillicothe, Hocking Hills, Logan, Zanesville, Cambridge, Smyrna, Barnsville, Scio, Dover, New Philadelphia, Massilon, Canton, Wellington, Norwalk, Fremont, Bowling Green, Napolean, Florida (pop. 1,000), Defiance.
Ohio Northwest Tour: Ottawa, Miller City, Stryker, Bryan, Archbold, Nettle Lake, Oregon, Port Clinton, Put-in-Bay, Kelly's Island.
Ohio River Tour (from east to west in southern Ohio): Liverpool, Steubenville, Martin's Ferry, Marietta, Gallipolis, Ironton, Portsmouth, Ripley, Cincinnati.
Declaration Tour (Fall 2001)
I declared my candidacy publically on Aug. 21, 2001 for Campaign 2004. That week I was interviewed by the Lima News and the local Fox News affiliate. I told Amy Basista of Fox that I was running as a "concerned parent" who didn't want my children growing up in a world of violence, climate chaos, abortion, war, rampant drug use... What sane parent would?
Sept. 11, 2001.
We launched the Declaration Tour shortly after Sept. 11.
I told a history class at Heidelberg College that I wasn't so sure going to war in Afghanistan was the answer to 9/11. That is, for instance, as soon as America started "talking tough," humanitarian aid workers started pulling out of Afghanistan, leaving people in refugee camps in dangerous positions. "The children in those refugee camps are starting to die of hunger and illness. And we call this war's inevitable collateral damage."
At Oberlin College in Ohio, we met with Environmental Science professor, and author, David Orr. He contends many Americans have: "biophobia." We, any more, live at arm's length from nature with temperature controlled homes, cars, football stadium domes... Nature, in essence, has (except for sunny 70 degrees days) become: the enemy. "And we will not fight to save what we do not love," he said.
I gave a talk at Annunciation Church in Cleveland. The church has a Sister Church in Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world.
In Cleveland we also met with Tim Musser. He is a member of Pax Christi, a non-violent arm of the Catholic Church. He said the chasm between the affluence in the Western World and the widespread abject poverty in parts of the Middle East, and the Third World in general, is fueling some of the resentment between there and the West. Musser said if we want peace in the contemporary world, we have to work for more economic parity. This would entail more lifestyle sacrifice by many of us in the West.
In Akron, Ohio, we stopped at a cluster of Catholic Worker Homes in a hardscrabble area. They are converted crack houses that now house the homeless. Staffed by volunteers, these homes not only take in area homeless, but they offer hospitality to immigrants, both legal and illegal.
In Ashland, Ohio, (on the way back home), I told the Ashland Times Gazette that our administration would "wage war" against poverty and social injustice.
Ohio Tours 2002
For eight months we barnstormed all of Ohio's 88 counties, traveling some 8,000 miles.
I gave a speech on the square in downtown Bluffton as a kick-off to a 1,300 mile bicycle loop (The Buckeye Trail) around Ohio. During the talk, I said we were concerned about the environment and bicycles were a good answer, in part, to climate change.
In Yorkshire, Ohio (pop. 110) we met with organic farmer Dan Kremer. "A farmer is to be a good steward of the land," he said. "(Farming) is a vocation." He is also opposed to large scale confinement farms, which Kremer contends are cruel to animals and bad for the environment.
In Fairborne, Ohio, we met with Bob Jurick who is pushing for a greenbelt to be built all around the greater Dayton area. He's concerned about urban sprawl.
In Fairborne, I also talked with a man who teaches in the inner city of Dayton. He said statistics show 75% of children born into poverty are born into broken homes. With fathers often absent, teenage boys frequently bond with older teenage boys -- often in gangs.
In Yellow Springs, we met with Denise Swinger, a village council member and founder of STARFISH (Society Taking Active Responsibility for International Self-Help). STARFISH recruits people (farmers, doctors, merchants...) in different fields in the U.S. to team up with their counter-parts in the Third World to exchange ideas and share resources. STARFISH is currently working with the Africn country of Sierra Leon.
In Chilicothe, Ohio, we met with Carrie Oldacre, 14. She told us she was going to England, France, Italy and Greece with 30 other Ohio youth as part of the People to People Ambassador Program. This was established by former president Dwight Eisenhower to bring more peace to the world.
We did a noon whistle-stop event in Cambridge, Ohio, and I was then interviewed by the local paper.
In Cambridge, we also talked to a staff person at the Cambridge Library where they have a "Cans for Fines Program." One month a year in Cambridge, you have the opportunity to pay your over due charges -- with cans of food for the local food bank.
On the island of Put-in-Bay, Ohio, out in Lake Erie, we stumped around town and we were interviewed by the local newspaper.
While on Put-in-Bay, we also met with Kenneth Ault, a Township Trustee from Wood County, Ohio. He was there for an annual meeting of Northwest Ohio government officials. He said as an elected official, you have to be concerned about the "letter of the law," but you also, at times, have to be flexible. Like the time he and the other trustees allowed a mother to hang a cap and gown on her son's gravestone the year he would have graduated from high school, even though cemetery rules prohibit hanging things on gravestones.
In Portsmouth, Ohio, we met with Dave and Sally Ferrell, who were a host family for a student from South Korea as part of the International Student Exchange Program. Dave said, not only did the South Korean youth benefit, but so did his kids, tremendously.
In Ripley, Ohio, we participated in part of the "Footsteps to Freedom Tour" of Underground Railroad sites. Southern California fifth grade teacher Troy Holland was on the tour. He told me he had come here because his experience here would help his teaching "come alive" back home, and this was a part of history that was extremely important.
In Oxford, Ohio, I met with Bob Collins who is a local coordinator for Habitat for Humanity. He was Oxford's "Citizen of the Year" for his volunteer work. He told me, tongue in cheek, that his most trying work day was when a crew of "sorority sisters" from nearby Miami College showed up. All day he heard: "Tap, tap, tap, tap...," he smiled.
At Miller City High School, I told the political science class that we were calling for one-third of American curriculum to be: volunteer work out int he community because: "I want children learning as much, if not more, about helping others, as I do them learning about math, science and English," I said.
In Carey, Ohio, we met with Dan Feasel. Feasel's sons Matt, 33, and Jared, 22, still live at home. They both had adverse reactions to inoculations during the 1970's, leaving them both mentally and physically impaired. The love in the house was palpable.
I talked to a graduate history class at Toledo University about, among other things, migrant farm workers. I said that many people sit in suburban and small town comfort, eating food picked during 10 to 12 hour days in the hot sun by migrant farm workers who eat, by comparison, scraps -- and their children lie on dirty mats in sweltering shacks on the edge of toxic chemical-laden fields.
While at home in Bluffton, Ohio, I did some research around town for my book: America's Best Town.
I talked with the Bluffton First Mennonite Church's Neil Kehler who is part of the church's "Casket Ministry." He said an average "on the market" casket costs: $4,300. The carpenter hobbyists at First Mennonite build nice ones for: $300 -- freeing up $3,000, say, for shelter for "living" homeless people in the Third World.
Bluffton has a highly creative and interactive "Community Sponsored Agriculture Project." REd Oak FArm here offers yearly "shares" for weekly farm produce. Red Oak owner TR Steiner told me he allows people to work on the farm (including children), to reduce the cost of a share -- and to connect people more with the land.
I also researched Bluffton College's "Cross Cultural Program." A requirement at BC, students spend a month in places like Northern Ireland, Central America, Israel/Palestine, Vietnam, America's Appalachian region... helping the poor and working for peace.
"They (Mexicans) come here because of...abject poverty," Schriner writes in a policy paper. "They shouldn't be looked at as a burden on America, but rather a tremendous opportunity to help." --Hobbs (NM) News-Sun
In Eunice, New Mexico (pop. 3,000) we talked with Leon Navarette who helped form the Hispanic Coucil here. This is a grassroots network of volunteers who help new immigrants in Eunice (and there are a lot, both legal and illegal) connect with social services, encourage educational pursuits (even offering some scholarship money), and in a number of other ways.
We attended a Texaco/Chevron Christmas lunch in Lovington, New Mexico. I asked about the sentiment around opening the Alaskan Arctic Refuge to drilling. One worker (who remained anonymous) said that: It's all about making money, no matter what the environmental impact.
In Hobbs, New Mexico, we met with Ed and Betty Bryce who had recently gone on a church mission to rural San Pedro, Nicaragua -- where they frequently saw more than one family living in 20 ft. by 20 ft. shacks built out of salvageable junk.
I gave a talk to the Knights of Columbus in Hobbs, New Mexico. I said given what the Bryces had recently told me about the conditions in rural Nicaragua, it seemed to me Americans could be sacrificing a lot more to help them.
In Carlsbad, New Mexico, I interviewed Stanley Evans, executive director of the "International Good Neighbors Program." The essence of the program is that churches in America pick social justice projects to get behind in Mexico, as churches in Mexico pick social justice programs to get behind in America.
I gave a talk to a Third Order Franciscan group in Carlsbad. Police here had just broken up a homeless "squatter camp" by the railroad tracks and, well, "...these people are going to need a place to live," I challenged. The group's Madeline Ferguson, who runs a Food Pantry in town, already takes homeless people into her home.
In El Paso, Texas, I met with Fr. Justis Wirth, who teaches at Bacon College here about the effects of globalization on Mexico. He said following NAFTA, many Mexican farmers lost land that had been in families for genarations and had no choice but to move to the border where they make a mere $3 a shift at multi-national factories.
We crossed the border into Juarez, Mexico, colloquially referred to as: "The Murder Capitol of Mexico."
In Juarez, we met with Fr. Francis who has started an orphanage for kids on the streets here. He also took us on a tour of the west end of Juarez. There were some 200,000 people living in cobbled together shacks with no electricity, no running water, no sewers... The scene was absolutely tragic. And Fr. Francis, who is from Bloomington, Illinois originally, said there was a lot more Americans could do to help.
In Las Cruces, New Mexico, I interviewed a man who spent 32 years as a border patrol agent. (He chose anonymity because of safety reasons.) And although he had to help stop the influx in, he said it was a shame because it seemed to him most Hispanics were "...good, honest and hard working people."
I was interviewed by the newspaper at New Mexico State University. I said based on what our family had just seen, we need to mobilize a lot more to help those in Mexico and Latin America. That simple.
Final Tour of 2002
Final Tour of 2002
...six states, 1,500 miles.
In Wilcox, Arizona (pop. 3,000), we met Chuck Broeder who gives daily tours of Wilcox in a horse and buggy. A historian, he points out Wilcox is the home of Rex Allen, a 1930's cinema cowboy who was in six movies. Also, Warren Urp (Wyatt's brother) was gunned down in Wilcox.
I was interviewed by the Range News in Wilcox. It was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I said King was concerned, not only about Segregation, but poverty. And I said with inner city Blacks (Hispanics, Whites...) trapped in poverty loops, shouldn't mainstream society be doing much more to help them? But this all takes people better off in society to slow down to help in a systemic way.
We headed across the Mohave Desert to Needles, California.
In Needles, I researched the "Drug Court" there. This is a highly innovative alternative for first time offenders with drug or alcohol problems. A coordinator there told me the program's "spokes" include: treatment, employment help, assessment of psycho-social issues, parenting classes, medical assistance, help with housing... The theory: The more help one gets in recovery early on, the less chance of relapse.
In Needles, I also talked with John Squibb, a geology professor at nearby Mohave Community College. Professor Squibb said burying the nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain could backfire, with a future earthquake or volcanic reaction sparking a highly lethal, Chernobyl-like radioactive release.
We started heading back toward Ohio.
In Kingman, Arizona, I was interviewed by the local newspaper. Reporter Marvin Robertson, during a break in the interview, said he believed the best thing to do with high level nuclear waste is to bury it right at the nuclear power plant site, to minimize the risk in transporting it. I said we should go one better, and get rid to the nuclear plants altogether.
We stopped at the Historic Route 66 Association headquarters in Arizona. Founder Angel Delgadillo. It was a slower pace back then when the "Mother Road" was in her heyday. It was just as much about the trip, and stopping to see things and talk to people alnog the way; as opposed to whizzing down the interstate.
I told a student reporter at Northern Arizona State University in Flagstaff that our campaign is actually asking Americans to consider turning back to a simpler, slower-paced time, like the '50s.
In Flagstaff, we also talked to Naguyan ba Tong. He said once the U.S. pulled out of Vietnam in 1975, Communist religious and political oppression ensued in a stepped up fashion throughout the country. Naguyan said at age 20, he and 58 others crammed into a small boat and escaped Vietnam. He went on to be a Catholic Dominican Brother and ministers to the poor, the sick, the homeless... the condition of many who had been in the boat out of Vietnam with him.
In Gallup, New Mexico, we met with Gabe Kanawite who is a Navajo. Out of a sense of personal responsibility, he said he shifted his college major from business to drug and alcholism counseling so he could be "part of the solution" for his people.
In Gallup, we also toured the Eagle Plume Society Center. Harrison Jim, a counselor there, said the center helps Native Americans with drug and alcohol addiction, as well as "Post Colonial Stress Syndrome," which he said is passed on from generation to generation. A bumper sticker in the parking lot read: "You've seen the New World. Now Go Home!"
In Gallup, we also talked with Richard Padilla. He and his wife Gloria have taken in 15 foster children over the years, primarily from the nearby Zuni Reservation.
I gave a talk to a church youth group in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I talked dramatically about the poverty we'd seen on the Native American Reservations. Shortly after, the youth group scheduled a two-week work mission to the poorest Native American Reservation in New Mexico.
In Savannah, Tennessee, we talked with Fr. Thomas Kirk. On his "vacation," he goes to the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexio. People from all over the country meet here one day a year to pray in the faint early morning light at "ground zero." This is where the first atomic bomb was exploded at 5:45 a.m. in 1945.
I gave a talk at St. Mary's Church in Savannah, Tennessee. The topic was abortion. I said some 3,000 people lost their lives on 9/11, while 4,400 unborn babies are killed in their mothers' wombs every day.
In the Savannah area, we also talked with Dan Schachle. He said he used to be a security guard in a maximum security prison in the area. He said a common denominator with many of the prisoners is that they came from dysfunctional families. Instead of just reforming the prison system, he said, we should be "reforming families."