Tours of 2006
Ohio Tours '05/'06, Off Again Tour '05/'06, End Global Warming Bicycle Tour - Ohio, Farm Worker Tour (California), Gulf Coast Tour,
Immigration Border Tour II -Winter, Route 40 Tour -Spring
Ohio Tours '05/'06
Ohio Tours 2005-2006
1. West of I-75, north to south --
Montpelier, Edgerton, Bryan, Stryker, Wauseon, Ridgeville Corners, Napoleon, Defiance, Bowling Green, McComb, Ottawa, Bluffton, Delphos, Celina, Yorkshire, Russia, Versailles, Greenville, Bradford, Covington, Piqua, Cincinnati
2. Between I-75 and I-71, north to south --
Port Clinton, Fremont, Fostoria, Bascom, Tiffin, Findlay, Sycamore, Arlington, Upper Sandusky, Nevada, Bucyrus, Ashland, Mansfield, Ada, Wyandot, Kenton, Marion, Ashley, Leonardsburg, Delaware, Xenia, Yellow Springs, Columbus
3. Between 1-71 and I-77, north to south --
Cleveland, Seville, Creston, Jeromesville, Apple Creek, Kidron, Fredricksburg, Mount Hope, Berlin, Mount Vernon, Circleville, Chillicothe, Waverly, Peebles
I rolled out the "first pitch" at Xenia, Ohio's St. Brigid Church Picnic kickball game -- and a youth kicked it for a home run. (Maybe I should have rolled out a curve ball.)
We attended a "Peak Oil Conference" at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Speaker Pat Murphy, Executive Director of Community Services Inc., said: "The fossil fuel party is over." And he called for an immediate phasing in of much more solar and wind technology. (Our Energy platform calls for this as well.)
During an interview with the Kenton (OH) Times, I said I'd recently read an article that explained as ocean temperatures rise along the coasts because of global warming, massive amounts of plankton (first level on the food chain) are dying. This could be, oh, a problem.
Spencerville, Ohio's newspaper editor asked me about current shortfalls in funding for Ohio schools. I said even if a school levy fails, wouldn't it be common sense that people who voted for the levy set up a Voluntary School Levy Fund to deposit the tax money they would have been assessed anyway?
I gave a talk at an Organic Farm Festival in Yorkshire, Ohio. I said if I'm a farmer pumping toxic chemicals (artificial pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers...) onto my farm, and they are causing cancer in some people -- aren't I breaking the spirit, if not the letter, of the 5th Commandment (Thou Shall Not Kill)?
In Sidney, Ohio, I interviewed Kevin Schmiesing of the Acton Institute. The Institute works to bring together religious, business, academic and political leaders to help promote: just wage, just price, just working conditions... "Employers have a (moral) responsibility above the 'logic of the market,'" Schmiesing said.
Off Again Tour '05/'06
Off Again... Tour / Winter 2005 - 2006
West Virginia: Bluefield
North Carolina: Siler City, Lexington, Statesville, Asheville
Georgia: Dalton, Rome, Americus, Plains
After an interview with the town newspaper in Wytheville, Virginia, we stumped at an old-fashion restaurant in downtown Wytheville, which is "Home to the Famous Skeeter Dog." (We're thinking about getting them to cater the Inauguration.) Note: On the way into Wytheville, you are greeted with a tongue twister: "Wytheville Warmly Welcomes You!"
I interviewed Cliff Dyer and Heather Keene of Pittsboro, North Carolina. They are engaged and will be married April 30th of next year. Their "honeymoon" will be a two week trip to Central America to do humanitarian outreach. "We are consecrating our marriage with an act of service," said Heather.
In Statesville, North Carolina, I interviewed Jeanine Marsilia who teaches "English as a Second Language" in the school system here. Ms. Marsilia told me there are many illegal immigrants from south of the border in Statesville, and their children particularly have a hard time learning "because they are continually hungry, or sick, or their teeth are hurting."
In Rome, Georgia, we met with Tom and Shauna Farmer, both doctors out of Duke University Medical School. The Farmers suggested that in shaping a Health Care For All platform, the Federal Government uniformly pay for the cost of X-Ray machines, lab equipment, vaccines and other basic medical supplies -- so there would be more parity between the poor and richer states.
In Americus, Georgia, we visited Habitat for Humanity's "Global Village," which includes a mock Third World slum. Shacks, no windows, boards for mattresses and dirty blankets. "Children living in poverty (like this) are five times more likely to die by age five," a sign here reads.
End Global Warming Bicycle Tour
End Global Warming Bicycle Tour / Ohio 2006
Ohio: Westlake, North Ridgeville, Oberlin, Wellington, Sullivan, Ashland, Hayesville, Loudonville, Jelloway, Mt. Vernon, Homer, Newark
*For a month, our family of five traveled Ohio on bicycles. No support vehicle, just a message. I told the Chronicle Telegram newspaper that if a family of five can do this, someone can ride a bicycle (or walk) the mile to the store. To end global warming, we have to change our paradigm -- and we have to sacrifice.
I told the Wellington Enterprise newspaper that the U.S. has 5% of the world population and pumps 21% (highest of any country) of the carbon dioxide into the sky. During a talk on Environmental Stewardship to Wellington's First Methodist Church, I said if our energy gluttony here is causing death elsewhere (super charged hurricanes, drought, famine...), aren't we indeed breaking the 5th Commandment: Thou Shall Not Kill.
In Jelloway, Ohio, we met with Mark Hedge. His home is totally off the grid because of an array of solar panels he's installed. Our administration would tremendously ramp up the push for more alternative energy like this. (See our Energy Policy).
I told the Mt. Vernon (OH) News that my wife and I were running (and bicycling) for president as "concerned parents" who don't want to leave a world of global warming, acid rain and ozone holes for our children. What parent would?
Farm Worker Tour
Farm Worker Tour (California) / 2006
Keene, Arvin, Bakersfield, Delano, Earlimart, Tulare, Selma, Fresno, Modesto, Ripon, Sacramento, Hollister, Seaside, Sand City, Carmel, Monterey, Gonzales
The kids and I went to a talk in Monterey by Dolores Huerta, who co-founded the United Farm Workers Union (UFW) with Caesar Chavez. Ms. Huerta said with the pressing immigration debate these days, the issues are very much the same as when she helped start the UFW in the late '60s. That is, some of the nation continues to be fraught with prejudice toward Latinos. "We have a new Civil Rights Movement," said Ms. Huerta, pointing to the recent, and dramatic, mobilization of Latino protests across the country.
Our family stood in solidarity with a group of Latinos on a downtown square in Hollister, California. They were there to protest proposed new immigration policies that, among other things, would make it a felony to be an illegal immigrant, entail stepped up deportation of illegal immigrants; significantly increase fines to employers hiring illegal immigrants; add more secure fencing and stronger "virtual fences" (more Border Patrol in the air, on the ground....) Hollister's Cynthia Lee told me she believed Latinos do jobs Whites won't do, especially in the fields. "You don't see White farm workers in the fields, period," she said.
While we were in Bakersfield, the Bakersfield Californian newspaper ran a piece about some students from Loyola Marymount, a small, private Catholic college in Los Angeles, spending their Spring break in nearby Lamont, California. The students stayed in small homes with farm worker host families and spent some time working in the fields. The article explained that one day the students went to an orange grove where they picked part of the day, then knocked off early. They were exhausted, according to the article. Yvonne Garcia, a 20-year-old political science major, said she was troubled knowing the host family had to keep picking, not only that day, but into the future. "That brought up the question of why them and not us, and what's the difference?" She pondered.
I met with Douglas Blaylock at the Chavez Center in Keene, California. Baylock explained the Robert F. Kennedy Medical Plan was founded by Chavez in 1969 as the first medical plan for farm workers in the U.S. Blaylock, who is the Plan's Administrator, said that while the plan was a stop in the right direction -- only 2% of all farm workers are insured under the plan. Blaylock also told me one of the biggest health issues for farm workers is cancer -- because of continual exposure to toxic, artificial herbicides and pesticides.
In Visalia, California, I talked with Orville Brum who said he used to manage one of the biggest dairy operations in the San Joaquin Valley. He said when he managed the farm, the Border Patrol used to be a lot more active, regularly rounding up what he termed "wet backs," and bussed them back to Mexico. He said now in this area that seldom happens because the farmers want as much cheap (Brum referred to it as: "slave") labor as possible. (At the Heritage Complex in Tulare, California, we learned that agriculture is a $100 billion dollar yearly industry in California.)
We went to the dusty, farm town of Arvin, California, which is chock full of farm workers, tiny houses and dilapidated trailers. Although a relatively small town, it is now the "most crowded" town, per capita, in California. A typical residential scenario for Arvin was written about in a Mother Jones Magazine article: "Isabel, a single mother of three, can't pack anyone else into the 300-square foot house. Two of her sons share bunk beds and her oldest son sleeps in the car; four other relatives sleep on the floor, and she stays on the couch." And this isn't unusual here.
It was in a park in Tulare, California, that I read the following inscribed on a rock: Prayer of the Farm Worker's Struggle: "Show me the suffering of the most miserable, so I will know my people's plight -- for you are present in every person... bring forth song and celebration so that the spirit be alive among us. Let the spirit flourish and grow so we will never tire of the struggle. Let us remember those who have died for justice, for they have given us life..." Caesar E. Chavez
Gulf Coast Tour
Gulf Coast Tour (post Hurricane Katrina) / Winter 2006
Florida: Panama City
Alabama: Foley, Fairhope, Daphne, Mobile
Mississippi: Pascagoula, Biloxi, Gulfport, Picayune
Louisiana: Slidell, New Orleans, Thibodaux
Outside Little Flower Catholic Church in Mobile, Alabama, is a sign that reads: "There are 5,250 abortions every hour (in the world)." If that doesn't give one tremendous pause...
After an interview at the Mobile Register newspaper, we noticed that not more than a quarter mile from the newspaper office is a cluster of makeshift tents that sit below the incline of a highway on-ramp. In front of one of the tents sat: a wheel chair. Most cars that travel the on-ramp (are) sheltered in garages. Meanwhile some of our poor, or veterans, are crippled... sleep in tents, or worse, all over the country. What would it take to convert some of these garages to apartments for the disadvantaged? Love, and a few nails.
We went to Citronelle, Alabama, to research Lisa and Craig Kalloch's 5-acre perma-culture. The day we toured the Kalloch's place, there were also three people from Bellngham, Washingon, there. One of them, Eric Conn, said he had had a business in Bellingham called "Food Not Lawns." He would cover existing lawns with sheet mulching (using all kinds of compost, etc.) to reclaim the 'dead green,' chemically-treated lawns for rich soil, gardens and even "perennial food forest systems." Conn would plant things like fruit trees, then fruity shrubs (blackberries, blueberries...). The land, as a result, becomes so much more productive and educational, he added.
We headed into the Gulf Coast region of Mississippi, and the beginning of the Hurricane Katrina devastation area... Our first stop was Pascagoula, which was hit extremely hard. For a half mile in from the coast, it looked like a war zone. Tom Caffrey, a life-long resident of Pascagoula, gave us a tour. Winds at 145 mph, a tremendous swell of water and "renegade waves" of up to 27 ft., tore houses literally apart. All that was left of many was: a concrete slab.
In Picayune, Mississippi, I interviewed Tammie Norsworthy who lost her daughter during Hurricane Katrina. A heart wrenching story. They had lived just north of Pascagoula, Mississippi, in Helena. The 12-year-old daughter had cerebral palsey and had gotten sick with pneumonia two weeks before the storm. Her condition continued to deteriorate, and the day before the storm hit she was brought to Pascagoula's hospital. As the storm approached, they were going to Life Flight the girl to a hospital in Mobile, Alabama -- but the winds were too strong, Mrs. Norsworthy relayed. After the hurricane, the electricity was out in the hospital for quite some time and without functioning respiration equipment, etc., Mrs. Norsworthy's daughter grew worse. She eventually died on Sept. 25.
While in Picayune, Mississippi, I interviewed Frances and Jack Huck. Several years ago they converted a free-standing garage on their property into a two bedroom apartment for Frances's elderly mother and an aunt. Frances said it was a tremendous blessing having her children living so close to their grandmother and aunt as they grew up. "Also, my mother had loved us growing up and I wanted to return that," she said. Note: Our belief is that Social Security should be about more than just a fund. It should be about an elderly person feeling as "secure" as possible in their family, their neighborhood and their community -- emotionally, physically and financially.
I was interviewed by Paul South, the managing editor of the Mississippi Press newspaper. At one point he asked me my take on the American people in general after all my traveling. I said it was my opinion many Americans have a "myopic" view of the world. That is, we are so focused on ourselves we don't 'see' tumble down shacks in hardscrabble Third World neighborhoods with open sewage spilling into the streets. I said the post Katrina FEMA trailers here would be considered "mansions" there.
We went into New Orleans, driving by the 9th Ward and French Quarter areas, both of which were devastated by the flooding. This looked like a war zone, too, with police seemingly on every corner standing watch.
We headed south into 'Cajun Country.' Steve Harrington of Vermilion Parish, Louisiana, told me that after Hurricane Rita hit here (shortly after Katrina), residents didn't wait for the government. They scrambled some 300 pleasure and fishing boats and went door to door rescuing people. No one drowned in Vermilion Parish.
Immigration Border Tour II
Immigration Border Tour II - Winter 2006
Texas: Sheffield, El Paso, Ft. Stockton
New Mexico: Las Cruces, Demming
Arizona: Quartsite, Wilcox, Benson, Tucson
In a hardscrabble area of the inner city of El Paso, we visited the Annunciation House -- a shelter for illegal immigrants just coming across the border. I met with Director Rubin Garcia who said the shelter is supported by a network of churches here that are interested in promoting social justice. Note: On an earlier tour, we walked the dusty Westside streets of Juarez, Mexico, just across the border from El Paso. Some 200,000 people live in cobbled together shacks with no running water, no electricity and little food. Our administration would do everything possible to try to help these people -- on both sides of the border.
In Las Cruces, New Mexico, my daughter Sarah and I sat in on a workshop at Our Lady of Health Church. Part of the workshop included attendees talking about how they "...longed to see God's face." I said it's actually not hard to see God's face. That is, Jesus said whenever we do something for "the least of these," we do it for Him. So it only stands to reason that we can see God's 'face' every day-- in the 'face' of the poor. Note: Although that is harder to do in Las Cruces these days. An ordinance was passed several years ago banning the homeless from begging on the streets here.
In Las Cruces, we also met with Sheriff's Deputy Jimmy Beasley who has been with the Department the past 19 years here. He said drugs coming across the border is a tremendously big issue. He said the drug cartels south of the border are powerful and quite networked. He said no matter how much security, they will find a way to get at least some, if not a lot, of the drugs through. So common sense would indicate we have to find more ways to decrease the demand for drugs on this side of the border. One way to do this is through the DARE Program, which Deputy Beasley has helped coordinate the past 16 years now. The program helps students develop positive peer groups and make responsible choices around drinking and drugs.
I was interviewed by reporter Kevin Buey of the Headlight newspaper in Demming, New Mexico. The day before, Buey had written an excellent piece about the "Southwest Desert Sustainability Project" slated for the area. Southwest Desert Sustainability is a non-profit organization developed to help homeowners evaluate their energy efficiency. These reviews are offered in conjunction with: "Rebuild New Mexico." A thrust of the project is to show homeowners in this area how to retrofit with more insulation, in tandem with adding solar devices. (The sun shines more than 300 days a year here on average.) I told Buey our platform asks Americans to considerably ratchet up their "environmental stewardship" to reverse global warming.
In Quartsite, Arizona, we met a man who had served in the Army and had been dispatched to Hiroshima shortly after we dropped the atomic bomb there. He said the city was absolutely decimated. And the image that particularly stuck in his mind was the outlines of bodies actually burned into the concrete where adults and children were incinerated when the bomb detonated. Note: Our platform calls for a U.S. Department of Peace to head this off in the future, while building more worldwide camaraderie.
Route 40 Tour - Spring
Route 40 Tour / Spring 2006
California: Newberry Springs
Arizona: Bullhead City, Kingman, Williams, Flagstaff, Winslow, Holbrook
New Mexico: Gallup, Grants, Albuquerque, Santa Rosa
Texas: Vega, Bushland, Groom, Mclean, Alanreed
Oklahoma: Weatherford, Oklahoma City, Henryetta
Arkansas: Brinkley, Van Buren, Russellville
I gave a talk at the Newman Center on the campus of Northern Arizona State University in Flagstaff. I explained that the day before, Michael Vollmer, who is the director of the Newman Center, had said to me that people in the Third World have annual incomes that range from a couple hundred to a thousand dollars. And they often subsist on one meager meal a day. I said the gospel message cries out for us to sacrifice way more in this country, so those in the Third World can have at least the basics in food, medicine, shelter...
I talked at an Immigration Rally in Flagstaff. I said our administration would push for amnesty for illegal immigrants -- and family reunification. In an interview with Phoenix's Channel 3 News after the talk, I said we had walked the streets of Juarez, Mexico, and seen the poverty. And it was my belief most of these people come to America -- because their children are hungry. How can we turn our backs?
We visited the memorial at the Oklahoma City bombing site. (They had just recently commemorated the 11th anniversary of the bombing.) There are black walls on either side of what used to be the Federal Building, two open doors -- and empty space where the rest of the building used to stand. The minimalism is quite striking. What's even more impacting is a life size statue of Jesus just across the streets, His back turned and His head in His hands. The caption: "And Jesus wept."
In Brinkley, Arkansas, we visited the Louisiana Purchase Historic State Park Museum. On Oct. 27, 1815, the land survey for the Louisiana Purchase began at a point in the woods 22 miles south of here. After the survey, America would buy 830,000 square miles (spanning what would become 14 states) for less than 3 cents an acre ($15 million) from France. In the museum was a statement at the time from Gen. Horatio Gates to President Thomas Jefferson: "Let the land rejoice, for you have bought Louisiana for a song." "But was it's France's to sell." Was it ours to buy? What about the Native Americans?
I gave a talk to a full school assembly (including some adults) at St. Mary's Church in Jackson, Tennessee (pop. 40,000). I had our Sarah, 10, and Joseph, 8, stand by my side. I explained that no matter what a person's age, they can make a great impact on society. For instance, I said Joseph and Sarah recently stood in solidarity with a group of people in San Bernardino, California, who were praying the Rosary in front of an abortion clinic. In North Dakota, Sarah stood on a sidewalk in front of an abortion clinic, pleading with pregnant women not to go in -- alongside a group of "Collegians for Life" students from Morehead State University. I said to the students that you are never too young to try to change things. Never.