28 April 2020Messiah:Granny was unapologetically Charlestonian. She loved her hominy (grits); she handled live crab with her bare hands; she rolled her eyes when anyone insinuated that Savannah was the Holy City’s equal. (I roll my eyes too.) In public, Granny was gregarious and commanding, gifted with the ability to silence and then direct a crowd by deploying her trademark, “Now listen here…!” In private, Granny’s authentic love for us came through; she always ma [...]
Eva Elizabeth "Beth" Hatfield Halverson, departed this life on Nov.16, 2015 at Baptist Memorial Hospital. Her funeral was conducted Nov. 20, at the Canaan Baptist Church in Columbus, MS by her pastor, Elder Herb Hatfield and Elder Issac Guest of Ripley, MS. A large number of her friends and relatives were in attendence.
Beth was born Spetember 20, 1968 to Ruth Ann Roberts Hatfield and Herbert Hatfield, Jr., in Charleston, WV. She was a faithful member of the Aberdeen Primitive Baptist Church, Aberdeen, MS. and was active in the homeschool groups of Columbus and Starkville. She was preceded in death by her son, Elijah Halverson.
Beth and Stacy Halverson were married, Jan. 8, 1988, in Columbus, MS. She is survied by her husband, Stacy, three sons; Johusa, who is married to Amanda, Jacob and Zachariah. Also, three daughters; Audrey, Madalyn and Olivia, two grandchildren, Laura Claire and Kate Elizabeth, born on Nov.20, even while we were celebrating Beth's homegoing.
She is also survived by both her parents, three sisters; Dawn Gregory of Columbus, MS, Debra Hatfield and Rebecca Young of Aberdeen and a brother, John Mark Hatfield , Tupelo, MS.
As part of its five-year cycle to maintain public safety and electric system reliability, Dominion Energy South Carolina will begin pruning trees throughout parts of lower Charleston County in the coming weeks. The project - which will extend across approximately 90 miles of overhead distribution lines to include sections of Adams Run, Hollywood, and Meggett - is set to begin in early June and will take approximately 5 months to complete. Property owners will be notified by mail or email [...]
Below is a message from the SCDOT, regarding the replacement of the Meggett Creek Bridge. Please feel free to call Meggett Town Hall at 843.889.3622 with any questions. The South Carolina Department of Transportation is currently replacing the bridge along SC-165 over Meggett Creek in Charleston County. This bridge is rated as being structurally deficient and therefore qualifies for Federal Bridge Replacement funding. Notable construction activities are expected to b [...]
Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, took a stake last year in a startup whose co-chairman is a major Trump campaign fundraiser who has sought financial support from the federal government for his other business interests, according to records obtained by ProPublica.
The fundraiser, Texas money manager Gentry Beach, and Trump Jr. attended college together, are godfather to one of each other’s sons and have collaborated on investments — and on the Trump presidential campaign. Since Trump’s election, Beach has attempted to obtain federal assistance for projects in Asia, the Caribbean and South America, and he has met or corresponded with top officials in the National Security Council, Interior Department and Overseas Private Investment Corporation.
Beach and others at the startup, Eden Green Technology, have touted their connections to the first family to impress partners, suppliers and others, according to five current and former business associates. Richard Venn, an early backer of Eden Green, recalls the company’s founder mentioning “interest from the Trump family.” Another associate said Beach bragged about his ties to the Trumps in a business meeting.
The investment is one of just a handful of known business ventures pursued by Trump Jr. since his father moved into the White House almost two years ago. In addition to being a top campaign surrogate and public booster, Trump Jr. serves as an executive vice president of his father’s company and one of just two trustees of the trust holding the president’s assets.
Ethics experts have consistently criticized these arrangements, arguing that they invite those seeking to influence the government to do so by attempting to enrich the president or his family members with favorable business opportunities.
Trump Jr. invested in the startup, a company that grows organic lettuce in a hydroponic greenhouse, last year, records show. Those records don’t state how much money — if any — Trump paid for his 7,500 shares. But the shares would have been worth about $650,000 at the end of last year, based on a formula used by another shareholder in a recent court filing. Neither Trump Jr. nor the company have disclosed his investment publicly. Trump Jr. obtained the stake through a limited liability company called MSMDF Agriculture LLC, which was set up by a Trump Organization employee last fall.
The key ethical question, said Virginia Canter, chief ethics lawyer at the nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, is whether Beach’s involvement with Eden Green, and Trump Jr.’s investment in it, are based on the business merits — or on the possibility of cashing in on connections to power. “Why is Trump Jr. being given this opportunity?” she asked. “It definitely has the appearance of trying to gain access by any means to curry favor with the administration.”
The willingness of Eden Green to invoke the Trump name in its business dealings raises further ethical concerns, experts said, particularly if potential customers understand that they are giving contracts to a startup whose success could enrich the president’s son.
Neither Trump Jr. nor his spokesman responded to messages seeking comment on his relationship with Beach and investment in Eden Green. A White House spokeswoman didn’t respond to emailed questions. Alan Garten, the Trump Organization’s top lawyer, said in a statement that Trump Jr.’s investment is a personal one. The entity through which it was made “is not owned or controlled by, or affiliated in any way with, The Trump Organization,” Garten said.
Last fall, Eden Green concluded a deal with Walmart. Today, the giant retailer sells the company’s lettuce, kale and other greens at about 100 stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth region. (Eden Green’s sole facility is a 44,023-square-foot greenhouse outside Fort Worth, where it grows the greens in 18-foot vertical tubes.)
Walmart interacts with government regulators on an array of matters -- everything from labor practices and land use to securities filings -- but there is no indication that Walmart is aware of Trump Jr.’s connection to Eden Green. (Separately, Walmart contributed $150,000 to Trump’s inaugural committee. Beach was a finance vice chair of that committee, but a Beach spokesman says he has never met with Walmart executives.)
Molly Blakeman, a Walmart spokeswoman, declined to comment on Eden Green or its investors. “We don’t talk about our relationships with our suppliers,” said Blakeman, who added that Walmart has “supported inaugural activities” in the past.
Andrew Kolvet, a spokesman for Beach and the other Eden Green executives, said it’s “categorically false” that the Trump name was invoked by Eden Green officials. Kolvet cited a corporate policy that forbids discussing investors “with any current or potential client.” He also said Trump Jr. isn’t involved with company operations and bought into Eden Green during “U.S. friends and family fundraising efforts.”
A recent lawsuit asserts that Eden Green is in financial trouble. In October, the company’s largest shareholder, an entity controlled by a wealthy oil and gas family from Midland, Texas, filed suit in state court in Dallas, alleging “gross project mismanagement.” The suit accused Beach and six executives, all of them board members, of paying themselves extravagant salaries (allegedly $250,000 to $300,000 per year) and putting the company “on the precipice of failure.” A financial consultant hired to examine the company’s books asserted that Eden Green executives spent more than $19.4 million in the first nine months of 2018 — a daunting sum for a company that reported having raised a total of $22 million as of June — while generating $9,000 in revenues.
In late November, less than a month after the suit was filed, it was settled on confidential terms. Kolvet disputed the compensation figures asserted in the litigation, saying that the company’s pay is “in accordance with industry standards.” He maintained that Eden Green’s prospects are good. As with many startups, he said, “things don’t go in a straight line.” Kolvet asserted that the company has plenty of operating cash.
Trump Jr., now 40, and Beach, now 43, met at the University of Pennsylvania two decades ago. Both are the sons of wealthy businessmen, one in real estate, one in oil and gas. Beach’s father has since been laid low: Last month he was sentenced to four months in federal detention, plus two years of supervised release, for bankruptcy fraud.
Beach was a groomsman at Trump Jr.’s wedding (Trump Jr. and his wife recently separated). Beach and Trump Jr. like to hunt and once considered buying a hunting preserve in Mexico together. According to a 2010 deposition testimony by Trump Jr., they talked business during lunches at Rothmann’s steakhouse in New York.
Both have struggled in business at times. In 2009, Trump Jr. and others (including one person who pleaded guilty to an unrelated criminal fraud charge in 2010) formed a company that would sell concrete panels for home constructions out of a warehouse in North Charleston, South Carolina. The business quickly became mired in lawsuits seeking payment for unpaid bills. Trump Jr. made the situation more precarious by personally guaranteeing a $3.7 million loan for the project. Days before the note was due, the Trump Organization purchased the debt, eventually taking over the warehouse and selling it all back to Trump Jr.’s original business partner, according to press accounts.
For his part, Beach’s career path has also included some travails. He spent a year or so at Enron and then moved into finance. Beach worked for a hedge fund and remains locked in litigation with it more than a decade later. (He claims he wasn’t paid his full compensation; the fund claims he was “responsible for the destruction of millions of dollars of investor capital.”) Beach now runs a “family office focused on private equity investments” out of a Dallas office that Eden Green uses as its corporate address.
Trump Jr. has at least twice before invested with Beach in deals that didn’t pan out. Trump Jr. put $200,000 in a dry Texas oil well managed by Beach’s father, according to testimony by Trump Jr. He also lost an unknown sum in a failed African mining company affiliated with Beach’s uncle.
But Trump Jr. stuck with his friend. The Associated Press reported this year that the two formed a company last October to pursue technology investments.
Then there was Eden Green. By the time Trump invested last fall, the company had already run into problems. It first launched in 2013 in South Africa with an ambitious mission: to feed the world through a highly efficient indoor farming system deploying patented technology intended to yield 10 to 12 harvests a year, compared with two or three for conventional agriculture.
There’s a market for vegetables grown in controlled greenhouse environments as big retailers increasingly push for cleaner, more reliable and locally grown alternatives. But the challenges are significant. Energy costs run high, and there are myriad difficulties associated with scaling up to an industrial-size system.
That’s what happened in Eden Green’s first iteration, according to a half dozen early backers and associates. The produce may have been sustainable — but the business model wasn’t. The CEO of its European unit wrote in an October 2017 email obtained by ProPublica that the company had “been bleeding money and resources for almost 2 years now.” In the fall of 2017, Eden Green’s founders cemented a deal to hand over majority control to a group of U.S. investors led by Beach, current and former business associates said.
This was the company Trump Jr. bought into. He used an innocuous-sounding limited liability company, called MSMDF Agriculture LLC, to make the investment. ProPublica discovered MSMDF after the Trump Organization listed it in New York City filings among dozens of other entities it controlled. (Because the Trump Organization has contracts with the city to run the Wollman skating rink in Central Park and a golf course in the Bronx, the city requires the company to file disclosures.) The Trump Organization told ProPublica that MSMDF is not in fact owned by the Trump Organization but was included in the disclosure form because it’s controlled by Trump Jr., who was described in the form as MSMDF’s president, secretary and treasurer.
MSMDF was formed by a Trump Organization employee in September 2017 in Delaware, according to incorporation papers. Eden Green Holdings UK, Ltd., an affiliate of the Texas-based company, then listed MSMDF among its roughly two dozen shareholders in a 2018 report filed with British regulators.
The Trump Jr-Beach connection has been most visible in the political arena. Last year, for example, Trump Jr. publicly thanked Beach and their mutual friend Tommy Hicks Jr., another wealthy investor from Dallas, for their fundraising during the 2016 campaign. “We couldn’t have done it without you guys,” Trump Jr. said of his buddies to a crowd of Republican donors in March 2017. “It was just absolutely incredible.”
In the foreword to a recent book, Trump Jr. reiterated the message, writing that a “rag tag army” — Trump Jr., Beach, Hicks and Charlie Kirk, the firebrand chief of the pro-Trump organization, Turning Point USA — barnstormed the country in 2016, raising “over 150 million dollars in ninety days.”
Since Trump’s election, Beach has met with top administration figures on multiple occasions. For example, according to the AP, he lobbied National Security Council officials to relax sanctions against Venezuela to create opportunities for U.S. companies. He attended a private lunch with Republican donors and Interior secretary Ryan Zinke.
Beach has denied leveraging his ties to the first family. Last month, Beach told a TV interviewer in Croatia, where he said he was exploring a “truly spectacular” $100 million real estate development, “I don’t need anything from the government, thankfully, except normal police protection in my hometown.”
But newly obtained emails show that Beach wanted government backing for his private business interests at the same time he was running Eden Green. In October 2017, Beach pitched Ray Washburne, who heads the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a government agency that offers loans and guarantees to American companies looking to expand into emerging markets, according to emails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. (Before joining OPIC, Washburne was a Dallas investor and a top fundraiser for Trump. He and Beach move in the same circles and have friends in common.)
“The Dominican Republic could really use some US investment and support,” Beach wrote in one email to Washburne, describing his various projects there, which included “a power plant upgrade to an existing tin mine” as well as liquid natural gas infrastructure. He invited OPIC officials to travel with him to the Dominican Republic “If permitted, we would be happy to handle all transportation from DC to DR and back,” he wrote in a follow-up note. (Such a trip never occurred, according to an OPIC spokesperson.)
A month later, the emails show, Beach also lobbied on another project, arranging a call with his business partner and one of Washburne’s top deputies regarding an “India Oppty,” which appeared to involve an energy fund. Separately, Beach also introduced Washburne to the head of oil giant Exxon Mobil’s Africa operations, with whom Beach said he had gone shooting at Blenheim Palace in England, where the Churchill family resided for three centuries. And Beach connected another Washburne aide with a South African mining executive who Beach described as “one of my partners.”
OPIC spokeswoman Amanda Burke said Beach has not submitted any formal applications for agency funding. “OPIC routinely meets with a variety of businesses and stakeholders,” she said, adding that formal applications trigger background and credit checks and “go through several levels of agency vetting and approval.”
Asked whether having a Trump connection would disqualify a person from receiving OPIC support, Burke emailed that “in general, an individual’s personal or legal business interests would not disqualify them from applying. However, certain relationships may cause board members or other decision makers of OPIC to be conflicted out of the decision-making process on potential projects.”
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The mouth of the Jadebusen River
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Principals, counselors receive state’s first ‘Champion of College Access and Success’ Awards CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Principals, counselors and staff from 24 high schools across West Virginia today are being recognized for their schools’ efforts to make students aware of higher education opportunities after they graduate. The inaugural “Champion of College Access and Success” recognition awards […]
College Foundation of West Virginia sets new goal for completion of federal student aid application CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Today, the College Foundation of West Virginia (CFWV) announced the statewide goal to have at least 63 percent of high school seniors file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by April 15, 2018. Filing the […]
Higher Education Policy Commission and Kanawha County Schools awarded $50,000 for FAFSA completion effortsCache
Higher Education Policy Commission and Kanawha County Schools awarded $50,000 for FAFSA completion efforts CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC) announced today that the agency has been awarded $50,000 from the National College Access Network (NCAN), a nonprofit organization focusing on ensuring equal access to higher education. Last year, HEPC secured […]
‘FAFSA Completion Challenge’ leads to more students applying for college financial aid CHARLESTON, W.Va. – State higher education officials are applauding the efforts of Kanawha County high schools for their part in a year-long “FAFSA Completion Challenge” campaign, a countywide effort to increase the number of 12th graders applying for college financial aid. During a […]
State higher education office sets goal for 70 percent of high school seniors to complete financial aid applications CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (Commission) is aiming for at least 70 percent of high school seniors to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by April 15, 2020. Without […]
College Foundation of West Virginia sets goal for statewide FAFSA completion Statewide efforts will encourage at least 63 percent of high school seniors to file a FAFSA by April 15, 2019 CHARLESTON, W.Va. – High school students should plan now to complete college financial aid applications if they wish to become eligible for state and […]
West Virginia High Schools exceed halfway mark to statewide FAFSA completion goal As of January 12, more than 32 percent of West Virginia high school seniors have filed a FAFSA CHARLESTON, W. Va. – The College Foundation of West Virginia (CFWV) announced today that 32.5 percent of West Virginia high school students have filed a […]
$40,000 Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars program created to attract math, science teachers CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (Commission) recently launched the online application for its newest and most-prestigious state scholarship, which is aimed at addressing critical teacher shortages in math, science, elementary education and special education. The Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars Program […]
Limecrete and renovating old homes with natural materials, with April Magill of RootDown Design: 128Cache
I finally had the chance to do a follow up session with one of my favorite natural builders, April Magill. She’s not only an accomplished architect, builder, and educator through her company “Root Down Design” and the American College of the Building Arts, she’s also constantly experimenting with new techniques and materials as you’ll hear in this episode. Back in the first interview that I recorded with April, we dissected rammed earth and how she was working to revive the craft for all its potential benefits for her climate and conditions in Charleston, NC. This time we talk about hempcrete, and how its anti molding insulative properties are presenting all kinds of new options for natural builders whos’ contexts call for insulation to overcome the large temperature swings in different seasons and also need to resist the humidity. We talk about her recent experiments in packing forms in traditional framed homes, the mixture that she’s had success with that includes the pozzolan additive metakaolin, as well as where certain materials are sourced from.
The second half of the interview we dedicate to the topic of home renovations and how it can often be more environmentally responsible to repair and retrofit an existing home than to build and entirely new one, even if it’s made primarily with natural materials. This interview gives a realistic view of some common topics that you listeners have asked me in the past and I’m always excited to talk to professionals who give an honest account of costs, processes, and help to bust myths about natural building and the construction trades in general.
In case you’re looking for even more information on the myths and realities of building for yourself or hiring a contractor to build a natural structure, you can also check out the article that sums these things up called “The Real Cost of a Natural Building” by clicking on the link in the show notes or in the catalogue of articles in the navigation bar at abundantedge.com. I really feel motivated to give people the most accurate picture of the whole process of building a natural structure for themselves since social media and so many click-bait articles have planted unrealistic expectations around the web.
Root Down Designs
The American College of the Building Arts
Rammed earth is one of the earthen building techniques that I personally have the least experience with, but since it has been steadily growing in popularity around the world for its beauty and durability I reached out to April Magill of Root Down Designs to find out more about how this ancient vernacular building technique is being revived in the southeastern US and what challenges there are to getting rammed earth buildings permitted and accepted.
In this interview April talk about how rammed earth structures help to combat some of the biggest challenges of building in her region such as humidity and mold. We discuss some of the hurdles for architects and owner-builders in getting natural buildings approved by local building authorities, and we also explore hybrid homes, permaculture design for structures, and much more. April also teaches courses with the American College of Building Arts in Charleston, SC so stay tuned till the end to learn how you can get hands on training in a variety of natural building methods in the South Carolina area.
Roots Down Design
The American College of Building Arts
I wrote this a couple weeks ago while flying home from a business trip. Now I’m posting it in the context of the recent killing of nine African-American Christians in Charleston, SC. And since I’m sitting at home on a … Continue reading
Theater In College Hoops (Ep. 42)- More Big 10/ACC challenge, The Big East, Georgetown & a new segmentCache
The Big 10/ACC challenge rolls on as we recap MSU's PUTRID effort at home against Duke and highlight Louisville's defense against Michigan. We also talk Big East and how deep and open the conference really is and we had to spend time on the trouble at Georgetown. Is this the year that Archie Miller takes his Hoosiers to the tournament? Also, we let The Shark have the spotlight on stage so that he can drag Cuonzo Martin and Mizzou's loss to Charleston Southern. Finally, we introduce our new segment titled "Where am I?" inspired by Hansel in Zoolander and we can't forget Hugs.
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I miss you, Austin!
Wonderful, Austin. The only thing better would have been to hear it in person. Love to all.
Beautifully thought through and shared! Thank you Austin. I miss your presence in Chapin, but appreciate staying in touch. Life certainly has storms, but thankfully Jesus is in the boat!
We know now that Dylann Roof acting alone in the shooting and killing that occurred at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C. The outpouring of shock, anger, sadness, and grief was abundant on social media and on television. As a white preacher on his last Sunday at his current church, I should be preaching to comfort
By Whitney Hale
The University of Kentucky Special Collections Library invites the public to an exhibition and symposium celebrating the opening of the papers of Appalachian author Harriette Simpson Arnow. The event will take place at 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, in the Great Hall, of the Margaret I. King Building. The exhibition of work will run through February 2012.
Harriette Arnow’s papers at UK Libraries provide a broad look at a writer’s life and work. Included are materials that document her writing process, from first-draft manuscripts on dime store tablets, through various iterations and drafts, to printer page proofs. Also included are correspondence with family, editors, publishers and literary agents. Researchers will find mail from readers, photographs, speeches and materials documenting Arnow’s political interests such as McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee, the Vietnam War and the ACLU. Book reviews, scholarly articles, and dissertations written about Arnow’s work are also featured in the papers.
Arnow was born in Wayne County, Ky., in 1908, and grew up in the rugged foothills of the Appalachians, where the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River emerges from the east Kentucky coalfield. She went on to publish several short stories, five novels and three works of nonfiction from the 1930s to 1977. Arnow died in Michigan in 1986.
Kentucky is a central element in much of Arnow's most popular work. Her acclaimed and best-selling novels, "Hunter’s Horn" (1949) and "The Dollmaker" (1954), are part of a Kentucky trilogy that includes "Mountain Path" (1936). In these works of fiction, Arnow explores how the the social and economic fabric of rural Kentucky hill communities in the first half of the 20th century was changed by the coming of roads, electricity and the World Wars. The writer also completed two social histories, "Seedtime on the Cumberland" (1960) and "Flowering of the Cumberland" (1963), which examined the settlement of the Cumberland River valley at the end of the 18 century as well as a memoir, "Old Burnside" (1977), that focused on her childhood in Pulaski County, Ky. Two final novels, "Weedkiller’s Daughter" and "The Kentucky Trace: A Novel of the American Revolution" were published in the early 1970s. A collection of short stories and a novel, "Between the Flowers," were released posthumously.
The Arnow symposium at UK will feature Kentucky Poet Laureate and writer Gurney Norman and scholar Sandy Ballard, who will speak about Arnow’s life and work and the importance of her papers for scholars and other writers. Norman, director of UK's Creative Writing Program, will present the talk, "Remembering Harriette," personal notes about the writer's acquaintance with Arnow and a discussion of her contributions to the modern Kentucky/Appalachian literary renaissance. Ballard, who is the editor of Appalachian Journal and a member of the faculty of Appalachian State University, is currently writing a biography of Arnow.
Ballard believes the university's Arnow collection is a treasure. "Harriette Simpson Arnow was a remarkable writer whose work certainly deserves a wider audience. The archival collection at the University of Kentucky is the mother lode for anyone who wants to explore the imaginative range of this impressive author," Ballard says.
The symposium program will also include music by UK School of Music faculty members Dennis Bender, associate professor of voice, and Ron Pen, professor of musicology and director of the John Jacob Niles Center for American Music, on banjo and fiddle. A reception will follow.
The processing and description of the Harriette Arnow papers has proven a formidable project for Kate Black, curator of the Appalachian Collection and manuscripts archivist at UK Libraries.
"Processing these papers and preparing them for researchers has been challenging, to say the least," Black says. "Ms. Arnow’s handwriting is big, sprawling and difficult to read, and her habit was to write a draft of one manuscript on the back of a draft of another manuscript. She often wrote on highly acidic paper, which requires significant preservation work. And then filing wasn’t her strong point. Drafts of all the manuscripts had to be located and meticulously pieced together. It was like a puzzle."
Black credits talented graduate students in enabling the processing of the Arnow papers. Her most recent assistant, Amber Surface, helped bring the project to conclusion. Surface, a native of South Charleston, W. Va., who will graduate this December from the UK School of Library and Information Science, liked working on Harriette Arnow’s papers so much that she is curating the exhibit for the November event with Black and creating a virtual exhibit—all for class credit.
"Working with the Arnow papers has been an incredible introduction to working in the archives," Surface says. "Helping the collection take form, from processing to exhibiting, is fascinating. Most graduate students only have a chance to work on the processing side, so I’ve truly enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity to curate the exhibit with the completed papers."
In conjunction with the opening of the Harriette Arnow papers, the UK Appalachian Center and the UK Graduate Appalachian Research Community will host a screening of "The Dollmaker" two days before the symposium. The movie screening will begin at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15, in the William T. Young Library Auditorium. Based on Arnow’s novel, this feature film starred Jane Fonda as the book’s main character, Gertie Nevels, and was first released in 1983. Surface will give introductory remarks.
The UK Appalachian Center works in partnership with its constituents to bring the expertise of UK to the issues, challenges and opportunities of importance in Appalachia.
The Appalachian Research Community is dedicated to fostering dialogue and connecting UK graduate students from all disciplines working on Appalachia with other students, faculty and resources in an effort to further promote and improve Appalachian research.
UK's Special Collections is home to UK Libraries' collection of rare books, Kentuckiana, the Archives, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, the King Library Press and the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center. The mission of Special Collections is to locate and preserve materials documenting the social, cultural, economic and political history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
For more information about these free public events and the Harriette Arnow papers, visit https://Model.blue/splash/ftGojg_SLASH_12nXgXpCz6s2eaJHCrMnxMgwjb6DHUjzHfLWpwvlgFOoJIxijr9E3Zp4njgaRa0RdDFDB_PLUS_0NPHyM98DKL_SLASH_pS8o34yB4me2qX7EqQ_EQUALSnewsitem.php?lnote_id=523 or contact Kate Black at email@example.com or (859) 257-4207.
‘We Get There First or White Supremacists Do’: How These Rural Canvassers Disrupt Racist Narratives -Cache
Alamance County, a rural industrial county in central North Carolina, has become a flashpoint in recent years for battles over immigrant rights and Confederate monuments.
The county is more than 70% white, and Donald Trump carried it easily in 2016, winning 54.6% of the vote. Sheriff Terry Johnson—whose office was sued by the U.S. Justice Department in 2012 for racial profiling—ran unopposed in 2018 to win his fifth term. Un-chastened by years of criticism, Johnson told county commissioners during a January 2019 meeting that criminal immigrants were “raping our citizens in many, many ways,” while asking them to allocate $2.8 million in federal funds to house inmates for ICE and the U.S. Marshals Service.
In short, Alamance County might seem like an unlikely place to try to build a progressive movement for multiracial solidarity and economic justice. But the stew of punitive policies and racial demagoguery was precisely why progressive organizers deemed Alamance County a crucial battleground in the wake of the 2016 election.
While the intertwined immigration and monument battles were playing out in Alamance, canvassers from Down Home North Carolina fanned out across the county, knocking on doors and holding conversations with residents about immigration and healthcare. (When Covid-19 hit the U.S. in mid-March, canvassers shifted from door knocks to phone calls.)
The canvassers were part of a research experiment launched in the spring of 2019 in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Michigan to test whether a tool known as “deep canvassing” could disrupt anti-immigrant narratives in rural communities and shift voters to attitudes of solidarity with immigrants. Led by Assistant Professor Joshua Kalla at Yale University and Associate Professor David Broockman at UC Berkeley, the campaign was coordinated by the national advocacy organization People’s Action and conducted on the ground by the group’s member organizations—Down Home North Carolina in the Piedmont region west of Raleigh and Durham, Michigan United in Macomb County, north of Detroit, and Pennsylvania Stand Up in the lower Susquehanna River valley, west of Philadelphia. Adam Kruggel, the director of strategic initiatives at People’s Action, said the states were chosen because all have seen an uptick in anti-immigrant sentiment and white nationalist organizing and because they will be crucial battleground states in the 2020 election.
The results of the canvassing experiment were startling: Kalla and Broockman’s research found that the canvasses shifted about eight out of 100 respondents toward supporting a government program of expanded healthcare that would include undocumented immigrants, and that the results persisted for at least four and a half months. Those who shifted their opinions included both supporters and opponents of President Trump; registered Democrats, Republicans and independents; men and women. What’s more, a new report from People’s Action indicates that approval for Trump dropped by 1.2 points among respondents polled seven weeks after the canvass, even though the initial canvass did not include any questions about Trump.
Building on those promising results, People’s Action is launching what Kruggel calls a “massive” paid and volunteer campaign across six battleground states, expanding from the three pilot states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and North Carolina to include Minnesota, Wisconsin and New Hampshire. The goal, Kruggel said, is to field at least 100 full-time, paid canvassers and 1,000 volunteers to complete 120,000 conversations across the six states before Election Day. People’s Action will also integrate deep canvassing into its campaigns in all of the 30 states where the group operates.
When the teams from North Carolina, Michigan and Pennsylvania gathered to debrief in Burlington, N.C. in December 2019, they talked about what success would look like the morning after Election Day. Electing Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren as president was at the top of the list. While it’s clear that neither Sanders nor Warren will be at the top of the ballot this year, what the organizers couldn’t have predicted seven months ago is that Covid-19 and a global uprising against systemic racism would push Joe Biden to the left. And the other items on their wish list — the Democrats retaking the U.S. Senate and electing progressive candidates up and down the ballot — are looking ever more realistic.
The campaign merges deep canvassing, a technique developed about 10 years ago by Ella Barrett and Steve Deline of the New Conversation Initiative, with “the “Race-Class Narrative,” a blueprint for electoral organizing developed by law professor Ian Haney-López and communications strategist Anat Shenker-Osorio.
Deep canvassing emphasizes non-judgmentally soliciting respondents’ views and asking them to reflect on their personal experiences, while the canvasser also shares their own experiences. The Race-Class Narrative, as its name implies, insists on addressing both race and class.
“We need to specifically talk about race and class,” said Danny Timpona, an organizer with Down Home North Carolina. “The Democratic Party might talk about class or they might talk about race, but they’re not talking about both of these things and how they pull at each other. We’re specifically pointing it out. We’re naming that this is a weapon that is economically harming us, and that the alternative, the antidote, is multiracial solidarity.”
In contrast to conventional voter mobilization programs, which often rely on reductive messaging, deep canvassing allows more room for nuance and ambiguity.
“What we find with the majority of voters is they’re conflicted,” Kruggel said. “People carry all these contradictory beliefs. Often times, it’s more a matter of what is rising to the surface than a conflict in shared values. Deep canvassing helps slow people down. When you communicate, you create nonjudgmental space and lead with listening. You communicate through stories. It’s an effective way to de-polarize, to a certain extent.”
Rural areas have steadily trended more conservative and Republican over the past two decades. But since 2018 People’s Action has marked a promising shift in rural areas, with single white women and young white voters in particular moving towards the Democratic Party. And regardless of whether or not the deep canvassing campaign in the six battleground states helps defeat Trump in November, organizers argue that progressives need to make a long-term investment in rural America.
Trying to change the minds of conservative rural voters might sound like an uphill battle, but, as Down Home North Carolina campaigners are quick to point out, the alternative is far worse.
On the ground
In early December 2019, Sugelema Lynch, a former teacher, and Laura Marie Davis, another canvasser with Down Home North Carolina, set out for the Birch Bridge area, north of Burlington.
Knocking on the first door, she found an EMT with Alamance County Emergency Medical Services at home on lunch break. Mildly friendly and perhaps a little curious, he agreed to take the survey. Lynch first asked the man, who was white, to rate himself on a scale of 0 to 10 on his support for universal healthcare. He rated himself a 0.
“I don’t think we need any more government handouts,” the man said.
“Thank you for sharing that,” Lynch responded. “No, a lot of people feel the way you do. I’m a little more favorable to it.”
Unsurprisingly, the man also rated himself a 0 on universal healthcare that would include undocumented immigrants.
“I’m all for build the wall,” he said, quickly volunteering that he supports President Trump.
Lynch asked him to talk about his personal experiences with undocumented immigrants. The man said he used to own a landscaping business, and that his undocumented employees “would come on strong” but after payday they wouldn’t want to come to work because they were hung over. He also said he believes undocumented immigrants want to take advantage of government programs. But when Lynch asked for an example, he backtracked and said it wasn’t just undocumented people. He said he had worked since he was 18 years old, and people should work for what they have instead of asking for handouts.
Lynch took the opportunity to tell her own family’s story. Her parents came to the United States from Mexico as undocumented immigrants in the 1970s. She said her parents didn’t have a lot of education and most of their work experience was in agriculture. They landed in the Pacific Northwest. Since they moved every three months to follow harvests, Lynch said, her parents didn’t sign up for government assistance programs.
At the conclusion, Lynch asked the man if anything in the conversation had changed his views on either universal healthcare or universal healthcare that included undocumented immigrants. Not at all, he said.
As she walked along the gravel shoulder of the road toward the next house, Lynch reflected on the conversation.
“Sharing the humanity, maybe he’ll start thinking about undocumented immigrants differently,” she said. “I’m hoping I can make a lasting impression through telling my family’s story.”
Other respondents were already in sync with Down Home’s agenda, or proved to be persuadable.
An elderly white woman who was walking her dog to the mailbox readily agreed that universal healthcare should be extended to undocumented immigrants.
“I feel like you ought to help all that can’t help themselves,” she said.
Another neighbor, an elderly white man, told Davis that he supported universal healthcare and that he thought the government ought to make it easier for people to come to the United States legally, but said he wasn’t in favor of including undocumented immigrants in universal healthcare because, in his view, they don’t pay into the system.
Davis told the man that, in fact, undocumented people do pay taxes, even though they don’t receive Social Security.
The man re-evaluated his position.
“If they’re paying taxes, they ought to benefit,” he said.
A former school-bus driver, he and his wife had faced personal bankruptcy, he said. They had to sell their house, buy a single-wide trailer and then rent land to put the trailer on. He expressed sympathy for people who face medical-related financial challenges.
“I’m diabetic, so I’m walking on eggshells myself,” he said. “Everything is going up except my pay.”
‘Either we get there first or the white supremacists do’
Alamance County is a place where racial antagonism, historical and contemporary, is plainly visible. A month after Dylann Roof massacred nine African-American parishioners at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., about 4,000 people rallied to defend the Confederate monument in front of the Old Alamance County Courthouse.
In October 2019, only five blocks away from that courthouse, I observed Jessica Reavis, a Virginia-based organizer with the League of the South—a group that advocates the creation of a white ethno-state in the states of the former Confederacy—stoke the grievances of a group of conservative, white bystanders jeering a march for immigrant rights. As recently as last weekend, Reavis and two other League of the South members from Virginia joined counter-protesters to respond to a Black Lives Matter protest that called for the removal of the Confederate monument.
“They can have pride in who they are, but when we are proud to be white, we’re racists and Nazis,” Reavis complained during the October 2019 standoff. “We’re trying to protect our people. We have a right to preserve our people.”
Nearby, local resident Sharon Moon echoed Reavis’ sentiments in an interview with an alt-right YouTube personality.
“The problem is that you’ve got these white folks over here that believe in white privilege, that they’re being like, white privilege! We have white privilege!” Moon said, referring to the immigrant-rights protesters. “But the truth is that Mexicans and illegal immigrants have privilege.
“Look at this,” she continued, gesturing toward a strand of yellow police tape. “We’re stuck behind here; they’re over there speaking and blocking off the streets and not being arrested. That’s privilege.”
After the protest wound down, I caught up with Moon, away from Reavis and the other hecklers, and she shared with me that a friend and co-worker had joined the immigrant-rights protesters on the other side of the police line. Sharon and her husband, David, who works in construction, also acknowledged that they had half-seriously discussed whether they should harbor the co-worker’s parents in their attic to help them evade ICE.
When I mentioned my encounter with Moon to Down Home North Carolina organizer Danny Timpona a week later, he said it was an example of both the fluidity of people’s positions on immigration and the high stakes if progressives fail to engage with rural voters.
“We believe that organizing in rural spaces with progressive, multiracial solidarity messaging is the future,” he said. “Either we get there first or white supremacists get there first.
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