Teens’ barn legislation is a years-long lesson in lawmaking
By ALISSA WIDMAN NEESE
The Columbus Dispatch
Sunday, February 10
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Spanning more than four years, it’s likely Westerville Central High School’s longest class project ever.
But to the four teens who first proposed a bill to Ohio lawmakers in 2014 that will finally become law in March, it’s much more than a school assignment. What started as a middle-school learning experience has evolved into a passion for preserving Ohio history, the girls say.
The bill designates the barn as Ohio’s official historical architectural structure, recognizing the buildings that have housed everything from schoolchildren to farm equipment, crops and animals since the pioneer days.
Though introduced on its own, the state designation eventually was rolled into Senate Bill 86, a lengthy measure that includes other recognitions, such as dubbing the second week of October “Ohio Covered Bridge Week” and declaring that a shelter pet is the state’s official pet.
Former Gov. John Kasich signed the bill in December.
It was a long road, filled with hours of research, testimony and advocacy, especially after the proposal stalled in the Ohio Senate.
But the students say the experience, though frustrating at times, taught them more about politics than they could ever learn from a textbook.
“We grew up with this bill, really,” said 17-year-old junior Anna Borders. “There were a lot of hiccups and obstacles along the way, but even that taught us about perseverance and sticking to our guns.”
Borders first crafted the proposal as a Genoa Middle School seventh-grader with classmates Sarah Gellner, 17; Rachel Kaufman, 16; and Adriane Thompson, 17. Borders, Gellner and Kaufman are Westerville Central juniors now, and Thompson attends the Wellington School in Upper Arlington.
It all started when Caley Nestor Baker, a social studies teacher, and Debbie Pellington, a coordinator of gifted services, took seventh-graders on a field trip to the Ohio Statehouse. There, they offered proposals for a new state symbol to former Rep. Anne Gonzales, R-Westerville, who organized the event as a way to engage young people in politics, she said.
Gonzales selected their proposal and introduced it to the House in 2017.
Senate Bill 86, in its final form, was first introduced by Bob Hackett, R-London, chairman of the Senate’s agriculture committee, who helped give it its final push.
The students’ proposal was inspired by the Everal Barn, a restored Westerville structure on the National Register of Historic Places that’s used as an event space, as well as the state’s 2003 bicentennial celebration, when an artist painted murals on one barn in each of Ohio’s 88 counties.
Barns are an important part of Ohio history, and because of the diversity of Ohio’s European settlers, the state boasts a variety of barn styles, each with a story, said Dan Troth, vice president of Friends of Ohio Barns, a nonprofit group and bill proponent.
For example, a 16-sided barn in Freeport, an eastern Ohio village, was designed by George Washington to keep horses warm and is one of only three left in the country. Mail Pouch barns, painted with 1920s ads for chewing tobacco, still span the Ohio Valley.
But today, many historic barns face the threat of demolition, Troth said.
Even structures in pristine shape are frequently dismantled for their wood, which is turned into flooring, ceiling beams and furniture, he said.
Though they initially faced pressure to streamline their proposal, the students stood by their choice to recognize all barns, rather than one specific type, to be inclusive of all of Ohio’s past, they said.
“We’re excited about the mark we’ve left on Ohio’s code,” Thompson said. “Now, groups like Friends of Ohio Barns and the Ohio History Connection will have something to point to when they’re working to preserve Ohio’s history.”
Regenerative agriculture can make farmers stewards of the land again
February 11, 2019
Author: Stephanie Anderson, Instructor of English, Florida Atlantic University
Disclosure statement: Stephanie Anderson has received funding from the MFA program at Florida Atlantic University and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.
For years, “sustainable” has been the buzzword in conversations about agriculture. If farmers and ranchers could slow or stop further damage to land and water, the thinking went, that was good enough. I thought that way too, until I started writing my new book, “One Size Fits None: A Farm Girl’s Search for the Promise of Regenerative Agriculture.”
I grew up on a cattle ranch in western South Dakota and once worked as an agricultural journalist. For me, agriculture is more than a topic – it is who I am. When I began working on my book, I thought I would be writing about sustainability as a response to the environmental damage caused by conventional agriculture – farming that is industrial and heavily reliant on oil and agrochemicals, such as pesticides and fertilizers.
But through research and interviews with farmers and ranchers around the United States, I discovered that sustainability’s “give back what you take” approach, which usually just maintains or marginally improves resources already degraded by generations of conventional agriculture, does not adequately address the biggest long-term challenge farmers face: climate change.
But there is an alternative. A method called regenerative agriculture promises to create new resources, restoring them to preindustrial levels or better. This is good for farmers as well as the environment, since it lets them reduce their use of agrochemicals while making their land more productive.
North Dakota farmer Gabe Brown describes how regenerative methods have improved soil on his farm.
What holds conventional farmers back
Modern American food production remains predominantly conventional. Growing up in a rural community of farmers and ranchers, I saw firsthand why.
As food markets globalized in the early 1900s, farmers began specializing in select commodity crops and animals to increase profits. But specialization made farms less resilient: If a key crop failed or prices tumbled, they had no other income source. Most farmers stopped growing their own food, which made them dependent on agribusiness retailers.
Under these conditions small farms consolidated into large ones as families went bankrupt – a trend that continues today. At the same time, agribusiness companies began marketing new machines and agrochemicals. Farmers embraced these tools, seeking to stay in business, specialize further and increase production.
In the 1970s, the government’s position became “Get big or get out” under Earl Butz, who served as Secretary of Agriculture from 1971 to 1976. In the years since, critics like the nonprofit Food and Water Watch have raised concerns that corporate representatives have dictated land grant university research by obtaining leadership positions, funding agribusiness-friendly studies, and silencing scientists whose results conflict with industrial principles.
These companies have also shaped government policies in their favor, as economist Robert Albritton describes in his book “Let Them Eat Junk.” These actions encouraged the growth of large industrialized farms that rely on genetically modified seeds, agrochemicals and fossil fuel.
Several generations into this system, many conventional farmers feel trapped. They lack the knowledge required to farm without inputs, their farms are big and highly specialized, and most are carrying operating loans and other debts.
In contrast, regenerative agriculture releases farmers from dependence on agribusiness products. For example, instead of purchasing synthetic fertilizers for soil fertility, producers rely on diverse crop rotations, no-till planting and management of livestock grazing impacts.
Agribusiness dogma says that regenerative agriculture cannot feed the world and or ensure a healthy bottom line for farmers, even as conventional farmers are going bankrupt. I have heard this view from people I grew up with in South Dakota and interviewed as a farm journalist.
“Everybody seems to want smaller local producers,” Ryan Roth, a farmer from Belle Glade, Florida told me. “But they can’t keep up. It’s unfortunate. I think it’s not the best development for agriculture operations to get bigger, but it is what we’re dealing with.”
The climate threat
Climate change is making it increasingly hard for farmers to keep thinking this way. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that without rapid action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over roughly the next decade, warming will trigger devastating impacts such as wildfires, droughts, floods and food shortages.
For farmers, large-scale climate change will cause decreased crop yields and quality, heat stress for livestock, disease and pest outbreaks, desertification on rangelands, changes in water availability and soil erosion.
As I explain in my book, regenerative agriculture is an effective response to climate change because producers do not use agrochemicals – many of which are derived from fossil fuels – and greatly reduce their reliance on oil. The experiences of farmers who have adopted regenerative agriculture show that it restores soil carbon, literally locking carbon up underground, while also reversing desertification, recharging water systems, increasing biodiversity and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And it produces nutrient-rich food and promises to enliven rural communities and reduce corporate control of the food system.
No single model
How farmers put this strategy into practice differs depending on their location, goals and community needs. Regenerative agriculture is a one-size-fits-none model of farming that allows for flexibility and close tailoring to individual environments.
At Great Plains Buffalo in South Dakota, for example, rancher Phil Jerde is reversing desertification on the grassland. Phil moves buffalo across the land in a way that mimics their historic movement over the Great Plains, rotating them frequently through small pastures so they stay bunched together and impact the land evenly via their trampling and waste distribution. The land has adequate time to rest and regrow between rotations.
After transitioning his conventional ranch to a regenerative one over 10 years, Phil saw bare ground revert back to prairie grassland. Water infiltration into the ground increased, his herd’s health improved, wildlife and insect populations recovered and native grasses reappeared.
On Brown’s Ranch in North Dakota, farmer Gabe Brown also converted his conventional operation to a regenerative one in a decade. He used a combination of cover crops, multicropping (growing two or more crops on a piece of land in a single season), intercropping (growing two or more crops together), an intensive rotational grazing system called mob grazing, and no-till farming to restore soil organic matter levels to just over 6 percent – roughly the level most native prairie soils contained before settlers plowed them up. Restoring organic matter sequesters carbon in the soil, helping to slow climate change.
Conventional farmers often worry about losing the illusion of control that agrochemicals, monocultures and genetically modified seeds provide. I asked Gabe how he overcame these fears. He replied that one of the most important lessons was learning to embrace the environment instead of fighting it.
“Regenerative agriculture can be done anywhere because the principles are the same,” he said. “I always hear, ‘We don’t get the moisture or this or that.’ The principles are the same everywhere. There’s nature everywhere. You’re just mimicking nature is all you’re doing.”
Researchers with Project Drawdown, a nonprofit that spotlights substantive responses to climate change, estimate that land devoted to regenerative agriculture worldwide will increase from 108 million acres currently to 1 billion acres by 2050. More resources are appearing to help farmers make the transition, such as investment groups, university programs and farmer-to-farmer training networks.
Organic food sales continue to rise, suggesting that consumers want responsibly grown food. Even big food companies like General Mills are embracing regenerative agriculture.
The question now is whether more of America’s farmers and ranchers will do the same.
Allen Ray Johnson: Thank you for this informative and very important insight, vision, and practical application.
STRAND THEATRE WINS QUALITY OF LIFE AWARD
Tracey Peyton accepts honor on Strand’s behalf at Delaware Area Chamber of Commerce Business Awards
DELAWARE, Ohio – The Strand Theatre was honored with this year’s Quality of Life award at the Delaware Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business Awards ceremony Feb. 4 at the Hilton Hotel in Polaris. The annual award recognizes a nonprofit organization that makes a significant impact in the Delaware community.
The Strand, 28 E. Winter St., has been cherished by Delaware residents for almost 103 years. Established in 1916, it is one of the 10 longest-operating movie theatres in the United States and one of the few remaining independent movie theatres showing first-run films.
Not only does the Strand provide the community with entertainment, it also adds about $1 million annually to the Delaware economy. The theatre is visited by 75,000 patrons per year, 364 days a year. It also employs local residents, the majority being students from Delaware Hayes High School and Ohio Wesleyan University.
Most recently, the Strand has been recognized for its work with the Autism community. In March 2018, the theatre began its Sensory Series, a program that holds sensory-friendly movie showings for children with Autism and developmental disabilities.
During Sensory Series showings, the volume is lowered, lights are turned on, and attendees are allowed to freely express themselves. The series is held the third Saturday of every month at 10 a.m. The Strand is proud to say that it is a part of the small 8% of theatres nationwide that hold sensory-friendly showings.
In accepting the Quality of Life award, Tracey Peyton, managing director of the Strand Theatre, explained the motive and success behind the Sensory Series.
“After lots of research and lots of conversations with the Delaware County Board of Developmental Disabilities, OCALI, and the Central Ohio Society of Autism, the series was revamped with mere intent,” she said. “The end product produced People First and the Many Faces of Autism training, a library of resources on sensory disorders, an inventory of sensory items, and a free small popcorn and a canned beverage for each patron attending the series. This was a great start. Then, we lobbied for a grant to sponsor the series. We were successful and received a $10,000 grant from GREIF to broaden the program.”
Thanks to the grant, the Strand is able to offer noise-cancelling headphones, weighted lap pads, and blankets during its regular rotation. This enables those on the Spectrum to view films in a more calming manner, she said.
“There are some things we can control,” Peyton said. “We at the Strand can control the experience we provide. We can control the community contributions we make. We can control the happiness quotient.”
She also expressed her gratitude the Strand Board, the Strand employee team, and the countless donors, sponsors, governmental entities, community partners, and members. “You may think you are nameless and faceless – but you are not.”
“The Strand is only doing what any responsible nonprofit or corporate citizen would—doing what they can to help,” Peyton said.
“In an era where outside competition like shorter release windows, more viewing options, and streaming are challenging to what theatre exhibitors do, it just makes good sense to make movies accessible to as many people as we can,” Peyton concluded. “After all, movie theatres were created so that everyone—not the few, not the privileged, not the rich, not the perfect—could enjoy film and share in a communal environment that produces an experience that can’t be matched.”
CAPA Honors Origin with Free “Mighty Morton” Organ Concert & Singalong
Celebrate the 91st birthday of the Ohio Theatre with a free concert and singalong showcasing the Ohio’s original “Mighty Morton” theatre pipe organ. CAPA featured organist Clark Wilson will replicate the audience singalong performed by former resident organist Roger Garrett on February 16, 1969, as part of the “final performance” at the Ohio Theatre. This will be followed by a concert from world-renowned organist Simon Gledhill featuring music from Broadway, Hollywood, and the Great American Songbook.
As part of its 50th anniversary celebration, CAPA presents the Mighty Morton Organ Free Concert & Singalong at the Ohio Theatre (39 E. State St.) on Sunday, March 17, at 3pm. Admission is free, and seating is general admission.
CAPA’s 50th anniversary celebration is made possible through the generous support of the American Electric Power Foundation and Nationwide, with special support provided by Huntington Bank. This performance is made possible through the generous support of The Tom E. Dailey Foundation and Leo Klise.
In 1968, the Loew’s Ohio Theatre, a 1928 Spanish Baroque-style movie house designed by architect Thomas Lamb as “a palace for the average man,” was sold to a local development company with plans to raze it, and the adjacent RKO Grand Theatre, to build an office tower. Scheduled to close its doors on February 24, 1969, the Ohio Theatre’s “final” live performance was an organ concert and singalong performed by resident organist Roger Garrett on February 16, 1969.
Advertised as “Your Last Chance to Hear the Mighty Morton Organ Before the Theatre is Demolished,” Garrett performed popular melodies of the ‘30s and ‘40s for an overflow crowd that included one young Clark Wilson.
Some feel the concert served as the single most important factor in saving the Ohio Theatre, rallying the community and uniting the various grassroots “Save the Ohio” factions into a combined force that delayed the theatre’s demolition until CAPA could be formed to raise funds and purchase the building. Today, the Ohio Theatre is proudly listed on the National Register of Historic Places, been declared a National Historic Landmark, and is the State Theatre of Ohio. Clark Wilson is now in his 28th year as featured organist for the CAPA Summer Movie Series.
About the Ohio’s “Mighty Morton” Theatre Pipe Organ
The Ohio Theatre’s “Mighty Morton” pipe organ was built by The Robert Morton Organ Company of Van Nuys, California. It was installed in 1928 in time for the theater’s opening on March 17, 1928, at a cost of $21,000. It is one of four identical organs built by Robert Morton for Loew’s theaters. The others went to Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and Providence; however, the “Mighty Morton” is the only one of the four to remain in its original home, and in fact, is only one of a handful of theatre organs around the world still installed in the venue for which it was built. It is considered one of the finest theatre organs in existence today.
About CAPA featured organist Clark Wilson
Approaching his 28th season as featured organist for the CAPA Summer Movie Series, Ohio native Clark Wilson has recorded seven albums and performed in the US, Canada, Australia, and England, including extensive silent film accompaniment at the Chautauqua Institution, the Packard Foundation’s Stanford Theatre, UCLA, and the Fox Theatre. Considered one of the finest practitioners of the art of silent picture scoring, he has been appointed to the organ faculty at the University of Oklahoma, teaching applied theatre organ, silent film scoring, and the history of the American theatre organ. Wilson has received both the Technician of the Year and Organist of the Year awards from the American Theatre Organ Society, the only person to have been awarded both titles.
About guest organist Simon Gledhill
British-born Simon Gledhill is widely recognized as one of the world’s finest theatre organists, with a career spanning 36 years and a reputation for performances which combine dazzling technique with creativity, imagination, and musicianship. In 1982, he entered and won the UK Northern Young Theatre Organist of the Year competition. Nigel Ogden, presenter of the BBC radio program “The Organist Entertains,” was in the audience and invited him to record for the programme on the BBC theatre organ. The resulting broadcasts generated a flurry of concert offers, and Simon has since performed at all the major UK theatre organ venues, as well as toured Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and North America. He has played many times for the American Theatre Organ Society, being named its 1997 Organist of the Year and inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2015.
CAPA presents the MIGHTY MORTON ORGAN FREE CONCERT & SINGALONG
Sunday, March 17, 3pm
Ohio Theatre (39 E. State St.)
Celebrate the 91st birthday of the Ohio Theatre with a free concert and singalong showcasing the Ohio’s original “Mighty Morton” theatre pipe organ. CAPA featured organist Clark Wilson will replicate the audience singalong performed by former resident organist Roger Garrett on February 16, 1969, as part of the “final performance” at the Ohio Theatre. This will be followed by a concert from world-renowned organist Simon Gledhill featuring music from Broadway, Hollywood, and the Great American Songbook. Admission is free, and seating is general admission. www.capa.com
The Ohio Arts Council helped fund this program with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, education excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. CAPA also appreciates the generous support of the Barbara B. Coons and Robert Bartels Funds of The Columbus Foundation and the Greater Columbus Arts Council.
Owner/operator of downtown Columbus’ magnificent historic theatres (Ohio Theatre, Palace Theatre, Southern Theatre) and manager of the Riffe Center Theatre Complex, Lincoln Theatre, Drexel Theatre, Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts (New Albany, OH), and the Shubert Theater (New Haven, CT), CAPA is a non-profit, award-winning presenter of national and international performing arts and entertainment. For more information, visit www.capa.com.
MAIN STREET DELAWARE EARNS 2019 NATIONAL ACCREDITATION
DELAWARE, Ohio – In 2018, Main Street Delaware organized 5,617 volunteer hours with a monetary value of $138,683 to help preserve, protect, and promote the historic downtown.
Together, these people helped to create monthly First Friday celebrations, twice-weekly farmers’ markets from May through October, a three-day Home for the Holidays weekend, and more. They worked through design, organization, and promotion committees and in collaboration with city and county economic development offices to help support new businesses with mentoring advice, to organize community cleanups, and to bring the community together in a vibrant and welcoming downtown.
In recognition of its success, Main Street Delaware this month earned its 2019 accreditation as a National Main Street Community. The accreditation followed a half-day evaluation by Columbus-based Heritage Ohio, which works in partnership with the National Main Street Center to identify local programs that meet 10 performance standards such as developing a mission, fostering strong public-private partnerships, tracking a city’s economic progress, and preserving historic buildings. The National Main Street Center is a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
In addition to earning renewal of its national accreditation, Main Street Delaware was honored in October with a statewide Heritage Ohio award for 2017’s Best Main Street Committee Project or Event. Main Street Delaware was recognized for its inaugural three-day Home for the Holidays weekend, which incorporated the downtown tree lighting, Christmas parade, Dash for Dasher scavenger hunt, and business open house into one unforgettable weekend.
“Main Street Delaware is honored to be recognized for making a positive difference in the life of downtown Delaware and the local community,” said Susie Bibler, executive director. “On behalf of our Board of Directors, I would like to thank everyone who supports us by making financial gifts, volunteering their time, and attending our events. We are grateful, too, for strong partnerships with the city and county, and we look forward to an even bigger and brighter future.”
About Heritage Ohio
As Ohio’s official historic preservation and Main Street organization, Heritage Ohio fosters economic development and sustainability through preservation of historic buildings, revitalization of downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts, and promotion of cultural tourism. Learn more at www.HeritageOhio.org.
About Main Street Delaware
Main Street Delaware is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) member-supported organization that seeks to preserve and promote historic downtown Delaware. In addition to coordinating the First Friday celebrations and downtown Farmers’ Markets, Main Street Delaware oversees the holiday parade and more. Main Street Delaware is an accredited Ohio Main Street Community. For additional information, contact 740-362-6050 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more at www.mainstreetdelaware.com or www.facebook.com/MainStreetDelaware.