Our family had three Capitols covered today – Iowa, Minnesota, and the nation’s Capitol! Linda was in D.C., Emma in the statehouse in Des Moines, and had it been a normal day, Claire in the Minnesota Capitol at her internship in the Governor’s office (but Claire had to skip work to go to Chicago for Mock Trial Super-Regionals)!
Emma was up at 4:45 am to get ready for her day. She’s part of the Iowa Valley Leadership, a group of about 25 people who “believe that community vitality depends upon individuals who commit to learn about critical local issues and engage in influencing change.” It was a combination education and lobby day at the Statehouse.
At the International Women’s Day event in D.C., Linda and Bonnie Campbell were the Iowans in attendance. They spent most of the day visiting the offices of Congressmen Steve King and Tom Latham and Senators Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley. Many Iowans will remember Bonnie as state Attorney General and Gubernatorial candidate. Time magazine named her one of the 25 most influential people in America in 1997. Linda and Bonnie had a great day together swapping yarns.
Linda’s first full day in D.C. for International Women’s day commenced today. You may expect that many women of faith may gather for an event aimed to help poor and starving women around the world, and the Unitarian women are no exception.
Among the 70 or so invited women, there were at least five UU’s that Linda found in attendance. From left to right are Pam Person, TBA, Judy Beals, Dana Jackson, and Linda Barnes.
Pam is from the Maine League of voters and is a co-founder of the Coalition for Sensible Energy and serves on the U of Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative.
Judy Beals is from Boston and is Oxfam’s Campaigns Director.
Dana Jackson, a Kansas native who is currently Sr Advisor of the Land Stewardship Project in Minnesota, Dana co-founded the Land Institute in Kansas, served on the Kansan Rural Center’s first board of director. She has continued her commitment to building a sustainable agriculture and food system as an activist and author most recently “The Farm as Natural Habitat: Reconnecting Food Systems with Nature.”
They spent the day learning from women working against incredible odds, including the Prime Minister of Haiti during and after the hurricanes, the Agriculture Secretary of Libya, and many other women facing and overcoming great challenges. In addition to hearing these stories, they prepped for visits to members of Congress and the Senate the next day.
Claire arrived home today, after evading the storms that brought the wreckage to the Indiana State fair. We were tracking her flight online and watched as the line of storms approached Chicago from the NW and her plan approached O’Hare from the southeast. With the plane at a few thousand feet and only a minute from landing, the plane icon suddenly turned away and headed away from the storm front.
The plane landed in Champaign-Urbana, which is about a 15 minute flight. They sat there for an hour, then headed back to O’Hare, taking a circuitous route over Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, and finally back to O’Hare. Of course, she missed her connecting flight home (and the next two scheduled flights) but did manage to catch the last flight out of Chicago for the day.
Before she left, she asked us to choose a cupcake variety from Georgetown Cupcake.
The boxes of cupcakes, ushered through security and three landings and take-offs.
A peek inside one of the boxes – mine was the blueberry cheesecake on the upper left. Mmm-mmm.
Pretty good day, as those things go. Linda and the other rural America “Champions of Change” first toured the White House. As no cameras were allowed, use your imagination!
She was able to get this photo outside the White House.
From the photostream of the event:
Linda Barnes, Farmer and Educator, Marshalltown Community College (MCC), IA, at the White House Rural Champions of Change meeting at the White House, in Washington, DC, on July 6, 2011. She was asked to participate along with President Barack Obama, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the President’s Domestic Policy Adviser Melody Barnes and rural communities leaders from across the country for the White House Rural Champions of Change event to strengthen rural communities and promote economic growth. Linda Barnes is a professor of biology at the Marshalltown Community College and also an organic farmer. She founded the Sustainable and Entrepreneurial Agriculture Program at MCC which is the first associate degree program in sustainable agriculture in the Midwest. The program focuses on improving attitudes related to sustainable agriculture due to their practical, hand-on focus and local connections. I believe there is a significant component of this program that is geared towards immigrant communities in the area. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.
Linda briefly spoke to the President, no doubt the part of their conversation that delved into the preferred s’more marshmallow roasting habits of the Obama family, probably did more to make her visit more memorable than a barrage of policy questions!
Since Linda and I had to wake up at O’dark thirty to get Linda to the airport (3:30 am), we were not thrilled about driving to fireworks, so the kids lit snakes and sparklers outside with the fireflies. Claire, however, had a different experience.
There was the parade down Constitution Avenue and here’s Claire’s perch in front of the National Archives.
I’m glad she filmed the finale of the fireworks – probably better than what we might have seen!
Internship day three brought a visit to the top dogs at the USDA.
USDA Photo by Tom Witham.
Here Agriculture Secretary Vilsack talks to Claire, much as he did to her mother last summer. Watch out if those two ever team up! Claire said that the Secretary’s days are very scripted – sit in a specific chair from 8:05-8:15 for small talk with xyz, then move to next room and stand to greet someone else, and so it goes. But he told the interns he wanted to go off script with them and show them his office. Claire was impressed that the centerpiece of his office was a photo of George Washington Carver and Henry Wallace, namesakes of the Wallace-Carver interns.
USDA Photo by Tom Witham.
Here, Lona Stoll, Senior Advisor to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack briefs the interns.
Interns mingle with the crowd in the Benjamin Franklin Room.
Claire thinking about taking the podium!
Claire hangs out with random documents in the State Department – in this case with the Treaty of Paris.
More interns at the podium.
Photo: World Food Prize
Claire was near the front at the presser (lower right). Hillary was supposed to make the announcement but got held up at the White House where Obama evidently held her over (the day he made his announcement on troop withdrawal in the Middle East). Pols in attendance included Iowa congressional representatives Steve King, Tom Latham, Leonard Boswell, and former Senator George McGovern. one year ago…”Summer Tradition”
The session Linda spoke at was filmed by HBO for an upcoming four-part special on the farm bill and health. Linda relates that at one point, she may have rubbed one of the panelists the wrong way as a former US Secretary of Agriculture bristled at one of her comments regarding the importance of local and regional food systems to help America become more self-sufficient by 1) eating a healthier diet based on varieties that taste better (and therefore eaten more) than those bred for shipping long distances 2) in case of a disruption of supply from other countries or the Central Valley of California, for regions to grow more of their own food. The former Secretary seemed a bit agitated and responded that there has never been a modern famine in the US. As the panel’s job was to tackle obesity, the comment about famine seemed somewhat out of place and after the discussion the HBO crew told Linda “that makes great television.” Although you won’t have the more extensive text that went along with the presentation, I’ll post that tomorrow.
As many have and will find out, the “Wall” is a touching reminder to all of us who lost family, friends, and Americans in the Vietnam war.
After the museums on the Mall closed and Linda was walking back to her hotel, she had a “moment.” The herds of middle school tours in their mobs of different-colored t-shirts were flocking back to their buses – the groups themselves people of all colors and accents. Then hordes of 20ish young adults, also in their colorful kickball or frisbee team shirts came to use the Mall. Their temporary bases dragged with them, giant elementary-school balls, all having a good time, sans alcohol on the public green space in the Capital. I think it made her hopeful for Claire’s upcoming summer in DC as well.
I had intended for Linda to write about her trip, but between trying to get the garden in and getting ready for a wilderness trip with Claire, it never happened, so I’ll try to fill-in for her. Linda was asked by make a presentation to the Institute of Medicine (one of the National Academy of Sciences) regarding barriers to domestic fruit and vegetable production to a panel investigating factors of obesity. But she had a half day or so the day she arrived to check out the Mall.
She was happy to stumble on this great lunch at the National Museum of the American Indian consisting of a salad of the three sisters (corn beans, and squash, and a wild rice salad – “native foods” so to speak.
She found refuge in a conservatory surrounded by her friends in the plant kingdom.
And she remembered the moon shots of her childhood.
A fair day with low humidity and temps in the low 80’s really brings the people out!
Martin was captivated by the demonstration of the kitchen slicer/shredder/peeler. He spent a good 10 minutes taking in the demo and even squeezed his way to the front of the crowd. You put a mechanical device together with food, and you’ve got this boy hooked!
Tuckered. That describes this duo on the fair grounds.
While on the youth tour, we saw all of the famous memorials and monuments.
Here’s the Washington Monument. It was visible from everywhere in D.C.
This is a close up of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
We also visited the National Cathedral. There is some beautiful stained glass there. Of course the pictures turned out nothing like the actual windows. My favorite was a window depicting the United States’ adventures in space. It is also the burial grounds of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan.
One of my favorite stops was Mount Vernon, the estate of George Washington. Here we toured his mansion, which is mostly original, with little restoration needed. We also saw his tomb, along with Martha Washington. It was nice to get on to a farm like place after the busy streets and sidewalks of D.C.!
I recently had the privilege of going on an amazing and free trip to Washington D.C. The trip was sponsored by my local energy co-op, Consumers Energy (thanks!). Rural electric co-ops from all over the United States could sponsor a student to go on the Rural Electric Youth Tour. There were about 43 students from Iowa traveling to D.C. It was really amazing to be able to meet people from all over the country. Every state had a different sticker or pin that you could trade, and it became a great way to meet people (in case you were wondering the Iowa sticker was an ear of corn that said “Iowa” on it).
This is me and a group of Iowa friends in front of the Capitol. My favorite part of the tour was our day on Capitol Hill. We got to meet with both Senator Harkin and Senator Grassley, we discussed energy and electric issues and asked their opinions on the oil drilling bill that was currently in the Senate. Later, we toured the Capitol, and then went and sat in the Senate, while it was in session. They were debating the oil drilling bill. As a debater, that was absolutely fascinating to me, seeing real live debating in action.
While on Capitol Hill, we happened to run into Barack Obama, the democratic presidential nominee. Just kidding, we went to a wax museum and there was a wax, but very realistic, statue of Obama.
Here is my group of friends that I mostly toured around with, Kayla, Katelyn, and Erich