Originally posted on June 9, 2020.
Whether professional or personal, there are some opportunities that just can’t be denied. About a month ago, an email from Bill Clark, birder, writer, historian, former professional baseball scout, weightlifter and coach, and dad of my high school friend Sean Clark, popped up on my computer. My ears perked up. Among the references to different birds that had been seen, cultural events to keep an eye on, and historical facts from years past was a note about something called “Lift Your Age.” Turns out, this means that, for those of us who are over 40, you have to do as many different lifts as you have years. For me, this means 62 different lifts.
Bill’s first response when I asked if I could try was to ask if I needed to see a psychiatrist. He then invited me to his gym on Grace Lane and said that, if I could do it at all, it would take five visits to the gym to accomplish the goal. On my first visit Bill and Tony, a really nice guy who works out there, got me started, with Bill directing the show and Tony helping to put weights together. We got through about twenty lifts that first day. I discovered that my right arm is stronger than my left, but that my right shoulder lacks the range of motion of my left.
I had told Bill up front that I had had shoulder surgery on both sides and that the right one hadn’t been entirely successful because I had had to pull a colt three weeks post-surgery. Bill was also alerted to my bad back—spinal stenosis and three ruptured discs at age 18. So Bill was very careful to ensure that any lift we did would not cause or exacerbate my existing physical limitations.
On my second early morning visit, twenty more lifts were accomplished. As with the first visit, my back felt better after the work out and my shoulders were more limber. And, since women in my family fight against osteoporosis, it was great to hear that some of the lifts I was doing would help in that fight. Even more incentive to continue!! On my third visit, again before work, I finished with 63 different lifts, one of 715 pounds (!!!!), and left with a dedicated plan to continue to work out.
Yes, I’m 62 years old. I’m not as strong as I used to be. But, with effort (and Bill’s help), I don’t have to lose strength so quickly, nor become so brittle, nor feel so acutely the aches and pains that until now I’ve taken as a matter of course.
Whether personally or professionally, sometimes we just need to take a chance to grow and broaden our horizons. Lesson learned!
Originally posted on June 8, 2020.
Almost 20 years ago, as I worked on my Public Defender caseload, I started to ask myself and my colleagues whether a different model of justice might be the better model of justice for many of our clients. I had heard rumblings about something called Restorative Justice and began to read about how a person’s life trajectory could be changed if restorative, not retributive, justice principles and practices were put in place. So, when the MU School of Law sent out a flyer about its LLM (Masters of Laws) program in Alternative Dispute Resolution, I called then-director and good friend, Len Riskin, and asked if I could enroll in the program.
Len told me about the program and the new ways of looking at dispute resolution to which I would be exposed. I was sold. Then, Len asked, “But aren’t you still working full time as a Public Defender?” Well, yeah. In fact, I was carrying a full caseload, almost exclusively handling death penalty appeals. And, because I had to work, quitting or even going back to school part time wasn’t an option. Then, Len said, “But we’ve never had a part time student.” When I asked why I couldn’t be the first, Len responded, “You’ll be so tired. This is a lot of work.” I responded that I would be tired, whether or not I enrolled in the program but, if I were allowed to enroll, at least at the end of two years (not one), I would have learned a lot and would have the degree. Len relented. I was tired. But I learned even more than I anticipated. Sometimes we just need to take a chance.
Earlier this year, in what seems to be another time and another space, I attended the Annual Legislative Conference for the National Association of Counties (NACo) in Washington, D.C. Because of my former colleague and friend, Karen Miller, who had served as the President of NACo several years ago, I became involved in NACo early on after first being elected as Boone County’s Northern District Commissioner. That involvement led to Boone County becoming one of the first counties in the country to join the Stepping Up Initiative, which seeks to reduce the rate at which individuals living with behavioral health issues are detained in our county jails.
Boone County was named one of a select number of counties chosen to become part of the Pritzker Foundation’s Pre-Natal to Three early initiative and became part of the Kreske Foundation’s Leadership Lab project, which allowed us to further the work being done on the Stepping Up Initiative. It also led to my being named the Chair of the Juvenile Justice Sub-committee of NACo’s Justice and Public Safety Committee.
At this year’s conference, between meeting committee obligations on the Health Advisory Board and Justice & Public Safety, I saw another learning opportunity. NACo has joined with the Professional Development Academy to create its Leadership Academy, for which General Colin Powell is not only a spokesperson but an advocate. A twelve-week program full of learning opportunities was combined with a scholarship from NACo, which dropped the tuition to less than a hair under $500. With the green light from Dan Atwill, Boone County’s Presiding Commissioner, I wrote a personal check and started the coursework.
We are now in the midst of the second module in the work and, like the LLM program, sometimes finding the time to fit that work in on top of everything else is a challenge. But it’s worth it. The group that I joined includes elected officials and others in government leadership roles from throughout the Midwest—from Alabama to Minnesota.
Every week we remotely discuss principles of leadership, like listening, taking responsibility, sharing and acknowledging to whom credit is due, praising publicly and criticizing in private, and acting with integrity—in a world that seems to shift and change daily. So, if Len is listening or reading, yes, I’m tired. But I’m learning and it is so worth it!
Sometimes we just need to take a chance.
Originally posted on May 30, 2020.
George Floyd. Christian Cooper. Two African American men, one killed by police officers and one targeted by a fellow citizen as a danger to her, because of the color of their skin. Their names and the images they conjure up for us are shocking yet eerily similar to images seen so often and experienced by too many in every community across this country.
Yesterday afternoon, May 29, 2020, a large group of people met in front of the Boone County Courthouse and then moved toward the Columbia Police Station to protest what happened this week in Minneapolis and to send the message “not here.” Let’s hope and pray we never see an image like that of George Floyd gasping for air, his neck under the knee of a police officer, coming out of Boone County. But, if that is our standard, if that is all we expect from our community, we will have missed the mark.
Over the years, I’ve attended many diversity training sessions, some organized by my work, some by my church. At one such training, we were divided into pairs, and I was fortunate to be paired with an African American woman, who was the pastor of one of the Historic Black churches here in Columbia. We went through several exercises together but the final one will remain with me always. We were asked to think about and then tell our partner of a time we were part of the “other” group and were treated differently because of that distinction.
After five minutes devoted to thinking about the issue, the facilitator told us to share with our partner. Because my brain had whirred during those five minutes, trying to come up with some time that had happened, I asked the Pastor to go first. She told me and later told the group, “it happens every day, many times every day. It’s not a question of “if,” it’s a question of “how often.”
The Pastor’s experiences are commonplace. And the difference between her experience and mine is also, regrettably, commonplace. Take the experiences of three of my friends in this community—Carla, Shelli and Jeff. Carla and Shelli are the Moms of boys and Jeff is the Dad of a son, who, like his Dad, is big and tall for his age. Carla’s son is older by over a decade than Shelli’s and Jeff’s. Shelli’s son, like Jeff’s, is big and tall for his age. Carla and Jeff are African Americans. Shelli is Caucasian. Carla, Shelli, and Jeff are all “white-collar” professionals, with leadership roles.
All three of my friends love their children and provide a host of educational and recreational opportunities for them, while still expecting them to live up to their parents’ expectations, from respecting their elders to wearing seatbelts in their cars. I suspect that the “house rules” for all three families look remarkably similar. Except for one huge difference. And, because of the age group, it is a stark contrast when you consider Carla’s son.
Carla and I talked a couple of years ago, right after one of the too-common stories about another person of color being stopped, being chased, being tased, being injured, being arrested, being killed. She told me that, when her son left the house in the evening to go out with his friends, her prayer was not that he enjoy himself. It was that he return home alive. The advice she gave him from an early age included how to interact with law enforcement.
My conversation with Jeff was similar. Jeff told me that the early childhood education provider for his son and later the school, had called him about his son’s behavior. The behavior they were concerned about was substantially like that demonstrated by other children in his child’s class, yet those other children had not been disciplined. Those children’s parents had not been called in. Those other families were white.
And this week, I was talking to Shelli, whose son is still in an early childhood education setting, about what has happened in Minneapolis and New York, and undoubtedly countless other places across this country just this week. And Shelli reflected that, as a Mom, she won’t have the same worries and fears that so many parents of color, like Carla and Jeff, have every single day.
When Shelli’s son is of an age to go out alone with his friends, she and her husband won’t have to tell their son how to behave when he gets stopped by law enforcement. They won’t have those fears, every time their son goes out to a movie, to a restaurant, to jog, to work, to pray, that he won’t come home alive. They won’t have to fight for their son in school because his behavior won’t cause someone to think that he is disruptive or violent.
A couple of years ago, the Boone County Community Services Department hosted an educational event to explore what is known as “implicit bias.” The speaker, Dr. Walter Gilliam, a leading researcher and educator about the impacts of implicit bias in early childhood education, spoke to community members about how implicit bias presents in that setting; its impact on children, and how to combat it.
Dr. Gilliam’s presentation echoed many of the presentations by community leaders like Nikki McGruder, the Director of the Inclusive Impact Institute. As Nikki once told Valerie Berta, as she grew up in a small community, she often felt like the “only” in the room and it wasn’t until she was an adult that she understood the layers of oppression that had created in her.
As Nikki has worked to help others in our community understand the forces of implicit bias, of racism, of privilege, she has focused, in part, on the children that she is raising. She said, “My children… Our children should not have to inherit a world where they have to dim their lights to make others feel comfortable. They will be their authentic selves walking in their truths all day every day.”
Children are so malleable. They absorb, like sponges, what we show them, what we teach them. As Lieutenant Cable said in the 1949 Rodgers & Hammerstein musical “South Pacific,” “racism is not born in you! It happens after you’re born.” Cable then expresses his anguish, singing:
“You’ve got to be taught, to hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught, from year to year.
It’s got to be drummed In your dear little ear."
You’ve got to be carefully taught.”
So, yes, be horrified by what happened in Minneapolis and New York. Become aware of our collective and individual implicit bias and work to eliminate it. And, most importantly, commit to a community that values diversity, a community in which every child is treated equally. That will be a good start.
Sincere wishes for your health and safety,
Originally posted on May 27, 2020.
Over the last couple of weeks or so, amidst the din and clatter of life during a pandemic, I’ve heard from two people who reminded me of who we are and who we might want to be. The first was my long-time friend, and former Supreme Court Judge Ann Covington and the second is Clara Dykhouse, a rising sixth grader who is just beginning to write her own story.
I had reached out to both of them, hoping that each would agree to be part of a video that is being created to celebrate the freedoms enumerated in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The video is one of a series for Boone County’s Bicentennial and will include short interviews of people from throughout Boone County about what one or more of those specific freedoms mean to them.
Ann (ok, so, it’s still difficult for me to call her that. Sometimes I still slip and call her “Judge,” and she gives me one of those looks) and I spoke by phone about whether she would be one of the contributors to the video. In her self-effacing way, she offered that she wasn’t the one to be filmed but that Lyrissa Lidsky, the Dean of the MU School of Law, would be perfect, in part because Dean Lidsky is a First Amendment scholar. In the course of our conversation, however, as I continued to try to persuade Ann to be part of the video, speaking to the freedom to petition the government, she told me the story that will remain with me forever.
During the time she was a member of the Missouri Supreme Court, her daughter Elizabeth was in law school. This meant that Elizabeth’s daughter Ashley was often with Ann in the late afternoons and evenings, as Elizabeth studied and prepared for the next day’s classes. One of Ann’s colleagues on the court, although knowing that Ann would probably be preparing dinner for her granddaughter, nonetheless often called around that time of day to talk about court- and case-related issues.
One evening, as she prepared dinner, the phone again rang and, instead of answering it herself, she asked Ashley to answer. Ashley picked up the phone and answered, “Covington residence, may I help you?” as she had been taught to do. She listened to the speaker and then reported to her grandmother that “some man wants to talk to you.” Ann asked if the man had identified himself but he had not. When she answered the phone, it was, in fact, the judge, as she had expected.
After the call was complete, she returned to the kitchen and continued to prepare dinner. Ashley then asked, “Who was that man?” Ann told her it was one of the other judges on the court. Without missing a beat, Ashley responded, “He can’t be a judge. He's not a woman.”
Clara has her own connection to Ann Covington, having interviewed her for school and actually having attended an argument at the Missouri Supreme Court to understand more fully what it must have been like for Ann to sit on and, for a time, fulfill the duties of the Chief Justice of that Court. Clara’s interest in women’s leadership roles is not limited to the courts but has extended into political fields as well.
As she and I talked about her participation in the video project, she asked if my former colleague on the County Commission, Karen Miller, and I were the first women to serve in that role here in Boone County. I told her that, although Karen had served the longest of any commissioner in Boone County’s history, she was not the first. Among the women who preceded Karen on the County Commission was one of my grade school teachers—Billie Tritschler, who was also Boone County’s Presiding Commissioner!! Commissioner Tritschler was, for me, a role model and teacher for decades and, as I told Clara, she and other women, including Patsy Ponder Dalton, Carolyn Lathrop Webster, Karen Miller, Norma Robb, Kay Roberts, and Linda Vogt, plowed the road for those who would follow in their footsteps.
Clara isn’t waiting until adulthood, like Karen, Ann and I did when we decided to seek leadership roles. In Fifth Grade, Clara successfully ran for office and, in her leadership role in her school convinced school leadership to hold its first ever school dance. When COVID-19 caused the dance to be cancelled, Clara ensured that for next year, her good work would not simply fade away. She again lobbied the school leadership on behalf of those following in HER footsteps. School leadership has announced that they are “more likely to do a dance next school year too since the student council did such a good job advocating, planning, and preparing for this dance.”
Clara, like Ann’s granddaughter Ashley, has known from an early age, that women can be judges, commissioners, lawyers, doctors, educators, engineers, farmers, social workers, veterinarians—in short, any career path they choose. She has been told by her parents and has seen first-hand that women have the capacity for leadership. And, importantly, she has not been told otherwise.
Like Clara and Ashley, I’ve been fortunate too. I’ve seen women in Boone County, like Karen Miller, Billie Tritschler, Vicky Riback Wilson, Mrs. McCaskill (yes, Claire’s mom!), Ann Covington, Ellen Roper, Nanette Laughrey, Muriel Battle, Liz Schmidt, my Mom, and more, all of whom wear and wore leadership well and all of whom fought for their right—and ultimately mine, Clara’s and Ashley’s—to pursue dreams.
So, for all the Clara’s and Ashley’s and for every single young person in Boone County, let’s focus on creating and maintaining a culture of “yes, you can.” Let’s support them in their dreams and provide the tools they need so that their gender, their ethnicity, their sexual orientation, the color of their skin, the language they speak, in short anything other than their fundamental character, is never a barrier to reaching those dreams. This is who we want to be.
Originally posted on May 14, 2020.
Over the last couple of months, Public Health officials have been put in the hot seat as communities and the world at large attempt to get a handle on a virus for which we have little knowledge and no remedy. As of yet, we have no vaccine. Even more importantly, we can’t be certain who may be carrying the disease either because they are asymptomatic or because we don’t have the capacity to do what we have come to know as “contact tracing.” The sole known method for controlling its spread is to create and then enforce practices that limit the transmission from person to person.
As a country, the last time we experienced this level of health crisis was about 100 years ago, when the so-called “Spanish Flu” ravaged the planet, killing more than 50 million people worldwide. Its impact was so great it has even been credited with causing the early end to World War I.
When we look back at that time, communities had different approaches to the epidemic. Some chose to be very conservative, trying to limit the spread of the disease by ordering that people not gather—in schools, in churches, or in businesses. Others decided to be less conservative, keeping those institutions up and running with few or no restrictions.
Communities that took the less conservative approach showed much higher rates of infection and death while communities that were more conservative, like St. Louis, showed much lower rates––that is, until Armistice Day 1918. At that point, even St. Louis, and other surrounding areas, including Boone County, opened up, celebrating the end of the Great War with parades and other festivities. Schools were called back into session and church services resumed at their regular times and spaces. And then––U.S. communities felt the second wave of the pandemic, as hundreds of thousands more died, reaching an estimated total of more than 675,000 Americans.
That is part of what I believe informs decisions made by Public Health professionals in our country and across the world. It is the knowledge, not the speculation, that, when we let down our guard, a virus like the one causing COVID-19, will come back with a vengeance.
From the beginning of this public health crisis Director Browning and her colleagues across the world have been and continue to be engaged in a delicate balancing of interests—public health versus economic health and practical necessities. Look at the orders issued here in Boone County and in so many other jurisdictions. None of Director Browning’s orders, nor those of any of her colleagues in this country, ordered everyone in a particular jurisdiction to have NO CONTACT with anyone within what is believed to be the incubation period. Instead, as they carefully crafted their Public Health orders, they implicitly acknowledged the economic and practical needs of their communities. They acknowledged, by creating exceptions, by giving explicit guidance, that certain businesses and activities must continue.
For instance, day care businesses were, from the outset, part of the essential fabric of a community’s life. Public Health professionals knew that, for hospitals, grocery stores, gas stations, fire departments, and many more agencies and offices to continue to function, those workers needed a place where their kids could be cared for. And, in making that decision, they balanced, through their orders, the risk of putting children and caregivers into the same space, and, through their orders, could potentially keep many businesses functioning, many people employed, and still, in most cases, keep children, caregivers, and the families of ALL of those people safe, despite the contacts.
As more people have been tested, and as the numbers of active cases in each community decrease, Public Health officials are adjusting the balance. They are, by analogy, moving further out on the teeter-totter, hoping to keep the numbers of cases low while expanding the activities in the business community. This is NOT an easy task. This involves keeping a constant eye on the data, not just from our County but from surrounding counties. Why? Because we are a mobile nation—people who work in Boone County may live in Howard or Cole County, and people who work in Cole or Randolph County often live in Boone County.
If, as the Public Health professionals hope, the numbers of active cases continue to decline, the balance can and will be adjusted again. In the meantime, they will watch the data. They will follow best practices. They will do what is best for our community.
While the County Commission is ultimately responsible, we do not possess the public health knowledge or experience to know the wisest course of action to be taken during this pandemic or the timeline on which it should occur. We do not possess the epidemiological expertise necessary. We would have been foolish to not rely on the person within county government who does have the knowledge and expertise to guide us. That person is Stephanie Browning, the Director of the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services.
Director Browning loves this community. She has brought every ounce of her professional competence to bear on these issues as she has worked to balance the health, economic and basic needs of our community at large. Instead of attacking her and the orders issued, we should all be thankful that she is protecting our interests so that, hopefully, our health, our economic interests and our basic needs can soon be met. I fully support Director Browning as we all work together to meet—and overcome—this challenge.
Originally posted on May 8, 2020.
A few days ago, someone sent me an article about people who were born around the turn of the last century. It chronicled the experiences of that generation through the years—World War I (without the benefit of antibiotics); the 1918 Global Pandemic; the Great Depression; World War II; the Korean War, and probably in their retirement years, the Vietnam War. As seems to happen more and more often these days, the article brought to mind my grandfather, Tommy Thompson.Tommy (we never called him anything other than Tommy) was born and raised in Ireland, in the tiny village of Raphoe, in County Donegal. He left Ireland as a young man, explaining years later to an inquisitive granddaughter that, while beautiful, Ireland had, at that time, yet to consider how to adapt to change. He recalled the Great Famine, in which so many Irish starved to death when their main food source, potatoes, failed due to blight. He also recalled the sectarian violence that for so long had ravaged the country, pitting neighbor against neighbor, community against community. So, when he was offered a position in America, a country of vast opportunity, he leapt at the chance, settling in New York, marrying my grandmother, an immigrant from Scotland, and raising my Dad.
Tommy could have remained in Donegal. Many in his family did that very thing. But, he knew that staying meant being hide-bound by what his family had always done, had always been. Instead, he chose a different path, and explored what it meant to be resilient, to be prepared for change.
Last fall, Sherril Gladney, one of the key members of the Office of Emergency Management team here in Boone County and a valued member of Task Force One, approached the Commission, and through the Commission, worked with all of the Elected Officials and Department Directors to clarify their continuity of operations plans. Some might ask…. Say WHAT??? Sherril was either prescient or just doing her job as Planning and Preparedness Specialist. What she was helping the leadership in the County to do was to think through what resiliency looks like when faced with a disaster. Last fall, unless Sherril is TRULY prescient, I don’t think she was considering COVID-19, but she was considering “disasters” or “disruptions” in the generic sense.
As she and I spoke, I was, quite honestly, thinking that we were most likely going to experience a disaster or event –a snow or ice storm, straight-line winds, a tornado, even a hazardous material accident on the Interstate—that was short-term in initial duration, even if the ultimate impact were longer. As we now know, the first such “event” was a bigger, longer-term event—COVID-19.
Over the last couple of months, Sherril has been an integral part of the OEM team, helping to organize responses of governmental agencies and other entities and serving as the constant reminder that, in order for any expenses possibly to be reimbursed by FEMA, detailed records be kept to document exactly what was expended, by whom, for what, and when. At the same time, she is gathering data from all of the community stakeholders about the actions that have been taken so that, at some point, the community can engage in a de-briefing, an after-action review.
Some agencies have already begun that process internally. I sit on the Board of Boone County Family Resources, which provides a myriad of services to individuals living with developmental disabilities in our community. At the last Board meeting (held by Zoom), there was a good discussion about the work that has already been done to identify what has been working and changes that have been made to make the lives of employees and those they serve better. They have also begun to create the list of those things that they should have done better and, in many cases, the solutions that they will have in place for “the next time.”
What Sherril and the leadership at Boone County Family Resources have been engaging in is a study in resiliency, much like Tommy’s approach to life back in the early 1900’s. Resiliency isn’t just a question of character, as we sometimes assume. It is just as much a willingness to plan and prepare. The world of Emergency Management is built on that premise—planning and preparation, with a healthy dose of practice.
Now seems the time for our community, and communities around the country and the world, to begin to critically evaluate our responses to the COVID-19 events and, based on our honest evaluation of the responses of our organizations and the system to which they belong, to determine how we can become more resilient. Because if we believe that this is the last such event that will impact our lives, we are deluding ourselves. The next event may be shorter in duration, but we nonetheless must be better prepared.
Some friends and local and regional colleagues and I are looking at one of the systems that we believe can and MUST be adjusted to allow for resiliency. It is a system that impacts every single one of us—agriculture. We have been increasingly concerned that the system –from food on the hoof to food on the table—is currently built in a way that does not even permit resiliency. When one portion of the system stops, the entire system is at risk.
Look what is happening across the country right now—farmers are putting down market weight hogs and cattle that can’t be delivered to the processing plants. Other farmers are spraying milk over their fields because they can’t get the milk to market. Still others are dumping loads of vegetables to rot in the sun. And, at the same time, some grocery stores are beginning to limit the amount of food individuals can purchase.
We KNOW farmers are resilient. They weather storms of all kinds each and every year. They just need to have access to a system that allows for a different approach. A system that builds resiliency. This is but one area for which we must create the capacity for a resilient society. Spending our time blaming others is not a solution. Evaluating what we have done, how we could do things better, and planning, preparing and practicing is an investment in our future.
Originally posted on April 28, 2020.
Over the last few weeks, we have all experienced change. For some, it is working or studying from home. For others, it is finding ways to provide services to the public while abiding by orders designed to protect workers and the public alike. For still others, it is daring to explore new ways to keep a business (and thus employees and families) afloat when the traditional approach isn’t possible. And, for others, it is the incredibly difficult decision to shutter a business, even temporarily, and furloughing or letting go valued employees.
I’ve watched and encouraged and supported friends whose businesses are ALL about personal contact and personal service. For instance, I have lots of friends here in Boone County and across the country whose business is giving riding lessons to kids and adults alike. So, when an order comes down that says, “for now, no more riding lessons,” that means my friends are wondering if they can pay the bills to support themselves and any stall cleaners, maintenance workers and assistant instructors, but if they can literally “put food on the table” for the lesson horses that are the “bread and butter” of their businesses.
This is a courageous and creative group of people. They have hosted “virtual” horse shows, they have posted videos for their students about how to exercise in ways that will improve their health now and keep them in shape to ride again when the public health professionals say is safe to do so, they have made available all kinds of resources for parents and kids to enjoy to keep them involved with horses while there is no actual “barn time.” And, yes, they have asked for support from those who have benefitted from the lessons taught over the years, from the tolerance exhibited by those lesson horses. Former and current students have stepped up to sponsor hay and grain and care for their favorite lesson horses.
Nobody WANTED this pandemic. Nobody WANTED to create economic hardships. But, the pandemic is HERE. And our public health professionals have advised us how we can minimize its effect until we develop “herd immunity.” My friends in the horse business have abided by these orders. They know that the health of their students and their employees and their families MUST be their first consideration. It’s been a tough string of weeks. But they have adapted. They have pivoted. And, with the help of their community, they have decided they will survive.
So, now, at the end of the fourth week of April, when, in normal years, we would already have had at least two horse shows under our belts and been gearing up for strong regional competitions in May, my friends are instead preparing their plans for re-opening their stables to the public. Those plans have provisions designed to protect the health of students, employees and instructors. And, most of my friends are consulting public health professionals about their plans to make sure that they have covered their bases. They want to make sure that the worst thing that can happen at their barn is that a student picks up the incorrect diagonal!!
Life is not static. Life includes change. And the question is whether we have the courage not only to meet the change but to help others meet the change as well.
.Originally posted on April 1, 2020.
As April begins, life seems to have turned upside down for many, if not all of us. Even those who have a job, and thus have fewer stresses about whether they will be able to pay their bills, are dealing with enormous stress. Those whose jobs put them on the front lines of this disease—from the convenience store worker, to the checker at the grocery store, the truck driver, the fast food worker, the trash pick-up folks, the caregivers, the nurses, doctors, and other first responders—are working tirelessly to do their jobs and hoping against hope that they don’t get sick or bring illness home to their families or the people they serve.
I’ve been working too—ensuring that the essential work of government can continue; working with national, state, and local stakeholders to adapt to the challenges of this pandemic; helping citizens navigate this new environment; searching for more resources—from physical assets, to space, to mental health services—to keep our community functioning and well.
In the midst of this health and economic crisis, I have learned that, as of Monday, four men had filed as Republicans for this seat. I am the sole Democrat to have filed. Let me be very clear. I would be honored to serve Boone County Missouri for a third term as the Northern District Commissioner.
Several friends and even some family members (!!!) have already asked where to send funds to support my campaign. I am telling you now what I have told them. I so appreciate your support and your offer of financial support. Right now, however, our community has the greater need.
I know my decision to ask you to help our community in this time of crisis is the right one. This morning, when I opened a lenten meditations message, I found these words particularly relevant: “Since there will never cease to be someone in need on the earth, I therefore command you, ‘Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.’ Deuteronomy 15:11.” The writer of the meditations, which included this verse, is a member of the clergy in Manhattan, Kansas. He reminded his readers that the invitation is personal. We are told to not harden ourselves to the need by labeling it as “systemic” or political, or just too big to address. No—this IS personal. In this time and space, it is our community—full of friends, family, colleagues, and yes, strangers—who need our help.
I’ve provided this information before, but I’ll provide it again now. If you NEED help or you can GIVE help, please go to CoMoHelps—Get Help, Give Help. You can access it easily by going to showmeboone.com and you will find the link on the home page.