Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Open Letter to Kent City Council

Dear City Council,

I’m writing to you once again concerning the proposed moving of the Sherman Wells House to the green space at 247 North Water Street.  This proposed move has hit a roadblock as the planning commission voted to not approve the site plan discussed at their last meeting, and it is my opinion that this delay- together with Kent State’s allowance of land on College Street for temporary location of the house- gives the entire community time to slow down and think about the best use and placement for this historic home.  As the preservation of this house is to be a public good for the benefit of the community according to Kent Wells Sherman House, Incorporated and the contingent university funding, it seems only right that the community should have input in this matter.  I appreciate the planning commission’s decision to listen to the community desires and the need for something better than a “marriage of convenience” that putting the house on 247 North Water Street appears to be.  

The city council has shown their support for historic preservation through the granting of a $15,000 unsecured loan of which even council members questioned the fiscal responsibility.  Because of this, I propose that the city would do best to make sure that their investment is on as solid a financial footing as possible.  My concern is that this that this investment is not lost to hurried planning and poor community support.  The city could do this by allowing city land to be used for the permanent location of the house in a suitable location where the house does not face vocal opposition.  Currently, the city owns 28 appropriately sized lots within a mile of the Sherman Wells house’s present location; the usage of one of these lots would allow Kent Wells Sherman House, Incorporated to save the $21,000 cost of buying land (money which they could then use to offset the increased cost of moving the house).  Some of these sites are on North Water Street, as well, so the economic renewal of North Water Street could still be a benefit seen from the situation of the house in that neighborhood.  This commitment to historic preservation from city council could be in the form of an inexpensive lease to Kent Wells Sherman House, Incorporated, similar to what is granted to Haymaker Farmers’ Market for their space.  

Historic preservation, green space, and the arts are all concerns in developing and redeveloping cities, such as Kent right at this moment.  The investment in downtown Kent has the potential to be extremely beneficial to the entire region, but this process has also seen many losses in historic buildings, and little easily accessible green space other than right along the river, which can be difficult and/or treacherous to use for children and people with limited mobility- the groups that can benefit most from green space.  In the recent past, the arts have found good commercial support in the redevelopment of Kent, but classes, workshops, and non-commercial arts have not been major focus of this energy.  At the same time, these three aspects (historic preservation, green space, and the arts) are considerable draws for a community and add value to a city that is seen in economic and non-economic ways.  Finding an alternative location for this house and showing simultaneous support for all three portions (historic preservation, green space, and the arts) would be a great win-win solution for the entire city, and council assisting in this endeavor would show council’s willingness to put the good of the city over disputes that put any one of these issues as more important than the other.

Lisa Regula Meyer

Planting The Seeds of Parenthood

Originally published on March 9, 2012, at The Next Family.
My name is Lisa. I’m a graduate student, soon-to-be doctor of philosophy in biology, wife of ten-plus years, mama, and lover of pregnancy. Not kids, by any means, but pregnancy. Kids scare me. They take time. They’re loud. I don’t understand them. They often smell. And they make messes. Don’t get me wrong, I love my son, and I can enjoy children in small doses, but Ken keeps me busy enough that the thought of any more children petrifies me.
Unfortunately, my body loves being pregnant (good Catholic-breeder genes, I think, are to blame) and I feel passionately that everyone who wants to be a parent should get the chance. Because as much of a challenge as children are, they are equally amazing. For every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction. For every trying moment, there is the joy of triumph. Of creation. I get that. I love the feeling of helping to create life. I’m a researcher, which is an extremely creative occupation, even if a lot of people don’t realize this. Research is simply helping to bring new data, new information, into the light of the scientific community. It’s like giving birth. (I’m in the “pushing” process right now in fact, as I write my dissertation on invasive plants and their effects on native amphibians.) That’s a high that can’t be replicated. And a birth is only the beginning of the most massive education a person can ever get- that of becoming a parent. Kids teach you more than 20+ years’ of formal schooling. In the kid’s first year.
It was shortly after I had finished that trial-by-fire first year with my son that I realized that I wanted to be pregnant again. But how to do that without adding to my brood? (Can one child be called a brood? As much energy as Ken takes, I’m going to say yes, he can.) A little bit of digging lead me to look into surrogacy. Literally, I was digging in the garden planting seeds while Ken played in the yard and I thought about this issue. My mom had had easy pregnancies with my sister and me, and had always claimed that if she could have, she would have been a surrogate. When I was a kid, of course surrogacy was far less common, since IVF was fairly new, and Mom couldn’t think about giving away “her” child (genetically hers), so that’s what took surrogacy off the table for her.
After those seeds were in the ground, I went to work looking into surrogacy, found an agency, and started all the fun of paperwork. This took far longer than I’m letting on, because those first few months of deciding, researching, and filling papers was really boring.
Then, in July of 2007, with a two-year-old and a year of graduate school under my belt, the agency sent me the profile of J&M, a gay couple on the east coast. We got along fine, matched, got through contracts and screenings, and on Thanksgiving Day of that year, transferred two five-day blasts from an anonymous egg donor and one from each of the intended dads. Then we waited. In the two-week wait, we got a positive HPT, then positive beta, then a perfect ultrasound of a singleton at about seven weeks. This journey went mostly without any drama, although there were way more ultrasounds than I was used to with my son, because the fetus was small. (The egg donor was also, and the resultant child is perfectly healthy, but small, so it seems to be just a matter of a small child. Go figure.) In July of 2008, “A” was born healthy and happy and went home to ecstatic daddies. I brought home an electric pump, and donated to the Mother’s Milk Bank of Ohio for a few months. After a rough patch where the new family and I didn’t keep in touch, we’re now all back to being friends and things are nearly exactly as I had originally imagined they would end up (thank you, Facebook, for making the globe a much smaller distance
to cross).
Not long after, I felt the urge to help someone else find the magic of parenting, but wanted to go about it slightly differently. The first surrogacy had taken its toll since I gave birth during the summer, when I typically would have done much of my research. I
wanted to focus on my own creative efforts, and let someone else do the heavy lifting. And I had friends that were having trouble conceiving. After lots of discussion, I did an open egg donation, and then a semi-open donation. There were two more little critters
running around thanks to me, and that made me happy. By that time, I was progressing well with my work, and feeling the urge to be a surrogate again, but without the drugs, and needles, and secrecy of an anonymous egg donation (topic for another time, but I strongly believe that kids deserve to know their genetic heritage, not because of any intrinsic tie to the donor, but because of all the health implications of one’s genes and the importance of knowing the correct medical history). So this time it was traditional surrogacy for me.
In early 2010, I posted an ad, went independent this time, and started searching for IPs. I heard some of the most- ahem- interesting stories I could have ever imagined. I got discouraged, and when my ad expired, I did not put up a new one. Instead, I would take the reins and pick out someone to contact. By June of that year, I saw J&H’s ad the day before it expired. They were a gay couple from New York. I emailed them, they emailed back with trepidation. (They had spent several years and much energy pursuing adoption and/or surrogacy, and weren’t sure if they wanted to hope again.) After a whirlwind “dating” period, we matched, agreed on nearly everything (we would be friends even without surrogacy). In September, we did our first insemination, and it did not take. October, our second, slightly deflated try, did, although not without some drama of a positive HPT, then negative beta, then stronger positive HPT and a digital, and finally the positive beta. E still likes to keep everyone on their toes. This pregnancy was picture perfect, until two weeks of prodromal labor at the end, with a birth in July 2011. I again pumped, this time for E, and we’re still very close with visits, Facebook, Skype, and such occurring regularly.
In the fall of 2011, the first couple to whom I donated used some frozen eggs from a few years ago, and are expecting a July sibling for their little boy. (What is it about July?)
And that’s my story. Our story, really, from my perspective. C’est la vie, I guess. And on. And on. And on.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Heat and Healing in Ohio

Originally published on July 27, in The Next Family.

There’s been a massive heat wave in Ohio and much of the US this summer, and drought conditions are occurring across the country.  Last week, we had some reprieve in the form of rain, but not nearly enough.  It’s nearing the end of July, and that’s oddly big for me, because summer, especially July, is a busy time. Family birthdays and anniversaries, the fourth of July and summer vacations, and juggling kid care with high research season and changed schedules all lead to stress and a touch of insanity in our household. Add in stuff with this historic house around town and trying to keep it off a garden plot, and you can just imagine.
The good thing is that I like working under pressure. In fact, as I type this piece, it’s a mere couple of hours before this piece is due. It’s how I roll, I guess, and I’ve tried to stop procrastinating- because, honestly, that’s what it is- plenty of times previously, and I may even try again. Tomorrow. Or later on this week. Maybe. Whatever.
Last year, on July 31st, my sister added yet another “thing” to my July schedule when she pulled the trigger on that .25 that her husband had given her. It’s been nearly a year, and I thought I had made so much progress, but anniversaries get you. Especially that first year, you can start to notice the days ticking down. My mom’s and first surro-girl’s birthday is the 22nd; nine days to go. Mom and Dad’s anniversary is the 23rd; eight days to go. Dwight’s birthday is the 25th; six days to go. And so on, ticking away until the 31st, with the tension and pressure building the whole time.
I know this pattern, but I just started seeing it in myself this year. I know the pattern because I’ve seen it plenty before. I saw it in family members after my dad’s death, and I see it in them now, and if I could look back on teenage me, I would probably see it then, too (one more reason I want a TARDIS). In my experience, the “gearing up” is shorter and shorter as time passes; at this point after my dad’s death (17 years), it’s really only the day of his death that I get uneasy. The world goes on, life gets busy, new memories fill one’s head while older ones get dull and blurry and faded over time, and that’s a GOOD thing! It lets us heal and not dwell on what pain has happened to us in our lives; our brains are pretty dang compassionate that way.
The last year has brought a lot of change in our house, some of it due to Kim’s death, and some of it not. Other changes are due to my dissertating, and job changes, and Kenny growing up. These changes haven’t been easy, by any count, but they’ve helped me learn a lot about myself and the world, and I can’t think of a case where learning- gaining knowledge- is a bad thing. I will admit that some of my learning in this past year could only have happened with the help of my grief counselor. I know it’s the twenty-first century, but I grew up with the idea that you didn’t talk about “personal problems” with strangers, that counseling or therapy wasn’t an acceptable alternative, and instead you just “get over” grief, anger, and other negative emotions. (Oddly, prescription drugs were OK, though? I never said family made sense…) Unfortunately, sometimes the stress of day-to-day life is already a lot, and adding on a painful, heartbreaking event is just too much for us to get over on our own. When that happens, it’s not just smart but efficient to ask for help of some sort. The pain still needs worked through, processed, and dealt with, but that help- whether chemical or outside professional emotional support- can be the difference in making a painful time manageable or simply leaving a great, festering wound.  I mentioned the weather to start this whole post off because that rain in the midst of a drought was healing, like a good cry in the midst of deep pain.  Just like tears, we need rain in the right amount.  Too much or too little, and life gets a heck of a lot harder, not just for the organism experiencing too much or too little water, but for all the organisms around it, through direct and indirect consequences.
I put all this out in the open for a number of reasons. Getting it off of my chest helps me, and maybe it will help someone else who needs a gentle reminder. I doubt it, but you never know. Knowing yourself isn’t easy in my experience, which is part of what makes having someone exterior to the situation helpful. At the very least, maybe this will help you, Reader, whoever you are. Sometimes the world is too much. Sometimes we all need help. That’s not a bad thing, it means you’re human. I can’t do anything now to help my sister, I can’t make her go and get some form of help, or be there for her any longer, but there’s still 7+ billion people on the planet, and maybe one of those people I *can* help.
Best of all, maybe one of those 7+ billion people is someone that you can help. Maybe there’s someone that you smile at today who needed that smile more than anything else. Maybe a listening ear that you lend lets someone release enough steam that they don’t blow up or break down. Maybe that coffee with a friend gives someone the strength to keep going. Maybe the compliment you paid a stranger makes someone’s day. Maybe your lost dollar bill buys someone else who needs it a lunch. Maybe I’m being overly optimistic, but that’s OK. It’s Monday, and the world is full of potential, and anything can happen. Today might even be the day I get that TARDIS…

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Open Minds Open Doors

Originally published July 13th, 2012, on The Next Family.
I was up in Ithaca this weekend camping. We went to celebrate E’s first birthday with her Daddy, Papa, family, and friends. To say that I was tickled and honored to be a part of this would be the understatement of the year. At the same time, I was hideously anxious. Here I was -some girl from Ohio, backwards as it may be- meeting fancy family members of my dear friends from Long Island, New York at a birthday party for a gorgeous little girl thrown by her parents – a brilliant scientist and his husband (whose talents rival Martha Stewart). Might as well ask a snail to tea with the Queen Mum, for the mix of emotions I had leading up to the event!
But lo and behold, the day of the party came, and I was surrounded by normal human beings. Not elves from Rivendell. Not fairies from the English countryside. Not angels from the Sistine chapel. Just regular folk, like my husband and me. I’m not sure if that was better or worse than my fears.
Here were people close to my IFs that were congenial, kind, accepting, and totally honest. They were thankful and gracious- not just E’s grandma, but random friends of my IFs were saying thank you for this little girl, and there was no secrecy or shyness or gentle misdirection. E’s family members were referring to me as “birth mom” and “mommy.” They left saying that they want to see us again. We were talking about everyday, normal things from parenting to politics and everything in between. We got along fine, and I didn’t have a panic or heart attack, so I really couldn’t ask for anything more. Maybe snails can pull off high tea all right, after all.
What made this all so exciting for me (besides two boys loving their little girl, and my two boys in the same place and having such a good time) was the utter genuineness.
We all want to normalize non-mainstream families. Families created via surrogacy, gamete donation, IVF, adoption, and other means are just as legitimate, valid, and worthy of protection and respect as families created through plain old-fashioned, well-timed sex (or a drunken night out). I think everyone reading this blog knows that already, but the fact that I have to say this- and I know some people in the world need this reminder- means that we still have work to do.
One in six couples will have some form of fertility issue pop up while trying to conceive, and there are plenty of non-couples (i.e. singles) who also want to be parents, with or without a partner. That means that there’s a large portion of families that needs to hear that they’re perfectly normal.
The best way we do that- in my mind- is to talk about it. No more hushed whispers around why Junior has such dark hair. No more “hiding” in the late stages of pregnancy (yes, I’ve heard of families formed by adoptive and surrogate means that included this line). No more not discussing the issues of what it took to be where we are today. Kids deserve honesty. Parents deserve to be carefree. Families deserve equality, because after all, it isn’t the mechanism of origin that defines a family, but the love that it shares with all its members. We learned this from the LGBTQ community- silence is not an option. Speaking out and being someone that is associated with these things helps everyone to realize their own privilege and prejudice.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I still have a blanket and a journal to finish before I send it off with the sky lanterns (I know, bad birth-mama). At least I got the tool set and denim overalls delivered on time to scare the Long Island family members at Sunday brunch.

Of Hope and Humanity, Part One

Originally published May 4th, 2012, on The Next Family.
Nearly four weeks after the birth of my second surrogate child, I had a phone call from my mother’s cell phone. It was a Monday morning, and I was trying to get a crazy five-year-old ready for school on just a few hours of sleep. Normally in surrogacy, the time after giving birth is a reprieve. You’ve gestated another human for the past approximately 40 weeks, and now you get to rest. We surrogates sleep gloriously flat on our backs or stomachs while someone else feeds, changes, burps, and changes again a tiny infant. We have six weeks off of work to recover, and the freedom of not having to parent the child we birthed. That is, unless you’re a slow learner like me. The first time Mom called, I was busy pumping. After both of my surrogacies, I pumped and donated milk. The first time, to Mother’s Milk Bank of Ohio, the second time to the little girl herself, with some extra going to mamas in need on Human Milk for Human Babies. I couldn’t get to the phone because of the double electric breast pump that I had just gotten hooked up to, and that looked and sounded like a milking machine for cows. Mom called a couple more times to my cell phone, and then to my husband’s. By the time she called Dwight, he was available to pick up, so he did. Early in my second surrogacy, I had discussed the issue of milk and feeding with my Ifs. They jumped. One of them is European, and both are very health-conscious. They very much wanted to give their child the best start possible, from picking a healthy surrogate with similar priorities as they, to organic bedding for the crib. Included in that spectrum was feeding with human milk, as much and as long as they could. On that, we agreed. My son was nursed for nearly two years, and I strongly believe in not “breast is best” but “breast is normal.” Some have accused me of being a lactivist (although those accusations usually come from self- identified lactivists). It’s just something I believe in as supported by science to be beneficial and evolutionarily normal to both women and babies. So we decided that I would pump and ship for them as long as I could. My goal was six months. Dwight brought me the phone, and told me that I needed to talk to Mom and her husband. That my sister had died. She had shot herself the night before, after yet another fight with her husband. That Mom and Dusty were driving up from Florida as we spoke. I took the phone, and have no memory of how the rest of the day went, other than that I pumped. And I think I cried. In the hospital after giving birth, the night feedings were my duty. The munchkin stayed with her daddies all day, and a good part of the time we all spent together. Nights, she went to the nursery, so that the guys could take advantage of a last couple of nights of decent sleep, and ease into parenting. For night feedings when she woke up, the nurses brought her to my room. We had spoken about it about mid-way, and decided that to ensure the best start to my supply that we could, I would nurse some as well as pump while we were all together. Anyone who’s nursed knows how critical those first few days are for supply, and how poorly pumps mimic a baby. Those moments alone, just the two of us, with a common goal of filling a tiny tummy efficiently and getting back to bed, were extremely helpful. We said our well-wishes to each other, their little girl and I. It was fumbly and awkward, because that’s what nursing is at first, but it was our time. We were working together for the betterment of both of us. In those painful, empty, lonely, few weeks after Kim’s death, when I should have still been on maternity leave and resting, pumping oddly gave me a respite. I had a focus, a purpose that needed to be fulfilled. There was someone depending on me, and I couldn’t let them down. I had to stay strong. Focus and determination had gotten me through quite a lot in my day, and itwould get me through this as well. Right?

Eggs and Baskets

Originally published April 6, 2012, on The Next Family.
One question that has come up, and that I thought would be fun to address around Easter, is egg donation.  I have been an egg donor, a gestational surrogate, and a traditional surrogate, in addition to having my own child.  I don’t have a unique view on any of these topics, but I do have both an opinion and experience with all of these topics.  There are thousands of women just like parts of me in the US alone.  I enjoy having had all of those opportunities, and consider all of them to be tools in shaping the person writing all this down.
Some people but a lot of stock in the genetics of their child, but that’s just not me.  I don’t feel connected by that sequence of Cytosine-Guanine-Adenine-Thymine, because frankly, seven billion humans have a similar amount of genetic variation as a single social group of gorillas.  Genetics are important for health histories, but genetics don’t make a family.  Humans- we’re an inbred lot compared to other organisms.  I’m also not a big fan of children, in case you haven’t guessed.  Right now you’re probably wondering why on Earth I would help other people have kids, right?  And I’m sure that a lot of fun tabloids and talk shows would say that it’s because of  money.
I’m here to tell you that it’s because I think people have the right to do what fits best for them, that everyone deserves the right to have the experience of parenting, and that families come in all makes, models, and sizes, and we don’t have the right to say one type of family is any better or worse than another.  Crazy, I know.  The thing is, when that little orangutan of mine came into my life, it did change things.  It wasn’t instantaneous, and it wasn’t perfect.  It took me a while to realize it, but they say it’s the slow gradual lifestyle changes that stick.  But even with 170+ pages of my dissertation waiting to be edited and defended, having that little orangutan was the best thing I’ve ever done, although it’s a tight race between him and my dissertation some days.
I understand that other people love children and feel called to be parents, and I respect that.  In theory, children are pretty freaking cool- someone to teach and mold, and carry on your memory and legacy. In reality, I find them too messy to justify more than one for myself and Dwight.  Similarly, I understand that other people want and value a genetic connection to their child, and that’s their feeling.  From an evolutionary perspective, it makes great sense, wanting to have your own children.  I never claimed to make the best choices.  I guess I’m more of a catbird than others are.  I’ll leave my eggs in other nests, and let those parents enjoy the offspring.  The major difference being that catbird offspring will typically dump any other eggs out of the nest; to my knowledge, none of my egg donation babies have committed fratricide.
So is this all completely altruistic?  Of course not. I get the thrill of helping somebody else have kids; I get to feel appreciated and special; I get to meet new people and see new places and have an amazing experience.  I’ve been fortunate to have some amazing stories and experiences in my life, and be a part of something special that others only dream of.  I’ve also been fortunate enough to have found a partner who is just as passionate about freedom and bodily autonomy as I am.  He trusts me to do what is right for me and doesn’t stop me from doing what thrills my heart.  We’re both completely honest with each other, and with our son, and we trust that that is how most of the world is, too.  Kenny knows more about reproduction and alternative ways of creating a family than many college students.  We all know that there are people genetically related to me and to Ken out there; it’s something to be cognizant of, but not to dwell upon, because it doesn’t affect our day to day life (although it has lead to some interesting discussions with strangers).
I guess if you take nothing else from this piece, remember that life is a continuum, not a one dimensional stereotype.  As many different types of families as there are, they all exist because of the same reason: love.  As many surrogates, gamete donors, and birth parents as there are, there are as many reasons to travel the route they have chosen.  It’s the variety that makes life interesting; this is the flavor I lend the world stew, and it’s only with the interaction of all the other parts that I taste the way I do- my particular mix of sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and rich.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way

...But We're Not in Denmark

Continuing the discussion from the last post...
The full project including restoration is projected to cost between $250,000 and $300,000.  At the end of this, the 800 square foot house will be the home to three professional offices upstairs (lawyer, architect, etc.), and a meeting room holding 25 people downstairs.  The rents from the offices and meeting room will go to pay the estimated $1,100 a month in costs, and the project is getting $40,000 in help with moving costs from Kent State University, $15,000 from the city, and unknown amounts of in-kind assistance from the city to help with the whole project. 

For the finance committee meeting, public comments and questions were strictly limited to discussing *only* the loan itself, no other matters.  Nearly everyone spoke in opposition of this loan.  Questions concerned whether or not this project was benefiting unduly from ties to city council (the architect in charge and the director of TransPortage that backed this project is a former city council member, and a third council member has made unsolicited contacts to people opposed to putting the house on this green space to try and sway them); where the rest of the considerable funds needed for this project would come from; what was the collateral for the loan (there is none- it's unsecured); among other things.  When it was city council's turn to ask questions, similar questions also arose, but many other topics also came up, and they ranged far from the project at hand.  City council asked about the public support this new group had (their response: they're new, but they do have 130+ members on their Facebook group; those in opposition presented online and physical petitions with over 300 signatures, besides those who spoke).  One council member compared the project to a boat with a giant hole in the bottom, and granting this loan to throwing money into the boat, and one council person said that from a business stance, this loan was ridiculous.  Questions were raised about parking in the area, which is already difficult and sparse.  The night before, the city planning commission had denied the site plan for relocating this house to the green space, citing vociferous public concerns, and asking where was the historical concern for this house when it was being "bastardized" as a student rental.  The council raised the question of what Kent Wells Sherman House, Inc. contingency plan for this obstacle was, and heard the response of "We'll wait and see what happens."  With the denial of their site plan, they cannot move the house to the site until they've appealed this decision, and the university will not release their funds until the house is ready to be relocated.  The first date that they can appeal is August 20th, and that comes after the deadline for the house to be demolished on August 11th, so right now a contingency plan would be very helpful for them if the house is to be saved.
 Personally, I would much prefer to see the green space preserved, and think this whole process of trying to preserve the house has been shady.  I've dealt with crank-calls and crude emails on a daily basis since I became involved.  My husband is a historian, and we live in a nearly 100 year old house- I appreciate history and its preservation.  However, this high a dollar amount invested in a questionable project that would destroy green space and is publicly unpopular, and has as many flaws as I've stated here (and more), then it's not a good project for the community.  It is, on the other hand, a great project for those trying to preserve the house, as they personally aren't on the line for the loans should this project fail and the house be foreclosed.  The preservationists come out smelling great for trying to do a good thing, the house gets moved and saved, and professionals downtown get office space in a good neighborhood (so good that the architect on this project lives right around the corner).  The demographics are also interesting to see- very homogenous looking preservationists, and a very diverse group that uses the green space as it is.  
In the end, city council made their decision based on everything but the one thing that the public was allowed to comment upon, with one member even stating that they would "vote for preservation" and only one member voted with the public.  The council member who is an incorporator of Kent Wells Sherman House, Inc. made the motion to approve the loan, and the member who has cold-emailed citizens seconded the motion.  So I stay involved, hoping I can make a difference, and because staying involved is what I do, and what I enjoy.  If we don't speak up and voice our opinion, who could we possibly influence?  Even if our elected officials aren't swayed when we do speak up, at least we know where they stand.

Something Rotten...

I grew up in a politically active house, and I still follow/enjoy politics.  Complaining about it, reading about it, debating it, and considering it- pretty much all enjoyable, in my world.  I may have grown up a poor kid in rural Ohio, but my dad knew the cops, city council, the mayor, and the county people.  Dad followed state and national politics as well, and was active politically when the occasion presented itself.  I was raised under the mantra "If you don't vote, you don't have any right to complain about the outcome."  Flag-waving and nationalism was less important, but patriotism that called our leaders to account and political activism were values instilled at a young age.  I bet you never would have guessed, right?
Well, this being Kent, Ohio, there's yet another dust-up between history and the environment.  Basically, in March, it was found out that one of the houses about to be torn down to make way for Kent State University's Esplanade (which is a giant sidewalk that will connect walkers and bike riders from the university with the downtown businesses) is historic.  It was built for the sister of the man that the town is named for, and dates back to the Ante-Bellum period.  It's been moved previously, and used for a student boarding house for 30 years, but it's supposedly in good shape for its age, and a group of preservationists want to sit the house right on one of the last remaining usable green spaces in downtown.  The space sits next to Standing Rock Cultural Arts, and has been used for children's theater, sculpture displays, poetry readings, community gatherings, potlucks, as well as housing a stage, swing, rain gardens, organic vegetable gardens, and native wildlife.  You can read some of the back story on the Kent Patch (the comments are especially interesting).  Kent's been through fights like this before, as have most towns, and we'll be through it again, and we always make it through OK. 
The thing you won't see on Patch, or any other news outlet that I've found so far, is the farce that last Wednesday's special finance committee meeting of city council was.  Last Wednesday, the special finance committee met to discuss the lending of $15,000 toward the preservation of the house.  This had been discussed and approved previously, but the loan had originally been approved to go to a different group, TransPortage, than the one that would now be receiving it, Kent Wells Sherman House, Incorporated.  TransPortage had been backing the project, but pulled out after objections from their membership convinced two of the three directors that this plan was not in their best interest, and would not forward their mission of sustainability.  Kent Wells Sherman House, Inc. began as Friends of the Wells Sherman House in March of this year, and incorporated in July of this year, with one of the city council members kindly volunteering to be one of the three people to sign off on and lend her address to the group's incorporation papers.  The original approval of the loan had happened prior to the Kent Wells Sherman House, Inc. incorporation and the council member's involvement, so after some vocal input from citizens, council decided to publicly discuss the matter before simply transferring the loan to the new group. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Whoa.  It's been a year.  A year since Miss E was born.  Tomorrow, I head to See her and her daddy and papa, for her first birthday party.  With friends and family.  Holy schiznit, I'm nervous.  If you're reading this, you probably know that I don't like people and crowds.  I am 100% positive that I'll totally embarrass myself and everybody else there.  And, to top it off, my mom is heading up here to Ohio after her father-in-law's death, so I'll probably be seeing them soon, too.  And I still haven't defended my dissertation.  The whole damn thing is written, but getting my advisors to read it is like pulling teeth.  And not the loose baby teeth that we've been pulling out of my six year old's mouth.  Impacted wisdom teeth pulling hard.  Yeah, it's *that* not fun right now.  But, on the bright side, I'm getting a metric shit ton done lately.  And I think that's actually getting me caught up.  The weekend out of town will be a nice break, I just need to do some work on the road (not computer based, I refuse to take the computer).  Something fun- maybe beading.  Lots of writing- of all types- has been happening lately.  And I may have a job on the horizon.  A real, jobby-job, using my ejumukashun and such. 

That's it for now.  I'll check back in later with some new photos and new insane stories.  Ciao!