Richmond Indiana's Eastern Cross

Indiana CrossIf you've visited Richmond, Indiana via interstate 70 recently, it's likely you've seen a new addition to our most prominent landmarks: a 110-foot vinyl-sided cross right next to the highway exit on our east side.  The cross was erected at a cost of US$150,000 by New Creations Chapel, Inc., which has a website dedicated to the project's history and progress.  Their hope is that it "will give hope, direction, light from above, and encouragement to all those people traveling Interstate 70 and passing New Creations Chapel."

Richmond already has a number of issues with public perception when it comes to tourism and first impressions.  All discussions of religion and symbology aside, I think this new fixture probably doesn't help with that.  But the main question that came up in the casual discussions I've had with people about it is "how does such a thing go up without the community having any input on it?"  To answer that question I contacted Scott Zimmerman, who works as a City Planner with the City of Richmond.

Here's what he had to say: Continue reading "Richmond Indiana's Eastern Cross"

On the Human Rights Commission de-funding

Last night, Richmond, Indiana's City Council voted 5-4 to de-fund the Human Rights Commission, a local agency that investigates and addresses complaints of discrimination based on race, religion, color, gender, physical disability or national origin.  The budget for the agency was $74,150, an amount that is already down from other cuts in recent years.

The de-funding measure was proposed by Councilman J. Clayton Miller.  Every encounter I've had with Mr. Miller has been a positive one, and he seems to be a good person doing what he believes is right, which I appreciate.  I'm sure that his fellow supporters on Council who also voted in favor are also doing what they think is right.  But I question whether they have made this decision with full consideration for the needs of the whole community in mind. Continue reading "On the Human Rights Commission de-funding"

Richmond home invasions and robberies

Richmond seems to be experiencing a rise in home invasions and robberies, including one early this morning that happened within shouting distance from where I've lived for 5 years.  It could be the case that the increase is just a matter of perception (because more are being reported and then covered by the media), but the facts seem to bear out some sort of trend, and possibly a serial home invader at work.

It's hard to know what to think about this trend.

Continue reading "Richmond home invasions and robberies"

Earlham gets unofficial traffic light victory on US-40

The Palladium-Item reported last night and again today that Earlham College appears to have won an initial victory in getting a traffic signal placed at a critical crossing point on US-40, the 4-lane highway that runs in front of its campus here in Richmond.

The Quaker college has tried for decades to get a traffic signal at its entrance, an effort that began soon after Earlham student David Rantanen was killed crossing the highway in 1962. Since then, two more people have died and several more were hit and injured by vehicles on the four-lane highway near the school's main drive.

Continue reading "Earlham gets unofficial traffic light victory on US-40"

The Clear Creek Co-Op was not started in a desk

If you're a reader of Earlham College's weekly paper, The Earlham Word, you'll note a quote attributed to me in a recent article about the future of the Clear Creek Food Cooperative, where I currently serve on the Board:

The Co-op has always been associated with Earlham, from the time it was started by a group of students in the Runyan desk.

To the contrary, the Co-op was actually started inside of a storage bin. At some point when it got big enough, the organization moved into the largest available compartment of an end table, and then worked its way up to reside in a desk in Runyan Center, but not the desk we know today as Runyan Desk. These details are important.

In all seriousness and despite the misquote, the article touches on the key point that the future of the Co-op, currently located on Earlham's campus, is a bit uncertain right now. As we try to figure out what model is best (and sustainable) for the organization, the Earlham populations it serves, and the larger Richmond community, we invite feedback from others who are invested in the future of a locally owned food store that focuses on healthy, local, organic products and cooperative values.

Buy Local press conference - at the mall?

It's not April first yet, so I couldn't really stop my jaw from dropping to the ground on this one: The Richmond-Wayne County Chamber of Commerce and the City of Richmond will be holding a press conference tomorrow afternoon to promote buying local - to be held at the mall, which is predominantly occupied by chain stores.

It seems like QUITE an unfortunate juxtaposition to me to have this kind of announcement in that kind of setting.

Malls like the Richmond Square Mall certainly provide great shopping opportunities, but tend to be populated by businesses that are not locally owned and that give less back to the local economy and community over the long run than businesses that are locally owned. In most "buy local" campaigns across the country, one of the primary goals is to get shoppers to expand their notion of shopping opportunities beyond "the mall" to once again consider what small business districts and downtowns have to offer.

If Richmond residents think that buying local just means going to a shop within city limits, the potential impact of the buy-local message is diluted as their dollars leave the community for corporate headquarters elsewhere.

I asked the Chamber and Mayor's office to reconsider the venue - feel free to do the same if you're so inclined.

McCain backpedaling: peace without justice

At some point this week, John McCain's presidential campaign realized that having mobs of supporters who appeared to be ignorant, blood-thirsty, and xenophobic might not be quite what they were looking for when it comes to momentum. And so, as several local bloggers have mentioned, he started trying to backpedal from some of the rhetoric that his campaign -- led by Sarah Palin -- has been putting out there in an attempt to create fear, uncertainty, and doubt about Barack Obama.

The problem is, McCain has done nothing to question the underlying thinking and assumptions that have fueled these fires. By passing them by he essentially reinforces the dangerous framing, and does little toward any truly just treatment of the issues that have come up.

Continue reading "McCain backpedaling: peace without justice"

Watching the Line

There's a line out there that moves up and down all day long. A lot of people watch it because they think it's a sign of how wealthy they are, or how wealthy they could be. Some people have killed themselves when the line goes too low, others have gone to jail. Some people are genuinely happier when the line is high up there, getting along better with their friends and family, whistling to themselves a bit more while they work.


Why do we watch this line so closely? Why do we so willingly and anxiously tie our happiness and sense of security and standing in the world to its altitude and slope?

Continue reading "Watching the Line"

Updated Pal-Item website disappoints

Last week, the Palladium-Item - Richmond's daily paper - launched an updated website. Here's my initial review:


  1. The site clearly continues the paper's commitment to encouraging conversations and interaction between people who track what's going on in the community. As I did in 2006, I commend them for this.
  2. The abuse reporting system in the forum is more robust. As I understand it, if a particular comment is reported as "abusive" by three or more people, it will cease to appear in the conversation thread. In the past, users could report abuse but action had to be taken by an administrative user.
  3. The system for recommending stories published on the site allows users to see what's interesting to fellow readers.
  4. With their new blogging system, any user can create a blog. While these user blogs aren't featured like the ones maintained by the staff, they are a good platform for a kind of conversation that's a little different from forum posts.
  5. The use of customizable profile photos (or whatever image a user chooses) alongside posts gives the conversation the potential to feel a little more personalized and authentic than when there were none.


Continue reading "Updated Pal-Item website disappoints"

Mainstream media adopts the dehumanizing 'illegals' label

Cloud CoverIt was frustrating but not surprising to see today that CNN has joined the list of mainstream media outlets who have adopted the harmful framing offered up in the debate about the U.S. borders, by beginning to use the label of "illegals" in their reporting. It may seem like a relatively small difference between that and other commonly used terms, but I find it to be a particularly dehumanizing one.
Continue reading "Mainstream media adopts the dehumanizing 'illegals' label"