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Sunday, May 31, 2020

EXPERT COMMUNICATOR

TRUSTED BY THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS AND DOZENS OF SUCCESSFUL PRIVATE AND PUBLIC SECTOR CLIENTS
On assignment in Egypt: March 2020
When the 1.3 million-member National Association of Realtors needed an expert writer to cover the COVID crisis from multiple angles for its prestigious On Common Ground smart growth-urban affairs magazine, it reached out to one person.

Steve Wright, Pulitzer-nominated, award-winning writer with 35 years’ experience writing about how cities work, was called on to do the near impossible: interview more than three dozen sources across the nation in barely a week’s time.

He then created the nation’s first comprehensive article on best practices for Business Improvement Districts, Main Streets, Downtown Development Authorities and other agencies charged with saving small businesses while keeping customers safe in the time of pandemic.

Wright not only created a pair of timely stories in fewer than 10 business days, he also gathered glossy magazine images – when servers were down and sources were working remotely – to vividly illustrate his storytelling.

Wrights’ frontline reporting on both urban small businesses and Coronavirus crisis procedures for commercial and residential realtors accounted for more than 40 percent of the text in the entire magazine contributed to by several journalists and published in record turnaround time.

To read the stories and get an understanding of the power of Wright’s writing and marketing communications capabilities, follow this link: 

To talk about how his unique storytelling skills can tell your firm’s story in the most challenging of times, phone Steve direct at 305 776-3231. Or email him at: 
stevewright64@yahoo.com


Storytelling for clients from Biscayne Bay to the banks of the Nile


Saturday, May 30, 2020

COMMERCE IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS -- Part 14

Main Streets, Business Improvement Districts and Downtowns Lead the Way
Charles Marohn is the Founder and President of Strong Towns, a non-profit making communities across the United States and Canada financially strong and resilient, and the author of Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity.

“What the current crisis is exposing is not, as some commentators have suggested, some previously unknown flaw in the traditional development pattern that humans have used for thousands of years (and that has endured many infectious disease outbreaks). 

If anything, it is more likely to reveal the extreme fragility of the modern suburban experiment, and the financialized economy on which it depends,” said Marohn, an advocate of compact development.

The engineer and land planner, said when a local restaurant with a local landlord and a much more local supply chain cannot pay rent, it is in the interest of everyone involved to work it out. 

He said national chains that are announcing they cannot pay rent, “sets off a much more disruptive cascade of events that wipes out investors and jeopardizes bond markets.”

Friday, May 29, 2020

COMMERCE IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS -- Part 13

Main Streets, Business Improvement Districts and Downtowns Lead the Way
OBID also is providing a lot of cleanups of streetscapes and disinfecting of pedestrian “walk” light buttons – to make the area safe for those patronizing the neighborhood.

“We are a dense urban district with no drive-through opportunities, but our restaurants have adapted wonderfully.

Many have removed tables and chairs to make room for customers waiting to maintain the required minimum 6-foot social distance inside while others with smaller spaces have restricted interior access and have set the tables up at the main entrance for quick and easy pick up,” she said.

Petropoulos said the Oakland and BIDs nationwide must create a new narrative of how density and the built environment impacts people, in respect to staying safe during a pandemic.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

COMMERCE IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS -- Part 12

Main Streets, Business Improvement Districts and Downtowns Lead the Way
Petropoulos said the BID stays in constant communication with its district community – by phone, text, survey, website, e-newsletter blasts and social media – while researching and communicating Covid-19 crisis help available. 

The BID promotes the message to the public that Oakland is open for business. 

“With the universities move to online learning and the closure of our museums and library, we saw a huge decline in the university student, faculty and staff customer and the visitor population so we focused our efforts on the hospitals and on area residents. 

In partnership with our hospitals, we set up a food delivery program Support Oakland, where restaurants gain access to deliver to hospital employees,” Petropoulos said.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

COMMERCE IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS -- Part 11

Main Streets, Business Improvement Districts and Downtowns Lead the Way
Georgia Petropoulos is the Executive Director of the Oakland Business Improvement District, which describes itself as Pittsburgh’s most ethnically diverse and lively neighborhood.

It is home to: prestigious universities and museums, world-class hospitals, grand architecture, quaint coffee shops, international cuisine and specialty shops.

“Like many cities across the country, our business district has been greatly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and our business owners have put out a herculean effort for survival,” she said. “Restaurants shifted service hours and redesigned menus to focus on takeout and delivery. 

Business owners have been creative with new promotions as well such as Salud Juicery Oakland's "Cup of Goodness" program where the public can purchase smoothies for hospital doctors and nurses.”

“Our business owners are the life of our community and they need our help,” Petropoulos continued.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

COMMERCE IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS -- Part 10

Main Streets, Business Improvement Districts and Downtowns Lead the Way
“NMSC believes there will remain a craving, and perhaps due to social isolation, a greater appreciation for the social engagement aspects of shopping.  

From that stand point, the dynamic of experiential shopping may even expand,” Baux said of an ultimate silver lining.

“However, there will undoubtedly be some additional migration to e-commerce.  As our survey shows, many small businesses (63 percent) have no e-commerce sales.  This will need to change and traditional brick and mortar stores will need to build out a place-based and e-commerce experience for post Covid19 shoppers,” Baux advised.

 “There may be a call for more convenience-oriented shopping, such as home delivery and curbside, which may not disappear as consumers adapt to this experience.”

Monday, May 25, 2020

COMMERCE IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS -- Part 9

Main Streets, Business Improvement Districts and Downtowns Lead the Way
In the San Diego area, the Leucadia 101, Encinitas 101 and Cardiff 101 Main Street organizations have a goal to raise $100,000 to provide grants to local small businesses.

     To create the Encinitas Support Fund, the trio is partnering with the Cardiff by the Sea Foundation and the Harbaugh Foundation.

·       Our Town Coshocton NMSC’s partner in Coshocton, OH helped two local businesses join forces to sew over 1000+ Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) masks. 

    The two mom and pop businesses -- Mercantile on Main and Rose of Sharon Retreat --- saw an increase in online and curbside pickup sales.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

STOP DISABILITY-BASED MURDER

A MOTHER WHO KILLS HER OWN IS A MONSTER
Alejandro Ripley: Drowned (my his own mother) for daring to live with a disability?
Murdering mother's quote: "He's going to be in a better place" -- implies death is favorable to being disabled.

That mindset justifies nothing less repugnant than genocide of people with disabilities. 

I predict her defense attorney will try to mitigate her sentence, playing the "suffering caregiver card." 

Decent and rational people would reject killing a child on basis of child's race, religion, sexual orientation. 

But "worn out, suffering parents" sometimes get very little prison time for murdering disabled children. 

This must stop.


Saturday, May 23, 2020

COMMERCE IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS -- Part 8

Main Streets, Business Improvement Districts and Downtowns Lead the Way
NMSC’s Baux said Main Street programs and BIDs are helping their retail constituents and customers navigate the changing environment, citing best practices examples such as:

·       Chicago's Morgan Park Beverly Hills Association is connecting small businesses to local, state and federal resources.  
     
     It’s marking features local businesses that are providing curbside pickup, delivery services and online sales. 

·     Tenleytown Main Street in Washington DC is providing members with technical assistance to set-up online sales and services while obtaining permits to support restaurant pick-up and carry out zones. 
    
     Tenleytown is helping businesses to apply for government grants and disaster assistance loans while issuing emergency small grants.

Friday, May 22, 2020

COMMERCE IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS -- Part 7

Main Streets, Business Improvement Districts and Downtowns Lead the Way
The Ball and Chain has a promotion that patrons get back 50 percent of money spent during the crisis (by submitting receipts) -- toward purchases when the home of Latin food, music and culture fully reopens. 

There also is a promotion that $40 spent buys a $50 gift certificate and $80 buys a $100 one plus a free T-shirt.

The promotions generate buzz and much-needed revenue during the pandemic.


“I have found over 90 percent of our tenants, whether open or not, have come in saying `I can pay 20 percent, 30 percent’ -- not saying `I’m giving you nothing.’ 

You know who your real friends are,” he said, noting his mom and pop tenants are making good faith efforts when one of his few national, deep-pocketed tenants has balked at paying a penny.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

COMMERCE IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS -- Part 6

Main Streets, Business Improvement Districts and Downtowns Lead the Way
Fuller, through Barlington and the separate Madroom Hospitality, has invested in many of the restaurants, bars, shops and cultural activities he and his partners have recruited to Little Havana.

So, he is feeling the impact not just as a landlord but as a business owner that employees cooks, bartenders, waiters, bussers and other hospitality staff.


The Ball and Chain, a food and beverage hotspot that has been written about in the New York Times, has retained 25 percent of its staff. 

Another Madroom concept, the revived historic Taquerias El Mexicano, also is operating with a reduced crew.

“We never had relationships with all the Uber Eats and Postmates delivery companies,” he said, noting that onsite dining and drinking drove revenue at the two Calle Ocho fixtures.

“But we decided to stay open to provide as much employment as we could (via curbside pickup and delivery.)

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

COMMERCE IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS -- Part 5

Main Streets, Business Improvement Districts and Downtowns Lead the Way
Bill Fuller, Co-Founder and Co-Managing Partner of Barlington Group, has played a huge role in elevating Miami’s famous Calle Ocho in Little Havana.

He has transformed a careworn corridor into a vibrant center of art, culture and retail that draws nearly three million visitors per year.

As one of the area’s largest landlords, and co-founder of the Little Havana Merchant Alliance, he and his tenants have been hit hard by Coronavirus stay at home and closure of business orders.


“From a landlord’s perspective, I have taken the time to understand webinars and literature on loan programs. 

My CFO is helping tenants secure loans, access grants and understand any federal, state or local assistance to small businesses,” Fuller said of the Chief Financial Officer Fuller hired just before COVID hit the U.S. “Everybody should be funded by end of May.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

COMMERCE IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS -- Part 4

Main Streets, Business Improvement Districts and Downtowns Lead the Way
Baux noted 66 percent of survey responders indicated a need to suspend some expenses in the interim while they are mandated to be closed.

These typically consist of rents, utilities and other operating fees.


“Main Street programs should engage with city officials on programs at the local level, in which there may be influence and/or control over utility operations, parking fees, etc.,” the survey advises. 

“In addition, while small business operations are being negatively impacted during this time, property owners represent a key stakeholder group. Main Street programs are also encouraged to dialogue with property owners as partners to help retain small business tenants, and continue as a connector and educator on programs at the federal level designed to suspend mortgage payments.”

Monday, May 18, 2020

COMMERCE IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS -- Part 3

Main Streets, Business Improvement Districts and Downtowns Lead the Way
Baux quoted NMSC’s Main Street Small Business survey that underscored the simple fact that minimizing permanent business closures is critical to downtown and district recovery.

“Small business financial assistance programs should not only address revenues, but expenses as well. The survey reveals 60 percent of respondents have less than 5 months remaining of likely business survival. 

Thus, there is the need to not only address the revenue side of the income statement but find ways to reduce expenses,” the survey states.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT IDIOCY

AND THE MULTIMILLION DOLLAR NFL LAWSUIT
THAT PROVES ME RIGHT


When facility architects and government regulatory officials swear anything new is automatically 100% accessible "because it was built since the ADA was enacted" -- they are being idiots.

To the tune of tens of millions of dollar$.  


When I worked for a major American city, I would see plans for developments and public projects that clearly had great gaps in accessibility – both to a usable and ADA compliant standard.

Being the spouse of a person who uses a wheelchair for mobility – and knowing the cost of universal design is almost zero when done up front – I would point out these errors to public works, capital improvements, building and land use officials.

I would always get “Steve, you’re being too aggressive and out of line – the ADA has been around for years, so it HAS TO BE ACCESSIBLE.”

It was the ultimate “stay in your lane jackass” put down.

And I would think okay, brilliant one…so if something is written down in the rules somewhere, it magically guarantees 100% of human beings will follow it.

No one will ever be tempted, for whatever reason, to break the rules and not give a damn unless caught.

Wow, that’s why the at the next City Commission meeting, we’ll be disbanding the police force.

Because if burglary, robbery, arson, rape, murder…are on the books somewhere as being forbidden, everyone will just behave and comply 100% -- with no oversight, supervision or consequences.

Oh, they don’t. And we need to dedicate resources to making them behave and not run roughshod over innocent people.

Wow, then I guess maybe some city officials and departments better get off their lazy duffs and review plans, send warnings and police designers/contractors/developers/builders who are all too willing to flout federal law enacted to ensure access for all.




Saturday, May 16, 2020

COMMERCE IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS -- Part 2

Main Streets, Business Improvement Districts and Downtowns Lead the Way
In an era when sit-down restaurants are reduced to curbside pickup or delivery only, in a challenging time when shops that relied on foot traffic are trying to adapt to online sales, BIDs, DDAs and Main Streets are using creativity and community collaboration to keep small businesses afloat.

Dionne Baux is Director of UrbanMain, a program of the National Main Street Center (NMSC) to empower under-resourced older and historic neighborhood commercial districts to restore economic vitality and promote quality of life. NMSC is a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


“The primary concern has to be the health and well-being of people.  That being said, if businesses are in a position to move aspects of their business to e-commerce shopping opportunities, that is certainly encouraged, as is delivery, curbside pickup, (encouraging patrons to buy) gift cards, etc.,” she said. 

“But until stay at home orders and congregation limitations are lifted, it will be difficult for non-essential small businesses to sustain themselves during this time.     


Friday, May 15, 2020

COMMERCE IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS -- Part 1

Main Streets, Business Improvement Districts and Downtowns Lead the Way
Hundreds of non-profit organizations have worked for decades to advocate for small businesses, authentic places and vibrant activity in the urban core of America’s cities.

To compete with the national advertising, buying power and borrowing capacity of giant big box stores -- mom and pop retailers, restaurants and more have joined forces.

Now, in a time of record job loss and forced closures of countless beloved small business deemed “non-essential” in the time of COVID, the little guy needs more help than ever. 

The organizations fighting for their survival are called Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), Main Street alliances and Downtown Development Authorities (DDAs). 

They often self-tax to provide funding for extra security, cleanup crews, marketing, entertainment and other support of classic corridors, downtowns and urban business clusters.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

NEFERTITI HOTEL, LUXOR, EGYPT -- PT 9

VIP Service for All – at Amazingly Pocketbook-Friendly Prices
Though I love Cairo, warts and all, I was soon wishing my trip featured 10 days in Luxor at the Nefertiti and 4 in Cairo -- instead of the reverse.

Do not spent well over $100 per night and be located where you'll need a taxi for everything.

Stay in comfort, warmth and VIP service (for even the common man) at Nefertiti.



Wednesday, May 13, 2020

NEFERTITI HOTEL, LUXOR, EGYPT -- PT 8

VIP Service for All – at Amazingly Pocketbook-Friendly Prices
The Nefertiti tour desk is amazing. My West Bank tour was perfect and my guide was super smart.

I'll do a separate review of Aladin Tours, a branch of Nefertiti.

On leaving day, I got a polite early wake up call, so I could be the first one at breakfast. Sated and packed, the driver whisked me away for my first flight out of Luxor back to Cairo.

Again, my wonderful "fixer" was in the car. 

Just as he had during the drive from airport to Nefertiti, he told me about sugar cane fields, churches, markets and ways of life.

I figured he'd hand me my bag and that would be it.

No, he asked for my passport and whisked me through security in a VIP area. He also got me my boarding pass in record time.

https://www.nefertitihotel.com/

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

NEFERTITI HOTEL, LUXOR, EGYPT -- PT 7

VIP Service for All – at Amazingly Pocketbook-Friendly Prices
The Nefertiti room is plenty big and the housekeeper for the floor checked in on me often and offered anything I could have needed.

The shower had plenty of hot water (not always a given in Africa) and it regenerated quickly, if you wanted more warm water on your joints made sore from walking.

The bed was very comfy.

A driver took me to the Karnak Temple (also on the east bank, barely 3 KM from the Nefertiti), dropped me at the gate and was waiting for me when I returned.

He even obliged me when I changed plans and did not return to the hotel, but instead was deposited near a row of felucca boats.

I hired one for a pleasant sunset sail on the Nile -- which is much more clean and tranquil in Luxor than Cairo.

https://www.nefertitihotel.com/

Monday, May 11, 2020

NEFERTITI HOTEL, LUXOR, EGYPT -- PT 6

VIP Service for All – at Amazingly Pocketbook-Friendly Prices
On Nefertiti's top floor, an amazing covered terrace awaits. 

That's where self-serve, buffet breakfast is served.

I found tea and coffee to be first class quality, as were the dozens of different pastries.

Servers were great, one even sprinted to me when I groggily forgot my book bag, with expensive camera, at my table.

The view is amazing and night time dinners have an array of authentic chicken and other dishes, as well as a pretty good rendition of good old pizza, for those homesick for America's favorite ethnic cuisine.


The owner of the hotel visited me at my table the first night. 

He's a gentle, thoughtful man that comes from generations of great hosts. 

He has the perfect makeup to be an excellent hospitality operator.

https://www.nefertitihotel.com/

Sunday, May 10, 2020

AMERICA'S GO-TO JOURNALIST FOR COVERING PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

PULTIZER-NOMINATED, AWARD-WINNING EXPERTISE IN UNIVERSAL DESIGN AND INCLUSIVE MOBILITY IN THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT


Two of my editors, one at America’s most-prestigious planning magazine, another at the nation’s leading smart growth publication, humbled me recently.

Both were reaching out days after I got back to the U.S. after an urban design project in Cairo almost stranded me in Egypt (first due to record flooding, then greatly-reduced flights due to the pandemic) to see if I could write comprehensive stories in little turnaround time.

Each basically said I was not just their go-to journalist, but I was arguably America’s go-to reporter on issues of Urban Design, Town Planning, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Mobility Engineering and related disciplines that impact people with disabilities.

I was gratified that a 40-year career in storytelling (yes, I earned my first hefty paycheck as a reporter before I was even old enough to drive with a learner’s permit) was appreciated.

I am humbled that my writing voice has been able to push for a more-inclusive public and private realm.

There are dozens, hundreds of top-flight reporters, columnists and editors who have mobility, visual or mobility disabilities.

I simply understand wheelchair access and barrier-removal because I have been my soulmate’s caregiver for a third of a century.

I vow, for as long as I live, to continue to share best practices in human-scaled urban design.



Saturday, May 9, 2020

NEFERTITI HOTEL, LUXOR, EGYPT -- PT 5

VIP Service for All – at Amazingly Pocketbook-Friendly Prices
How many times have you booked a hotel that claims to have one of the best restaurants in town - and sadly on the first day found out the restaurant is overpriced, poorly served and barely a rival for microwave dinners?

Well, Nefertiti's Al Sahaby Lane Restaurant truly is one of the most-authentic and best places to eat in Luxor.

I will review it separately but suffice to say, I enjoyed the hummus, tahini, pita bread, lentil soap and feteer (sort of like pizza) at the street-level part of the restaurant -- 

where you can experience the vibrancy of Luxor and drink in its smells, sounds and sights.

https://www.nefertitihotel.com/

Friday, May 8, 2020

NEFERTITI HOTEL, LUXOR, EGYPT -- PT 4

VIP Service for All – at Amazingly Pocketbook-Friendly Prices
About the only negatives I can think of is the hotel does not have an elevator (so it is not suitable for people with disabilities who use wheelchairs) and it is a bit noisy till a point past midnight.

Most all of urban Egypt is noisy. Drivers honk horns and music blares from shops.

The Nefertiti offers ear plugs for those disturbed by the "exciting" and vibrant location.
I'm a light sleeper and really didn't have an issue any of the three nights.

https://www.nefertitihotel.com/

Thursday, May 7, 2020

NEFERTITI HOTEL, LUXOR, EGYPT -- PT 3

VIP Service for All – at Amazingly Pocketbook-Friendly Prices
When I booked online, I paid for an expensive car service for transport from and back to the airport.

I also learned that I had to waste my precious time emailing and calling the day before to confirm pick up and drop off.

I sent a simple email to Nefertiti and they agreed to pick me up at the airport for a nominal charge (I think I only ended up paying a tip to the driver) so thinks were cheaper and simpler.

Plus, the driver had a "fixer" with him.

A warm, wonderful, English-speaking man who gave me his WhatsApp number and checked on me throughout the trip (in a gentle, helpful -- certainly not upselling way).

He told me about the hotel, the famous monuments and more.

https://www.nefertitihotel.com/

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

NEFERTITI HOTEL, LUXOR, EGYPT -- PT 2

VIP Service for All – at Amazingly Pocketbook-Friendly Prices
Walking to the Temple -- you really should see it at sunrise and after dark when it is lit for added drama -- was a breeze.

I could walk through the covered souk (admittedly, more than half of it is tourist/souvenir-driven) in about 5 minute's time and be at the gate to world-famous Luxor Temple.

I could also walk past storefronts, some boasting amazing book stores and shops and pick up the corniche River Nile Walkway, from the Nefertiti.

https://www.nefertitihotel.com/

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

NEFERTITI HOTEL, LUXOR, EGYPT -- PT 1

VIP Service for All – at Amazingly Pocketbook-Friendly Prices
This was my first trip to Egypt and Luxor came up as an 11th hour add-on to a business trip to Cairo.

Boy am I glad I saw Luxor (4 days, 3 nights) and wow am I glad I booked with Nefertiti.

All of the 4.5 to 5 out of 5 star guest ratings are accurate.

Lots of hotels say they are in the heart of things. Nefertiti really is.

I arrived just about dusk and after getting my small bag to my convenient and super clean room, I scrambled up two more flights of stairs to the rooftop restaurant.

I looked out and there was the Luxor Temple, Avenue of Sphinxes and Nile -- so close I could take beautiful pictures of them from the dining table atop the Nefertiti.

https://www.nefertitihotel.com/



Monday, May 4, 2020

TRYING TO MAKE SENSE OF THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE KENT STATE SHOOTINGS

BUT AS MAY 4 HAS ARRIVED, I CANNOT
I have wanted to be a writer since as young as I can remember.
I wasn’t motivated by the news of May 4th at Kent (as I was only 5.5 at the time), but Kent is where I went to journalism school.

My parents, who were endlessly irked when anything suggested the innocent shot and killed “didn’t get what was coming to them,” were not thrilled when I announced to them as my freshman year of high school was wrapping up in May 1980 that I wanted to go to Kent.

I guess they had largely given up resisting when I went off to Kent in fall 1983. To me, the shootings were long ago – but looking back, they we’re really.

Back then, the J-School was in Taylor Hall. The college newspaper was headquartered where the May 4 Visitors Center now reflects on events with dignity. 

My wife-to-be’s dorm window looked out on the Prentice Hall parking lot where vigils were held for the four dead.

I couldn’t help but confront what it meant when a right-wing governor decided a military operation was needed to crush the very dissent protected in the Constitution supposedly beloved by “God and Country” people like him.

I remember a ton of my colleagues at the Daily Kent Stater – many now superstars in the field of journalism and related pursuits – vowing to move out of the state if evil Jim Rhodes ever became governor again.

I also remember dozens of us talking about coming back for the 25th and certainly the 50th anniversary of the events (as the 15th that we witnessed was important, but not exactly a huge milestone.)

I recall Kent’s administration struggling to deal with a proper memorial. 

A contest to design one was fumbled, declawed and screwed up just about every way timid leaders -- at a learning institution afraid to learn from its own past history – could think of.

I openly wept when I returned not that long ago, to find that the old Stater office was now the appropriate, comprehensive and dignified visitor’s center that the Kent State community had been yearning for, for more than four decades.

My wife had the same reaction when we returned to our native NE Ohio a few years later so she could see the displays.

I certainly was no campus radical. Not even close. I waned a job, at a large newspaper. My course load, night job and daytime work for the Stater dominated such ambitions.

But I’ve always been a progressive. 

Rooting for the little guy and railing against the privileged one percent (before we labeled it as such).

I always hoped May 4th would inspire compassion, decency, fair play and above all, a lifelong commitment to non-violent approaches/solutions to even our most visceral and explosive problems.

But as I write this – empathy, kindness and the very notion that we live under a democracy are under siege by a mad king president who acts much more like a dictator than a statesman proud to be serving the same office as Lincoln and Roosevelt.

That evil being’s cabinet is hell-bent on destroying education for all, access to healthcare and any semblance of a safety net for those who need it the most.

When I wonder how this POTUS would have reacted to Kent State, I only have to think of Charlottesville. 

A vicious and violent Ohioan, doubtlessly emboldened by a white supremacist president, took the life of an innocent.

The great #45’s weak effort to unify the nation he takes joy in dividing – praising neo-Nazis and worse.

I want to be hopeful. I want to think that, even though Coronavirus has turned on-campus observances (star-studded and other) into online activities, people can learn from Kent State.

I want to think that bullying, might and power are not the end game…to commerce, the body politic or a life lived well.

But with a GOP owned by the gun lobby and the supposed leader of the free world goading people to take the law into their own hands while defying pandemic measures designed to save precious lives, I am struggling.

https://www.kent.edu/may4kentstate50