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A work week in rural Illinois with Black Hawk, Joseph Smith and Abe Lincoln by Ann Treacy
March 17, 2023, 4:56 pm
Filed under: Illinois

The band is back together. I’m on the road in rural Illinois with Bill, one of my favorite work-road-trip buddies. It’s always a good mix of productive work chat, small town sight seeing, catching up and good advice. We saw a few highlights.

The tourism portion of our trip began with the Black Hawk Statue in Oregon IL. It’s quite impressive at 50 feet and is a memorial to Chief Black Hawk, Sauk leader in what is known as the Black Hawk war 1832. We also did drive-bys for the birthplace of John Deere and childhood home of Ronald Regan.

For work, I got to tour a hog farm with 60,000 hogs as well as soybean fields and processing facilities. (Thankfully, we couldn’t see the hogs because of bio-security issues. Whew!) I’ve toured hog farms before. What’s amazing is that success is made in pennies per pound. So every penny you can save in the nurturing, butchering or process of making the bacon helps and precision ag makes a big difference. Also I got to sit on big tractor. Woo!

Because we were in Carthage, we visited death place of Joseph Smith, founder of Latter Day Saints. We went to the jail where he was shot and we met by tour guides who may or may not have been dressed in period piece attire. They are clearly devotees; super informative but also a little unsettling. Here’s the abridged story (thanks to Wikipedia)…

Carthage Jail is best known as the location of the 1844 killing of Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, and his brother Hyrum, by a mob of approximately 150 men.

We spent time in the jail. Creepy! And saw the door through which Joseph was shot and the window through which he thrust himself to save the followers who were with him (in front of the mob) in the small room. Word is, the Smiths knew they were going to die in Carthage but were peaceful that day anticipating the murder.

Our biggest stop was the Abraham Lincoln Museum in Springfield. It is worth av visit! The multimedia makes it feel interactive. The segment on the emancipation was particularly interesting. Even on his own team, some think he goes too far, and some think he doesn’t go far enough. There’s a hallway set up that reminds me of walking the MN Capitol when contentious topics are being discussed. No one listens; everyone shouts. It emphasizes the need to vote for people you think you will actually do the right thing when the time comes.

A striking exhibit is a bronze cast or Lincoln’s face as he started he’s presidency and five years into it. The aging is palpable. Then there are “rooms” that focus on segments of Lincoln’s life that help us see how that fast aging happened. Lincoln not only led the nation during an extremely tumultuous time but he had a lot of person tragedy happening at the same time. Hearing about his plans to focus on the positive on the day of his assassination is heartbreaking.

Treacy ladies helping to make the ERA happen in Minnesota by Ann Treacy
March 3, 2023, 10:36 pm
Filed under: St Paul

It’s true! The Treacy ladies are making the ERA happen in Minnesota – although clearly we’re not doing it alone. But, for the family blog … Aine and I testified at a MN House Committee on a bill to get the Equal Rights Amendment on the ballot in 2024. So that voters can chime in on whether ERA should be added to the Minnesota constitution. It’s nervous work but we did it and the bill passed out of Committee to get one step closer to a vote on the House Floor. Today my mom and I testified to the companion bill in the Senate. The hope was to have me, Aine and my mom testify together but the agenda moved slowly and items were moved around so that eventually she had to go to work. But she gets a nice nod from Senator Latz for being there. And in the end mom and I were persuasive enough to make it happen.

You can see the full videos for the Senate and House committee meetings online or see our aspirational written testimony; we may or may not have stuck to script.

Again, we weren’t working alone – ERA Minnesota is a powerful group that has worked tirelessly for years – founded by former Representative Betty Folliard and led by Suzann Wilhite. And they aren’t working alone either – there’s a great group of folks  – a sea of green you see all over town.

It is nervous work. Often there’s a push to hurry up. You know people are watching and the cameras are on. And by the nature of the topic, most of us have been taught to not believe in ourselves as much as we should. And that’s part of what makes the growing success taste sweeter. Big thanks to the legislators who are moving us forward but introducing bills and getting them heard – Rep Her, Rep Bahner, Sen Pappas and Sen Kunesh. It’s exciting to be so close – a mere 100 years after it was first raised!

One quick observation … civic engagement is hard because for most of us it means taking a day off work, maybe getting a babysitter, getting to St Paul – never mind you have to know who to contact, how and when. Lobbying is easier – you get paid, you’ve probably gone to school to learn what to do and you build relationships with the legislators so less scary and you have time to chat between meetings in case there’s something you’ve forgotten to say in testimony. Technology has helped because you can at least watch meetings remotely but it feels like sometimes the barriers to civic engagement give policymakers a skewed view of what “most people” think – because “most people” they see are lobbyists or people who can afford to take time out to speak up.

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