Monday, September 26, 2016

Notes From My Knapsack 9-29-16

Notes From My Knapsack 9-29-16

Jeff Gill



An Interesting Few Weeks Ahead!



Yes, there's an election season all around us, and oh my, is Ohio a battleground of appearances and advertising and excitement (including our neighbors in Newark with an on-again/off-again Michael Moore program about the campaign). Historical precedents are being cited, smashed, and put back together again in new ways.


We've gone in fifty-seven years from the first televised debate and the question of whether or not Nixon should have used make-up (short answer: yes, but he still would have lost) to this month as podium height and spray tanning are part of the civic if not civil discourse.


So let's add sex to the volatile mix. Sure, why not? We're looking at the first woman to earn the right to be on the final ballot across the nation for President of these United States, and in Licking County we remember that daughter of Homer, Ohio who first addressed a congressional committee, who first made a plausible run for the presidency (even if she couldn't legally vote for herself, or anyone else), and who is uniquely memorialized in Granville.


There near one of only two memorials erected to honor Victoria Woodhull's memory, inside the Robbins Hunter Museum on Thursday, October 6 at 7:00 pm, I will speak on "The Dilemma of Sex: The Free Love Debate Within Victoria Woodhull's Writings." My talk is free to members of the museum, and only $5 for the general public. As candidates get accused of all sorts of things today, so did Victoria Woodhull in 1872. I may not clear up the current election for anyone, but there may be some elements of the contest today that are echoed in that earlier era's debates.


I don't think history repeats itself, but as many a sage has observed, it does tend to rhyme.


And stepping back into even earlier history, the amazing 2,000 year old Newark Earthworks continue to make progress towards their rightful place on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Sadly, this year the fall open house at the Octagon Earthworks, a 135 acre portion of the once four-and-a-half square mile complex of geometric earthworks in full, will be on a Monday, not on a Sunday afternoon when so many more could visit. On Monday, Oct. 9, from sunrise to sunset, at the corner of 33rd St. and Parkview Road just off of West Main St. in Newark, you may freely roam the octagonal and connected circular enclosures, and we will have guides available for tours at points through the middle of the day.


Monday, Oct. 9 is also a day dwindling in observance, Columbus Day. It didn't become a federal holiday until the 1930s, and was a state observance in a number of places from early in the 1900s, but began to draw attention around the celebrations of the 400th anniversary of Columbus "discovering" the Americas, in 1892 and along with the Chicago "World's Columbian Exposition."


Today, Columbus Day often gets shuffled aside unless you're trying to get your mail or do official business. I think it may be time to repurpose the observance, and call it "Encounter Day." What we realize is important about that event in 1492 was the beginning of an ongoing encounter between the Old World and the New, with tragedy and terror one result, and biological exchange and cultural impacts another. We are still learning (in books like Charles Mann's "1491") about what that encounter has done and is still doing to the world and its peoples: maybe making the second Monday of October a day to reflect constructively on cultural and ecological encounters and how they can be used for mutual benefit.


Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County; tell him about stories you'd like to hear more about at, or follow @Knapsack on Twitter. 

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