I thought Luke Robson was a little crazy in our initial phone conversation, but I immediately knew I wanted to talk to him more about what he is doing in Hillsdale, Michigan. By the way, he’s not crazy, just countercultural in a good way. Readers must check out his interview in American Habits because it’s really the impetus for the ideas of this issue: the importance of localism and fully investing in and committing to our communities. After all, we flourish in this self-governing experiment when we can govern ourselves and our immediate surroundings.
Our other interview is with North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell. His leadership is a great contrast to the disaster of centralized power and our national spending crisis. Folwell brings a no-nonsense approach to the “Keeper of the Public Purse” title that was made notable in NC by the late State Treasurer Harlan Boyles. The work Folwell has done to reduce state debt and shore up the state pension and healthcare system is a superb example of effective state and local leadership. Folwell’s record makes him widely respected on many sides of the political spectrum here in North Carolina. I don’t routinely compliment politicians but one truth I can say about Folwell is that he eschews the dividing of voters’ shenanigans we’ve become bombarded with in today’s public square. He just produces results.
Related to the Robson interview is an excellent piece on the architect of thinking locally — Wendell Berry. This contribution comes from Kahryn Riley and Bruce Walker. The title is “Neighbor with each other and get along: localism in the literature of Wendell Berry.” The first part is great life advice but also the solution to much of our national division lies in a greater commitment to local cooperation and engagement. As this piece points out, some of Berry’s lessons are invaluable beyond that because they directly address our loneliness crisis, too.
I’ve been a Ray Charles fan even before the release of the 2004 biopic film of the iconic musician. I’m delighted we have a “Brother Ray” essay by my fellow North Carolinian Patrick O’Hannigan. Charles is well-known for his brilliant arrangement of “America the Beautiful,” but his music is heavily influenced by the local. “Charles understood that cultural appropriation always pays homage to localism,” writes O’Hannigan. Charles took a cacophony of regional and local sounds and helped make them mainstream. There is something deeply sentimental about “Brother Ray” singing “American the Beautiful,” not only because of its beauty, but as O’Hannigan points out, it was a time when America was more united. May it be so again.
Frank DeVito and Winston Brady offer up their thoughts on the importance of understanding one’s family history and what it means for human flourishing. There is a lot of truth to George Santayana’s quip that “a country without a memory is a country of madmen.”
On the policy front, Luke Wake of Pacific Legal Foundation tells us about some of the consequences for a state when elected officials outsource their governing authority to unelected regulators in another state. Spoiler: it doesn’t go well, and I’m glad PLF is around to make us aware of disconcerting stories like this one.
“The education revolution is rolling,” according to Josh Herring and Paul Weinhold. They share how more formal instruction for classical leaders is needed in today’s educational choice environment. Classical education is also helping to build stronger tight-knit communities and demand for it is surging.
Finally, our local hero is Mackenzie Edinger who owns Inclusion Coffee in Hartland, Wisconsin. She’s an entrepreneur who has created jobs for special needs workers that have a deep desire to serve and bring joy to their customers. It’s a perfect story for American Habits and she’s the epitome of a real local hero for what she and her staff have accomplished in their community and as an example for so many outside of it.