“It’s important to lighten up the corner where you are.” I think a lot of that is taking place in Gary,” Ken Edwards
I first met Ken Edwards (above) when he was project director on the Gary Centennial Committee. Born in Gary Methodist Hospital, Edwards grew up in the Tarrytown and Tolleston neighborhoods and graduated from Purdue Calumet. In 1997 he was working for a South Holland software company but still living in Gary when in September of 1997 he had an epiphany while attending his father’s funeral in Midtown. His father had opened a hand car wash on Eleventh Avenue and, in his words, “hired guys who were hanging around on street corners. An enormous crowd came. So many people talked about how my dad had touched their lives. It was so poignant it inspired me to devote more time to my community.” As I wrote in “Gary’s First Hundred Years:
“Edwards quit his high-status job and became an independent entrepreneur. He got involved with God’s Grace Church at 4580 Broadway not only as a singer but eventually as an assistant pastor. He made a conscious effort to make his expertise known locally, and eventually his diligence paid off. He did a needs assessment, for example, for the Gary Housing Authority. Living in Miller, he helped establish the Charter School of the Dunes. Involved in after-school tutoring with Gary Art Works, an organization that shared quarters with the Charter School near the end of Lake Street, he branched off into setting up supplemental educational services with students struggling with the ISTEP.”
I am so excited. James Wallace and the Office of Diversity, in conjunction with the Black Film Festival, has arranged for a World Premiere of Frederic Cousseau and Blandine Huk’s documentary “My Name is Gary” on October 17 with a special showing of a trailer on Wednesday, September 24, as well as a skype session with the filmmakers. While the blurb inadvertently left off Blandine’s name, it calls “My Name Is Gary” a “loving and well balanced tribute to the people of Gary.” Frederic and Blandine couldn’t have described it any better.
houses demolished: below, the mayor and the lieutenant governor look on; NWI Times photos by Jonathan Miano
Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann and Mayor Karen Freeman Wilson toured the site of where two vacant houses will be razed, the first of an estimated thousand, thanks to a $6.6 million grant from the Hardest Hit Fund Blight Elimination Program. They were at the site on the 800 block of Virginia Street when the wrecking ball began reducing the first house to rubbl;e.
After food shopping with Toni, I discovered that the L.A. Nails outlet in Chesterton closed down, so I tried Aqua Spa nail salon and loved how they treated me, first soaking my feet in warm water before cutting the toenails, following by cleaning then off with soap and a brush. Total cost: just eight bucks plus tip. Before heading to school I picked up a cold cuts 6-inch Subway for 4 dollars.
above, Ray Smock; below, Senator Robert Byrd
IUN celebrated Constitution Day with speakers, cake, t-shirts, and an America banner to sign. I enjoyed the cake, didn’t sign the banner, and turned down a t-shirt since I got one last year. Ray Smock wrote an essay for the Washington Times entitled “The Power in Senator Byrd’s Shirt Pocket” – West Virginia’s Robert C. Byrd carried a copy of the Constitution in his pocket at all times – and also hosted a Constitution Day program at the Byrd Center for Legislative Studies featuring author Clay Risen, who wrote a book about passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, as well as one on the history of American whiskey. Ray wrote: “In my introduction to Clay Risen I will ask the audience what Whiskey has to do with the Constitution and then answer the question for them. The story of whiskey in America is American history in liquid form. It was central to the economy. And what does in have to do with the Constitution? How about TWO Constitutional Amendments, the 18th and 21st.” I replied: “Near as I can tell, your two favorite holidays are Groundhog Day and Constitution Day. What they seem to have in common are permanence yet uncertainty.” He agreed.
Poet William Buckley stopped by to give me a drawing he did of steel being loaded at Burns Harbor plant of Bethlehem Steel (now ArcelorMittal). Though retired, he is hoping to obtain travel money for a conference in Philadelphia where he will publicize his Sylvia Plath journal. IUN brags about being associated with such prestige publications, so I told him Vice Chancellor Malik should be open to persuasion.