Muscadine Festival
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An Ozark E-Zine

By Carol Corning, Executive Director of Main Street Clinton
Sponsored by the Main Street Clinton program, the recent Muscadine Harvest Festival was deemed a success, especially for the festival winners.

Cameron Beem (Clinton) and Shawna Weiss (Shirley) -- pictured above -- shared a first place victory in the talent contest. These talented young ladies received an instant photo in front of the Theatre Park, $5.00 cash and a t-shirt. Bob Gurnesy (Clinton) was the lucky winner of the $500.00 “Cow Giveaway” drawing.

Food and entertainment were the highlight of this year’s festival. The hog roast was a hit and the muscadine juice donated by Gillam Farms provided much needed refreshment. Attendees were treated to the musical talents of Don Nunley and the Good Timers and Steve Trawick. Other unique muscadine products were available for sale including juice, jam, jelly and syrup from Gillam farms.

Constitutional Purity
No matter what else you may think of them, it must be confessed that there are more than a few folks among us who are so deeply dedicated to safeguarding the freedoms articulated in the Constitution of the U.S.A., that they are willing -- and in fact consider it their civic duty -- to publicly challenge those laws, regulations and procedures which are, as they assert it, fundamentally unconstitutional.

These are men and women who take matters of liberty & justice very seriously and self-determinedly into their own hands.

They are folks who worship at the alter of John Adams and read the collected works of Thomas Jefferson with a patriotic passion akin to that of Paul Revere.

Among them and exemplary of the extraordinary measures they enact -- with the express purpose of calling public attention to what they see as supreme violations of constitutionally guaranteed rights -- is a man named Rick Stanley. And according to his supporters, the stage is set for Stanley's current situation to become infamously and sadly synonymous with Waco and Ruby Ridge.

The thumbnail on this brewing scenario, according to various sources, is that on December 15, 2001, Stanley holstered a loaded pistol within the Denver city limits. As a predictable result of Stanley's purposeful civil disobedience, the Denver police arrested him for violating a city ordinance.

"Peaceably, though fraudulently, arrested and charged with a 'crime against the state' (for) peacefully exercising a (constitutionally) protected right in a non-threatening manner which harmed no one," is Stanley's version of what happened, which essentially put is that the police acted unconstitutionally because the local ordinance which claims to revoke a citizen's inalienable right to "keep and bear arms" is in violation of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, thus making the law itself illegal and the issue of Stanley (or anyone else) wearing a sidearm moot.

Stanley alleges that no office or officer of government, in accord of the powers granted to government by the U.S. Constitution, has the authority to classify any such benign conduct, whether involving a firearm or not, as "illegal" and that therefore the law enforcement officials, from Stanley's constitutional purity point of view, become the criminals by and through the enforcement of what Stanley challenges as unconstitutional rules.

In a nutshell, Stanley and others like him are challenging their fellow citizens to wake up and smell the constitutional coffee by "disobediently" pointing out that the U.S. Constitution does NOT grant rights to the people, but that in fact it promulgates a very narrow and closely defined set of rules which govern the conduct of government, specifically limiting the scope of things that government may do and reserving ALL rights and powers of authority to the jurisprudence of "we the people" (you and me) regular, average, common folks.

Yet Stanley and his like-minded cohorts assert that the average U.S. citizen today has become ignorant of such facts and that regulatory measures, such as the Patriot Act, are vanquishing huge chunks of everyone's "Creator endowed" freedoms while "we the people" are not only standing idly by, immersed in a blind haze of constitutional ignorance, but by and through our apathy we are actually enabling a self-destructive tide of lemmings to shred the "self-evident truths" articulated by the founders of our nation. Speaking of which...

Today, as I write, is Columbus Day. Revered in some circles as the theoretical inception of The Great American Dream, the holiday has, in recent years, been rejected by various groups of people who view it as a celebration of genocide and conquest. In its place, Indigenous Peoples Day is celebrated.

As with constitutional conundrums, however, noteworthy folks of academic letters allege that such new canons deliver "everything but the one educationally justifiable thing," which could be generally defined as the "serious study" of complex issues by average citizens.

"Our country began unofficially on April 19th, 1775, when townspeople armed with rifles repelled members of the British Army who had been ordered to confiscate colonial weapons at Lexington and Concord," an email newsletter directed to the 700+ members of the "Second American Revolution Militia" reports.

"Rick (Stanley) has an unalienable right to 'keep and bear arms' that is protected by both the Second Amendment and the Colorado constitution," asserts Libertarian Presidential Candidate Michael Badnarik, point being that no matter our individual opinion about whether or not it is "okay" to "keep and bear arms," it is our guaranteed liberty to do so and that -- unless the Constitution itself is re-written -- the government has no power or authority to prohibit a peace-abiding citizen from the committal of such an act.

"What I am really asking you to do," Badnarik requests in a letter to Colorado Governor Bill Owens, "is to honor your oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution.  I am asking you to recognize Mr. Stanley's unalienable RIGHTS."

Equally along these lines, but taking a far less adversarial approach, have you heard about the Free State Project? Well the thumbnail here is that this Internet networking and civic activism project, which was founded only 2 years ago by Jason Sorens, a Yale graduate student in Political Science, now has roughly 5000 "committed" members and plans to congregate "20,000 or more liberty-oriented people to a single state of the U.S." where they will work collaboratively within the political system "to reduce the size and scope of government" with the intention to "reduce and eliminate burdensome taxation and regulation by reforming state and local law, putting an end to federal mandates, and restoring the tenets of constitutional federalism."

Their stated intention is to "demonstrate the benefits of liberty to the rest of the nation and the world" by enabling "a society in which the sole role of civil government is the protection of individuals' rights."

And to this bottom-line thought, I heartily, reverently and emphatically say YES.

I've been harping for more than a couple of months about the importance of "being" the solution, ie: making changes in the day-to-day way we do things in the interest of enabling the world we choose.

And before I go any further with what I've got to say today, I'll ask again a question that's been on my mind a lot lately. That is: Can we imagine everyone in the whole world actually "thriving" all at once...??? Do we believe this is a realistically achievable reality...??? And do we have the "right" to be willing to settle for anything less...

With thoughts like this as a continual backdrop to everything else, I began to think about what this "thriving" stuff is all about. That is, what does "thriving" look like to the naked eye? Who is doing what, and how is everything going when we "feel" like we are thriving? Like I said, what is thriving all about?

For our family, it really looks a lot like what we are doing right now... at this very moment, with most of our energy and time going to tending our routine. Homemaking, homeschooling and earning-a-living gobbles up oodles of our day-to-day, which is randomly interspersed with an odd assortment of little projects that we weave in, in the hopes of enriching our cranny of these Ozark Mountain woods.

For example, Adam (our eldest at home, soon to be 17, pictured at right on the bow of the pontoon with his sister, Shawna, age 10, standing on the shore) has been apprenticing with a construction crew, de-constructing 4 (huge) commercial marina docks. He is learning a tremendous amount about the importance of innovation, logical thinking and reliability, plus he's acquiring a fundamental set of marketable skills.

As a bonus, we had the chance to get quite a few large Styrofoam float blocks... so we are experimenting with building an oversized cold frame with them, to see how successfully we may overwinter a couple of tomato plants.

Now this may not make it on your scale of "thriving," but it is a highly industrious undertaking for us considering that we are not all that agrarian. That is, while we have a fairly well-versed comprehension of fundamental agricultural principles (and I grew up watching my grandfather cultivate an annual and outstanding vegetable garden which -- thanks to my grandmother's preserving skills -- fed our family of five for an entire year), producing a significant edible harvest from this abundant academic understanding has been, for us, a challenging task...

Especially, I believe, since we have all (not just me and mine, but all of us civilized civilians) become so unbelievably spoiled, lazy and ignorant... too well insulated from the reality my grandparents knew of the life/death necessity to produce food.

But still, it is that very layer of insulation -- blanketing us with a confident sense of security like a snuggly-warm comforter -- that has enabled us to indulge the luxury of "qualitative contemplation" which is enabled exclusively by the accommodating convenience of the neighborhood Wal-Mart. Anyway...

We've constructed a stocky rectangle (photos at right and below) around a couple of tomato plants that we managed to keep alive all summer... which is not at all an accomplishment, really, considering that growing conditions were prime this year and our harvest was diminutive... but still, the plants live and have given us fruit, so we're going to see how long we can keep the harvest flowing beyond the first hard frost.

The next step will be to case the top with glass, for which we shall use a couple of old windows that were being disposed of by a friend. But before we lay those into place, we'll be assembling a number of plastic gallon milk jugs, all filled with water, to line the floor inside the cold frame in the hopes of absorbing enough heat in the daytime to keep the air inside from freezing at night.

Of course the fact remains that though we have what seems to be a competent plan, we may be too spoiled and lazy to actually carry it through. The microwave and Orville Redenbacher are so handy. And we have so many more "important" things to do.

Especially our teenagers, who manage to fill every waking moment with their own unique brand of (and craving for) "action..." Seemingly driven by an incessantly itchy need to be in motion, catapulting from moment to moment with an all-consuming spontaneity and zest.

Heck... I get pooped just watching them!!!

Though I do steal moments here and there to continue dabbling with all things Sassafras. In fact, I posted a new "imaginary" photo of our envisioned domehome the other day, at the top of this page. And I've made some substantial modifications to the floor plans posted there, but have not uploaded these new images yet.

Also the other day, I came across this interesting report and was taken by how much the "solution" envisioned by this group seems akin to the Sassafras Commons goals/proposal that a group of us have been working on for some time. Thus I've been thinking about getting in touch with the people who conducted the referenced study, letting them know about this proposal and asking for any ideas they might have about collaboratively developing it. But still, I'm not big on chasing folks to "try to" persuade them to get involved with this, or anything else. I'm definitely a fatalist when it comes to affirming that "when it's meant to be, it comes to me."

Another item on our "thriving" agenda, we have the promise of assistance from a couple of friends to help us relocate our little Sassafras trailer to its permanent site, a short distance from where it is now. To get an idea of what I'm talking about, look on this page and scroll about 2/3 of the way down to the photo which shows a group of us sitting around the front end of our little trailer (showing on the left). As you look beyond the canopy awning (near the middle of the photo), you'll see the trunks of three trees next to the gravel drive in the background. Our plan is to move the trailer from where it is to a little spot we've cleared and prepped, in the shade of those three trees.

And this is important to our continual thriving, because (for a variety of reasons) we must relocate our trailer before we can start constructing our above referenced domehome.

Thus our plan has been to get this done since last summer, but  now it is autumn and it ain't happened yet. But still... I count all of this as us "thriving." Our life, in contrast to so much of what is going on across the face of our beloved planet today, is replete with thriving. And as seemingly insignificant as this version of "thriving" is, I believe that I (and all of us) would sleep much better at night if this humble standard of thriving was unanimously adopted as the bottom-line minimum acceptable "quality of living" condition for all peoples, everywhere, all around the globe.

And of course, I make no assertion that these standards are unilaterally "high" enough... but at the same time, it sure would be a good start....

Wishing all of us a life worth living, filled with all those things we prefer, desire, wholeheartedly celebrate and richly deserve to enjoy.

Christine Weiss

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2003 is the 200th Anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase, by which the State of Arkansas ultimately came to fame. Learn more about this important aspect of our shared American heritage: click here.


Photo: Exterior of the Van Buren County Child Care Center building.




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