HAVE ANY OLD TRACTORS YOU’RE NOT USING?

I haven’t read READER’S DIGEST in decades, but they used to have (and perhaps still do have) a feature called “My Most Unforgettable Person”. Well, based on 73-plus years of living, and knowing literally, thousands of people, yours truly certainly has a number one candidate for that identity. His name is Eugene (Gene) Chase. He’s co-founder and Executive Director of an organization named Traditions and Hope.

Traditions and Hope is a non-profit (501c3 status) Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with headquarters in Chicago, Illinois, that delivers medical, agricultural and educational supplies, infrastructure, and training to individuals and communities in developing countries who lack these essentials for sustainable development. The primary country of focus…and ongoing action, not just words…is Ghana, with other infrastructure and carbon-neutral activity taking place in The Maldives, in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Because of Gene’s incredible work in Ghana for the past two-plus years, he was instooled as a bona fide Development Chief in one of that country’s regions, similar to our states. (In The Maldives, Gene’s initiative and work is helping elevate that nation’s infrastructure on multiple levels, and to realistically attain the goal of making it the first carbon neutral nation in the world within the next ten years.)

Last week, I had the joy and privilege to accompany Gene and three others involved with the organization’s management team on a five-day media public awareness “blitz” to Des Moines, Omaha, Grand Forks and Fargo. (Included on the “blitz” was Gene’s daughter, Kristi, who’s an RN and Medical Director for the organization, as well as co-founder of the organization. Virginia Fuller, the other co-founder, is also in the medical profession, and based in Cleveland, but was not part of this particular trip.) The media in all cities were wonderful and very kindly “spread the word” that one of Traditions and Hope’s divisions, named Tractors For Peace, was seeking donations of old, used tractors (as well as seeders/planters, all tax-deductible) from farmers. The tractors (and/or other implements aforementioned) would be picked up, with no charge to the farmer, transported to vocational schools that are part of the Tractors For Peace initiative, reworked for parts and/or restoration, then shipped to Ghana to allow small farmers there to farm the land in a “modern” manner. They will be taught how to use the tractors and other implements, thus increasing their ability to grow and sell their produce, improve their standards of living via additional income and overall improve their lives in general.

Thanks to WDAY-TV’s newscast in Fargo, Monday evening, February 21st, which featured an interview by reporter Kevin Wallevand with Gene Chase, explaining the need for tractor donations, reporter Wallevand received a phone call and email from a farmer (and former Lutheran pastor) in Central Minnesota who watched Kevin’s report, and said he’d be happy to donate. Thus, the first tractor is in the works to be picked up from that wonderful farmer. It was a thrill to know the first tractor would be picked up soon, and hopefully start a parade of tractor donations in this area. The Grand Forks Herald also kindly did a story (by Kevin Bonham) this past week about the tractor donations and all the work Traditions and Hope/Tractors For Peace are doing.

Further information can be found at www.traditionsandhope.org and www.tractorsforpeace.org. If you’re a farmer reading this, or someone who is close to farmers, and you have an old tractor that will never be used again here, please know it could mean a world of difference to the farmer who would receive it in far-off Ghana. In addition, if the farmer wishes, he or she will know the name of the farmer and location in Ghana where the equipment was received, and Tractors For peace will also have follow-up stories on television, the newspapers and the web, tracing the progress of the donation, from pick-up to delivery, and usage. With all the bad news today, this is certainly good news, and I’m proud to be a part of it.

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A SENIOR MOMENT WITH BARRY ZeVAN – MLK HOLIDAY

I’M BARRY ZeVAN, AGE 73, HAVING ANOTHER SENIOR MOMENT AND HERE IT IS: THIS WEEK WE CELEBRATE THE BIRTHDAY OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JUNIOR. IT’S A NATIONAL HOLIDAY, AND I THINK DR. KING, HAD HE LIVED TO SEE IT, WOULD BE VERY PLEASED AND HONORED. TO KNOW HIS DREAM TO SEE PEOPLE JUDGED BY THEIR CHARACTER RATHER THAN THE COLOR OF THEIR SKIN MAKING SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS TOWARD FRUITION IN THIS COUNTRY, MOST NOTABLY WITH THE ELECTION OF AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN PRESIDENT, WOULD PROBABLY ALSO PLEASE HIM, AS IT SHOULD. FROM THE TIME I COULD TALK, MY MOTHER INSTILLED IN ME THE REALITY THAT THE ONLY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE RACES WAS SKIN COLOR, AND THAT SHOULD NEVER MATTER IN ANY DECISIONS WE MAKE, INCLUDING AND REGARDING PEOPLE WE CHOOSE AS FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES. SHE EVEN TOLD ME, IN MY PRE-SCHOOL YEARS, THE SUBSTANCE CALLED MELANIN DETERMINED A PERSON’S SKIN PIGMENTATION. WITH THOSE TEACHINGS, I LEARNED THAT ALL SHE TOLD ME ABOUT THE SUBJECT OF PEOPLE’S SKIN COLOR WAS TRUE. HERE’S ONE EXAMPLE: IN THE MID-1960S, A FRIEND AND COLLEAGUE OF MINE IN SEATTLE NAMED BOB GILL WAS THE WORLD’S FIRST BLACK SKI INSTRUCTOR. ON SNOQUALMIE PASS, BOB TAUGHT ME HOW TO SKI, AND ALSO TAUGHT ME HOW TO USE A MOTION PICTURE FILM CAMERA. BOTH THOSE LESSONS AFFORDED ME THE PRIVILEGE TO SKI ALL OVER THE WORLD, HOST 500 HALF-HOUR SKI SCENE PROGRAMS ON KSTP-TV HERE IN THE TWIN CITIES AND EVENTUALLY IN WASHINGTON, D.C. AND DETROIT, AND MAKE AWARD-WINNING TRAVEL FILMS AND DOCUMENTARIES. BOB AND HIS BROTHER, ELMER, WERE ALSO CONTEMPORARIES OF THE GREAT QUINCY JONES, WHO, I’M PROUD TO SAY, BECAME A FRIEND TO ME IN LATER YEARS. I HAVE MANY MORE STORIES THAT EXEMPLIFY THE FACT THAT A PERSON’S SKIN COLOR SHOULD HAVE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH THEIR CHARACTER, HUMANITY OR INTELLIGENCE…AND IT DOESN’T. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DR. KING. WAS I SUPPOSED TO WRITE ALL THAT? YES, I WAS. THANKS FOR READING, THINKING AND SHARING IN THIS SENIOR MOMENT. 

 

 

 

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CARIBBEAN OR KUH-RIBBY-UN?

I’M BARRY ZeVAN, AGE 73, HAVING ANOTHER SENIOR MOMENT AND HERE IT IS: IF THERE’S ANYTHING THAT CAN HELP US EVEN MENTALLY ESCAPE THE CLUTCHES OF THIS UNUSUALLY BRUTAL WINTER HERE, IN MY OPINION, THERE’S ONLY ONE THOUGHT: THE CARIBBEAN.  JUST THOUGHTS OF THOSE ISLANDS AND PORTS OF CALL CAN MELT THE LARGEST SNOW PILES AND WARM THE COLDEST DAYS…MENTALLY, ANYWAY.  IF YOU’VE NEVER BEEN THERE, PUT IT ON YOUR BUCKET LIST. AND IF YOU’RE ONE OF THOSE WHO PRONOUNCES THE NAME OF THAT REGION KUH-RIBBY-UN, THAT’S THE AFFECTED… AND INCORRECT…PRONUNICATION. ON MY FIRST CRUISE, IN 1973, A NORWEGIAN CRUISE CAPTAIN NAMED RAGNAR JOHANSSON, TOLD ME WHY HE WAS HAPPY I PRONOUNCED IT “CARIBBEAN”. NOW I’M HAPPY TO PASS THAT INFORMATION ALONG TO YOU. CAPTAIN JOHANSSON TOLD ME THE REGION HAD BEEN NAMED AFTER THE PEOPLE WHO PREDOMINANTLY POPULATED THE REGION. THEY WERE THE CARIB INDIANS, NOT THE KUH-RIBB INDIANS. EVEN THOUGH ONE CRUISE LINE CALLS PART OF ITS NAME “KUH-RIBBY-UN”, SORRY TO SAY THEY’RE NOT SAYING IT CORRECTLY. EVEN THE DISNEY THEME PARKS CALL MY FAVORITE RIDE, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN. SAME FOR THE JOHNNY DEPP MOVIES OF THE SAME NAME. SO, PLEASE ENJOY THE TRIP, WHENEVER YOU MIGHT HAVE THE PRIVILEGE AND PLEASURE TO GO, BUT PLEASE REMEMBER IT’S THE CARIBBEAN, NOT KUH-RIBBY-UN. IF YOU DON’T REMEMBER, THE WORD POLICE WILL HAUNT YOU!  FOR NOW, THOUGH, I HOPE YOU’LL SHARE IN MY RESUMPTION OF THOSE WARM, COZY CARIBBEAN THOUGHTS TO HELP MAKE THIS WINTER EVEN SLIGHTLY EASIER TO ENDURE! (SMILING) THANKS FOR THINKING AND SHARING IN THIS SENIOR MOMENT. WAS I SUPPOSED TO WRITE ALL THAT? SENIOR MOMENT! OH, JUST KIDDING, JUST KIDDING.

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