Inspired by a little-known picture book from the pen of Bethany Tudor, this is a diary, of sorts, where I document some of my thoughts, activities, and ideas as I explore the challenges met by the characters in the story: hard work, the care and nurture of others, housekeeping skills, life changes, charity, community, and cooperation, among others. Like Samuel and Samantha, the ducks in the tale, I struggle and succeed, cope and celebrate, work and play, handling the tasks that come my way. I invite you to join me on my journey.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Up & the Down in My Hometown

Kudos to the Martin County Historical Society for publishing Chain of Lakes Country: An Illustrated History of Martin County. As part of the local sesquicentennial celebration (or 150-year anniversary), this local group organized a book committee and asked one of my retired English teachers to pen the text. The hardcover volume interweaves moments and characters from my childhood home, Martin County, Minnesota, with the history of the state and the nation. Since Katherine the Great is such a history/genealogy fan and appreciates historical preservation efforts, I am sure she will enjoy reading a copy. Available in August for only $37.22, I plan to order mine soon.

As if to maintain some sort of cosmic balance (or to counteract the awesome act of preserving local history that I mentioned above), the Fairmont City Council approved a local ordinance allowing businesses to sell wine, liquor, and strong beer on Sunday mornings beginning at 10:00 AM. So, the next time I go home for a visit, I will be able to skip church and have a drink instead. Thank you, community leaders and role models for giving families one more competitor in the marketplace for church attendance!

Truth be told, the local board did nothing more than follow the lead of the Minnesota State Legislature (the real culprit in this situation) who passed a statute permitting alcohol to be sold in the early morning hours of the Sabbath. Still, when the city voters passed a referendum about liquor sales on Sunday, the time they approved was 12:00 noon. Why didn’t the City Council honor the “voice of the people” and leave the time alone?

Perhaps these community leaders (and possibly the Minnesota state legislators) need to read the 243-page, March 2007 report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) entitled Wasting the Best and the Brightest: Substance Abuse at America’s Colleges and Universities (to download a pdf copy, click here). Here is just a sampling of statistics from the introduction alone, along with some quotes from CASA Chairman and President, Joseph A. Califano, Jr.:
This report…reveals an alarming public health crisis on college campuses across the nation. Since CASA’s Commission on Substance Abuse at Colleges and Universities first examined substance use and abuse among college students in 1993 and 1994, the situation on America’s campuses has deteriorated. Accepting as inevitable this culture of alcohol and other drug abuse threatens not only the present well being of millions of college students, but also the future capacity of our nation to maintain its leadership in a fiercely competitive global economy.

- Each month, half (49.4 percent) of all full-time college students ages 18-22 binge drink, abuse prescription drugs and/or abuse illegal drugs.

- From 1993 to 2005, there has been no significant decline in the proportion of students who drink (70 to 68 percent) and binge drink (40 to 40 percent). Even more troubling, rates of excessive drinking have jumped. From 1993 to 2001 the proportion of students who:

• binge drink frequently (three or more times in the past two weeks) is up 16 percent.
• drink on 10 or more occasions in the past month is up 25 percent.
• get drunk three or more times in the past month is up 26 percent.
• drink to get drunk is up 21 percent.
Further on in the introduction of the report is this statement:
It is time to take the “high” out of higher education. … But school administrators cannot do it alone. This growing public health crisis reflects today’s society where students are socialized to consider substance abuse a harmless rite of passage and to medicate every ill. To change this culture, college and university presidents will need help…
Thank you, Fairmont City Council for NOT assisting in this effort.

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