Changing Gears is a public media project about the future of the industrial Midwest. Each week, reporters Dan Bobkoff in Cleveland, Niala Boodhoo in Chicago and Kate Davidson in Ann Arbor cover issues of interest to the Great Lakes region. Changing Gears also sponsors public events and conversations.
Yen Azzaro tried to learn her mother’s native Mandarin Chinese in college, but never mastered it. “I never learned how to read or write Chinese. Sometimes I feel inadequate or guilty about this,” said Azzaro. “But most of the time I just feel relieved that I understand some Chinese. Many people my age worked so hard to assimilate; they lost all knowledge of their native tongue,” she said.
Those who hold on to traditions often have a way of adapting and updating them to reflect new cultural experiences.
One way to track those changes and adaptations is through the way people cook and share food. We heard from a Sicilian family that once made 700 cannolis and another that (enthusiastically) honors their Sicilian roots by making hundreds of sausages.
Our culture project incorporated many stories from people who keep up a family food tradition and put their own spin on it.
Sharlene Innes writes: “The most important Polish tradition for my family and for me is Wigilia, the Christmas Eve celebration. We come together to share a meal which now includes items like a large nacho prepared by my Mexican-American brother-in-law.”
Today, the President tried to soothe some ruffled feathers. His decision to shift the summit wasn’t a slap at Chicago’s preparations, he told an afternoon news conference. Rather, he’s never had world leaders come to Camp David, and wanted the opportunity to talk in a relaxed setting.
“We’re still going to be showing up with a whole bunch of world leaders,” Obama said, referring to the NATO summit that will still be held there. “I always have confidence in Chicago ability to handle security, whether it’s Taste of Chicago or Lapalooza or most championships.”
There’s no question that Toledo Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur is a champion of the auto industry, as befits a veteran Democrat with a big Jeep plant in her backyard — the one that President Obama visited last year.
And people far outside Ohio know Dennis Kucinich for the presidential campaign that made him a character on Saturday Night Live, as well as his tenure as the “boy mayor” of Cleveland.
The goal of Changing Gears is to talk about the transformation of our economy in the Midwest, and to prepare ourselves for a brighter future. The time scale we’re usually talking about is in range of decades, maybe a century or two.
But, this morning, we found ourselves thinking about what life could be like in the Midwest 100,000 years from now. The inspiration came from the animation created above by New Scientist.
We’re not scientists around here, but it seems there are some good reasons to be bullish about how the Midwest could fare over the long, long term. We’ve got all this water around us. We do pretty well at growing our own food. And, even though our manufacturing economy has taken a beating in the last few decades, our culture of making things has to be worth something in the grander scheme.
Just for a moment, forget what the next 10 years will look like in the Midwest. Forget about what will happen in your lifetime. Tell us what you think the Midwest will look like a thousand years from now. Then 10,000 years. Then 100,000.
Then, think about what things we can do now to make a difference.
In more than 100 years of manufacturing ingenuity in the Midwest, there have been very few limits. From steamships, to motor cars, to solar panels, people in the industrial Midwest can make almost anything.
So, where is my flying car? Seriously. I’ve been waiting for, like, ever.
Flying cars have been a fantasy for almost as long as there have been cars. Henry Ford reportedly tinkered on a plan. The first car to get regulatory approval for both air and land in the U.S. was in 1956.
Now, here comes news of the Terrafugia Transition, which will have its public debut at the New York Auto Show next month.