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As Ohio Goes: Life in the Post-Recession Nation

On Tuesday, May 31st, we went to the Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern where we were treated to a conversation IMG_1658between Ms. Amy Hanauer, Founder and Executive Director of Policy Matters Ohio, and Ms. Rana B. Khoury, a promising young author, about Ms. Khoury's newly published book, "As Ohio Goes; Life in the Post-RecessionNation" which is a collection of stories about individuals and their families living in present-day Ohio and often struggling to make ends meet.

Ms. Khoury is the daughter of Dr. Wael Khoury, M.D., who we know from his leadership role in the Cleveland Council of World Affairs. She is now pursuing her doctorate in political science from Northwestern University having already obtained her M.A. from Georgetown University and her B.A. from American University. She told us that sometimes she relied on people that she knew to connect her to potential interviewees but she really liked traveling to different parts of Ohio to attend fairs and festivals where she met and talked to people.

Ms. Hanauer had just read the book and said that Ms. Khoury was "a native daughter of Ohio" who brought her "amazing" analytical skills as well as those of an interviewer back home with her to produce this important work which features stories about Amish farmers, furniture makers, displaced workers and people who have allowed energy exploration to take place on their properties out of economic necessity.IMG_1659

Ms. Khoury first read from her book the story of a single mother named Rhonda who went into heavily into debt to obtain degrees from both Ursuline and Notre Dame Colleges. She and her son managed to just get by with the help of food stamps. It was/is Rhonda's dream to have a career instead of a job. She eventually obtained a good position with the Cleveland Heights School District but still faces an uncertain future due to possible layoffs.

Ms. Hanauer and Ms. Khoury spent a lot of time discussing the growing disparity of wealth in the United States as well as other disturbing economic trends. We were very impressed by their knowledge of relevant statistics.

Based on what we heard that evening, "As Ohio Goes..." sounds like a very absorbing read and we believe that Ms. Wong would like it so we purchased a copy for her but it is a safe bet that we, ourselves, will comb through it too.

We asked Ms. Khoury if she interviewed people who had immigrated to the United States from other countries. Ms. Khoury reminded us that she is, herself, the child of immigrants. Accordingly, one of her subjects was a person whose family had immigrated to the United States from Lebanon. She said that it had been her experience that immigrants and their children feel "privileged to IMG_1665be here" and are determined to work hard and take advantage of this country's opportunities which many native-born people take for granted. She went on to say that people of color are also very open to possibilities and tend to have a positive outlook about the future. In addition, she was very impressed by single mothers such as Rhonda for their "resilience" and their willingness to work as hard as they had to in order to hold their families together.

As for the title of the book which brings to mind the fact that rarely has anyone been elected President of the United States without carrying Ohio, Ms. Khoury said that it bothered her that the media tends to focus on the political competition instead of what is really going on with the people of Ohio and what factors really determine their priorities.

IMG_1666Many people turned out for this program including activists, old friends, and well-wishers. Mr. Alex Machaskee and his wife, Carol, were in the audience and Mr. Machaskee asked a pertinent question about there being a number of jobs available but few people have the skills to fill them.

We talked for a moment to Ms. Mary Ann Greiner whose husband, Mr. Richard L. Greiner, Jr. is on the board of the Cleveland Council on World Affairs. Ms. Greiner told us that our Mr. Scott Bratton once spoke about immigration at the Intown Club (which she is involved with) and did a very fine job.

We left with our/Ms. Wong's copy of the book and the hope that we get to hear more from Ms. Khoury in the not-too-distant future. Even though Ms. Khoury had some misgivings about our economic system (as almost everyone we know does regardless of their political stripe) she, herself, was far from being negative. Instead, we found her to very energetic and very can-do.

Indeed, Ms. Khoury said that she believed that all of the people that she wrote about were wonderful and she hopes to follow in the footsteps of writers like the late Studs Terkel due to the great compassion that they show for those who they write about.

By:

Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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