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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
September 9, 1994     The Message
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September 9, 1994
 

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 9 -- Taking the time to make a difference-- " We are all people in a neighborhood Our new neighbors recently put up a swing set. There's one on the other side of us, too. Our family used to be the ones putting up swing sets in the neigh- borhood. Our children are grown up now and times have changed. I remember when we built a large wooden structure in the yard of the first house we owned. Our small back yard was between two hedges which marked the property lines to the east and the west. On one side was a single family home; on the other, a duplex apartment, where there were no children. The neighboring family, however, had a small, factory-built swing set -- nothing at all as grand as the home-made set we had. Ours had climbing bars, a rope ladder, a trapeze and various other features. The sturdy wooden posts were set in con- crete and all of the wooden parts were bolted to- gether. Our children enjoyed the challenges it pre- sented -- and it returned a satisfying creak as the children grew older and bigger and wood strained against wood with each change in a swing's direc- tion. I felt a certain amount of sadness when we drove past the old home one day. The new owners have torn down the swing set so they can park an- By PAUL R. LEINGANG EDITOR other car in the back yard. Times have changed there, too. At our new home, we repaired the hole in the lawn where a child's sand box used to be. Times change, and that child -- a toddler then is now an older brother for the new youngster in his family, at a new home. He's more interested in baseball and football, and probably doesn't remember much about the sandy area in the old back yard, near the spot where the oak tree used to stand. Even though our own children are older, we find it comforting to know that the neighborhood will still be filled with swing sets and sand boxes -- and children to use them -- at least for a few more quick years. All too soon, new neighbors become old neigh- bors and children grow up and grow away. Grass will grow over the bare spots and only a few mem- ories and photographs will record what once was. And perhaps the occasional creak of a branch in a tree, swaying in the wind, will recall the sounds of a family's youth. If Jesus were speaking parables today, perhaps he might use this example: The People of God are like the people in a neigh- borhood. Some neighbors have swing sets or sand boxes and some neighbors have children in college. Some have large families, some have none, but they are all our neighbors. * * * You are reading a new column for and about peo- ple who take the time to make a difference in their homes, in their neighborhoods and in their commu- nities. They are parents and children, sisters and brothers, neighbors and friends. Each column will begin with a story from ordi- nary life. Each column will end with an invitation to take a look at your own home or neighborhood, to make a decision about what you see, and then to take some actions to make a difference. How did you play as a child? Today? Do you take the time to recreate? To re-create? How valuable is playing for a child? Take a prayerful look at your home or your neigh- borhood to see what you can do to improve a child's experience of playing. Are some children excluded? What can you do to end that exclusion? Some neighborhoods are frightening places for children to play. What a difference it would make if every neighbor took the time to make the neighbor- hood safer and happier for just one other person. Questions and comments are welcome at the Christian Family Movement, P.O. Box 272, Ames, Iowa 50010. ------ Washington Pork: It's not just for Congress anymore Agribusiness will make con- tracts with farmers to tend to the sows, paying a piecework, per-pound price for his effort. While some farmers like the idea of less risk through con- tract farming, the farmer still has to use his own money to put up the buildings -- at up to $1 million each -- to house the sows. That means mortgaging the farm. Should the agribusiness firm and the farmer have a dispute, the contract can simply not be renewed. The farmer winds up with a big, empty building. In short, no contract, no farm. Who'll buy that land? More and more, it's agribusiness, ac- cording,to Gene Johnston, managing editor of Successful Farming magazine, based in Iowa. The magazine's October issue will feature the 30 largest hog farms in the United States, he said. The second largest, he added, has 100,000 sows; five years ago, it had none. Without a farm, where will a farmer find work? The hog "factories," as Johnston calls them, use new management techniques and efficiencies of scale to require no more than half the labor a family farm would use for the same num- ber of pigs. A colleague of University of Missouri sociologist Bill Hef- fernan recently put it this way: "Are we going to have a serf- lord relationship?" Heffernan studied the trends in chicken farming in Louisiana between 1967 and 1981. Today, 96 percent of U.S. chickens are raised on con- tract, he said. The farming community barely noticed the change until too late. Why? "Poultry -- I hate to say it -- chickens were women's work," Heffernan said. "I came from a farm fam- ily, and I can remember selling eggs out front to buy food for the table. "But the hogs in the Mid- west were always considered to be the mortgage-lifter," he added. This trends in hog farming, he said, can be seen as a threat to the Midwest farm ethic in which the farmer -- the man  provides for his family. Because it strikes at the veryheart of that ethic, "I hope Heartfelt thank you An open letter to the bishop, priests, religious and people of the Diocese of Evansville: Words cannot dxpress the gratitutde in our heart tfor all of you as we think of the love and kindness we experienced at your hands before, during, and after the funeral services for our beloved "Uncle Frank,  retired Bishop of Evansville. You though of everything, and your expressions of affec- tion transformed a sad time into a celebration of Christian joy. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts, and as- sure you that you will always be in our prayers. Love and Peace The Family of Bishop Francis R. Shea Vivian S. O'Brien, niece we don't get into violence," Heffernan said. Still, one rural life advocate predicted that with a moratorium on farm foreclosures to be lifted this fall, more farms will be repos- sessed than in the mid-1980s, when stories of farmer suicides and rural banker murders made news. Ursuline Sister Christine Pratt, rural life director for the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio, is in the midst of an effort to edu- cate farmers in western Ohio about the advent of the super- size hog farms and bring agribusiness into dialogue with family farmers. "There's already a high satu- ration of family farms who are in the hog business," she said. Plans for a 100,000-hog farm in western Ohio have been scaled back after the commu- nity learned about it and raised objections. "All the plans were in place. They sort of slipped it to the community as it was going to happen," Sister Pratt said. "As we always say, 'If it was good idea, why didn't you us in the first place?"' Sister Pratt's first on the issue drew 360 the second, 420. A third ing was set for Sept. 11 out-of-state speakers, incl ing Heffernan. "We can't have this 'not my back yard' syndrome," ter Pratt said, telling "Yes, it's happening to you it's more than that, it's than that." Agribusiness always vited to the meetings, every time they refuse," i said. "As we look at the large-scale livestock ope tions," asked Iowa State versity sociologist Paul "how do you look at the cultural impacts -- and the! pact on family farming?" In Iowa, Lasley s "they've been seeing a rural community going years to the continued See WASHINGTON Bishop's schedu The following activities and events are listed on schedule of Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger. By MARK PATTISON Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- .Congre.ss. isn't the only place where pork is being produced in excess these days. It's a different form of pork -- the literal kind -- and its overproduction threatens to change hog farming into an in- dustry much like Tyson, Per- due and Holly Farms trans- formed chickens from a family-farmstaple into a sat- is,-the-stockholders business. The battle lines are being drawn, and Catholic rural life advocates are trying to bring family farmers and agribusi- ness into dialogue on the issue. What happens could affect what's in the 1995 farm bill, where pork of both varieties are sure to be found. Here's what's happening: Agribusiness firms want to cre- ate hog farms of up to 100,000 sows. In contrast, the average family farmer may have 100 SOWS. I The MESSAGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47720-0169 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekly except last week in December by the Catholic Press of Evansville ..............  GerNd K C.ttinger Edr ..................................... Paul t.ngang ................................... Amy Housrnan ................................... Pa Newland Stafff writer ........................... Mary Ann Hughes Address all communicat=ons to P,O. Box 4169, Evansville, tN 47724.0169 Subscrip'don rate: $15.00 per year Single Copy Price: $.50 Entered as 2nd ckss matter at the post office in Evan-'qlle, IN 47701. Publica- tion number 843800. Postmaster: Return POD forms 3579 to Office of Publhcation  1994 C.,a Press o Evanse