He visited Brighton, East Lansing, Grand Haven, and then Averill Woods.
Joe explained how he has traveled the country to learn more about "middle America" in part in response to US attitudes toward middle Eastern people after 9/11. Having traveled in Iran, Iraq, and elsewhere in the middle East, he realized he knew more about that area of the world than this part of the country.
Meeting under the porch of our community center, Averill Elementary School, the children played nearby and the adults discussed politics, education, crime, connecting neighbors, shifting demographics, and Lansing's culture of grassroots organizing.
Joe and his colleague, Katy Steinmetz, queried neighbors about how and why things seemed to have changed in neighborhoods and schools.
There were disagreements, debates, areas of agreement, lots of passionate concerns, and of course lots of laughter.
We batted around census data, national tax policy, national education policy, public employee staffing. Joe referenced a variety of social science data and writers. This was like a book club conversation! Let's do it again next week, eh?