LND Board Member Eric Rauchway Published in the Guardian

Unemployed men queuing fat a soup kitchen run by the Bahai Fellowship at 203 East 9th Street, New York, circa 1930. Photograph: FPG/Getty Images

Living New Deal Board Member Eric Rauchway published an essay in the Guardian. Titled, “Roosevelt’s New Deal offered hope in desperate times. We can do the same now,” the piece reflects on the Roosevelt Administration’s nation-building programs, which remain “unsurpassed” since. Read the entire essay here.

On My Way to Somewhere Else: Woodlawn Park in Ligonier, Indiana, by Glory-June Greiff

A few months ago I was in Noble County in northeastern Indiana, wearing one of my other hats, giving a presentation at a remote state park, one that came into the system after the New Deal. Fully half of Indiana’s state parks and all but two of its state forests were developed or improved by New Deal agencies. I spent the night in Ligonier, a small struggling city with a rich historical heritage.


Ligonier is on what was once an old military road, an Indian trail before that, which became part of the original Lincoln Highway route in 1913. Adventurous early automobile travelers took to the road with camping gear, and any number of towns or private entrepreneurs set up tourist camps featuring set-up sites, running water, outhouses at the least and sometimes real toilet facilities and showers, and a degree of safety. Often there was a small store where a traveler could purchase supplies. Such a tourist camp soon opened west of Ligonier, at that time a thriving manufacturing community.

But in 1928 the Lincoln Highway across Indiana was rerouted into virtually a straight east-west line that soon became US30. If one wished to travel across the country on the Lincoln Highway, the idea of saving miles and skipping populous areas to the north such as South Bend must have been appealing. Not only that, State Road 2, that part of Lincoln Highway from Fort Wayne to South Bend (designated US33 in 1938), ultimately passed around Ligonier, and the tourist camp was left high and dry.

Since I research the Lincoln Highway and other early twentieth century roads, naturally I headed out on the old road to explore and to my delight discovered a New Deal treasure. WPA Project 54-52-309 created a city park on the property in 1935. The gateposts do not quite match those of the tourist camp, so they may have been newly built by the WPA, or they may have been altered or moved and rebuilt. The following year another WPA grant funded the construction of a stone shelterhouse in what became Woodlawn Park, completed in 1937. Inside the shelter is an awkwardly lettered plaque, perhaps a repair or replacement of the original. Other WPA features in the park include a large fieldstone flower bed that likely was a fountain originally and another, larger circular fieldstone enclosure that may have been a shallow pool with concrete steps leading toward it. Surrounding it are three mysterious stone platforms. None of these resources is especially well maintained. No doubt some of the playing fields on the property originated with the WPA, but more have been added, along with a large open picnic shelter and some utilitarian buildings.

Parks and recreational facilities were seen as especially suitable for WPA projects; an administrator in the 1930s pointed out that they “are flexible and can offer employment where there is greatest need; most of their expenditures go directly to local unemployed labor; they do not compete with private enterprise, and. . . they make permanent contributions to better living conditions and increased opportunities for more abundant living.” Not only that, they were highly visible and could readily make use of native or discarded material, such as the abundant fieldstone, a remnant of the glaciers withdrawal from northern Indiana, used here, no doubt once the pride of Ligonier.

Gray Brechin Interviewed in Curbed

Featured

Gray Brechin was interviewed by By Patrick Sisson for a Curbed story titled, “Stimulus isn’t enough. Our cities need a post-pandemic New Deal.” Reflecting on the current crisis, Brechin noted that, “advocates and boosters of the New Deal constantly spoke of ‘increasing the health of the country in the broadest possible terms,’ part of what he calls the ‘lost ethical language’ of the program. Improving health, both physical and economic, was a measuring stick for success.” Read the story here.

“The WPA built hospitals across the country, especially in rural areas,” he says. “The program also vastly increased the staff of nurses. It helped expand the network of orthopedic hospitals, increased access to hydrotherapy clinics for those suffering polio, and even had workers sewing masks, the ’30s equivalent of manufacturing PPE.”

Brechin said advocates and boosters of the New Deal constantly spoke of “increasing the health of the country in the broadest possible terms,” part of what he calls the “lost ethical language” of the program. Improving health, both physical and economic, was a measuring stick for success.

New mural unveiled at Barnesville Post Office in Ohio

A reproduction of a New Deal mural was recently unveiled at the Barnesville Post Office in Ohio. Painted by local artist Twyla Fisher and commissioned by the Belmont County Historical Society, the mural is a replacement for the original Treasury Section of Fine Arts (TSFA) mural by Cleveland artist Michael Sarisky in 1937. The original mural, “Air Mail,” was hung in the Post Office lobby, but was taken down in the 1970s and subsequently lost. Read the story here. Photo credit: This Week News.

All in this Together

Featured

Dear Friends of the Living New Deal,

Like you, we’re rattled. As of today at midnight, the 7 million people living in the Bay Area were put under “lock down” to arrest the spread of the corona virus. Schools, shops, offices, theaters, and other centers of public life have closed. That includes the University of California, Berkeley, where the offices of the Living New Deal are housed.

None of us has lived through anything like this before. But some of us who have lived through a crisis or two may find a few silver linings. History tells us that crises often create the conditions for fundamental change. After all, the Great Depression brought us Social Security; the March of Dimes, inspired by FDR, brought forth the polio vaccine; World War II produced post-war prosperity and a growing middle class.

For the Living New Deal, the shut down is a chance to pause, think big, and focus on projects in our pipeline―notably producing a New Deal map of Washington DC; creating alliances with activists for a Green New Deal; and planning some high-profile events we look forward to hosting in the months ahead.

One of the joys of working for the Living New Deal is that its mission inspires others as well. We are grateful for all the many ways you contribute to making others aware of the New Deal and the compassionate leadership the New Dealers brought to their challenge. Imagine how differently they would respond to the situation at hand than the current Administration. We can only hope that the crises in public health, economic inequality, and climate change will lead voters to demand change.

For now, we have been asked to practice ‘social distancing.’ But that doesn’t mean we can’t be in touch. We welcome hearing from you and we will be reaching out as well. We’re all in this together. May we all meet on the other side of this distancing with gifts to share.

Be well.

The Living New Deal

All in this Together

Featured

Dear Friends of the Living New Deal,

Like you, we’re rattled. As of today at midnight, the 7 million people living in the Bay Area were put under “lock down” to arrest the spread of the corona virus. Schools, shops, offices, theaters, and other centers of public life have closed. That includes the University of California, Berkeley, where the offices of the Living New Deal are housed.

None of us has lived through anything like this before. But some of us who have lived through a crisis or two may find a few silver linings. History tells us that crises often create the conditions for fundamental change. After all, the Great Depression brought us Social Security; the March of Dimes, inspired by FDR, brought forth the polio vaccine; World War II produced post-war prosperity and a growing middle class.

For the Living New Deal, the shut down is a chance to pause, think big, and focus on projects in our pipeline―notably producing a New Deal map of Washington DC; creating alliances with activists for a Green New Deal; and planning some high-profile events we look forward to hosting in the months ahead.

One of the joys of working for the Living New Deal is that its mission inspires others as well. We are grateful for all the many ways you contribute to making others aware of the New Deal and the compassionate leadership the New Dealers brought to their challenge. Imagine how differently they would respond to the situation at hand than the current Administration. We can only hope that the crises in public health, economic inequality, and climate change will lead voters to demand change.

For now, we have been asked to practice ‘social distancing.’ But that doesn’t mean we can’t be in touch. We welcome hearing from you and we will be reaching out as well. We’re all in this together. May we all meet on the other side of this distancing with gifts to share.

Be well.

The Living New Deal

Mayor De Blasio Invokes the New Deal for Lessons on How to Tackle the COVID-19 Crisis

In a March 16 media appearance, New York City Mayor Mayor Bill De Blasio discussed school closures across New York City, part of what he calls a wartime approach to combat COVID-19. This crisis might put millions out of work and will require extraordinary interventions. De Blasio pointed out that we already know how to do it because we did it before in the New Deal.

Exhibit: Posters for a New Age Inspired by New Deal Art

Featured

Update:

The Fri., March 6, 6-8pm – Opening Reception will take place as scheduled.
We will not to serve food this event, but will provide wine, beer, and water.
We will also provide soap/water and hand sanitizer.
An update about the March 20 event will be posted next week.

Fri., March 6, 6-8pm – Opening Reception

Fri., March 13, 6pm, “Art and Activism, Posters as Tools of Social Change,” presented by LND founder Gray Brechin and Max Slavin, Creative Action Network.

Fri., March 20, 6pm, Program featuring the Sunrise Movement: “Taking Action for a Green New Deal,” presented by the Sunrise Movement.

Opening March 6 at Canessa Gallery in San Francisco, “Art and Activism: From the New Deal to the Green New Deal,” and exhibit of WPA and contemporary posters, connects the Green New Deal to its New Deal roots.  As the Creative Action Network notes, “During the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal employed artists, graphic designers, and printers—many from the San Francisco Bay Area—to produce posters promoting public health, education, national parks, and the arts. Today, in response to the climate crisis, a new generation of activists turns to the power of poster to demand a Green New Deal.” the opening reception is on Friday, March 6. On Friday, March 13, the gallery will host the Living New Deal’s Gray Brechin, speaking about the New Deal, along with Max Slavin of the Creative Action Network. On Friday, March 20, a program featured the Sunrise Movement’s activism for a Green New Deal.  All events are at 7pm.  RSVP is requested. Find more details here and here, and RSVP here.