Reimagining American Community

A Detroit SOUP presenter pitching an idea for a community project.

OK, we’re back!

And posting again, after all these months. With a refreshed outlook, and a bit on the darker side, given these darkening times.

Our first few years of posting (on topics like agrarianism, E.F. Schumacher, Dorothy Day and Hayao Miyazaki) have left us yearning for doing–the embrace of the real. A need to be more engagé, as the French resistance used to put it. More incarnational, you might say.

We made a start last year, creating a local team called the C-Lab and had just enough budget and time to squeeze out some community microfunding dinners in our area, modeled on Detroit Soup. For northwest Indiana, we created two events, one in Michigan City (IN) and the other in Gary (IN), both successful. We micro-funded some startup ideas and the SOUP dinner attendees happily connected over all sorts of community project ideas. (Short video of the Michigan City event here.)

But now we want to dig deeper into community building and even such exotic foreign notions such as municipalism, which Pete Davis and I will be talking about on the next episode of our podcast, Dorothy’s Place. (And if you haven’t caught the first few episodes of Pete’s other podcast presence, Current Affairs, listen in–it’s off to a smart and sassy start. You could even join me in subscribing to their great-looking magazine.)

In addition to our podcast, we have continued to post periodically at the Patheos Catholic Channel blog run by our doughty pal Mark Gordon, The Dorothy Option.

Finally, I’ve begun to write up (on Medium for now) my adventures as a churlish grad student back in 1978 when I decided to go camping in the U.S.S.R. for a summer. I’m mixing a travel memoir with commentary on the decline of military empires (theirs and ours) along with reflections on my own Cold War illusions at the time.

Merely for addressing the topic of Russia, I expect to be labelled a Comsymp, a Trotskyite, and a Commie stooge for Putin, but them’s the breaks in the merry old land of Oz we currently inhabit. I’ll share the project, once I decide I’m getting somewhere with the damfool thing.

Finally, let’s welcome the new Simone Weil Center for Political Philosophy (notable for the leadership of Solidarity Hall folk Paul Grenier and Susannah Black), coming together in Washington DC, where it will be an island of sanity for conversations about cross-cultural ideals and a post-liberal future. More about that worthy effort soon.

About the Author
A native Texan, Elias spent several good years studying classics and medieval Italian at UC Berkeley before wasting several more years in financial journalism around Chicago. He has written for Strong Towns, the American Scholar, the New Urbs blog, and the Gary Catholic Worker and is the co-author of a textbook on character education. He briefly published something called The Armchair Historian. None of his three teenage daughters display an interest in the Greek and Latin classics thus far. He and his family reside in leafy Valparaiso IN.