Letter to the editor: Corn kernels in hand, Johnson County Fair-goers expressed concerns about a livable future

Representatives of the 100Grannies organization march at the 2017 Pride Parade. — Photo by Iowa Pipe

The midway is cleared and still. The ice cream is gone. The barns and buildings are closed. It was another great year for the Johnson County Fair. And so it was for the ever popular annual Corn Poll of the People’s Coalition (Iowa Physicians for Social Responsibility, 100Grannies for a Livable Future, Veterans For Peace and PEACE Iowa) in Building B. This year’s fairgoers were questioned about their concerns for a livable future.

One thousand thirty seven adults, 16 years and older, many with young children at their sides, stopped by and shared their thoughts. Each person was given three corn kernels to register their primary concerns among seven options. This gave fairgoers an opportunity to talk about a subject we rarely address publicly in anything but the simplest terms.

People enjoyed the process. People talked to each other, the booth staff, their kids (even young ones) about the choices, explaining to them what each meant. Children and teens expressed to their parents their own concerns about the environment, clean air and water or violent conflict. Their conversations demonstrated how members of the public hear and interpret daily reports from Iowa and around the globe about water crises, refugees, famine, nuclear war, violence and fear between nations and races.

For Johnson County fairgoers, the top concern was air and water pollution, followed close behind by concerns about climate change. These top concerns came through despite efforts by the current administration to deny their importance. Environmental concerns were closely followed by concerns about poverty/inequality and nuclear war. Surprisingly, many also wanted to talk about the meaning and impacts of over-population and racism and prejudice as they too will affect everyone’s future well-being.

Despite the light fair environment, people spoke passionately about the impacts of governance, corruption, religion and social disintegration on the environment, climate, risks of violence or nuclear war and how these concerns affected their ability to feel secure about the future for themselves and their children. Many declared, “I could vote for all of them, they’re all important,” or, “they’re all so interrelated.” Clearly these issues play out in the background of people’s consciousness even as they labor to satisfy everyday needs and goals.

Then there were all the other topics discussed. While most were satisfied voting on the options offered, 35 other concerns made it into the conversations. These other threats ranged from Trump to socialism, deforestation and species extinction, to terrorism and despair.

As our climate continues to heat up and our environment becomes ever more degraded risking food production and our health, and as the global population grows and inequalities become greater, a new conversation about how we define and work toward a livable future is needed.

— Maureen McCue, coordinator, Iowa Physicians for Social Responsibility

Thoughts? Tips? A cute picture of a dog? Share them with LV »




Summer Programs 2020

Get 150+ local restaurants delivered to your door in the Iowa City & Cedar Rapids areas!

The Future is Unwritten

You look to Little Village for today’s stories. Your sustaining support will help us write tomorrow’s.


$10/mo or $120/year
The cost of doing this work really adds up! Your contribution at this level will cover telephone and internet expenses for one month at the LV editorial offices.


$20/mo or $240/year
$240 is enough to cover one month’s costs for sending out our weekly entertainment newsletter, The Weekender. Make a contribution at this level to put a little more oomph on your support and your weekend.


$30/mo or $360/year
(AUTO-RENEW) connects eastern Iowa culture with the world. Your contribution at this level will cover the site’s hosting costs for three months. A bold move for our boldest supporters!

All monthly and annual contributors receive:

  • Recognition on our Supporters page (aliases welcome)
  • Exclusive early access when we release new half-price gift cards
  • Access to a secret Facebook group where you can connect with other supporters and discuss the latest news and upcoming events (and maybe swap pet pics?) with the LV staff
  • Invitations to periodic publisher chats (held virtually for now) to meet with Matt and give him a piece of your mind, ask your burning questions and hear more about the future plans for Little Village, Bread & Butter Magazine, Witching Hour Festival and our other endeavors.