Is rural America becoming China’s China for manufacturing?

Many in the Carolinas thought the textile industry was gone for good. That it had moved to China and would never return. But the NY Times reports that a textile mill is opening in Indian Land, SC, and it has an unlikely owner.

The Chinese-owned Keer Group is moving some textile production back from China to South Carolina.

From the Times piece:

Textile production in China is becoming increasingly unprofitable after years of rising wages, higher energy bills and mounting logistical costs, as well as new government quotas on the import of cotton.

At the same time, manufacturing costs in the United States are becoming more competitive. In Lancaster County, where Indian Land is located, Keer has found residents desperate for work, even at depressed…

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Should we mow our lawns?

“Oh, no, daddy! Watch out for the toad!” My six-year-old daughter nearly broke into tears as the tiny toad jumped out of the way of our rumbling riding lawn mower.

This was our first time mowing our new property and Harper was on my lap calling out the crickets and grasshoppers and toads.

Start. Stop. Start. Get off. Sometimes I had to move a life to a safer place.

I’ve always been the type of mower who would stop for an insect when I saw them. I think I was influences by all of those bug cartoons and movies that pitted insects and shrunk kids against the evil lawn mower. But, here’s…

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On Indy Style TV with Harper

Two years ago I was on Indy Style TV and chatted with host Tracy Forner shortly after my book EATING released. A month ago Tracy emailed me that he finally got around to reading my book while on vacation in Michigan–not far from the apple farmers and juice factory I wrote about in EATING. He wanted to have me on again to cook. Cook . . . gulp!

I’ve come along way in my food journey, but I’m no chef. Instead of whipping something up Bobby Flay style, I suggested I make banana splits and we have a chocolate and coffee tasting while we chatted.

I took my daughter Harper along for the ride and we included her in the last segment. She did awesome and was so well behaved even…

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The most amazing thing about publishing is . . .

… that you can be watching the Bachelorette, or taking a nap, or organizing your Smurf collection, or scrolling Facebook while sitting on the toilet, while simultaneously somewhere else in the world your thoughts and words are entering someone’s head a heart.

If that’s not magic, I’m not sure what is….

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Creating together: A Confession of a Reluctant Collaborator

(If you are fan of my solo work, I’d love to collaborate with you on a Facing Project. Please visit FacingProject.com or reach out to me for more info. This post originally appeared on the Facing Project’s blog. ) 

Kelsey JR W and L

 With J.R. (right) and the amazing organizers of Washington & Lee’s Facing Sexual Violence project)

A few years ago I roped a guy who I barely knew into participating in the very first Facing Project as a writer.

Today, he’s the co-founder of the Facing Project, who had the vision to see it was more than just a one-off project; he’s like my brother in that I spend more time with him than about anyone other than Annie and the kids;…

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Should firefighters stand in the street and ask for money? (Criticizing the Fill the Boot Campaign)

First, before you start hating me, let me say that I’m amazed by the risk firefighters face and the courage with which they face it. Even Grizzly bears and great whites are afraid of fire. That makes firefighters, who jump into a blazing building, braver than grizzlies and great whites!

(Photo: I took this photo of a firefighter in the street “filling the boot” in my hometown.)

A woman who has an office in the same building I have an office would not be with us any longer if not for the action and courage of local firefighters. Firefighters miraculously rescued her and her husband from a horrible home fire in the middle of the…

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GMO corn lawsuit encourages farmers to sue seed company

I live in rural Indiana, so it’s not rare to see billboards promoting a seed company, but last week I saw a first: A billboard advertising a class action lawsuit against a seed company . . .

At first I thought this might be farmers suing seed companies for contaminating (pollinating) their non-GMO corn with nearby GMO corn. This happens, but I was surprised there would be enough farmers in that situation to warrant a billboard. After some digging, I found that the lawsuit wasn’t recruiting from this small niche of farmers, but instead every single corn farmer.

That’s right if you planted corn in 2013 or 2014, you could join the lawsuit.

Not Approved in China

Syngenta, the seed company…

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Getting THE GIGGLES at the dermatologist with my wife

Posing as serious adults who would never get The Giggles

“Looks like you have a pimple right here,” the woman placed her finger right in the middle of my wife Annie’s forehead.

Annie and I have been together for 19 years (since high school), and I know there’s nothing my wife loves more than when I point to one of the zits, she so rarely gets, and say, “You have a zit!”  She typically reciprocates by pointing out one of my few flaws.

The woman, a dermatologist, continued to offer her professional opinion of where my perfect wife was less than perfect. She delivered each judgement in the tone of a straight-faced…

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Dear Game of Thrones, I want my life back

I’m five years late to the Game of Thrones series. (Also, I recently watched this amazing series called Breaking Bad. Heard of it?) Since discovering the GOT books late last year, it has consumed my life.

My first GOT experience was with the audible book. George R.R. Martin’s first book Game of Thrones read by Roy Dotrice comes in at 34 hours long. That may seem long until you consider the 3rd book which is 48 hours long. I’m currently eleven hours into book 4 of the series, A Feast of Crows. Add it all up and I’ve spent 130 hours or 5.5 days listening to Game of Thrones books.

I listened on my five minute commute to work, while I showered, while…

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The beauty in the thing you feared

Hiking in the rain in New Zealand in 2002

This rainy morning as I hustled out the front door and into my car, I thought about the freedom of hiking all day in the rain.

You go through life avoiding getting wet. And when you’re hiking and the rain starts, you do the same. You get out your poncho, you jump over the mud puddles, you hide under a tree, but then you slip on a rock and your shoes get wet or you realize that the rain isn’t stopping and you no longer fear getting wet. At some point you can’t get any wetter.

When the rain saturates us there…

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