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Enterprise Journal

Reunited: STA grad looks to bring Americans together

Sep 24, 2020 05:51PM ● By Travis Charlson
One of my favorite stories from American history is line that was supposedly said by Benjamin Franklin right after the Constitution had been written. At the time, the public didn’t know what was being discussed or what the decisions were, so as Franklin was exiting the Constitutional Convention a crowd supposedly approached him and asked what kind of government the delegates had created. 

Franklin replied: “A republic... If you can keep it.” 

The depth of this statement is profound, implying that the survival of our country is dependent not on any politician, president or individual, but on ‘We The People’.

We’re now 239 years into this great experiment that is our democratic republic, and Franklin’s pithy response sounds ever more gloomy when we look around our country today.
Here in Mitchell County, Iowa, it’s easy to feel isolated from what is going on around the country. It’s easy to feel like just an observer in the trends and forces that are sweeping across this nation. 

Ben Caron, a St. Ansgar grad who now lives in Los Angeles, reached out to me a little over a year ago and asked if I would help him with a project aimed at healing some of the divides here in our country. 

The basic premise of the project was simple enough. Ben told me: ‘I’m coming home. Let’s talk to one another. Let’s listen to each other. Let’s understand each other again, and try to heal the ever-increasing divides in our society.’ 

So I threw my video camera in my car and we spent a week driving around Mitchell County talking to ordinary Iowans about their thoughts and feelings regarding the world around them. 

Ben crafted the footage into a series of episodes, hi-lighting  meaningful conversations intended to show what we really think and feel, as apposed to the quick-jabs and un-nuanced points of view that social media can only offer.  (If you’re interested, the episodes can be found on Ben’s Facebook page: Ben Caron Creates.)

Now, Ben is coming back with his second project, aptly titled  the “RE: United States of America project”. 

This time, Ben is hosting a weekend of fun, meaningful and engaging activities over Zoom between North Iowans and residents from L.A. and N.Y.C.

The free program aims to “rise above the current polarization and cultural division in our country and find greater compassion, connection and understanding with our fellow Iowans and Americans.” 

The program takes place Oct. 9-11, but here’s the catch: No politics, no assumptions, no finger-pointing, no preaching, no judgement and no hierarchy.  

Some names you might recognize will be leading some of the available activities on Oct. 10, which are as follows:
  • "Summer Stock in Rural Iowa-Creating Artists, Connecting Communities" with Nancy Lee of Cedar Summerstock
  • "Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Rural North Iowa: A Q & A" with Katie & Tyler DeMaris of DeMaris Hardware & The Club of St. Ansgar
  • "Yoga" with Mindi Vervaecke
  • "Life as a Lutheran Christian in North Iowa" with Pastor Zamzow of Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Grafton, IA
  • "The Attributes of Wildflowers - Lessons Learned and Stories Conceived in a Garden" with Sherrie Hansen
The goal is to bring together people of all walks of life from around the country, to help us learn about and appreciate one another. Because this is our country. We’re all in this together. And just as Franklin so poignantly said - it’s up to us to keep it. 

Interested in the project? Learn more at:

or at: