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forces, factors, faces



Among three influences contributing to Agincourt’s condition, to its physical form — Forces, Factors & Faces — I have no particular favorite.

FORCES of Nature, over which we have little control, if any

FORCES are those influences over which we have no control: witness the volcanic activity at Pāhoa, in Hawai’i, above. Under normal conditions (whatever those may be; I’m unfamiliar with such), weather and geology would be the principal forces at work—the clouds above us; the rocks beneath—but sometimes they can get out of control, and that’s because they are beyond our control—not for lack of trying. Apparently, through plate tectonics, those rocks can become molten and erupt randomly, without notice, and with considerable disruptive, even destructive, effect. I’m happy to report such phenomena are unfamiliar in Iowa. Our disruptions are more likely to have been caused by tornado, flood, or fire. Mesopotamia, for example, will have been more adversely affected by flood, low-lying and between two water courses, than other parts of town. And if the southwest quadrant is Mesopotamia, then the northeast is the Acropolis.

Disease can be a Force: U.S. soldiers at a tuberculosis-related hospital near Fort Riley, KS.

Disease is a more egalitarian Force, ignorant of class distinctions. Tuberculosis, for example, decimated rich and poor alike. When Elizabeth McCormick, grandchild of the founder of International Harvester, died of “the wasting disease”, her family crusaded for its elimination. The Influenza Pandemic—Spanish Flu—of 1918 claimed 20 to 40 million people world-wide, nearly 700,000 in the U.S. Each of these public health phenomena touched communities of every size and rank. And some of them resulted in programs which fall in the second category: Factors.

FACTORS like the Hill-Burton Act of 1946

FACTORS encompass large-scale human phenomena, the actions of government or institutions which affect large numbers of people, whole classes, even entire populations. The Civil War robbed the nation of its innocence and its youth, as did the Great War, the war to end war. But some other factors have been more positive in outlook, even if they struck a prohibitive position, like the Eighteenth Amendment and the elimination of alcohol. The Hill-Burton Act of 1946 strove to erect hospitals across the nation, while others have underwritten law enforcement centers, community colleges, or public libraries.

Now and then a single person might be classified as a Factor, like Andrew Carnegie, whose benefaction built 2500 libraries between 1883 and 1929, most of them in the “wholesale” phase toward the end of that period. So, Carnegie might be classified as a FACE.

FACES: benefactors like Andrew Carnegie or Bill Gates

FACES are the individuals whose efforts have altered the course of our history, globally, nationally, or at the local level. Carnegie is certainly one of that group, but so are Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr Jonas Salk, President John F. Kennedy. This is a category where people can have been effective at the community scale: politicians (like Agincourt’s half-term mayor Edmund FitzGerald Flynn or its Social Gospel Methodist minister B.D.E. Barnes or one of its captains of industry Benjamin Tabor. Either singly or in combination, it is easier to understand the background or underpinnings of the community’s physical form in positive (and, I suppose, negative) ways. Perhaps its time for me to review the Who’s Who, the case of characters identified in the story thus far for the various ways each has shaped what Agincourt looks like today.

Do you think I need to consider a fourth set of influence: FECES.

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