There's a lot of individualism-meets-communitarianism in this week's edition of the Boise Weekly. We don't plan these things, but some times, well, themes happen.
In Rec, we have a piece from former BW intern Ryan Thorne about the Boise Greenbelt Patrol volunteers, who walk the Greenbelt with an eye out for potential trouble--even if that means running into naked sunbathers. In particular, Thorne profiles 79-year-old Ruth Neal, who has taken it upon herself to help keep the Greenbelt safe for nearly 20 years. She doesn't get paid and she rarely gets thanked, but, in true volunteer fashion, she doesn't seem to care.
In Food, roving BW food writer Tara Morgan has a piece on the Tomato Independence Project, which--through the humble tomato--is inspiring people around the Treasure Valley not only to grow their own food, but reexamine the structure of the entire food system. The project is as much a public health initiative as it is an attempt to break the anti-local economic impacts of food importation.
In Arts, I teamed up with BW A&E Editor Emeritus Amy Atkins to talk with a couple of Boise's local comics creators ahead of the first-ever Library Comic Con. The conversations were broad, but came back to a few central ideas: Boise's comics scene is growing but fractured, with creators, in many cases, working without any knowledge of one another. If Boise's comics scene is to thrive, it needs to come together. That's what the Library Comic Con aims to do.
In News, BW News Editor George Prentice looks at the shocking numbers and trends behind Idaho's sweeping self-reliance problem. With fully 14 percent of Idahoans receiving food stamps, Idaho is among a handful of states whose participation rates in food assistance programs has doubled since 2008. A majority of those recipients are children and the working poor--people who, under Idaho requirements, are holding down the equivalent of 30 hours of work per week but still can't afford to put food on the table.
It's a problem that goes beyond the ups and downs of the economy; it's a structural deficiency that puts to lie Idaho's much-trumpeted bootstrap ethos. Simply put: Wages are too low and the profits of the few don't appear to be raising all boats in the harbor.