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Leni D. Anderson used to make a scrapbook of military advertisements he found in magazines. He says he knew when he was knee high that he was going to enlist, inspired by his family’s long history of service. “My family has been serving since the Civil War,” Anderson said. “Not everyone has made it a [...]
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Leni D. Anderson used to make a scrapbook of military advertisements he found in magazines. He says he knew when he was knee high that he was going to enlist, inspired by his family’s long history of service.

“My family has been serving since the Civil War,” Anderson said. “Not everyone has made it a career, but a lot of my family, I think we’ve been in every major war.”

He joined the Army Reserves when he was 18, toward the end of his senior year of high school. A year later in 1984, he moved into the 3rd Armored Division in Germany where he was stationed for about three years. What he saw there and in his subsequent years of service, including an MP position with military intelligence in Texas during the Gulf War, still weigh on him today.

Anderson turned to art when he left the military to gain more autonomy in his life, and the practice became a way to work through his experiences and lingering health issues. In November, a few pieces of his art will be showcased at Columbus’s first Veterans Film and Art Festival, an event hosted by the Columbus VA that will explore how art can express and communicate challenging ideas.

Heather Seymour, creative arts coordinator at the Columbus VA ACC Veteran Arts Initiative, hopes the program, which will run over Veterans Day Weekend, will help bridge the gap between the military and civilian worlds while incorporating veteran artists into the art community.

“What we hope to do is to create a microcosm of awareness and community development and outreach and band of brothers and sisters coming together to communalize any grief that they have, to communalize the joy of art and film,” Seymour said.

The festival will start with a fallen comrades ceremony and will go on to include a series of four films, a live performance, and panel discussions. Seymour says she hopes the festival will be a space conducive to organic and inclusive conversations about military life and the challenges of coming back to the civilian world.

“This show will give those who don’t know what it’s like to wear the uniform another means of understanding what these troops are dealing with on a day to day basis,” Anderson said.

Like his desire to enlist when he was a kid, Anderson was equally committed to his vision for a new civilian chapter of his life. The day before he left the military, his colonel called him into his office and asked Anderson what he wanted to do once he got out. He says he thought for a moment and replied that he wanted to be an artist because he was tired of people telling him what to do.

“Because I had told him that, I felt that I had to follow through,” Anderson said.

“This show will give those who don’t know what it’s like to wear the uniform another means of understanding what these troops are dealing with on a day to day basis.” — Leni D. Anderson.

So Anderson taught himself how to paint and went on to receive an associates degree from Columbus State, an art history bachelors from Ohio State, and a masters from Kent State in library and information sciences. He’ll be sharing what he learned at the festival as part of a panel discussion and through a presentation about how veterans have shaped contemporary art.

Now a service-connected disabled veteran who uses art to cope with his own health, Anderson says art can help veterans express that they are thinking and feeling, especially if they don’t talk about their experiences or see a counselor.

“(The festival) is going to bring light to some of that, and allow people to see the images that are in the head of these veterans that, you know, they can’t express maybe with words,” Anderson said. “People really have no idea what these troops and these families are going through.”

Although the topics will cover a range of veteran issues, Seymour says attendees should remember to not generalize one person’s experiences.

“If you know one veteran—you know one veteran,” she said.

Beyond giving people a bit of insight into veterans’ lives and experiences, Seymour says the festival will also act as a place where they and their families can come together. She strongly encouraged veterans to bring their families and kids, and she said another goal the VA has is to learn how they can better support families, especially during times of transition.

Despite the struggles Anderson faces because of his time in the Army, he still believes in the importance of service to country, and he says if he were to go back in time, there’s no question he would enlist again.

“Even with all the problems and health issues that I’m dealing with, I honestly wouldn’t trade it,” Anderson said. “I loved being a soldier.”

The Veterans Film and Art Festival will be held on November 10 and 11 at the Gateway Film Center.

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Coronavirus

Breakaway Music Festival will not take place in 2020; to return in 2021

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Those in the music festival community have continued to rally their broken spirits behind live streams and classic archival sets in lieu of the live event industry being put on indefinite hold. 

With each passing day, though, hopes for any large concert gathering happening in 2020 seem incredibly bleak and unrealistic.

News from Midwest college market concert and music festival promoter Prime Social Group on Thursday further confirmed the modern hippie’s greatest fear: a summer void of camping out in otherworldy open fields and following their favorite musicians across the country. 

PSG operates a network of festivals under the Breakaway Music handle that take place annually in Columbus; Charlotte, North Carolina; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Washington D.C.; Nashville; and San Diego. The promotion company made the difficult decision to cancel all six of its 2020 editions of the EDM and pop-focused Breakaway Music Festival with a fully-committed plan to return in 2021. The decision was made due to health and safety concerns stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

Tickets to the event can be carried over for the 2021 edition of BMF. For those who choose this option, you’ll receive an extra ticket and merch bundle. PSG will also provide refunds if transferring tickets for 2021 is not an option.

Columbus has been making its claim as a music festival destination over the past few years. Breakaway, along with events like Sonic Temple, Wonderbus, and Buckeye Country Superfest, has been bringing quality acts to Columbus consistently. The festival’s presence will be greatly missed this upcoming August.

“Now more than ever, we could use that special sense of unity achieved through live events and music festivals,” said Prime Social managing partner Zach Ruben. “We cannot wait to Leave it All Behind and make memories with all of you again. Until then, stay safe, stay healthy, and be kind to one another.”

In the meantime, Breakaway plans to release exclusive behind-the-scenes footage from past editions, new digital content, and various live streams. Visit breakawaymusicfestival.com to keep up to date with what PSG has in store.

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Community

Columbus clears first major hurdle for hyperloop technology

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One of the original sins of the initial Columbus city planners was not implementing a subway system. Public transportation in the capital city is usually a mixed bag of uncertainties, but Columbus may just be getting the consolation prize that they’ve been waiting for since 2012.

On Wednesday, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) released a report that detailed cities with a feasible location for hyperloop technology. The locations listed in the final “Midwest Connect” Hyperloop Feasibility Study included routes connecting Columbus to Chicago (via Lima, Ohio, and Fort Wayne, Indiana) and Pittsburgh.

The price to travel from Columbus to Chicago or Columbus to Pittsburgh is very practical. At an estimated cost of $0.20 per mile fare cost, a trip to Chi-town will run you about $60 while it’ll only cost you $33 to visit Mister Rogers’ neighborhood.

Columbus became a hotspot for hyperloop technology beginning in 2018. The proposed transportation technology has the potential to “spur economic growth, generate opportunities for development, and create new opportunities for people and businesses in the Midwest megaregion.”

Some of the additional findings from the study that strengthened the hyperloop case for Columbus included straight track alignment for optimal speeds, no current passenger rail service, and exponential population and employment growth.

The long-term potential economic benefits of the Hyperloop as outlined by the MORPC include:

  • 1.9 billion automobile drivers converted to hyperloop passengers 
  • 2.4 million tons ($126 million) of reduced CO2 emissions
  • 450 million commercial truck vehicle hours traveled eliminated 
  • $300 billion in overall economic benefits
    • $19 billion directly from transportation benefits

Although the findings in the study don’t guarantee that a hyperloop will eventually run through Columbus, it’s a major step in the right direction.

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Arts & Culture

Hold that corndog: Two popular summer events latest to cancel

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Adding to the misery of this persistent rain is yet another blow to regular summertime programming. Both the Ohio State Fair and Jazz & Rib Fest announced their cancellations today but with a promise to be back in 2021.

The Jazz & Rib Fest was scheduled be held July 24-26 at Bicentennial Park and Genoa Park on the Scioto Mile. The event brings tens of thousands of locals together for a mix of Jazz music and barbecue from traveling teams from across the nation.

But by far the biggest cancellation of the day is the State Fair which sees nearly a million people during its almost two-week run.

“After careful thought and deliberation, we have decided to cancel the Ohio State Fair. Knowing how easily the virus spreads in large groups, we believe it is the safest path forward for the health and safety of all Ohioans.” Andy Doehrel, chair of the Ohio Expositions Commission said in a press release. “The financial ramifications of hosting a reduced-capacity Fair would be too great, and we need to protect the great Ohio State Fair for future generations.”

This adds to the growing list of summer events that have been cancelled for the year or postponed to a later date. These include:

  • ComFest - moved to September 2020
  • Columbus Arts Festival - cancelled
  • Pride - moved to October 3, 2020
  • The Memorial Tournament - moved to July 13-19, 2020
  • Red, White & Boom! - cancelled
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