Catching up with a 6-year-old astronaut and a “swim-team mom” who designs protest T-shirts
In 2017, the community section of Alive featured stories covering everything from protests and opioid addiction to neighborhood redevelopment and cooking competitions. Here are updates on a couple people we met this year.
Last spring, Worthington “swim-team moms” Amber Decker and AnnMarie McCallister started a clothing line, OhYes (teepublic.com/user/ohyes), featuring T-shirts and other tops bearing zip codes, area codes and congressional districts. The clothes allow local activists to identify their communities and counter the “paid protester” narrative. OhYes customers are among the Indivisible: Ohio District 12 group, which protests each Thursday outside Rep. Pat Tiberi's Worthington office.
Both Decker and McCallister have found themselves among a community of mothers who have become more political following the recent presidential election.
“I think we felt this way back in April, and it continues to feel like everything is just on fire,” McCallister said in a mid-December phone interview. “It's almost hard to single out one thing. The tax reform, obviously, is very concerning. … And then you have the rollback of the Net Neutrality protections. … Everybody's protesting and everybody's upset, but I'm just not sure what the next actionable steps are.”
McCallister's contributions include calling Sen. Rob Portman and Rep. Tiberi's offices to voice her concerns at least once a week. And OhYes has donated approximately $500 of its proceeds to Sen. Sherrod Brown.
“We've sold about 160 [items],” McCallister said. She also mentioned the group added some Pride-specific shirts last summer. Next year they will offer “oddly specific T-shirts,” with proceeds going to Galena farmer and Democrat John Russell, who is running to replace Rep. Tiberi after the congressman's impending retirement.
“I'm going to make one for myself that says, ‘Disgruntled Band Mom for John Russell for Congress,'” McCallister said. “You could [also] have ‘Foul-mouthed Knitting Enthusiast for John Russell.' You could do anything you wanted.”
Protests aside, McCallister said she and Decker are “just continuing with our regular swim-mom stuff and life outside of politics and T-shirts.”
It's been nearly two years since Astronaut Harrison Sheldon, now 6, began his mission: Demonstrate the wonder of childhood and teach parents to be more patient with their children. This was accomplished through a project where Harrison's dad, Aaron, would take photos of Harrison wearing a spacesuit in everyday environments: the grocery store, the laundromat, the barbershop, etc.
The initiative took off, and soon Sheldon was invited everywhere from the Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams corporate headquarters to the Kennedy Space Center. Then came a book of photos, Small Steps are Giant Leaps, and an exhibit at Wild Goose Creative.
“It was a busy year for us,” Aaron said when Alive caught up with him in mid-December. A local business offered distribution for their book; they've formed an advertising partnership with an app company; and they were invited to exhibit their photos at the Blind Whino SW Arts Club in Washington, D.C.
“They did a month-long show for us ending with a big Memorial Day weekend barbecue,” Aaron said. “They put in two full-sized bounce houses for the event. … It was really quite the party.”
Through a partnership with the local Past Foundation, the Sheldon family will be using the Astronaut Harrison brand for community outreach.
“We're getting ready to launch what we're calling Small Steps 2.0, where we are starting to focus on the stories of other people and how they explore their everyday world,” Aaron said. “And we've been testing it during some of our trips. We photographed one of our fans who happens to work for Facebook.”
Visiting the Facebook headquarters in New York City was a treat for Sheldon, with the built-in coffee shops, convenience store setups with “every candy bar you can imagine,” and a “tiny office,” Aaron said. “It's got like a tiny chair, a tiny couch, a little coffee table and people go in it and have teleconference meetings.”
What's next for Sheldon is perhaps only limited by his imagination, though he still hasn't been inside the White House.
“We're not going to go that route right now,” Aaron said. “When we go to Washington we're trying to highlight the good stuff that's happening. … We're pretty much staying away from Pennsylvania Avenue.”