This Year’s Models – 2010 12.23.2010

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Who are This Year’s Models in Lexington? Model Citizens? Visionaries? Innovators? Big Thinkers who are also long on Action? Every year, Ace celebrates “This Year’s Models” with a special year-end Annual Edition. All year long, the readers nominate Lexingtonians who have made a difference in making
Lexington a better place to live.

Past “models” have included Jim Gray (now Mayor-elect Jim Gray); Alltech’s Pearse Lyons (before The Games); Local First’s Lori and Hap Houlihan; Latitude’s Bruce Burris; Sustain- Lex’s Jim Embry; Debra Hensley; Seedleaf’s Becca Self; Affrilachian poets Crystal Wilkinson and Frank X Walker; Buster’s
proprietors Clark and Jessica Case; and many more.

This year’s class includes an artist bent on revitalization, an athlete, a couple very different bloggers, and a bike-ridin’ cowboy.

Randall Cobb – Everybody’s All-American

A finalist for the Paul Hornung Award, Randall Cobb was greeted by chants of “One More Year” by UK Fans at a recent UK basketball game. He tweeted in response to his 13,500 followers, “Yall make the decision so much harder,” and tagged it #bbn for Big Blue Nation. From his twitter, we know he likes hot chocolate, Home Alone, and pizza. On a team troubled by DUIs and arrests, his biggest “scandal” was publicly venting a little frustration with a few fair-weather fans after UK’s win over the Gamecocks. It was an uncharacteristic outburst from a good-natured natural born team leader who talks almost as much about food as he does about football.

Jordan Conn wrote for SportsIllustrated. com “There’s Cobb returning the kickoff. Then Cobb catching a pass. Cobb making plays any way his coaches can imagine—throwing, running, catching or returning, darting and shape-shifting his way downfield. And once he’s propelled his team to the end zone, Cobb never trots immediately to the sideline. He still has to hold the extra point. Whether he has the ball in his hands or not, Cobb has been willing to take on whatever responsibilities coaches will give him. And even in his least glamorous role, Cobb has turned a few heads…For someone whose play defies typical categorization, Cobb seems to have found at least one position where he’s an established all-American.”

On the field and off, he’s the best thing to happen to UK football in a while.

Shane Tedder – Bike-Ridin’ Cowboy
by Sally Henkel

I first learned about a bike-powered smoothie on my way home on Second Street, when Shane and his wife Jarah also used to live on Second Street. We stopped to say hey to Shane who was working diligently in his navy apron on his new toy: The smoothie bike. I learned three things that day:

1. what a smoothie bike is
2. what a Kentucky Fizz is
3. and just how bad ass Shane Tedder is.

The following Summer I helped with the premier of the Berry Pedalers at the Lexington Farmers Market. Shane chopped the fruit; all the while inventing new smoothies and smoothie names. I think that my favorite was the Funky Monkey, this contained some kind of mocha concoction and frozen banana. Shane kept the business in line, while Jarah kept Shane in line. I did my internship with Shane in the spring of 2010 at UK. I decided to do this because of my interest in sustainability, but also because I knew how much I would benefit from working with Shane. I have never in my life met someone so passionate about what they do, not to mention with an incredible drive. It was interesting to get a behind the scenes look at the progress a Sustainable Lexington is making. Shane is all about having fun, but at the same time getting the job done right. Anything that he even slightly puts his mind to, he accomplishes and makes it
look easy. He doesn’t sugar coat anything, which I find extremely refreshing. He is the one who says what everyone it too afraid to say. Shane would always bring the good to the bad—even when retrieving the recycling from all of the UK dormitories. Shane has inspired me and at the same time I think
that it’s fair to say that Shane has had a tremendous influence on the Lexington community. Shane is the Bike ridin cowboy of Lexington.”

Debra Hensley adds, “It was INSTANT love, when I met Shane Tedder. From building bike racks with old bicycle parts to designing and building ‘PRESTO! The People Powered Piano Bike’ to creating bicycle powered blenders that make smoothies to building recycled bicycles for people in need with his latest project Broke Spoke; well, he can do anything. He does not take NO for an answer and when he needs help; he has a small army of gifted friends who are equally resourceful, passionate and community – minded.”

His wife says, “Shane has endless hope and love for his community, constantly generating ideas and bringing them into fruition. Shane spent his early adult years wandering around the country. A turning point in his life was reading works by Wendell Berry, specifically the message that ‘community doesn’t prosper when all who called it ‘home’ leave for better places.’ Shane realized then that he wanted to devote his work to giving Kentucky the creativity and progress that it deserves. He frequently says, ‘I thought of that while riding my bicycle,’ quoting who other than Albert Einstein. Rain, snow, ice, extreme heat, Shane is on his bike and heading to his job as the University of Kentucky’s very first Sustainability Coordinator.

John Lackey – Renaissance Man
Voted “Best Local Artist” by the Ace Readers in the 2010 Best of Lex poll, John Lackey took all the newfound fame, fortune, and glory bestowed by such an honor and became the latest linchpin in the North Limestone Renaissance—relocating his gallery to the former Spalding’s Bakery building
at the corner of North Lime and Sixth Street, across the corner from Al’s Bar and across Limestone from a community garden.

Known for his Wilco posters, his prolific art, new block prints, and Holler Poets series, he hopes the space will become a haven for art—whether it’s visual, literary, or musical. On the day we toured the space, John Lennon played on the stereo, and little neighborhood girls walked past and threw rocks at the window. Landlord Chad Needham, who’s been renovating the 1880 building over the last year, stood at the top of a ladder on Limestone, painting, and chatting with the UPS man about who makes the best pizza in town.

Lackey recently completed the woodblock cover for Chinaberry, the unfinished novel-in-progress by the late Kentucky author James Still, edited by Silas House, to be published in 2011 by University Press of Kentucky.

He says, “art’s a heartbreak beat,” and he welcomes the vitality and collaborative spirit that comes with the new neighbor.

Joe Sonka – Will There Be Dinosaurs
by David Schankula

With the local media all but ignoring down-ticket local political races this year, it was Joe Sonka, author of the political blog barefootandprogressive.com, who picked up the slack.  As the Herald-Leader’s corporate mothership drowned in debt, local editors were forced to lay off good reporters and curtail their remaining staff’s time and resources. The newspaper has done amazing work under these troubling circumstances – especially Beverley Fortune, Linda Blackford, John Cheves, and Tom Eblen – but where their time and energy are diverted, Joe Sonka in many cases fills the gaps.

Joe Sonka is a Lafayette General, a Transylvania University alum, a child of very proud parents and over the past few years he’s been shouted down by United States Congressman Ben Chandler, the campaign staff of failed Senate Candidate Jack Conway, and “Rand Paul supporters.” It was Sonka who caught Candidate Paul on video advocating the repeal of the Americans With Disabilities Act. It was Sonka who Ed Lane tied to forcibly remove from the press corps at a routine news conference.

Barefoot and Progressive has become the “must read” outlet for anyone interested in Bluegrass politics, with monthly readers numbering in the tens of thousands.

Outside Rand Paul himself, Sonka did more to damage, humiliate, and expose the truth behind the Paul campaign than the Conway team, the Kentucky Democratic Party, and the national Democratic Congressional Committee combined.

They had tens of millions of dollars at their disposal.

Joe Sonka had a dying laptop, a battered iPhone and a scratched-up FlipCam. His reporting on the Newberry Whistleblower/ Fraud scandal was in-depth, unmatched and entertaining. He covered the everyday doings inside that beige cavern of Lexington’s City Hall down to the minutia.

Sonka’s coverage of the Mayoral campaign was gritty, detail-rich stuff free from the forced constraints of equal-time and the illusion of balance. Joe Sonka wasn’t working as an objective journalist, he was working as an informed citizen.

Issue after issue, it was Joe Sonka out in front.

As 2010 came to a close, the cynical businessmen behind the Creation Museum returned to Kentucky, ready to fleece anew. Their second coming was ushered in by Governor Steve Beshear.

They’d told the Governor they wanted to build a theme park. They told Steve the Bible was LITERALLY true—that Noah lived damn near a millennia, a full sixth of Earth’s entire existence. And Governor Beshear said, “What the Hell!” – he called a press conference to announce Kentucky taxpayers
would underwrite this abomination to the tune of $37 million.

A roomful of professional journalists dutifully and dolefully asked questions: “What are the dimensions of the Ark you plan to build?”

Joe Sonka had a question, too.

“Will there,” he stood and asked the Governor, “be dinosaurs?”

Steve Beshear gave Joe an icy glare and the governor’s creationist allies were forced to take the microphone: “Yes. There were dinosaurs on Noah’s ark.”

While the reporters ignored the fact that even mainstream Christianity rejects these extreme views of the Governor’s allies, Joe Sonka asked the million year old question.  It went viral. Across the nation and around the world, Kentucky is now known as home to the Flintstone’s Reality Theme Park.

Over the past year, Joe Sonka has enraged, entertained and enlightened the good people of the Bluegrass state. 

He has had opportunities to leave, to parlay his increasing national prominence (Barefoot was just named the top liberal blog in the US, he routinely gets shout outs from the likes of Rachel Maddow, Think Progress, Gawker) into more lucrative outlets.

But so far, he hasn’t. He might soon and Kentucky and Lexington will be the lesser for it, but for now he is ours and, love him or hate him, you can’t help but be impressed by his pure, unbridled dedication.



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