Bob Cornett, Spirit Of The Suwannee Music Park Co-Founder, Passes Away

first_imgBob Cornett, co-founder of the much beloved festival venue The Spirit Of The Suwannee Music Park, passed away yesterday after a brief illness. Alongside his late wife, Jean, Bob lived a life of service to his fellow man in the furtherance of a truly beautiful dream. The Cornetts set out to bring people together, to build community, and to unite the world through the power of music.The love of the music of the Appalachian hills and the hollers of Kentucky led the couple to throw gatherings for their fellow fans. That music, made with instruments brought from distant lands by people looking to start new lives and new families, was and is the very essence of the American Dream. This lead to the founding of Kentucky’s longest running music gathering, The Festival Of The Bluegrass, held the second week of June each year at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky.In time, the Cornetts wanted to create a place where the music could start earlier in the year and go later than the wintry weather of Kentucky would allow.  A place where music lovers from all walks of life could call home.  Their search found them a slice of paradise along the Suwannee, long ago immortalized in song by yet another Kentuckian, Stephen Foster. Jean Cornett fell in love with the scenic natural splendor of the Park and the couple quickly began to build what is today one of the most highly regarded festival venues in the world.Though Bob would joke that he mostly did everything to keep Jean happy, his exhaustive efforts to help build the Park clearly showed how much he cared. In the decades since, the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park has become a home to music fans of all varieties, all of them welcome in the home that Bob and Jean built. The Cornetts were that rare breed, a shining example of what could be accomplished when one sets their intention to build community.Music fans from the mountains of Kentucky, to the banks of the historic Suwannee River in Florida and beyond mourn the loss of this man and his late wife Jean as living, breathing gifts to the music community. Though our hearts are heavy at this loss, we should all be comforted by the thought that their legacy will endure.The legacy of Bob and Jean Cornett isn’t just festivals and a stage or two in the woods of northern Florida. It’s the shining example they set for us all. The living embodiment of serving each other, the heights we can scale when working together and the power of love itself.Bob and Jean Cornett had six sons. Though they experienced every parent’s fear when Hugh died in 1987 the rest of their children have thrived in no small part due to the lessons learned watching their parents. It’s that generational learning, the passing down of knowledge and love that speaks to the best hope for humanity itself.So, through one couple’s gesture, many lives are enriched. The actions the Cornetts took will reverberate outwards through history in the form of love and the community they fostered. Bob Cornett is survived by more than just five sons and a loving extended family–he is survived by us all. His actions remind us all of the things that can be built when one dreams of a better world and won’t stop until they make it happen. Rest well sir, you’ve earned it.Our own Rex Thomson, himself a Kentuckian and part of the Suwannee family, made the following video. It’s an attempt to both tell the history of the founding of the Suwannee Music Park and put faces to the names of the couple who built the much loved music mecca.[Video: RexAVision]last_img read more

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Can this union be saved?

first_imgWith congressional Republicans and Democrats arguing over whether the president should be impeached, ever-deepening political and cultural acrimony has turned us into the Divided States of America.Jumping off from The Atlantic’s December issue, “How to Stop a Civil War,” editor in chief and author Jeffrey Goldberg spoke with contributors Danielle Allen, James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard, and Adam Serwer, staff writer at The Atlantic, about the prospects for reconciling our differences and restoring faith in democracy at a JFK Jr. Forum on Tuesday evening.Allen, a political theorist who runs the Democratic Knowledge Project, said “fragmentation” is the biggest danger to American democracy today. Voters are becoming more geographically, culturally, and socially disconnected, retreating further into ideological and informational silos. Similarly self-governing structures like the U.S. Congress, which rely on cooperation and consensus, find themselves able to agree on very little, she said. The inability to get anything done erodes the faith of voters in democratic institutions, creating an environment demagogues can exploit. Healthy, well-functioning democracies require that individuals sometimes set aside specific preferences for the sake of the greater good, so if we are to be ‘a more perfect union,’ the country needs to prioritize ‘union,’ Allen argued.Serwer writes frequently about race and is best known for his critique of the Trump administration’s immigration policies, concluding “the cruelty is the point.” He attributes the nation’s current climate of incivility, particularly in political discourse, as one that stems ultimately from still-unresolved issues over race.“This question of reconciliation should not be prized over the survival of liberal democracy itself the way it was more than 100 years ago” during the Civil War, said Serwer, a fellow at the Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics, and Public Policy last spring. “How we end polarization, the terms on which it ends, are far more important than the fact that it ends.”,The rightward shift of the Republican Party, particularly since Trump’s election, is a direct reaction to demographic and cultural changes in the country that aren’t going anywhere, making a path to reconciliation very difficult, said Serwer.“I think the big obstacle to this is that you have a faction of people in the United States who really feel like they are fighting an existential battle against annihilation,” a misguided notion “that the president has cultivated to a tremendous advantage. So they don’t feel like they can lose because if they lose, it’s over,” he said. “So it doesn’t matter what Donald Trump does; it doesn’t matter whether he breaks the law; it doesn’t matter whether he violates the Constitution. He’s the only one standing between you and total Armageddon.”Serwer added: “I honestly don’t know how we resolve that in a way that makes people feel as though they are not fighting for their lives — because they’re not. I think they simply just do not want to relinquish the power that they are used to holding for themselves and have for 200 years.”Allen agreed that “reconciliation that does not include everyone isn’t reconciliation,” but added that there are meaningful reforms that can be made to our democratic institutions, including a “dysfunctional” Congress. However, when we consider changes, it’s important that we build structures “that make it worthwhile to keep investing in this process of doing work together,” she said.Historically, under the two-party system, political polarization de-escalates only when one side loses power and then repositions itself so its views are in line with the greatest number of voters. But with gerrymandering and other rules in place, parties today can retain power without attaining a majority, eliminating the need to recalibrate their ideological stances, Allen said.Restoring Congress so that it better represents the voice of the people through ideas like ranked voter choice, which would have a moderating influence, and forcing candidates to move away from scorched-Earth campaign strategies or lose votes could be a start, Allen said. Bringing back civic education, so students learn how institutions are supposed to work, see their inherent value, and understand the vital role citizens have to play in civic life, is also important. Whatever the changes, they will likely occur at the state and municipal levels, not the federal, she said. Veterans of past battles offer insiders’ looks into the politics, procedure, and strategy of investigators and lawmakers Related Sunstein on impeachment Clinton, Nixon, and lessons in preparing for impeachmentcenter_img Leaders of a sidelined political philosophy explain why its principles and goals remain critically important The conservative quandary In new book, Harvard law professor explains the centrality of a cautious process that helps to ensure America thrives last_img read more

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