In Perrysburg, Ohio we have found in the midst of winter’s wrath several things of interest. First, there have been my ten year old granddaughter’s hockey tournament games—four in one weekend and a soccer game, too–enough to wear out a grandparent for sure. I didn’t make it to them all, but enough to see a girl hockey player in action in a primarily boy’s hockey league and holding her own.
In addition to sampling local restaurants in my daughter’s new town, we have had a taste of a few cultural and community highlights. One, the most fascinating for me, was the 577 Foundation located at 577 Front Street in Perrysburg. Many buildings there are converted farm buildings that had once been part of the property owned by Virginia Secor Stranahan. Born into a Toledo founding family whose assets came from western oil and gold and married to a Vice President of Champion Sparkplugs, she had the wherewithal and desire to leave the community a trust that funds the foundation that is apparently completely funded by her bequest. In the buildings, many of which are heated by renewable energy sources, art classes, pottery, and various other classes take place. Also, it is a meeting place for organizations that are not-for-profit.
Open to the public every day from nine to five, it is an oasis of cultural and ecological learning. On a frigid day in February, we were surrounded by tropical plants. We felt as if we had been transported to the tropics for the little while we were inside the geodesic biodome that was heated at least partially by solar panels. We crossed a bridge over the goldfish pond and sat surrounded by plants one might expect to see in Florida. This was a welcome relief to weary travelers who had arrived in a snowstorm by train to Ohio and had been surrounded by a landscape of mountains of snow piles and frigid air. Inside one of the other buildings, we sat in comfy chairs next to a corn burning stove that was the main source of heat. Next to it, we relaxed while we perused one time used books from shelves of books that were on sale for $.50 for paperbacks and $1.00 for hardcovers in the carriage room, which is so filled with books that it resembles a library. The corn burning stove burns about one bushel of corn per day, and works like a self-feeding coal burner. I intend to investigate the cost effectiveness of such a stove for possible use at home. It burns cleaner than coal or wood, and should be a readily available resource most anywhere. Such heat seems like it might be ecologically sound, while much easier to deal with that wood gathering and burning. The soundness of it as a viable home heating solution is, of course, the price of corn.This Perrysburg gem is just a few streets away from my daughter’s house.