Editor's Notebook: New Deal-era spirit lives on

By K.C. Compton
January 2009

Content Tools

Related Content

Food for the Tree Army - FDR's Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)

Before the young men of America were part of the Greatest Generation many had been part of FDR's Civ...

10 Things I Learned About Country Living, The Hard Way

A former city slicker learns the pitfalls - or should I say "poop" falls - of becoming a country chi...

I Should Have Seen It Coming ...

Nina learns the hard way - yet again - that Guinea chicks are crafty.

The Farm Cleanup Continues

The amount and type of junk would overwhelm anyone, but we persisted in the cleanup, and now our lan...

Many of the memories from my childhood and youth feature community buildings or park structures or bridges and streets that came to us courtesy of a remarkable program that my parents frequently referenced: the WPA.

The WPA started its life as the Works Progress Administration, the largest agency in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, created to provide jobs and income to the legions of unemployed Americans during the Great Depression. Later renamed the Works Projects Administration, the WPA featured a multitude of projects that built public buildings, community projects and roads, and operated large arts, theater and music projects.

I’m so grateful for that program and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The CCC kept my father employed through some very dark days, and the WPA filled our communities with sturdy structures and lasting works of art that even my grandchildren will be able to enjoy. The WPA cost more than $11 billion by the time it was complete – an enormous amount then, and not exactly peanuts these days.

According to president-elect Barack Obama, a similar program soon will be implemented and millions of Americans will go to work rebuilding this country’s terribly neglected infrastructure and creating entirely new and “green” projects that will make use of environmentally friendly designs and technologies in unprecedented ways.

I know some people will badmouth and resist these projects, but I’m looking forward to seeing what we can create with sufficient political will and capital. So much in this culture seems focused on tearing down and discarding, I hope we can direct ourselves now to building something lasting and oriented toward meeting public need. Our schools, our highways and bridges, our senior centers – all need attention and the infusion of resources.

Our story on Page 2 shows that our current political and economic times have sparked an interest in these New Deal sites. I hope that in another 75 to 100 years or more, future generations of Americans will be able to look on the public works of this time with pride and appreciation.

Recovering from difficult times is never easy, but we’ve proved before that we can do it with style, grace and hard work. That really is the American way.


K.C. Compton
Editor in Chief

Post a comment below.


Subscribe today
First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Want to rediscover what made grandma’s house the fun place we all remember? Capper’s Farmer — the newly restored publication from the rural know-how experts at Grit.com — updates the tried-and-true methods your grandparents used for cooking, crafting, gardening and so much more. Subscribe today and discover the joys of homemade living and homesteading insight — with a dash of modern living — that makes up the new Capper’s Farmer.

Save Even More Money with our automatic renewal savings plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5 and get 4 issues of Capper's Farmer for only $19.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and I'll pay just $19.95 for a one year subscription!