FANCY THIS, Ky. — Welcome, all you refugees from Bad News, Ky., feeling that America is on the wrong track, that civic virtue is on life support and that politics is for looney birds.
Please join our new community of mind called Fancy This, which is about as far from Fancy Farm as possible because one-liners do not create the kind of public deliberation that can solve problems.
Our charter states that any Fancy This public gathering must include pie, so mark your calendars for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, and set your GPS for the north lawn of the Main Building at the University of Kentucky for both occasions.
There we will celebrate Constitution Week at UK '14 with apple pie, lemonade and free copies of the Constitution.
Fancy This was founded on three pieces of good news: a key development in Lexington's mayoral race, an upcoming KET program on young voters. and the millennial generation's energy.
While planning an Oct. 28 mayoral debate at UK with WUKY-FM news anchor Karyn Czar, a funny thing happened to Mayor Jim Gray's campaign manager: Karyn couldn't reach him. So she called the mayor and discovered that he had hired a new campaign manager.
"Who is it?" I ask.
"I have the name here somewhere," Karyn replies. "Walker Mattox."
"Walker Mattox?" I say. "He was a student in my freshman Discovery Seminar."
Just like the pilgrims greeted the harvest, I saw my Citizen Kentucky Project, designed to engage young people in civic life, bear fruit.
Walker, as a freshman, took the same journalism and democracy class I'm teaching this semester with UK Honors students. His Fall 2006 class focused on the mayor's race, too, only the candidate named Jim then was Jim Newberry.
In prime time Monday, Oct. 20, KET will air Ballot Bomb: Exploring the Young Voter Explosion, a documentary two years in the works that started with the question: If young voters swung the 2012 presidential election, can they swing the Senate race in Kentucky?
The Pew Research Center suggested that if the voting age in America were 30, we would have elected Mitt Romney as president in a landslide. Its research showed that 18- to 29-year-old voters tipped the battleground states of Ohio, Florida, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
The 19-year-old co-host of Ballot Bomb, my son, Austin, appeared in the original 2001 KET program Citizen Kentucky: Democracy and the Media, as a kindergartner. Now his generation will vote in what might be America's most-watched election: the U.S. Senate race in Kentucky.
Millennial energy also will be on full display Tuesday when mayoral candidates Gray and Anthany Beatty, UK assistant vice president for public safety, come face to face with the UK Honors students organizing the event.
Their agenda: public safety, including sexual assault; jobs for college graduates; taxes eating away their paychecks and the sales tax, too; environmental concerns; and, of course, Rupp Arena.
On Wednesday, the official Constitution Day, we will salute the role of high school journalists as part of a 100th anniversary celebration of journalism at UK.
In 1914, Lexington Herald managing editor Enoch Grehan founded UK's journalism school in the Main Building's basement.
If you would like to flee Bad News, Ky., then join us Tuesday and Wednesday. Stay for two minutes or four hours. Nothing fancy, just good old American fun.