Erlandson For Alleghany County Commissioner

My name is Ben Erlandson, and I am running as an independent write-in candidate for Alleghany County Commissioner in the 2018 general election.  I believe we can build a reasonable future for Alleghany County and its citizens as part of the Appalachian Mountains and the New River Basin.

Let’s Respect the Past and Consider the Future.

As the first step in this process, I need to gather signatures to submit to the Alleghany County Board of Elections to ensure that my write-in candidacy is officially recognized—so all votes cast for me in the general election will be officially counted.

But first, let me introduce myself and tell you a little bit about why I want to be an Alleghany County Commissioner.

I was born in 1979 and grew up in Elkin, NC, just down the road from Sparta.  I spent most of my childhood and teenage years walking and camping in the forests and mountains of Alleghany County, from Stone Mountain to Doughton Park.  We are so lucky to have these wilderness areas in our backyard.

In the mid-1990s, my father and I finished out a modular home at the base of Bullhead Mountain, in Glade Valley, NC, where I now live.

I am quite proud to be a product of the North Carolina public school system: Elkin Primary School, North Elkin Middle School, and Elkin High School.  Even for college, I went to a public university: UNC-Asheville.

I am a photographer, a brewer, a gardener, a naturalist, a writer, and a professional educator living in this beautiful land we all call home.  Over the course of my life experiences, I have come to realize that I am passionate about supporting the following issues in my local and regional communities:

Healthy Communities

Education and Lifelong Learning

Arts, Craftsmanship, and Creativity

Local Economies

Sustainable Agriculture

Social Justice

Environmental Stewardship

Natural Wonder

I will write more about each of these things in future posts.

SO!  You may be wondering…

Why am I running for a seat on the Board of Commissioners?

Well, as an Alleghany County Commissioner, I would like to achieve three major goals with our communities during and beyond a four-year term:

Reasoned progress

Evidence-based problem solutions

Open communication and participation

For each major issue the county faces, I believe we can work together for reasoned progress by establishing measurable outcomes to define and track the successes and failures of any program funded by the county.  If we don’t have data to know how well a program is working over time, then how do we know if it is working or not—and if that county money was well spent?

If we use measurable outcomes, we can begin to implement evidence-based problem solutions for all of the critical issues facing our communities.  We can evaluate and assess these outcomes over time to know which direction to take with the solutions we establish.

Do we keep funding the solution from one year to the next?  Do we change the solution? Do we throw it out altogether?  Do we work with the organization implementing the solution to help them find additional sources of funding?

Finally, as an educator and technology systems designer, I firmly believe in communication and participation.  Open communication and collaborative participation across our communities is a requirement if we are to have any chance of building and maintaining a reasonable future for the current and future citizens of Alleghany County.

Can any one of us predict or define what that reasonable future looks like?

Absolutely not. We’ve got to work together to build it, and we’ve got to continue working together to keep it.

Should I be elected, here is what I will bring to the table of the Alleghany County Board of Commissioners:

Local effort and elbow grease

Critical thinking and common sense

A “big picture” perspective

Global experience and expertise

A passion for life and simplicity

Concern for all of our communities

As I mentioned, the first step is to collect enough signatures from registered Alleghany County voters and submit them to the Alleghany County Board of Elections before the deadline.  As we get down to the wire, I’ll keep you posted.

Please connect with me via email or send me a message through the Erlandson for Alleghany Facebook page, and I will find a way to ensure that you can sign the official petition form.  We can meet at the Blue Ridge Business Development Center (next to the Alleghany County Library) or I can meet you in a place that is convenient for you.

Also, petition forms are available to sign at two other locations in downtown Sparta:

Becca’s Backwoods Bean – 21 N Main St, Sparta, NC 28675 (map)

Journey Wellness Studio – 81 W Doughton Street, Sparta, NC 28675 (web)

Thank you for taking the time to read my introduction to my platform for reasoned progress in Alleghany County.

I look forward to the opportunity to serve you as a public official!

Please feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions or concerns.

Let’s work together to build a reasoned future for Alleghany County!

Stay tuned for updates. 🙂

Timespace: Early December Snow

Early December snow fell on Alleghany County, North Carolina.  We got about six or eight inches, with deeper drifts in the usual spots.  Of course, as a photographer, as the flakes start to fall, and it becomes apparent that we’re going to get some serious accumulation that will stick around for a while, I start thinking about the best spots to shoot, and how to get there before they’re disturbed, especially by other humans.

And I start checking the weather forecast to figure out when and where the light and snowscapes are going to be best, thanks to clouds, wind, and all those intricately interwoven variables we just can’t know.

December 9th, 02017

My father and I started on the Blue Ridge Parkway at the gate near Mahogany Rock Road, at the base of Bullhead Mountain.  Technically, I can easily hike here from the house, but I wanted to save some time and get to some good spots while the conditions were good — and potentially before anyone else got there.

Continue reading Timespace: Early December Snow

Creative Concepts: Ecological Experiential Documentation

As I continue to travel the world—and spend more time exploring my own big backyard right here in North Carolina—I’ve come to realize that I can apply my academic training, professional experience, intelligence, and creative abilities in a combined effort over the next few decades to produce what I think and believe will be experiential documents worth consuming as materials for lifelong learning and understanding.  I am conceptualizing an ongoing series of experiential documentation, taking appropriate form over time as ebooks, print books, magazines, interactive apps, websites, and perhaps even videos.

This concept first came to me when I was looking at a map of the United States and thinking about the difference between national parks and national monuments.  Based on my personal experience onsite at various national monuments, coupled with my research and perusal of the maps of these monuments and the surrounding areas, I realized that I would love to commit to exploring and documenting a sense of place in each of these areas—demonstrating their importance as sacred spaces for maintaining the natural order of our relationship with the environment and all other species with which we share it.

So, to put a stake in the ground, I created a map of all the US National Monuments.  (Yes, there is at least one that does not appear in the image.)

Map of United States National Monuments
Map of United States National Monuments

Inspired by my recent trip to Helsinki, which included a stay at the hostel on Suomenlinna, I decided to add UNESCO World Heritage sites to the map.  I figured it would be interesting to see how many UNESCO sites in North America are within reasonable proximity to US National Monuments, thus allowing me to combine several locations into exploratory experiential documentation journeys of 1-3 months in duration.

Continue reading Creative Concepts: Ecological Experiential Documentation

Building Rental In Downtown Elkin

205 South Bridge Street

Welcome to 205 South Bridge Street in Elkin, North Carolina.  We’re actively seeking rental tenants for the building.

The building at 205 South Bridge is situated at the primary entrance to downtown Elkin—one of the few places to cross the Yadkin River between Yadkin and Surry Counties.  There are approximately 10,000 cars per day that cross this bridge.

With two business partners, I bought the property in early 2015 to renovate and use as local Elkin offices for the remote work we’ve done through various national and international employers and contracts.  We’ve done quite a bit to transform the inside and outside of the building and grounds, including a complete overhaul of the north suite into tech-friendly offices, as well as the addition of a large patio on the east side of the building, a new storage shed on the northeast corner of the building, a sidewalk and terraced garden on the south slope of the property, and several garden boxes and landscaped flower beds on the west side of the building near South Bridge Street, which is also US Highway 21 Business.

We’re finishing the renovations to the building by the end of 2017, with the goal to be rent-ready in mid-January 2018.

Continue reading Building Rental In Downtown Elkin