By Kevin Williams
Update - Chef Joins the Amish: This is a fascinating story and I posted about it last week. A celebrity chef has decided to leave the rough and tumble world of high-stress kitchens to run a gourmet shop among the Amish in Unity, Maine. Boy, this is an interesting story on so many levels. It is easy to become seduced by the simple trappings of Amish life and if there's a settlement that is open to outsiders it is Unity, Maine, but what would be truly extraordinary is if the man stays Amish. Outsiders who join often have trouble sticking around for the long haul. I wish this family well. NPR decided to visit the chef and do a story this week.
No room at the Inn: Best Western in Madison, Wisconsin is more like "Worst Western." A cash-paying Amish family was turned away in the middle of the night because they didn't have a photo ID. How stupid. Sometimes people just blindly follow the employee rule book and don't use common sense. This is one of these cases. Read all the details here.
Amish Headed To Barbour County, West Virginia? I found this story fascinating. This is the first I have ever heard of the Amish being specifically wooed to an area by economic development officials. I can't figure out whether it's crazy or creative. I mean, on one hand, the county is right, the Amish do move into areas, snap up distressed properties and turn them into working farms and home-based businesses. Holmes County is almost about tapped out in land, so officials in Barbour County are trying to lure Amish there. And the first thing Amish elders promised if they decide to move there is that they'll open up a big restaurant or furniture factory. I doubt that is the case. And are the county officials aware there is a huge Amish settlement in Oakland, Maryland just 45 minutes or so to their east? Something about this story just seems "off", on the other hand, as the Amish grow and need to find places to expand they may be able to sort of "cherry pick" the best places and extract economic concessions from officials. It'll be interesting to watch what happens. Click here for more.
SARA MILLER'S AMISH CORNER: Check out this month's installment of a column written by an Amish woman in Geauga County, Ohio. Click here.
PHOTO MONTAGE OF A RUSSIAN MENNONITE VILLAGE: This is a fascinating photo essay of Russian Mennonites living in Russia. I met some Russian Mennonites living in Alymer, Ontario when I was there a few years ago, so it's fascinating to see the Mennonite church in Russia itself. Click here to see.