Judy Plank

Plymouth County Democrats, 3/23/2017 Edition 1, Volume 3

 Tell me about your family:

I live in Remsen with my husband Paul and our cat Sweetheart. We have two grown children, four grown grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Tell me about your hobbies or interests, past or present:

I have a backyard veggie garden, which provides fresh vegetables not just in the summer, but year round, as I can tomatoes and relishes and fill my freezer with many veggies and fruits. My house is full of books, mostly non-fiction. Through reading I love to learn about new things. I’ve also dabbled in writing poetry. I am near the end of a three or four-year process of writing my first and hopefully only book, a history and family autobiography.

Tell me about your educational and occupational history:

I attended a rural schoolhouse for the first few grades before it closed. I then attended the Marcus Public School through graduation. I attended Westmar College in Le Mars for a year before I was married. Twenty years later I graduated with a BA in sociology major/psychology minor from Southwest State University in Marshall, MN, and went on to get an Associate Degree in accounting a few years later.

As a perpetual student I have a sporadic work history, but I have worked in a welfare department for 18 months, in a residence for mentally ill persons for three years, and financed most of my college doing childcare in our home by day, attending college by night.

Tell me about your involvement with the Democratic Party:

I began my political life supporting George McGovern in 1970 as the head of his campaign in Lyon County, MN, and was a delegate to the state convention and briefly on the State Democratic Committee. I was also an election Judge through numerous elections in Minnesota. I was involved with local groups of activists everywhere I could find them since protesting the Vietnam war and joined two protests in Washington, D.C. , against the Iraqi wars.

As a diehard progressive/ socialist peace activist I supported Dennis Kucinich for President in 2008 and Bernie Sanders in 2016. A highlight for me was my opportunity to introduce Bernie to a crowd of about 1,100 at the Sioux City Convention Center prior to the caucuses. I remember going door-to-door with County Chair Mark Sturgeon in Kingsley one election season and have been fitfully involved with the Plymouth County Democrats for a number of years, mostly just before elections. Mark and I have held signs together protesting Rep. Steve King on a couple occasions.

Tell me about any awards or commendations you’ve received:

I received a Best in Place for a Lily at the Marcus Fair. I have a couple commendations for being a cofounder of Healing our Borders and co-facilitating the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP).

Tell me something not many people know about you:

Try as I might, I cannot whistle and have always been envious of those who can.

Tell me what you’re most proud of:

For some years now I have been co-facilitating Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshops in the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility and am part of the New Roads Reentry Team here locally, to assist people returning from prison to readjust to society and hopefully not return to prison.

Who is your biggest hero, past or present?

There are too many to choose from, but I especially admire the Dalai Lama and Bishop Desmond Tutu.

How long have you been active in your favorite causes and/or community in Iowa?

After we moved back to Iowa about 19 years ago we spent about ten winters near Douglas, AZ, on the border with Mexico and witnessed the migrant situation firsthand. I was at the founding of Healing our Borders, a group attempting to stop the increasing deaths of migrants crossing the border and to change the nation’s immigration policy. We held weekly vigils remembering those who perished, and handed out blankets to migrants returned to Mexico by the border patrol late at night on the coldest nights, with temperatures in the teens at the higher elevations. I was also at the founding of DouglaPrieta Works, a self-sufficiency project across the border in Agua Prieta, Sonora, to provide employment to lessen the need to cross into the U.S. for work.

Recently I organized a protect against Wells Fargo in Sioux City this summer due to their financing of the Dakota Access Pipeline and have supported other DAPL activities.

Were there any significant hurdles or fears you had to face over the years?

Dealing with family members who have had long-term codependency/ addiction issues.

Tell me your biggest concern today:

My personal current concern is our state and national healthcare situation. My daughter has chronic health problems and moved to Iowa a year ago to be closer to us. Assisting her with the paperwork through different agencies in different towns and departments has been a constant and never-ending stress. Many people who most need the help are just not able to navigate the impossible system, and I fear should it get more complicated the entire system will implode on itself. We so desperately need single-payer health insurance, as all other wealthier nations enjoy. That was one of the reasons I supported Bernie.

Tell me your favorite quote:

I have this posted on my desk: “Breathe, Grandma. Life is precious! Love you.”

– My granddaughter Athena.

To meet Judy and many other interesting Plymouth County Democrats, come to our monthly meetings, held the 3rd Monday of the month (locations announced via email, on KLEM 1410 AM, and in the Le Mars Daily Sentinel)

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