Just as the job interview seems smooth, the interviewer drops the question.
“So, where do you see yourself in five years?”
Witty, sarcastic folks must use restraint at that moment. “Anywhere but here” would not be a wise response.
Impossible as it is to make such a prediction, this routine question holds relevance. Its answer reveals whether the applicant has a plan to improve his or her life beyond buying a bigger TV.
So, Indiana, where do you see yourself in five years?
Eighteen months ago, the governor of Iowa announced a plan to put that fellow Midwestern state atop one of the nation’s most comprehensive quality-of-life barometers — the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index — within five years. In announcing the Healthiest State Initiative, Gov. Terry Branstad aimed to “assist Iowans in learning about and applying proven methods to live longer, happier and healthier lives.”
Branstad’s Republican counterpart in Indiana, newly inaugurated Gov. Mike Pence, should formally challenge the People of the Corn. Pence hinted at such an objective in the closing remarks of his first State of the State address last week, saying, “We can put Hoosiers back to work and make Indiana first in job creation, first in education, and first in quality of life.” Perhaps the last goal just sounded good, a slice of soaring political rhetoric. As I noted in a column last week, those first two goals — job creation and education — are tangible. “Quality of life” requires definition.
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index does just that, with scientific research updated daily.
Trib-Star readers offered their definitions of quality of life, as I requested in that column. So did Gov. Pence’s office.
We’ll start with him.
“The governor has repeatedly called for good jobs, great schools, safe streets, and strong families. Together, those represent the quality of life he wants to see for all Hoosiers,” Kara Brooks, Pence’s press secretary, stated in an email response.
Each element indeed brightens lives. Still, in his address, Pence listed job creation (as in “good jobs”) and education (as in “great schools”) separately, and then added “quality of life.” To consider the latter distinctly from the quantity of jobs and excellent schools, we’ll presume Pence sees safe streets and strong families as his top criteria for quality of life.
The Well-Being Index includes a longer list. It asks Americans in 50 states to evaluate their current life situation and their future, five years out; emotional well-being; physical health, from sick days at work to pain, energy levels, obesity and disease history; healthy behaviors (smoking, eating fruits and veggies, and exercise); work environment (job satisfaction, maximizing skills, treatment by your boss and co-workers, and a level of trust); and basic access to clean water, safe places to exercise, those fruits and veggies, income to buy groceries, health care, indications the community wants progress, and being able to safely walk alone at night).
“These are really good categories that would be a good framework for a quality of life,” said Kelly Motley, spokesperson for Gallup-Healthways.
The Well-Being Index, she added, “shines a light on the problems of a society.”
Indiana has some problem areas. In overall well-being, the Hoosier state ranked near the bottom, 38th. The state’s lowest marks came in emotional health (43rd), physical health (43rd) and healthy behaviors (45th). Indiana also rated in the bottom half in life evaluation (38th) and basic access to necessities (29th). Our only top-half category among the 50 states was work environment, at 21st, and that probably would be higher if the other troubling areas improved.
Iowa, fared much better (19th overall), yet Branstad took seriously his state’s problems exposed by the index.
Indiana should too. Imagine the transformation in myriad aspects, including economically, if Hoosiers enjoyed America’s best physical and mental health, and greatest access to clean water and air, affordable produce and food, and safe places to jog or walk alone — even at night. Imagine if the state ranked 17th in per-capita income (as it did in 1965) instead of 37th (as it does now), with low child-poverty rates (instead of 20 percent). Indiana should not accept bottom-half in any of these. Public policymakers should address these, just as they trumpet job-creation numbers and thinly tested school reforms. Power brokers in Indianapolis should study why Branstad and Iowans made “quality of life” such a priority.
Indiana has plenty of pluses to build upon. Some readers answered my column’s callout last week for their definitions of “quality of life.” Those from a trio of retired Wabash Valley residents were particularly insightful and poignant.
Lea Reyher-Long of Terre Haute compiled five quality-of-life ingredients. “1. Great faith — in God and in fellow human beings; being satisfied with life as it comes [in] good and/or hard times. 2. A roof overhead, a warm place to live, and enough to eat. 3. Being able to help those less fortunate. 4. Knowing my children are well educated, have homes of their own, good jobs and are well and happy. 5. Living in a free country, not perfect, but the greatest country in the world.”
For the Tribbles, a retired Clay County couple, a move back to the Wabash Valley after six years in Florida enhanced their appreciation of the amenities here. “It was becoming so crowded in Fort Myers that you seemed to be closed in everywhere you went. Here in the Wabash Valley, there is plenty of room, the air is fresh, crime rate more reasonable than in Florida, and the main thing is the driving habits. I know there are still bad drivers around the Terre Haute area, but in Fort Myers it was just almost a game to see who could run the most stop signs or red lights.” They added, “Everything considered, this is a great area to live in.”
Dorothy Jerse of Terre Haute saw similar positives here, and added a reminder. “As a retired couple, we think our quality of life in Terre Haute is about perfect — low cost of living, friendly people, four seasons, no big-city traffic — I could go on and on,” Jerse said. “However, there are several flaws with which I have a hard time — the number of people living in poverty with children going hungry, the number of people with no jobs or with jobs with no benefits, the substandard housing. … As long as I am sharing life in the community with these people who are suffering, I can’t say I’m ‘livin’ the dream.’ I am often told it is this way everywhere, but I strongly disagree.
“Just look at the statistics,” she said.
The governor, lawmakers and local communities can take a page from Iowa, form a five-year plan and change the realities behind those statistics.
Indiana, first in quality of life? It’s a matter of addressing weaknesses and setting priorities.
Tribune-Star columnist Mark Bennett can be reached at 812-231-4377 or email@example.com.
Just as the job interview seems smooth, the interviewer drops the question.
- Local & Bistate
Lane restrictions next week on U.S. 41 at Shelburn
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Reputed Mafioso tip triggers new Hoffa body search
OAKLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. — The FBI saw enough merit in a reputed Mafia captain’s tip to once again break out the digging equipment to search for the remains of former Teamsters union leader Jimmy Hoffa, last seen alive before a lunch meeting with two mobsters nearly 40 years ago.
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Court lets walk-out fines against House Democrats stand
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Vigo County Jail Log: June 18, 2013
The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Monday and Tuesday, based on jail records.
Back home again: Items from vaudeville stage and Terre Haute native sent to Historical Society
The staff at the Vigo County Historical Museum are excited about the arrival of priceless items used by Terre Haute-native Rose Fehrenbach and her husband, Edward Pierce, to promote their Vaudeville acts in the early 20th century.
Husband charged in Archer homicide
Terre Haute Police have found local reports of domestic violence between a Terre Haute man and his wife, whose body was discovered wrapped in a tarp and dumped in an Ohio ditch.
National Road panels dedicated
Rewind to the mid-1800s, when the trotting of a horse and buggy on National Road could be heard alongside the voices of people heading west, searching for opportunities.
Pence sets agency priorities
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Another I-70 traffic snarl: Three injured in two related crashes
Three people were injured Monday afternoon from a pair of crashes on Interstate 70 that temporarily closed the highway and diverted traffic into Terre Haute.
Terre Haute man still hospitalized after scooter/car crash
A Terre Haute man remained hospitalized Monday at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis after his scooter struck a car early Saturday on Wabash Avenue at 25th Street.
Overpass repairs causing Interstate 70 lane restrictions
Repairs to the Frye Road overpass in southeastern Vigo County has caused a restriction to the left lane of Interstate 70 between the 13- and 14-mile markers, about two miles east of the Indiana 46 exit.
Indiana woman condemned for killing at 15 is freed
A woman who was sentenced to death at age 16 for taking part in the torture and murder of a 78-year-old Bible studies teacher was released from an Indiana prison Monday after growing to middle age behind bars.
Grant will let Vigo Library evaluate map collection
The Vigo County Public Library has received a $2,000 grant to evaluate its historic map collection, a library official announced Monday.
Four juveniles caught on elementary school roof; one injured jumping off
Police say a juvenile was lucky to have suffered only a broken leg after jumping from the roof of a Vigo County elementary school – dropping about 30 feet to the ground.
Farmersburg man sentenced after guilty plea in rape case
A Farmersburg man has been sentenced to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to a rape that occurred at his parents’ residence in May 2012.
Still no information being released on Rosedale homicide
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Woman condemned for killing at age 15 freed from Rockville prison
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UPDATE: All lanes of I-70 now open
All lanes of Interstate 70 in Vigo County are now open — as of 4:15 p.m. — after multiple crashes shut down the eastbound lanes temporarily this afternoon.
Quinn signs into law tough fracking regulations
CHICAGO — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation giving the state the nation’s strictest regulations for high-volume oil and gas drilling.
BREAKING: Arrest made in Archer homicide
A Terre Haute man has been arrested and charged with felony murder and altering the scene of a death in the homicide of his wife, Kayla Herchelroath Archer.
Frye Road Overpass work to restrict lanes on I-70
VIGO COUNTY, Ind. – The Indiana Department of Transportation announces the Frye Road Overpass construction will restrict the left lane on Interstate 70 between the 13- and 14-mile marker, beginning June 17. This lane restriction will be in effect for 24 hours a day for about two weeks.
Vigo County Jail Log: June 17, 2013
The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, based on jail records.
Fathers take time out to spend quality time with children, grandchildren
A big, circular white cloud rose up through the tall atrium as Mike Woods held his 4-year son, Nathan, Sunday at the Terre Haute Children’s Museum.
On Friday, hit the park and raise funds for skateboarders
The On-board United Initiative — O.U.I. for short — has scheduled an all-ages fundraising event Friday in honor of national Go Skateboarding Day.
STATE OF THE STATEHOUSE: Sentencing law could benefit juveniles
Monica Foster is a longtime public defender who’s been pushing uphill in the legal system for a long time. So, when she says the General Assembly is making progress protecting the rights of the disenfranchised, it’s worth stopping to listen to her.
Mastering the art of Gardening
The Wabash Valley Master Gardeners group gathered over the weekend to marvel at each other’s gardens on its annual garden tour. The event was a chance for master gardeners to showcase their labor of love, meanwhile sharing stories about their plants.
RESTAURANT INSPECTIONS: June 17, 2013
The Vigo County Health Department inspected the following food establishments May 28-31:
Lawn mower fire destroys barn
A lawn mower that caught fire was cited as the cause of a fire that destroyed a single story barn Sunday in the 2000 block of North Chamberlain Street, said Harold Osborn, assistant fire chief of the Lost Creek Township Fire Department.
Wabash Valley residents vie for spot on Wheel of Fortune
Ellen Fujawa of Zionsville wants to be on the popular syndicated Wheel of Fortune game show.
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- Lane restrictions next week on U.S. 41 at Shelburn