Take Me to Your Leader

Headed Your Way

Do you live between Chicago and Phoenix? If so, we may be coming for a visit.

Starting Friday, August 22, my NPR colleague, Thomas Pierce, and I are packing our suitcases (and audio equipment) and getting ready for an old-fashioned road trip.

We're starting in Barack Obama's hometown of Chicago. And we'll make our way to John McCain's hometown of Phoenix.

Thomas and I will be in rental cars, on trains... maybe catch a ferry or two.

We came up with the trip because as McCain and Obama accept their parties' nominations, there's going to be a lot of talk of presidential leadership. But leadership doesn't just live in the White House. There are leaders in every city and town, in every school and business and in every family.

This is where you come in. We want you to take us to your leader. Who do you look up to? Whose actions make a difference? It could be your mayor or your mom, your teacher or your pastor, your boss or your bartender. Whomever you suggest — it's a person we may want to meet.

If you want to help, post a comment here on the blog, and everyone can see it. Or, email us personally at meetyourleaders@npr.org.

Meanwhile, we'll keep you updated on our itinerary. It's still pretty rough. But we've got a tentative plan for the first few days. On August 22-23, we'll be hanging out in Chicago. On August 24, we'll be stopping in Gary, Indiana. And on August 25, we're setting off across Illinois, perhaps stopping in communities like Joliet, Pontiac, Normal, Lincoln, Springfield, Carlinville or Alton. Then it's on to St. Louis, and westward from there....

Again, this is just a first draft. So whether you live in any of these places or not, tell us why we should stop in your community. Tell us about leaders we should talk to.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

While you're in Phoenix, drive over to Sedona, Arizona. We have a great library and a fantastic Head Librarian, who has lots of funny jokes, David Keeber.

Sent by Diane Mikulovsky | 11:40 AM | 8-16-2008

Although I am not living there right now, I would highly recommend visiting Flagstaff, Arizona.

Sent by Justin Sowers | 5:28 AM | 8-17-2008

I don't know if your road trip includes a stop to Tucson but I'd like to nominate my brother-in-law Bryant Keefe even though he is a Republican and I'm a Democrat. He is what I would describe a money man with a heart - he has been in real estate and now (regretfully) working as a mortgage brokerlocally. He has helped thousands of locals buy homes(often making little or no money) He is bright, selfless, complicated. He has experience on the radio - he used host a local radio show and hosted local seminars on investments. He is someone I deeply admire and is interested in serving his community.

Sent by Eleanor Horner | 12:53 PM | 8-17-2008

Rachel Naylor, age 19, is a candidate on the September 4th ballot for Committeemen in Maricopa County, Arizona. She is a Senior Page at the Arizona Senate and full-time student. She is the future of politics and articulates her passion and beliefs about how one person can make a difference in the political landscape.

Sent by Sandra Naylor | 5:07 PM | 8-17-2008

Stop by and see Chief Gregory Bock of the Alton Fire Department. He is simply one of the best chiefs alton has had in recent history. He doesnt just sit behind his desk all day, he even gets out and does what his firefighters do as well!!

Sent by Gregory Bock Jr | 5:52 PM | 8-17-2008

Would love for you to come around Arkansas way in the Fort Smith area on the border with SE Oklahoma. Lots of local input in urban renewal redeveloping old neighborhoods into genuine acceptable places to live. No Martin Luther King Blvd yet, it is on the way though. The metropolitan area is like a main street with a preserved historic district and Isaac C Parkers District Court the original and local district building that honors the Western District of Arkansas which included Indian Territory. The Native American Tribes are doing business and coming around to city council meetings drumming up some business. We could have a good and memorable time talking politics.

Sent by Imogene Covin | 3:19 PM | 8-18-2008

Perhaps the Gulf Coast will not be part of your trip but if you want to squeeze in some of the deep south, I invite you to Mobile Alabama. Our Mayor is Sam Jones, the city's' first black mayor, and he and our other leaders have worked hard, across partisan lines, to bring progress to our community. Our city is currently in competition for the Air Force Tanker contract with Northrup Gruman vs. Boeing (in Chicago) and Senator McCain has been blamed by Boeing for undermining the process when he questioned the original contract. Mobile is a City that is dealing with all of the issues that will be impacted by this election so consider stopping by. We would love to have you.

Sent by Cynthia Nelms | 4:19 PM | 8-18-2008

Your probably not going to do this because it is a bit out of the way but I think you should visit Kaua'i, Hawai'i. The main reason being that we would love to have NPR here on Kaua'i and it is a really beautiful place.

Sent by Jannene | 5:05 PM | 8-19-2008

Since you're already straying a bit from the beaten path by including Gary, if you get a chance when you get to AZ, bounce up to Boulder City, NV, just across the AZ-NV border at Hoover Damn and visit Dr. Joe Hardy. He's a Republican State Assemblyman, and he's also my physician. Even though I normally don't vote Republican, he'd get my vote if I lived in his district. He really cares about effective government (not just strangling it as many anti-govt types do). And the Nevada State Legislature is facing a $1 billion shortfall.

Sent by Mike Brooks | 2:12 PM | 8-22-2008

You should definitely interview Paul Lowes, teacher at North High School and local activist in Phoenix, AZ. He is truly one of the most intelligent people I've ever known.

Sent by Emily Brown | 12:02 PM | 8-23-2008

It is my hope you will visit Rochester,NY.
Barack Obama missed NY as it was "Hillary's state" and that was courteous. But Rochester is filled with universities, scientists, elderly and poor. We have lots of fine problem solvers. Jobs are leaving, young folks are leaving. We need to hear the message from Obama to encourage the community to come together. Rochester has a wonderful problem solver in Mayor Duffy. You should meet him .I hope you will come

Sent by Harry Shapiro | 2:26 PM | 8-23-2008

You should stop in Springfield, MO to interview Pastor Dan Friberg of Messiah Lutheran Church! He is one of the most interesting people I have ever met, and well respected by all. Have fun!

Sent by Denise | 2:38 PM | 8-23-2008

The IB staff at North High School, specifically Paul Lowes and Julie Pallissard, have lead more young adults along the path of quality education more than any people I have ever known.

Sent by Jessie Giambra | 6:43 PM | 8-23-2008

A path from the midwest through the midwest is a self-limiting vision. Open up, people! Widen your circle, pick up some southeast and deep south while you're traveling. North Carolina is a potential swing state -- find out why by visiting Durham and Chapel Hill, strongly liberal bastions in a mis-labeled red state that has had more Democratic governers in the past two decades than Republican -- by a lot. Kids recently convicted for protesting sweatshop labor to produce UNC-branded garments are just the latest in a long history of brave progressive stances, from the Greensboro sit-ins to Dean Smith taking a stance for black basketball players. Come visit us!

Sent by Diane Lennox | 7:18 PM | 8-23-2008

Right next to chicago is a small town in Indiana called Hammond, We have a mayor like no other now days.
Mayor Thomas McDermott works for the people, when the people speak he listens and works as hard and with as much power he can to get what we need.
By visiting Hammond Indiana and Mayor McDermott you will see that politicians all over should be just like him and work for the people.
After all thats why we the people vote for them.

Sent by Terri | 11:58 PM | 8-23-2008

Come to Iowa City. We were ground zero for the Iowa Caucuses, knowing that if we could cultivate the tremendous support Barack had in Johnson County, he'd have a real shot at the rest of the state. Come on a Friday night when the free music is wafting over the crowd at the Ped Mall.

Sent by Deb | 11:24 AM | 8-24-2008

If I had my druthers you'd swing by Springfield, MO and talk to City Councilman Dan Chiles. He's been working on making Greene County greener and healthier since at least 1979.

Sent by Dustin | 3:01 PM | 8-25-2008

You should stop in McCain's town for some Soul Food ay LoLo's Chicken and Waffles. Good home cookin' in the shadow of the diamondback stadium.

Sent by Dwight | 11:14 PM | 8-25-2008

It could be very uplifting to hear you interview the leaders of our future. If you go to Tucson, look up Dan Martinez, a graduate student in sociology. Dan can introduce you to a most impressive group of young people guaranteed to make you feel hopeful about the future of our nation. Dan travels every week to a homeless shelter in Nogales, Mexico where many deported people are "dumped." To read about Dan's work, see the following article http://www.azdhs.gov/phs/borderhealth/pdf/newsletter2_3.pdf

Sent by Mary | 2:22 PM | 8-26-2008