Born and raised in the Midwest, Kelsey Timmerman understands manufacturing and farming, which he examines internationally in his books “Where Am I Wearing? A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People That Make Our Clothes” and “Where Am I Eating? An Adventure Through the Global Food Economy.” The latter is Evansville’s 2016 One Book, One Community selection. Evansville Living caught up with the author, who will speak at 7 p.m., Sept. 21 at the Old National Events Plaza.
How did your upbringing shape who you are today and the work you do?
Technically I was born a Hoosier, raised a Buckeye, and have lived in Muncie, Indiana, since 2007. I grew up surrounded by farmers and fields. Homeruns landed in cornfields. The high school I went to had a drive your tractor to school day. My dad grew up helping his father on the family farm. In many ways I was raised by farmers and those who do manual labor. These are individuals the economy might not always value, but I learned from their work ethic, wisdom, and dignity. I learned early on to appreciate what they did and how they did it. I think my upbringing really shaped what I’ve focused much of my work on — putting a face and giving voice to those who produce many of the things in our lives that we take for granted.
What do you plan to talk about in September?
Whether in my books, on stage, or with the nonprofit I cofounded, The Facing Project, my mission is always the same: connect people through stories to strengthen community. I’ll share how I got into this traipsing around the world thing, and then stories of farmers near and far, and how we are connected to them. Once I make this connection, I’ll talk about how I’ve sought to act as a responsible consumer, global, and local citizen. Every single issue I write about — poverty, hunger, slavery — takes place on some level in our own communities. I’ll point the audience to ways they can get involved in the Evansville community to combat these issues.