Fall 2011

Family Life

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It may be one family or several. Adults and children stand close together in a loose line, framed by fir trees and a cloud-streaked sky. Some hold hands. Others lounge nearby in the grass. Some children stand on adults’ shoulders. One is gazing upward. The scene is lit by a crisp brightness, as though the world were just made that morning.

This mural by Ron Mills de Pinyas, Linfield College professor of art, greets visitors to the new Hallie Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families at OSU. Three other murals in the center expand on his theme of people and nature. These large canvases speak of community and of our place in the world. Of health, laughter, love, the unity of life.

Mills’ works tie the center’s family-oriented research mission to the deep connections that we have with each other and with our environment. Healthy people depend on clean air and water, a point that villagers in rural China made to OSU anthropologist Bryan Tilt. In this issue of Terra, “Rice Paddy People” describes the people he encountered and the lessons he learned.

Healthy people also need to share their experiences with others. Kristin Barker documents that in her analysis of online communities where people describe disease symptoms and encounters with the health-care system. Read about her research in “Is There a Pill for That?”

Community is at the heart of the Hallie Ford Center. Partners in its research efforts include school teachers, Extension educators, engineers, county public health officers and childcare providers. The knowledge they create together will address some of the most vexing health-care issues we face today. As in Mills’ paintings, the world is indeed being made anew.