Author Archives: Jon Lowder

Judging the Judge

Yesterday featured the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing dedicated to testimony from Professor Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, of sexually assaulting her in high school back in the early 80s. By all accounts, it was a remarkable day in recent US history, but for me, this had a weirdly personal feel to it. Why? Because I’m the same age as Ford and Kavanaugh, I grew up within a 20-minute drive of them in the DC suburbs, and this whole episode is bringing up intense memories of my own high school and college years.

So yes, it hits close to home. And because I can’t know what happened I, like everyone else, have to wrestle with what I believe happened. And I do have those beliefs and they are influenced by the biases I have based on my experiences, but that’s not what I’m going to write about today. What I’m going to write about is what I saw during yesterday’s hearing and why I think that’s what needs to be focused on when determining if Kavanaugh is fit to serve on the Supreme Court.

What I saw were two people who seemed to sincerely believe their version of events. I saw a woman who tried to remain as composed as possible during her testimony and did about as well as you could expect given the situation. I saw a man who also tried to remain composed, but could not contain his rage or his disdain for many of the Senators on the committee and at some points could even be described as petulant.

Many of Kavanaugh’s defenders/proponents in my social circles have said something to the effect of, “His reaction is totally normal for someone who feels falsely accused of sexual assault in front of the whole country.” I agree, but for a nominee to the Supreme Court, I expect better than normal. I expect the extraordinary. I expect an exceptional level of grace under pressure, someone who can remain composed in the most adverse situations, and perhaps most importantly, a person who can retain their objectivity towards all parties no matter their personal feelings towards any of them in a dispute.

Yes, Kavanaugh’s emotional reaction was what I’d expect from an average man in his situation, but I don’t think the citizens of the United States deserve an average person on the Supreme Court. We deserve an extraordinary person and yesterday’s hearing revealed to all watching that Kavanaugh is simply an ordinary man unable to rise to an extraordinary challenge. We can, and should, do better.

Today’s 30-Year-Olds Face Steep Challenges

The graph below, which comes from this Axios article, paints a pretty clear picture of the challenges being faced by today’s 30-year-old Americans:


My kids – 25, 24 and 21 respectively – face a different economic reality than their mother and I did at their age in the early ’90s. On average they and their peers are earning the same amount of money as we did, but all of their expenses are higher. The result? Far fewer are getting married, having children or buying a home by the age of 30.

These trends are already having an impact on our country. At my day job I spend my time thinking about housing, the apartment industry in particular, and I can tell you that we’ve been seeing the impact there. That decline in the rate of homeownership you see in the graph above? That translates into more rental housing, which is obviously a positive thing for the apartment industry.

Even when they do get married, this generation isn’t rushing into parenthood mode. From the article:

  • Having fewer children: When Boomers were in their 20s, the fertility rate was 2.48, well beyond the replacement level of 2.1. Today, it is just 1.76.
  • When a recent survey asked why they were having fewer kids, most young adults said “child care is too expensive.”

And these folks are understandably more risk-averse than we were. After all they saw what happened during the great recession, when millions of people lost their “American Dream” homes to foreclosure. They are much more likely to wait until they know they’re financially solid before they venture into parenthood and homeownership.

So how do we fix this? Well, it begins and ends with household income. Until household income starts increasing at a faster clip than basic household expenses, we’re going to be stuck in place. Sure we can look at trying to control the costs of everyday life, but inflation is an economic reality so even if we reduce the rate of inflation we still need to make up lost ground on the income side. Easier said than done, but it’s something we must get serious about.

WFMY Story About My Goofy Stunts for Second Harvest

Yesterday I was interviewed by WFMY about some of the stunts I’ve pulled as part of my employer’s annual food drive for Second Harvest. It was a fun interview and I have to say I think the reporter, Laura Brache, who is a Parkland HS grad from here in Winston-Salem and is just one year out of J-school at UNC, has a very bright future. I say that not just because she was nice to me, but because she was truly professional, well-prepared, shot the video herself, wrote the story in English and Spanish, and got it all put together in a very short amount of time while also doing whatever other stories she had on her plate. Nothing easy about the job, but she made it look that way from where I was sitting.

For those who don’t want to click the link, here’s a pretty crappy copy from my phone:

Matt’s Run to Fight Hunger Raises Enough to Provide Over 31,000 Meals; My New Goal is Food Drive 500; Support from Got You Floored!

Hunger Fact of the Day: Every year Matt’s Run to Fight Hunger is one of the largest single sources of donations for the Piedmont Triad Apartment Association’s Food Drive. This year it raised enough to provide over 31,000 meals, and that’s before including the online donations they’ve generated! 

Today’s sponsor:

Got floor1

It would be hard to exaggerate how amazing Got You Floored is when it comes to supporting Second Harvest Food Bank of NWNC each and every year. The company donates a portion of the revenue generated from online orders from members of PTAA – in the members’ names – to Second Harvest every year. They also sponsor and organize Matt’s Run to Fight Hunger (named after company founder Matt Ketterman) every July, which raises thousands of dollars for the Food Bank. This year’s run, which just happened on July 7, raised enough money to provide over 31,000 meals for the food insecure families of NW North Carolina.

What makes this year’s run so amazing is that Matt and his team pulled it off just weeks after experiencing a catastrophic fire that destroyed their facility. That means they helped the community at a time when they had their own struggles, which makes it that much more amazing.

As you might be able to tell, I’m a huge fan of Got You Floored and have even been a very satisfied customer in the past. Give them a shout for any flooring needs you might have

Activity Day 68:

Hallelujah! As planned, I made my goal of completing a 367-mile walk between May 1 and July 7. That last magical mile came during Matt’s Run to Fight Hunger in Greensboro, which is exactly how I wanted it to happen. Unfortunately, I haven’t made my monetary goal so I’m going to extend the challenge. The new challenge is to keep going and make it to 500 miles by the end of July, which is the end of PTAA’s Food Drive. We’re calling it the Food Drive 500, and I’m determined to get there and to make my monetary goal. Want to help? Click on the “Donate Now” button at the bottom of this post and you’ll be able to help feed the hungry in our community.

Miles walked/run: 5.88 miles. Here’s the screenshot from my FitBit:

Screenshot_20180709-161619_2 (1)

Miles remaining in challenge: Old goal was met! Miles remaining for new goal: 130.69

Want to donate to support Second Harvest? It’s easy to do right here!


Choosing Between Food and Transportation; Walking Williamsburg Square; Support from Casual Furniture World

Hunger Fact of the Day: 73% of food insecure families report having to choose between food and transportation. Read more here.

Today’s sponsor:


Casual Furniture World is a relatively new member of the Piedmont Triad Apartment Association, but they’ve gotten involved quickly. Betsy Spencer has been a great, active, volunteer and our other members have noticed and voted the company Rookie Vendor Partner of the Year at our Diamond Awards banquet in March.

Casual Furniture World has locations in Winston-Salem, Greensboro and Myrtle Beach and you should definitely check them out for your outdoor furniture, outdoor accessories, grills, hearth & fireplace needs..

Much thanks to Betsy and the team at Casual Furniture World for supporting the walk (and PTAA’s Food Drive)!

Activity Day 67:

Originally I planned on walking the greenway near my office, but some wicked thunderstorms came through the area and I had to nix that idea. The storms cleared around dusk, so I did a couple of quick circuits around the neighborhood to make sure I could meet my 367-mile goal at Matt’s Run to Fight Hunger the following morning.


Miles walked/run: 5.31 miles. Here’s the screenshot from my FitBit:


Miles remaining in challenge: 3.57

Want to donate to support Second Harvest? It’s easy to do right here!


SNAP Improves Health; Tennis + a Walk; Support from ProSource Fitness

Hunger Fact of the Day: People who are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also commonly known as food stamps, have health care expenditures that are, on average, $1,400 less per year compared with similar people who are not enrolled in SNAP. – Source, Time Magazine

Today’s sponsor:

ProSource Logo

ProSource Fitness Equipment is a very strong supporter of Piedmont Triad Apartment Association (my day job), and their point person in our market, Josh Owen, is an active volunteer who recently won PTAA’s Supplier Vendor Partner of the Year Award. They’re also very involved in the community, including PTAA’s Food Drive.

ProSource is a provider of fitness equipment, both commercial and residential, and I can vouch for them personally because I’ve purchased from them for my home gym and have had nothing but a good experience with the equipment and the company.

They donated enough for a week’s worth of sponsorship and yesterday was the final day of their sponsorship. Much thanks to Josh and the team at ProSource Fitness for supporting the walk (and PTAA’s Food Drive) and for continuing to be leaders in our community!


Activity Day 66: Had some miles to make up as I close in on the finish line on Saturday, July 7. That’s why I added a neighborhood walk after 90 minutes of tennis. Thankfully the tennis was indoors, so I didn’t absolutely melt away, but even at 10:30 p.m. the walk was steamy. I’m surprised I didn’t end up as a puddle in the middle of the road. Getting close to the end!

Miles walked/run: 8.87 miles. Here’s the screenshot from my FitBit:


Miles remaining in challenge: 29.96

Want to donate to support Second Harvest? It’s easy to do right here!


Which Farmers Markets in NWNC Accept SNAP Benefits? Salem Lake in 90+ Heat; Support from FastSigns of High Point

Hunger Fact of the Day: One of the challenges faced by the food insecure is being able to find sources of healthy food. Unfortunately, it is often easier and less expensive to find high calorie, low-cost foods than it is to find nutritious food, so Second Harvest Food Bank of NWNC has produced a comprehensive list Farmers Markets that accept SNAP benefits.  You can find it here.

Today’s sponsor:

fastsigns logo

It is fitting that FastSigns of High Point is my sponsor for this portion of the walk which includes July 4. FastSign’s Joan Campbell was the inspiration and driving force behind Piedmont Triad Apartment Association’s (PTAA) first food drive 15 years ago and helped build it into the annual machine that it is today.  FastSigns of High Point also provides the signs for Matt’s Run to Fight Hunger each year, which helps raise thousands of dollars for Second Harvest Food Bank of NWNC each year.

FastSigns of High Point is a long-time supporter of PTAA and we use them ourselves for signs for our events, like our annual golf outing. They’re also extremely well regarded in the apartment industry and do a ton of work with PTAA’s members.

Much thanks to Joan and the team at FastSigns of High Point for supporting the walk (and PTAA’s Food Drive) and for continuing to be leaders in our community!

Activity Day 64-65: Well it’s been an incredibly hot week and Tuesday and Wednesday (July 3-4) were no exception. In an effort to try and offset some of that heat, and to get in some much-needed miles, I hit Salem Lake where most of the trail is shaded and there’s an occasional breeze off of the water. It helped, but it was still hotter than Hades. I once again enjoyed the company of my better 3/4, Celeste Lowder and we ended up having a good walk followed by a guilt-free dinner at home with a couple of glasses of wine. All in all, a great time.

Miles walked/run: 12.21 miles. Here’s the screenshot from my FitBit:


Miles remaining in challenge: 17.75

Want to donate to support Second Harvest? It’s easy to do right here!