James Steidle: Prince George’s shoe repair shop symbol of a better world

It is a window into a rapidly disappearing world of self-reliance, resourcefulness, and a philosophy of understanding value.

Just think of how hopeless we’d be if the ships didn’t come in and our nation lost its supply of cheap footwear. 

Lucky for us, we’ve still got Jerry down at Steve and Son’s Shoe Repair on George Street, the only place in Northern B.C. where you can get your shoes fixed.

To me, that little shop is a symbol of something very important.  It is a window into a rapidly disappearing world of self-reliance, resourcefulness, and a philosophy of understanding value.

In a throw-away world of easy-come easy-go, Jerry’s shoe repair shop invites us to consider otherwise.

Your items, like your shoes and your clothes, are things to keep alive. They are things that should live for decades, not months. Things that should be built not just to last, but to be able to maintain and to resurrect.  

It’s not like that now. In this era of cheap mass-production, where almost all of our nation’s footwear is manufactured overseas, we place little value on the ability to keep those shoes on the road. The moment they wear out, we throw them away.

We almost don’t have a choice. Our shoes, along with most of our household items, our appliances, even our automobiles and furniture, aren’t really designed to last or to be repaired all that much. 

They are designed to be thrown away.

There’s a word for all this: planned obsolescence. And it has a rationale. 

The more material that can just be thrown in a landfill, the more stuff we have to mine, log, and drill, and the more overseas factories we need to replace all the stuff we thoughtlessly turfed.

And all this, of course, feeds a better and

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Documentary film cobbles together history of Medina’s Porter Shoe Repair shop

MEDINA, Ohio — You could say that local documentarian Miles Reed has put his heart and soul — or maybe sole — into his newest film, about Medina’s Porter family and their shoe repair business.

Reed — a local historian, writer and filmmaker — presented “The Story of a Medina Treasure” Feb. 4 at the Medina Library. One hundred people crowded the community rooms to hear the Porters’ story.

Brian Feron, president of the Medina County Historical Society, welcomed the guests to the first membership meeting of the year.

Reed began his presentation by saying that he was not aware of the Porter business until he reached adulthood.

“I never had a pair of shoes nice enough to fix,” he said.

Phyllis Porter and Blanca Reed

Phyllis Porter, left, proprietor of Porter’s Shoe Repair in Medina, poses with Blanca Reed at the showing of a documentary film about the history of the Porter family and their business. (Mary Jane Brewer, special to cleveland.com)

But when the building housing the Porters’ shoe repair shop was scheduled to be torn down, local supporters of the business approached Reed to preserve the story.

Reed realized that along with blacksmith shops and milliners, shoe repair shops are about to be a thing of the past. He delved into the history of the “little, humble building” at 137 W. Liberty St. — and found a treasure trove of Medina history.

Robert Porter, father of Herb Porter and one of a very few African-Americans in Medina, founded the Porter Shoe Repair business in 1956, the same year that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks were organizing the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycotts.

An entrepreneur, Robert Porter opened seven store locations by 1965 — including one each in Wellington, Brunswick, Rittman and Fairlawn, in addition to the Medina

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