Drew Ryun, Campaign SideKick

Drew Ryun

Photo: Drew, Becca and Skye Ryun at Mesa Verde National Park

Simple, stable, scalable and simplicity of system suddenly became the mantra of this interview with Candidates.vote’s Clark H. Caras and Drew Ryun, father, husband and CEO of CampaignSidekick–as Caras spent time with Ryun on his and his family’s five acres of the “real America” outside of Fort Worth, Texas filled with a 12-tree miniature orchard, chickens, garden plot filled with heirloom veggies, beehives, four children and his wife as a circle of family support to be called upon if the need ever arises.

I love technology. If you don’t let it absorb you, it can be a valuable asset.

Drew Ryun

Candidates.vote – You manage a real time campaign tool, CampaignSidekick, that can tell a walker/doorknocker who might come to my door if I’m currently a registered Republican or Democrat, the last time I voted, and is an amazing tool already carrying “Simple, Stable, Scalable” in its motto; yet as we began to move from that technology to family and your surroundings you mention “simplicity of system”.

Ryun – It just seems to fit with what I do and why we moved from Washington, D.C., to the “Real World” here outside of Fort Worth. It really does kind of fit with how I try and live life.

Candidates.vote – You definitely do not live off the grid, although you tested this 60-year old’s limits as we are using Zoom for this call and it was right up to the point our meeting was to begin I went through all the bells and whistles, pushed the right button on my phone and was talking to you on your computer! You call that the “real world”! I call it forcing the ole dog to learn new tricks – but I thank you for it.

Ryun – [Laughing]. I love technology. If you don’t let it absorb you, it can be a valuable asset. My wife and I have four children and we realized the work I do can be done and accomplished remotely. Yet what our four children and our selves need from the real world is here where we currently live in Texas and the support of family we can call upon if and when it’s needed.

We are blessed to have four children; three girls and one boy. Two of them were born with complex heart-defects; one daughter has already had three open heart surgeries and our boy had one when he was four days old. We made a decision years ago to move away from Washington, DC, and closer to my wife’s support structure.

We can reach out in about any direction and have my wife’s family there for us. And we are surrounded by the way we both grew up and it’s now a gift we can share with our children.

Candidates.vote – When you talk about a kind of “real America” being the way you grew up there is something almost lyrical come to your voice, can you explain what it is we’re hearing and what it is in your home here outside of Fort Worth you are getting.

Ryun – Having the garden, a small orchard, a beehive, acreage; all of that, it’s a good stress reliever. It clears the mind because we are working with God’s creation. As a family you get the joy of growing and eating out of your own garden.

When we were living in D.C. we loved it, but realized we missed this element of life. We grow heirloom veggies in our garden and the kids know what terms like Black Krims, and Cherokee Purple are. We even keep some of the seeds each year, dry and store them and have seeds for next year.

Gardening, chicken(ing), and Trailing

Candidates.vote – So a miniature orchard and a garden that so far we know grows heirloom tomatoes. What else are we talking about that gets harvested from the Ryun family garden?

Ryun – Well, we grow our own cucumbers, peppers, onions, lettuce and cantaloupe. And then we’ve got our small orchard of 12 miniature fruits trees with apples, figs, apricots and peaches; just about anything you can imagine being grown in a regular orchard.

Ryun – Well, we grow our own cucumbers, peppers, onions, lettuce and cantaloupe. And then we’ve got our small orchard of 12 miniature fruits trees with apples, figs, apricots and peaches; just about anything you can imagine being grown in a regular orchard.

Candidates.vote – You mention “miniature”, but then you keep mentioning “standard” fruit trees. I’m guessing these are the same thing and it’s just a matter of doing something to the one to create the other?

Ryun – Yes, you’re exactly right. There’s a process where you can take a young standard sized fruit tree and with regular pruning keep the tree around 5-6 feet tall instead of 20-25 feet and then “train” the branches so you have the right scaffolding. It’s actually a very beautiful process and when you’re done you’ve got a full orchard tucked into your smaller piece of acreage.

Candidates.vote – It sounds beautiful and all, but it also sounds like a lot of work. There has to be some special motivation for wanting your own orchard.

Ryun – Well there’s always the joy of growing and eating out of your own garden and orchard, but when we were kids my brother and I planted an orchard – I think it was in our teens – I have always loved working in the soil and getting my hands dirty.

Candidates.vote – You’ve already mentioned something about your garden that gives me the answer here, but it’s a fun question we ask everyone. Are you a cheeseburger or hamburger kind of guy?

Ryun – (Laughing) Definitely a cheeseburger guy. At In-N-Out Burger on a Friday night date my wife and I get the Double cheeseburger animal style and our two year old gets the order of French fries and she’s in Heaven – it works out great.

Candidates.vote – Again, I know the answer to this, but I’m going to ask even though I guess you would call the relish they put on animal style pickles.  Are you a pickles kinda guy or no pickles?

Ryun – Yes, animal style has some relish in it and then they put pickles on it too. You can’t have a cheeseburger without pickles.

Candidates.vote – So no future plans for a milk cow or goat on the place?

Ryun – No we have the five acres and just about all we can handle with it. We have chickens for some great farm fresh brown eggs and we are just going to add one more thing. A running trail for the kids.

Candidates.vote – A running trail. I saw on your resume you did running camps as well as running CampaignSidekick.

Ryun – It’s in my DNA. At one point in his career, my dad held six world records in running from the 880 yds to the one mile run. He also ran in three Olympics. But yes, we have the Running Co-op (www.Running.camp). It’s our way of giving back and telling the kids what the purpose of life is while helping them become better runners. Right now we host at colleges and universities here and we have 75-100 kids to each camp. And right now we’re looking for something more permanent and for it to grow.

Candidates.vote – You seem to be a family that likes interacting with the earth, land and sky around you? Are there any more surprises we might see come from the Ryun family?

Ryun – We have a pop-up camper and love to roam. We are nomads by nature. My wife wants to visit all of the National Parks while the kids are young and we have already taken several off our bucket list. We did even did five nights with an eight month old tent camping in Yellowstone last summer. It was awesome! You see a whole different world when you are standing at night in Bryce Canyon National Park without any light pollution. It’s amazing and incredible.

Yosemite is on the bucket list as well-we’ve got 6 nights reserved on the valley floor this summer.

Candidates.vote – Can I ask what book is sitting on the nightstand of the man who loves to stand and read the night sky?

Ryun – I love historical fiction and history – I was a dual History and English major in college. I just finished reading the Saxon Series, a 10 book series (and growing) about Alfred the Great and the emergence of England. (The series was adapted to television and plays on Netflix under the title of The Last Kingdom series.)

I grew up in our public library. My mom would drop us off and we’d have the armloads of books we were taking home to read. Reading opens the mind and allows the imagination to run wild. My next book up is Erik Larsen’s, “The Devil in the White City”. It’s the story of the Chicago World’s Fair. We are passing the love of books down to our children and I love the fact that they think a trip to the library is something to get excited about.

Reach Drew Ryun at www.CampaignSidekick.vote.

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