Archive for the ‘education’ Category
Today, on Facebook friend MaryBeth Matthews shared something that not only shocked me but saddened me. My thoughts and concerns about the threat of a teacher’s strike and the recount of the school district’s handling of assaults on teachers. Violence begets violence, and if consequences are not given if the “assault” does not meet an arbitrary definition what lesson are we teaching our children?
At first, it seems offering condolences to a grieving family for their son being coupled with a discussion of the definition of assault seems incongruous but on deeper refection had a deeper meaning for me.
I have been told by a young man who knew the family that apparently the altercation may have been caused by a difference over a girl. How sad that a young man would turn to a gun to settle a difference, but then if he has witnessed assaults without consequences how far does a young person’s mind need to travel to using a gun which appear to readily available.
For a student to learn, he or she needs to know they are safe and secure. That usually means that they not only see the man or woman standing before them as a teacher but as a protector, a confidant, a trusted adult. Read this, and see if you think our children can believe that when they are in their school they are in a safe and secure place where they can learn.
I was a teacher in Cleveland for 5 years two of the years "threat of strike" was part of my summers and in a third year "all state money is spent we cannot pay you again until January" was a reality. (This statement was shared with us on November 1 so we could prepare for our holiday season.
Throughout that time, the relationship between management and staff was contentious to say the least, but every day we continued to do what teachers do-we taught.
In all negotiations, the highest and best for children should be the goal. And, the community needs to be engaged ALWAYS for that to happen.
"Our message is clear: The members of the Cleveland Teachers Union – teachers, paraprofessionals, psychologists, nurses, speech language pathologists, OTs, PTs, sign language interpreters, and substitute teachers are united in that fight for a contract that is good for kids and fair for educators."
Here are MaryBeth’s thoughts:
“Since 1988 I have worked hard for the students of Cleveland. Typically, I publicly stay out of the politics. There is a lot that is good happening in Cleveland schools and those things need to be shouted from the rooftops, but there are also some awful trends happening to public schools nationally and locally that most people don’t hear about either. This summer our contract is being negotiated, things are not looking good and we may be going on strike for the only time in my lifelong career. This week the CTU president spoke to the school board. I am posting his speech since it begins to explain, but is just the tip of the iceberg. Read to the end about teacher assault.”
and please take the time to read Cleveland Teacher’s Union Board President David Quokle’s speech to the Cleveland School Board:
"Good Evening, I am David Quolke President of the Cleveland Teachers Union. On behalf of myself and the entire Cleveland Teachers Union, I want to extend our condolences to the family and friends of Diamond Russell. Our deepest sympathies are extended to his family, Diamond’s classmates at Ginn Academy, his teammates at Glenville, his coaches, teachers, and the entire Glenville community as another young life was taken far too soon. We have a saying in the education community that “to teach is to touch a life forever.’” Our thoughts, our prayers and our support are with everyone whose lives were touched by Diamond Russell as they begin this healing process.
My comments tonight are directed more to our board members and our community members.
Tomorrow is the last day of school for students. This means that the clock is ticking for this school district to ensure a smooth start to the next school year. The sooner that the school district comes back to the table to negotiate a contract that is good for kids and fair for educators, the sooner that we can all focus on the new school year and the impending school levy.
This contract is not just about money….this contract is about treating these members with respect and dignity. This contract is about fixing what is broken in the Cleveland Plan so we can move forward with Educating Cleveland’s kids. This contract is about reducing the excessive amount of testing our kids must go through and it is about providing valuable electives and career tech options for our kids. This contract is about ensuring that evaluations will be fair for all our members. This contract is about recognizing the incredible work our paraprofessionals do and elevating them to a livable wage. Our message is clear: The members of the Cleveland Teachers Union – teachers, paraprofessionals, psychologists, nurses, speech language pathologists, OTs, PTs, sign language interpreters, and substitute teachers are united in that fight for a contract that is good for kids and fair for educators.
I was disappointed that you went to such great lengths attempting to discredit the fact finder in your annotated version of her report. I have told everyone that I have talked to, to read the report and to heed the fact finders words. She was accurate in saying… “Trust and collaboration between the parties so essential for a healthy labor management relationship, has been on a downward spiral and has reached a new low.” She was accurate in saying…”As a result of administrative actions, bargaining unit members feel among other things, disrespected as professionals, tyrannized by an unfair and inequitable evaluation system, and subjected to administrative decisions which sometimes have little, if anything, to do with improving their practice, much less the learning, growth and welfare of students. “ Those are pretty powerful statements, by a neutral third party, who was mutually selected by both the CMSD and the CTU, not just this year but three years ago as well. She gets it and sees how educators in Cleveland are being treated.
But she wasn’t the only neutral third party arbitrator to be critical of this district’s administration.
Last year, after Carl Monday questioned how grant funds were used for a school’s trip to Puerto Rico, you allowed your leadership team to engage in a witch hunt on one of our teachers… you allowed them to recommend discipline for something she was never charged with…. you went into your “Executive Session” and came out not only agreeing with that recommendation but allowed your Chief Legal Counsel to write a damning letter about our member to her staff, and you stood by as he tried to get her license suspended by the state. We knew it was a sham and earlier this year not only did a neutral third party arbitrator overturn the suspension and order CMSD to contact ODE rescinding that letter….he also made it a point to state in his award that quote…“The letter from the Districts Chief Legal Counsel (Wayne Belock), to clarify what the Greivant had written, on the other hand, was not only a disrespectful attempt to get the last word but a clear violation of the Districts Code of Ethics.” This is the kind of behavior our members are up against every day and this is the kind of behavior you…our board members ….are allowing and encouraging.
But it doesn’t end there. On the same day the fact finders report came out, another, neutral third party arbitrator issued a ruling on assaults…staff assaults…when your employees are getting assaulted doing their job….I can’t even begin to express my disgust with the position you allowed Eric and his team to take….
THE CMSD STATEMENT SAID THAT IN ORDER FOR A SERIOUS ASSAULT OR BATTERY TO OCCUR, THE CTU MEMBER MUST SUFFER
* PHYSICAL HARM THAT CARRIES A SUBSTANTIAL RISK OF DEATH,
* PERMANENT INCAPACITY OR PERMANANT DISFIGUREMENT; OR
* PSYCHOLOGICAL ILLNESS THAT WOULD NORMALLY REQUIRE
HOSPITALIZATION, TO NAME A FEW
In fact, under oath, Chief Legal Counsel, Wayne Belock acknowledged that if a student punched a teacher in the face and left a bruise on the teacher’s face, it would not necessarily be a serious assault.
Really!!!!!! Our educators are there for our kids day in and day out and this is what was posted on your website for principals to use when a CTU member gets assaulted. That is how your principals were directed to view an assault…and worse yet this is how they have been acting. I hope you are all embarrassed with the position you let your team take. Thankfully, a third party neutral rejected the districts outrageous position, ordered the district to rescind its statement on serious assault and notify principals and chapter chairs that is has been rescinded, but unfortunately, we had to go to court this morning because Wayne Belock wouldn’t comply with the order. It was only after we filed in court that the district took action and rescinded the posting.
You may want to discredit CTU, ….and the fact finder, ….and these arbitrators, the list goes on. But the issues we brought to the table are real. These rulings paint an accurate picture of the type of problems we need to fix. We need to get back to the table, fix the broken promises and begin treat our members with the dignity and respect they deserve… and to repair the strained labor relations so we can move forward together in passing a levy.
If you think that the slogan on our shirts are an idle threat…you’re wrong. Our members are united and believe me….we don’t want to strike….but we will….Thank you."
PUBLIC MEETING NOTICE
3179 West 25th Street
Thursday, January 22nd at 6:00 pm
At Lincoln West High School 3202 West 30th Street
Park and enter from the NORTH parking lot
The owner of Aragon Ballroom (Ali Faraj) would like to renovate the historic building as an event/conference center. The use will be allowed if it doesn’t negatively impact the neighborhood.
I would suggest anyone living near the West 25th corridor, whether it is close to the Aragon Ballroom or not, should attend this IMPORTANT meeting. Since this will be the FIRST MAJOR renovation along a street where MANY upgrades and changes are planned, we need to do this right and the COMMUNITY should be included.
Among other things to be considered is a PARKING variance. Rumor has it that already an agreement with Cleveland Metropolitan School District and the owners has already been struck. My question why isn’t the vacant lot on West 25th Street very close to the venue considered for parking? When the corridor booms a well placed parking lot should be in the mix, correct? The area surrounding the ARAGON is VERY residential and how will on street parking be handled?
If the seminars and business activities do not meet expectations, what type of “entertainment” will the venue book? What type of liquor permits will be requested? A lot of questions need to be asked and answered. Solutions need to be found for the community’s concerns.
An historic preservation of a building is only ONE of things to be considered here and should not be used as a smoke screen for the very real impact on the surrounding community.
Please consider taking the time out of your very busy lives to attend.
Recently, I told someone that I think we do not discuss the poverty rate and the day to day reality in our neighborhoods in a way that causes any real action on how to change it.
This comment was in response to yet again another discussion about the yearly “go around” when the City and the Cleveland City Council takes on the subject of Community Development Block Grant funds and how the ever shrinking pot will be dispensed. You might wonder why this would be a topic of conversation for me on a daily basis at this time of year. I serve as the Chair for the Stockyard, Clark-Fulton and Brooklyn Centre Community Advisory Council, and that is the reason.
Disclaimer: This blog post is strictly my own thoughts and views on the subject and does not in any way represent an official viewpoint of said Council or anyone else for that matter.
Our economic strategy is based on scarcity rather than abundance. in essence “the haves and the have nots”. It doesn’t matter what commodity the discussion is about: food, oil and gas, money, transportation, water, land, you name it, and what it boils down to is who has it and who doesn’t. In the case of CDBG funds who holds the purse strings and how it is dispensed is the topic of discussion.
Andrew Carnegie in the early 1900’s built libraries instead of soup kitchens based on the premise that people’s minds should be fed as well as their bodies. Kind of a “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” philosophy. Cleveland Public Library’s “The People’s University” comes to mind.
Last year, I had the opportunity to hear Peter Block, one of the authors of “The Abundant Community” and Dr. Olivia Saunders, an economist from the Bahamas at an all day seminar hosted by River’s Edge. Since I was in college, I have always had an avid interest in economics, but their discussion about The Economics of Abundance turned everything I thought I knew upside down and has had me looking at things differently ever since that day. Dr. Saunders held up a tomato and asked this question “ How many seeds does this tomato have?” Then, in small groups, we were to figure out how many seeds were in that tomato. The answers varied from the hundreds to the tens of thousands. Her answer: “enough”.
As long as we see “getting the money” as the end rather than the means, we will continue to believe “there is not enough”. Collaboration, partnering, and developing “new” ways of doing things is how we transform our ability to “do more good with fewer dollars” because we have the skill set to do it within each community in Cleveland. Peter Block voiced how we are taught that the answers are “out there” and “somewhere else” instead of right there within a community itself.
This article “Is It Taboo for You Too?” by Richard Wagner on www. worth living.com asks some good questions on how we could reframe the dialogue into some meaningful discussions . How we could ask some questions that could actually begin to change our mindset about money as the tool it is rather than the end goal. Put it all in perspective as it were.
Here is an interesting sign I first saw on Facebook. There will be much quibbling over the numbers, but one thing remains clear: Mature trees have great value for many reasons.
There is a sign, at the Eden Nature Park & Resort in City of Davao, Philippines, that says this:
Of concern to all! A tree is worth $193,250
According to Professor T.M.Das of the University of Calcutta. A tree living for 50 years will generate $31,250 worth of oxygen, provide $62,000 worth of air pollution control, control soil erosion and increase soil fertility to the tune of $31,250, recycle $37,500 worth of water and provide a home for animals worth $31,250. This figure does not include the value of fruits, lumber or beauty derived from trees. Just another sensible reason to take care of our forests.
From Update Forestry Michigan State University
The figure, sometimes incorrectly quoted as $196,250, is cited at various green blogs, and sold on a bright red poster at Singapore Zoological Gardens, but i haven’t been able to find the study behind it.
So is a tree living for 50 years worth $193,250?
Here is some ancillary material Larry Cornett posted to this coming Saturday’s Facebook event. I present it here so that it will be available on the internet for a long, long time. I think the reasoning here is incredible. Whenever federal money shows up, common sense, individual rights, and intrinsic values fly out the window.
US EPA currently plans to cap Reed Park and remove most of the trees. Reasons given for removing the trees include:
* It would cost money to save them
* Only a few people at public meetings focused on saving the trees.
* The roots of trees only extend 8” below the surface and putting two feet of fill above the roots of the trees to cap the soil would deprive them of oxygen and eventually kill them
* Many of the trees are old…
* Some trees are sick or dead
* Some species of trees are undesirable
* Some of the trees are not structurally sound and could fall on children
* If a tree blows down, exposing the roots, subsurface contamination would also be exposed
We need to have activists, ecologists, arborists, and others accompany the forester and EPA in the park on Saturday.
A previous brownfields study in the park showed concentrations of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) above those acceptable for direct contact in the fill material sampled to depths of 2’ or 4’ in most of the park. Three to six inches of grassy topsoil has been covering most of the surface of the park and subsurface fill material for about 50 years or more. Portions of the park are also covered with concrete or sand (in the baseball diamond).
The topsoil was never separately analyzed to determine if it presents a significant risk from direct contact. Fungus and other microorganisms in grassy topsoil have been found to destroy PAHs at a rate of 0.2% to 17% per month. Microorganisms associated with tree roots can also destroy PAHs. For details, see
Until the topsoil, etc. are sampled and analyzed, NO SIGNIFICANT RISK FROM DIRECT CONTACT WITH THE SOIL AT THE SURFACE OF THE PARK HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED, although there would be a need to rebury or treat contaminated fill material that would be excavated where and when the City does any construction in most of the park.
For more details, see:
Comparison of Trees and Grasses for Rhizoremediation of Petroleum Hydrocarbons
“Rhizoremediation of petroleum contaminants is a phytoremediation process that depends on interactions among plants, microbes, and soils. Trees and grasses are commonly used for phytoremediation, with trees typically being chosen for remediation
On Facebook, Larry Cornett has publicized an event that deserves the participation of everyone who believes in the preservation of our commonly held assets, such as mature trees.
And while I’m at it, here is an intelligent article for your delectation and delight about the effect of trees on market values in a neighborhood: http://www.naturewithin.info/Policy/Hedonics_Citations.pdf
Please come join the tree dialogue in Brooklyn Centre this weekend. This is an issue that affects not only our neighborhood but all of our urban areas.
- Saturday, September 28, 2013
- 1:00pm until 4:00pm
- W.C. Reed Park 1700 Denison Avenue
- Please come! We need your help!
US EPA coordinator James Justice has scheduled a walk through the park with ODNR Urban Forester Alan Siewert.
1. Mr. Justice thinks because we didn’t focus on the trees at the Public Meeting therefore, they are not an issue….
2. Mr. Siewert is a FORESTER not an arborist. He sees trees from a timber perspective not an environmental and ecological perspective.
3. Mr. Siewert has identified 8 trees worthy of saving of the 61 trees in the park.
WE NEED YOUR HELP! We need people there who have an environmental and ecological perspective as well as people who understand the value of urban trees to the beauty of a neighborhood. If you can, please come Saturday. If you can’t please give us arguments and reasons WHY existing trees and soil are good remediators for PAHS toxins and should NOT be removed from the park.
I just received this notice from Nathan Rutz of Ohio Citizen Action informing me that we are again being forced to defend ourselves against this abomination that Cleveland Public Power and the City of Cleveland promote.
Dear Gloria —
In 2012, after facing widespread public opposition to their plans for a new garbage incinerator on Ridge Road, the City of Cleveland fired project developer Peter Tien for incompetence and claimed they were going back to the drawing board.
However, the City has continued to pursue this project behind the scenes, even thoughsome new consultants (Gershman, Brickner and Bratton) just told Cleveland City Council last week that a new “gasification” plant would be far more expensive than other options.
The city has now asked Ohio EPA to issue an air pollution permit for the proposed garbage incinerator on Ridge Road. The draft permit, which was issued on May 10, 2013, is very similar to the one proposed last year, and can be found on the Ohio EPA’s website at:http://wwwapp.epa.ohio.gov/dapc/permits_issued/1010783.pdf
The Ohio EPA and City of Cleveland Division of Air Quality have just announced that they will hold a public hearing on this permit on Wednesday, June 12th, at 6:00 p.m. at the Estabrook Recreation Center, 4125 Fulton Road.
Loud and clear, the citizens of Cleveland told Mayor Frank Jackson and city officials that we want a strong recycling and composting program, not a highly polluting and unnecessary garbage incinerator. Apparently they didn’t get the message.
Please plan to come to this hearing, bring your “No Cleveland Incinerator” signs if you can, and be prepared to testify against this proposal. We will be preparing some additional information for you to use, but wanted to get the word out about the date right away.
Also, please call Mayor Frank Jackson’s office, 216-664-3990, and tell the mayor that the city should withdraw this permit and go back to the drawing board.
Cleveland Campaign Organizer
Ohio Citizen Action · 614 W Superior Ave, 1200, Cleveland, OH 44113, United States
This email was sent to email@example.com. To stop receiving emails, click here.
Created with NationBuilder, the essential toolkit for leaders.
Investment News Daily reports today:
“Jefferson County, the largest county in Alabama, filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection in November and is currently arguing in court for the right to cut payments on more than $3 billion in bonds issued to fund its sewer system. Harrisburg, Pa., filed a month earlier because of massive debts from an incinerator project. Stockton, Calif., may soon become the largest city to declare bankruptcy in U.S. history. It currently is in a 60-day mediation period”.
Read the entire article here.
I believe bonds were tossed around as a possible way to pay for Cleveland’s “trash to energy” boondoggle.
The financials for this fiasco doesn’t add up in more ways the one.
Then, there is THIS story about Harrisburg Pa, its trash incinerator and now, it will miss payment on general obligation bonds.
The City of Cleveland needs to start over on their “reduce recycle, and reuse” program.
I still maintain that one of the reasons for pushing so hard for an inadequate plan is because of the tonnage of debris from demolition which will need to be disposed. If it could be burned within the city, tipping fees and all other costs would be much smaller.
It has never been about “clean and green” energy and what the citizenry of Cleveland desires.
Back to the drawing boards and I hope this time we get something innovative and substantial.
may just have something to say about all that.
As more people opt for walkable bikeable communities with boutique commercial districts, South Euclid’s elected officials buy into an outmoded business model with the promise of it “being green”. You tell me how taking 144/54 acres of green space and replacing it with much less is “being green”. Obviously, someone is keeping South Euclid’s government occupied so they don’t see all the studies showing that those communities with parks for walking and biking are the ones where people are now settling. I haven’t seen any studies lately on the hordes of people moving to be close to “big box retail”. I have seen a lot of news articles about the eyesores and blight left behind when “the big box” moves to the next community willing to sell its soul.
I am thankful for my friends Susan and Carla and so many others willing to devote precious free time to combating Mitch Schneider’s latest venture to make his investors and himself rich and to make South Euclid/Cleveland Heights poorer. Here is the link to their face book page:
Here is an email I received from Susan earlier today. I asked her if I could post it on my blog because I want her reasons for standing up against this development known. Please sign her petition asking for sustainable land use and take the time to read what she has to say. It’s good stuff. Oh and those of you talking about “class warfare” shame on you. We are into this together and when we allow what makes us all “rich”- the beauty of our land to be plundered- those “selling out” for the short term are the ones who are waging class warfare. You are taking what made our area prosperous and selling us all into poverty.
If you feel that we have enough big box retail in the Heights Hillcrest area and need not destroy precious green space to build more, you may wish to add your name to the petition linked here:
Here’s the long story of why I’ve directed so much time and attention to this:
You may or may not know that I have been involved with a group called Citizens for Oakwood. We’re trying to save 144/54 acres of green space – the former Oakwood Country Club. We’d like to see it become a public park (and improve it’s ability to be a sponge for stormwater by allowing it to be a passive park). First Interstate/Legacy Capital Partners would like it to be big box retail. Of course, Jane Goodman, city council person in South Euclid where he’s begun the rezoning for big box process, promises that this will be a green infrastructure exemplar. Since South Euclid is in such a fiscally dire situation, it is clear to most that it is not a lack of retail, but rather downward (economic) pressure that is driving this. I think most adults know that we can’t buy our way to prosperity. Some are still fooled I guess. What was that Bush said about fool me once, keep right on foolin’ me – I’m feelin’ foolish?
It has raised three issues for me and for many of us.
1) Golf clubs are dying – Landerhaven was first, Oakwood is now, Acacia is next (now that it’s out of litigation). Then which golf/country club private course will fall to a developer? Seneca just sold to Metroparks. Hmmm… Which golf course will go next? While the focus will undoubtedly be on our poor relation, the City of Cleveland, you are aware, I’m sure, that poverty is creeping outward, just as population has. Now it’s also the inner ring that’s feeling the pressure. Please consider the golf courses and work with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy to help these clubs to stay green space. By the time all the planners have finished their studies and identified the "value" of green swathes to our Lake, big box retail may have ruled the day and the tiny municipal governments in South Euclid and Cleveland Heights despite our efforts. I have tried to make the argument that this is more valuable to South Euclid and Cleveland Heights as open green space from a water quality and quality of life standpoint, but I don’t have the metrics. Tacit knowledge is much harder to convey in a world where everything is a transaction. South Euclid just rewrote their entire comprehensive plan to accommodate this development. They did it in two weeks with two people. For golf courses, the WRLC exemplar is Orchard Hills – admittedly "out there", but still a good example of what could be "in here".
2) The downward pressure might be lessened if these balkanized municipalities had merged years ago. I’m going to keep exploring this for our future. It would be good to fold in the value of water absorbing green space when that muni mapping becomes a part of that discussion. The idea? What if Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights, University Heights and South Euclid were one suburb? What white collar efficiencies might be gained? And could those efficiencies result in some greater resiliency and redundancy in our shared green space?
3) At a forum sponsored by Future Heights on land use and Oakwood, Terry Schwarz mentioned that the metric for jobs and parkland is 1 job per acre. I realized that agricultural land has no metric. Why is this important? Because, growing food, farming in the city has no value. It may not now, but it will shortly. The day will come (sooner than later in my estimation) when refrigerated trucks from the valleys of California will not arrive in NEO. We will need to be reliant on what can be grown and raised locally. We may tear down buildings just to be able to farm. Impending doom – energy crisis? Yes. It is upon us. We may look back and say, "Boy! We sure wish we’d saved this land for growing food!" 154 acres is a substantial bit-o-farmland. I’ll be meeting with farmland and farming experts to discuss how to discover per-acre metrics for ag land so that local food can enter these planning discussions.
In an article in Ecowatch Journal, it is noted that new project efforts at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens will include this issue: "Based on existing work being done in the region and success stories in other cities, identify barriers to implementation of green infrastructure as targets for future action and develop strategies to overcome them." Funny. I asked NEORSD if there might be a land use aspect to their big stormwater plan. You know like, residents of municipalities that have retained green space would get a tiny automatic credit. They said – no, NEORSD doesn’t get into land use. I guess NEORSD will be in these discussions though. Land use and such best management practices as downspout disconnects where appropriate (most places in NEO) are the low hanging fruit of addressing our water quality issues. Mother earth is a filter. We have abused her mightily, no doubt, but she is still there, still willing like any mother to help her children.
It may be too late for Oakwood unless we all come together to stop this madness. We’re not giving up, but South Euclid’s government seems to have. They’re in a deep hole at Cedar Center – $19 million deep. What could be another piece of Ginny Aveni’s County Greenprint – the Emerald Lace that connects our Emerald Necklace, the Cuyahoga River Valley and Lake Erie, may be paved to put up a parking lot. No pink hotel, no boutique – big box retail. We don’t plan to stop our arguments now and we hope you’ll raise your voice as well and participate in this democratic practice. We need to do everything we can to keep the bulldozers from rolling over Oakwood. At rallies for SB5 I heard the now familiar chant, "This is what democracy looks like!" Letting our elected officials know how we feel is democracy. Democracy isn’t just voting; it’s a state of being, a way of life.
My son has graduated from college and moved away to Seattle for work. There he can take public transportation, ride his bike, pay his college loan instead of a car loan and visit the wonderful parks that the city has protected. How I hope that someday he can move back to Cleveland Heights and appreciate similar amenities here – NEO – the region that woke up and got busy turning what seemed like a burden into a blessing! This would be an even better story of how Cleveland beat Wall Street. That’s the story I want to hear when I’m passing into another world.
Currently we’re all feeling the downward pressure. It’s palpable in Cleveland and the region, in the state, in the nation. We just want our fellow citizens to look farther, longer and with an eye to water quality, air quality, quality of life. We want them to see that there is a world water crisis that will not bypass the Great Lakes. We want them to think not so much about the hardship they’re enduring, which will increase in the near term, but to consider the outcomes in the long term, however difficult that may be. We’d like to make a gift to future generations. As Ellie Strong said speaking of the "little old ladies in tennis shoes" who saved the Shaker Lakes, "to each generation there is something to save."
Today is Earth Day. We have been celebrating this day for 41 years now. On first Earth Day I was a student at BGSU. My first memory of that day isn’t much different from many spring days on campus-kite flying, sidewalk chalk art, boys playing guitars and girls with long flowing hair listening to folk songs. There were impromptu debates on how our earth would not survive if we continued our dependence on oil and gas. Chemically altered food would poison us and our children. Our streams and rivers would die with fish and wildlife gasping for breath. Nuclear power was coming to a town near you and would be the death of us all. In fact, the peace sign so familiar to us all, began its career as an anti-nuclear power symbol which soon encompassed “no war” as well. It sounds like those discussions were dark, bleak, and desperate.
Not so, many of my college friends had plans for the solutions to all of the dire situations that could be our future. All they had to do was graduate, have their degree, and change the world. Many changes in our world did come to pass. Two of the biggest was the 1970 Clean Air Act and the 1972 Clean Water Act. An act spurred in part by our own “crooked river, the Cuyahoga catching fire, not once but twice because of chemical sludge from the refineries and industries along its bank. Today, a towpath trail is being designed to wind along that same river. Fish, birds, amphibians, and reptiles have returned to its banks, and when the spring air warms, sculls will again be seen skimming across its surface.
Meanwhile, our state and federal legislators are preparing to gut our laws that insure clean air and water to our citizens. At the same time, they are considering opening our system of state parks to drilling and “fracking” for oil and gas. Fracking, a term so new that I had to add it to my dictionary. Surface mining in Old Brooklyn was recently held off by a group of determined citizens, their councilman, and the City Planning Commission. soon, we will be protesting the largest “trash to energy” incinerator in the nation using unproven techniques with no assurance that the technology is safe for humans within the confines of Cleveland at the Ridge Road transfer station.
There are those who would tell you that we cannot compete if we do not relax the laws put in place 40 years ago or if we do not embrace unproven technology to pay for energy. These same people rely on our memories being short. Now, that we can see across the river and the smokestacks are mostly silent, they believe that they can eliminate the laws that allow us to breathe easier and make us safe from chemical poisoning.
I would say this to all of you. Now, is not the time to relax laws to make it easier to use the same old fossil fuels and chemicals that continue to pollute our air, but rather it is the time for Cleveland to innovate the new technologies that will carry us into the 22nd century just like those who came before us made us an industrial powerhouse in the 20th century. We should be on the cutting edge of the new technologies needed for energy that does not pollute our environment. Yes, this may be expensive in the short term, but will be well worth the benefits overall. Consider the alternative of cheaper in the short term, but more expensive in the long term with more health costs, less quality of life, and cheaper for whom the consumer or for the owners of the corporations getting the breaks. Take a look at your latest utility bill. You are conserving all that you can, and still the bills are rising. Our dependence on gasoline is increasing due to less mass transit and the price just keeps on rising. Taxes, fees continue to rise while corporations continue to say that they cannot afford to do business in Ohio. Really, who says so?
Forty one years later, the phrase :If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem is just as true today as it was then. Do not let fear guide you. Stand up and tell your legislature that now is the time for new ideas and new solutions. It is not the time to prop up corporations that are dinosaurs which will only die a slower death if they are allowed to gut the clean air and water laws. Get out, take a walk, drink the fresh air, contemplate the wonders of the earth, and know that you can preserve them for future generations. Use your vote.