Gloria Ferris

one woman’s view from a place by the zoo in the city

Archive for the ‘education’ Category

Reframing the Money Dialogue

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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.

economics – Is the value of a tree $193,250?

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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

enter image description here

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?

economics – Is the value of a tree $193,250? – Skeptics Stack Exchange

Written by Gloria Ferris

September 25th, 2013 at 8:52 am

(1) Walk with the Trees in W.C. Reed Park

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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.

Larry Cornett

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

http://www.academia.edu/2908115/Comparison_of_Trees_and_Grasses_for_Rhizoremediation_of_Petroleum_Hydrocarbonsn.

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:
http://freindsofwcreedfield.ning.com/
https://www.facebook.com/events/218610251634716/permalink/218663454962729/See More

Comparison of Trees and Grasses for Rhizoremediation of Petroleum Hydrocarbons

www.academia.edu

“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

(1) Walk with the Trees in W.C. Reed Park

Walk with the Trees in W.C. Reed Park

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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.

Walk with the Trees in W.C. Reed Park

Written by Gloria Ferris

September 25th, 2013 at 5:08 am

HERE WE GO AGAIN: EPA Public Hearing to Permit Incinerator

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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.

With thanks,

Nathan Rutz

Cleveland Campaign Organizer

http://ohiocitizenaction.nationbuilder.com/
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City of Cleveland Should Go Back To The Drawing Board.

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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.

Written by Gloria Ferris

April 12th, 2012 at 7:43 pm

South Euclid Council says :Big Box Retail-It’s a Good Thing

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oakwood cfo image

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:

 https://www.facebook.com/#!/citizensforoakwood

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:

http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-ripping-up-green-space-to-build-shopping-centers-support-sustainable-land-use?utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=email

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."

Susan

If You Are Not Part of the Solution, You Are Part of the Problem

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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.

Written by Gloria Ferris

April 22nd, 2011 at 10:18 am

I made the first cut

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CMSD Board Candidacy

Written by Gloria Ferris

August 29th, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Smith’s Dairy and a Walk Down Memory Lane

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Yesterday, I read the Plain Dealer article about Smith’s Dairy going “green” and remembered a field trip from my elementary school years.  Today, the same article shows up in the day’s roundup over on Crain’s so I took it as a sign to blog about that field trip. 

Every school had a few-the “special” kids.  In the 1950′s, there were no special education classes that separated anyone from the “mainstream”.  We were just all in it together.  Field trips were always a challenge for our teachers with ALL the  kids because we were a “rowdy” bunch.  The “buddy system” back then was a “must”.

For purposes of this story, “Jimmy” had not one buddy but two buddies.  Basically because two of the boys had a disagreement on whose turn it was to team up with Jimmy.  By now, you know the lead character’s name in this story is not really Jimmy, but the name is inconsequential, and,  it is better to protect the “innocent”. 

At our elementary school,  there was a traditional sequence of field trips.  Kindergarten was a walk through the picturesque town of Shreve and our first trip to the Town Library which was located in the Town Hall topped off with a picnic on school grounds.  First grade was a trip to the train depot, boarding a passenger train for our trip to picturesque Wooster  followed by a picnic and afternoon of play at Wooster Park. 

Second grade was one of the FAVORITES handed down from class to class-Smith’s Dairy in ORRVILLE followed by a picnic and an afternoon of play at Orrville Park.   Needless to say at seven years-old as fascinating as watching bottles being washed, placed on a conveyer belt system and filled with milk, capped, and then, boxed would be– the making of the ice cream was the piece d’ resistance. Each of us would be receiving an individual cup of ice cream to be consumed at the park with our brown bag lunches.  Before we received this treat, we were told that we would need to find our “buddies” and walk through the HUGE walk in freezer where the ice cream was stored for distribution of our ice cream treats

To this day, I believe that I remember How VERY, VERY cold that walk-in freezer was.  No one tarried in that place!  Later, as we sat at the picnic tables eating our lunches and ice cream.  Someone noticed that “Jimmy” was missing.  Everyone immediately looked at the two boys that were assigned to be his buddies.  Both of them thought the other one was responsible for being his buddy, and therefore, NO ONE had been his buddy.  Obviously, a classic example of miscommunication between teacher and student. 

The last time anyone remembered seeing him was right before we walked into that big freezer.   Miss Plantain (another alias) screamed and went to wake up the bus driver for the long drive back to the dairy.  Twenty minutes later,  they returned with a nearly frozen Jimmy in tow.  He had been found sitting on a tub of ice cream patiently waiting for rescue by one of  the Smith Dairy truck drivers.   

We all had to sit through a lecture on responsibility and how when given a task we should follow through.  To this day, I do not how our teachers thought we shouldered more responsibility than they did for Jimmy sitting on a block of frozen ice cream waiting for rescue.

Written by Gloria Ferris

October 20th, 2008 at 4:16 pm