City needs to embrace policies of sustainability
Sustainability. It can mean different things depending on its context or who is talking about it. The Sierra Club defines it as “an economic/cultural state where the demands placed upon the natural environment by all species and particularly human beings can be met without reducing the capacity of the natural environment to provide for future generations of all species.”
Sustainability is often discussed as meeting the needs of the environment seven generations out. I would submit that sustainability includes an environmental/social justice component that ensures that those of race or lower socio-economic status do not bear an unequal burden of environmental degradation. And third, I believe that sustainability includes protection of human and civil rights for all.
I left the Ashland Planning Commission because it was clear that the issues of sustainability and environmental/social justice and the idea of human and civil rights were never going to be addressed in that forum. Time and time again events occurred that stymied discussion or proposals of any real sustainability in planning around town. Time and time again, those lower on the socio-economic ladder were squeezed out so that those higher up on the socio economic ladder could profit. Recently, we saw the Parks Commission determine that Ashland citizens do not have a right to a pesticide-free environment. This history, I believe, tramples on our inherent human and civil rights.
I believe that the citizens of Ashland want a more sustainable city, one that also embraces diversity and civil/human rights. I just don’t think that the city is listening.
We can do better; we must do better — for our children and grandchildren and for humankind and the Earth itself.
Did you know that the city does not have a unified, strong statement on its commitment to sustainability? Portland does. Eugene too.
In addition, Ashland is not proactive in protecting civil and human rights. Eugene has commissioned an Equity and Human Rights Commission and Portland has a Human Rights Commission.
It’s time that the city of Ashland gets serious about becoming sustainable. It’s time that the city begins proactively protecting the rights of all socio-economic classes. It’s time that the city begin proactively embracing diversity and protecting the human and civil rights of all.
By Hannah Guzik
Ashland Daily Tidings
July 25, 2009
Two Ashland residents who fought against Mt. Ashland’s expansion plans have received Oregon Sierra Club awards for their local conservation efforts.
Tom Dimitre, a planning commissioner, and Kristin Biechler were presented with the awards July 18 at the club’s annual barbecue in Portland.
Each knew the other person was to receive an award at the party and so they “conned each other into going,” never realizing they would both bring home honors, Biechler said Tuesday.
“I was totally surprised because I had already won the award once before,” she said, “but I have worked hard.”
Dimitre, chairman of the local Sierra Club chapter, the Rogue Group, received the nonprofit’s highest conservation award, the Charles Funk Award, for his environmental activism in the Valley over the past decade.
He was nominated by Bob Palzer, the chapter’s vice chairman, who received the award in 1997 for his work in preserving air quality.
“It’s quite an honor,” Dimitre said. “To me, it’s not just my award, though. It’s really the whole Rouge Group’s award.”
Palzer’s wife, Jody, created a framed collage of Mt. Ashland to give to Dimitre as part of the award.
The Rogue Group has been a vocal opponent of the ski area’s expansion goals, citing the environmental impact of the plan.
For now, Mt. Ashland’s plans are stalled as the ski area waits for the U.S. Forest Service to create a supplemental environmental impact statement.
On Saturday Dimitre honored her with the Rogue Group Award, given to an exemplary local chapter member.
“I nominated her because she is like a dynamo,” Dimitre said. “She’s totally indispensable and without her it would be more difficult.”
Biechler, who serves as the chapter’s treasurer, media chair and Webmaster, also received the award in 2004. She is currently working on creating a new Web site for the Rogue Group, she said.
Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or email@example.com.
Tom its time for you to show your support and volunteer the 200 plus hours required to maintain/sustain (hand pick the weeds) the Ashland Pesticide Free Park.