Air quality action needed
Thank you so much for your recent Earth Day 2006 issue. I found a number of items of interest and was pleased to see such focus on getting the word out about protecting our environment.
"Our Dark Secret" by Stacey Kronquest really hit a nerve. My wife, too, suffers from asthma. It’s a condition that never showed itself until we moved to Savannah and spent time living here. Fortunately for us, my wife’s condition is not nearly as severe as Ms. Kronquest’s son, but there’s certainly enough suffering to sympathize.
My curiosity is piqued by Ms. Kronquest’s commentary and makes me wonder if there is not SOMETHING that can be done to at least start moving our community toward cleaner air. Surely we do not want to wait for things to get any worse or for some crisis mode to be reached before something is done.
Ms. Kronquest speaks to two issues that should be directly under the influence of Savannah/Chatham County’s citizenry. Can the people not raise a collective voice and press for change? Your paper could certainly help educate us to what is needed.
Is it not the influence of the people that directs the activity of the Chatham County Mosquito Control? Ms. Kronquest mentions there are non-harmful alternatives to a poison like Resmethrin. Why aren’t they used? Can we hear more about the possibilities?
And what of the Waste Incinerator? Is it not our local government that determines city/county waste disposal methods? Is Incineration and air pollution the best choice? Surely there’s more to the story here. Your readers would like to know.
"Our Dark Secret" sheds interesting light in some disturbing corners - but it’s just a glimpse. These corners beg for further exposure. As an interested reader, as well as a concerned citizen, I encourage you to continue to shine the light. This is a "waiting-is-not-an-option" kind of thing. Any further illumination your paper might bring is moving us in the right direction.
Wake us up, Connect. Stir us to action.
I read the letter by Peter Berquist regarding Jim Reed’s story "Accelerando." I admit I did not read Reed’s original story, but I am struck by the easy dismissal by the Editor of Berquist’s letter – especially when the original story seems to be so misleading and provides a cover, of sorts, for the attitude that what is happening in Savannah, i.e., "we cannot possibly afford an orchestra" is bolstered by the argument that "it’s happening everywhere."
First of all, I think that Mr. Roach – who is purported to have provided the background for the quote – should be asked to respond.
Secondly, I would like to point out that I went to the internet in search of some information that would bolster one or the other side of the argument since I have no facts at hand myself.
And in the interest of fair dealing, I would like to report that I am neither personally acquainted with any of the principles nor with any proposition about whether or not small orchestras are failing or in decline throughout the country. But I do have an interest in 1) facts and 2) classical music in Savannah, especially for school children but also for any patrons who feel Savannah needs a symphony.
It was easy to find the American Symphony Orchestra League’s Report on the internet as well as a program written specifically for a conference held in June of last year. Here is a direct quote:
"Are orchestras ‘facing extinction,’ as we sometimes hear? Orchestras remain artistically rich, economically challenged—and amazingly resilient. First, a bit of context: Over the past 20 years, out of the approximately 350 professional American orchestras, 17 were forced to cease operations—an average of 0.2 percent per year. Although the closure of an orchestra is devastating have orchestras today—employing many of the same musicians and operating on scales comparable to the orchestras they lost. Three of the communities that lost orchestras during the recession of 2002 through 2005 have already revived their orchestras or started new ones."
As you can see, it is exactly as Berquist has said. Nevertheless, I continued my attempt to locate any information that might bolster an opposing view. There is no question that funding for the arts is considered to be icing on the cake.
For example, the Kennedy Center recently funded a program for small and medium orchestras’ management teams to help them find funds in order to continue the orchestra experience in their locales. Local government funding can and will go by the wayside in favor of fighting crime, getting drugs off the streets, and most especially filling open vacancies in the police department.
I don’t know how much interest there is in the community to fund a symphony orchestra. The fact that it has been tried and failed does not mean that it should not be tried again. But I believe that Mr. Roach should be asked to respond to Mr. Berquist’s letter – that is if Mr. Reed does not have a full quote or some reference we can all explore.
To respond that we have differing "opinions" is to say that on the one hand we have verifiable information that can be scrutinized by everyone and on the other hand we have something, but we are not going to tell you what, that indicates that the so-called opposing view is just as valid.
Remember the tax cuts debate between Gore and Bush? Do you recall that Gore had facts and figures supporting his contention that the tax cuts were overwhelmingly in favor of the wealthy at the expense of the middle class? Do you also recall that Bush gave his word that "his" tax cuts were to be applied "across the board?"
The press treated both sides as if they were equal – as if a lie was simply an opposing position when stacked against the truth. But we know it isn’t, don’t we?
Editor’s Note: It’s most unfortunate that, as you say, you didn’t read Mr. Reed’s article before sending us your comments on it. Had you done so, you would have seen that the quotes regarding the health of symphony orchestras were a minor aspect of the article, the purpose of which was not to warn of the demise of symphony orchestras but to herald the birth of a new one. While I appreciate your Bush/Gore analogy, Mr. Roach is not running for president and we feel no obligation to question his credibility as an authoritative source on the subject. In turn, you and Mr. Berquist have certainly suffered no shortage of space in Connect Savannah in which to respond.
Bring on Da Noiz!
Several of us faithful downtown "listeners" have just come up (via sign language, since we can no longer hear each other) with an excellent idea to bring conditions in the Historic District to where we all secretly know we really want them.
Instead of having ten minutes of every 20 throughout the day (and night) filled with the blaring sirens and klaxons we all have come to know and love so well (overlaid with the 24/7 helicopter noise adored by all) we could start the sirens and the emergency vehicle noises at the break of day each morning, then run them full-blast all day long – that is, until there is an actual emergency. Then it would be mandated that the sirens we delight in hearing would be turned off and traffic would pull to the side to allow emergency vehicles to pass.
During each such "silent emergency" the various helicopters which buzz back and forth above our 200-year-old homes all day (and night) would be required to settle down to a 50-foot level above some randomly-selected lucky taxpayer’s home, giving that particular resident the thrill of having his or her walls vibrate whilst power and phone lines go non-functional for the duration of the "silent emergency."
Under our plan, it would also become mandatory for the fireworks to begin on River Street each evening at 3:30 p.m. and to run until at least midnight, and these pyrotechnics would be held each and every night – not just every other night (or so) as is now the case.
We could also make it mandatory that heavy-duty concussion shells be used - not just the relatively lightweight ordnance now in play which merely drowns out sound from stereos and televisions, abruptly terminates any phone or dinner-table or living room conversations and only madly jostles a few window frames, the way it is currently - but really heavy stuff that would be guaranteed to blow shingles off the roofs of taxpayers, and would seriously "rock their house," in the immortal words of bluesman Hound Dog Taylor.
Concerning the ambulance which currently runs up and down Oglethorpe Avenue every half-hour or so all day (and night) with the siren at full-tilt, (Oglethorpe Avenue, as everyone knows, runs east/west, however all local hospitals are south of downtown, so it must be that this ambulanceman has simply learned how to have "fun with a siren") we could make it mandatory that the driver never stops his ambulance.
We could also make it mandatory that the owners of the ambulance would be required to run it (and its siren) 24/7, stopping only for fuel, relief drivers and the occasional repair – along with frequent inspections of the siren, which everyone would demand be operated at peak volume, louder than presently if possible, amplified to absolute top-end levels.
Moreover, we could order that more ambulances, all with special, extra-loud sirens, be ordered to run back and forth all day on Liberty, Gaston, Broughton and Bay Streets, giving us what we all know we really want downtown – loud, continuous noise and plenty of it.
The nearly-ceaseless noise we now have could thus be properly extended throughout the day and the night the way everyone really wants it. (Currently there are ominous periods of near-silence, punctuated only by the roaring of our crop of empty CAT buses.)
We could even plan a "Noisefest" with the idea of drawing noise-oriented out-of-towners, when we bring everything together - all the siren-screaming east/west routed ambulances, every helicopter in south Georgia and every concussion shell we can lay hands on – at a different square each weekend, but always in some lucky taxpayer’s neighborhood, all of them sounding off together in concert from about 4 p.m. until at least midnight.
Contact your friendly local machine politician. We can do this!
T. D. Conner
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