4.23.2010

Is this how we honor Earth Day?






I don't think these images truly give anyone a sense of the nature of this problem. This is what the students of Dann C. Byck Elementary see when they look out thier school's library window. A house collapsing in on itself, actually taped off with red caution/danger tape. A house that has become the community garbage collection area. A house that students walk past on their way to and from school. A house that families and teachers drive past to either park across from or drop off their students near. A house that we have been told is in "limbo." The city says it is historic. Is it historic because of when it was built? Is it historic because someone of local significance lived there? Is this how we honor our local history, by allowing a house to become a waste site? Furthermore, not only do we see the neglect, but we smell the neglect. This garbage pile, mound, mountain, reeks of all sorts of unsavory scents. The librarian cannot even open the windows on a pleasant Spring afternoon.

Is this how we as a community show to our children that they are valuable and that their education matters? If this were any other neighborhood in the city, would this be permitted to happen? Sadly, this is not the only house in the Russell community in decline and disrepair. There are more along this alleyway behind the school, and at least three directly across from the front entrance. Overgrown with weeds, windows and doors boarded up, how does this say "Welcome to our community!"?

Our children deserve better than this. Our parents, teachers, and staff have been asking for the removal of this home, and others, for over two years. City officials have visited. Citations have been issued. Demolition dates have been set. And still, this house and it's pile of filth remain.

To many of us, this is the story of the Lorax. There is a point when the neglect, abuse, and disregard for his community cause all the creatures to leave until finally only the Lorax is left. Then he too has to depart. With sorrow at what has been done and his inability to enact postive change. "I am the Lorax," he says, "I speak for the trees."

I am Myrdin Thompson, I speak for the students at Dann C. Byck Elementary. Please help our students, our teachers, our administrators, our community.

Stop making promises. Start doing something. Today.

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