So when I’m not writing, cooking meals for my family, gardening, cleaning, volunteering, etc., I try to keep up with what’s going on in my community. Currently, some of the city leaders want to spend about 700 million dollars to put another bridge across the river that divides our city. Now, the city is not divided right down the middle; just a little edge of it. We don’t really need another bridge. All studies show that fewer people are actually commuting by car; that more and more people want to live closer to where they work, etc.
Additionally, the place the city council has now pinpointed for the bridge is a poor location for many reasons. I decided to focus my 3 minute testimony before the council very specifically on one of the many reasons. After all, how much can you really say in three minutes? My reason was Community. On my side of the river, the bridge will dump right smack dab into the middle of a neighborhood. One of the poorer neighborhoods in town. The way they always do it. Oh, and yes, it’s my neighborhood. So I know what I’m talking about when I say this is a pedestrian neighborhood. A bicycle part of town. The increase in traffic caused by a bridge here would be extremely detrimental to a community that already struggles. Okay, enough.
Here is my testimony. I was extremely nervous, and my mouth was sticking shut. But everybody listened; a little rhyme goes a long way.
(Hat’s off to Dr. Suess)
Not the Lorax
At the north end of town
where the cherry trees grow
and the wind brings cotton from the river when it blows
and the birds always sing excepting old crows…
is the place where alternative 4D is proposed.
I am not the Lorax who speaks for the trees.
I speak for the people of Highland and Grant
and neighborhoods like these
Places where, more often than not, the powerless dwell
Pawns for developers to buy and sell.
Look, they say, “There’s no cause for alarm.
The bridge will help your neighborhood, it’ll do you no harm.
It’ll be quite useful. That bridge is a Thneed.
A Thneed’s a Fine-Something-That-All-People-Need!
You can use it for jobs. For sidewalks. For speed!
It will solve all your problems, fulfill every need.”
And the people said,
“Madams and Sirs! You are crazy with greed.
There is no one on earth who will pay for that fool Thneed!
For millions of dollars, it is not what we need!
A bridge is not a sidewalk, not a bike lane, or a bus
It’s not a needed stop sign; A bridge won’t help us.”
“Oh,” they said back, it will create jobs
It will eliminate wait when the traffic clogs
Our thinking is forward,
for the future,
down the road…”
I rushed across the room, and in no time at all,
grabbed my phone and put in a quick call.
I called all my brothers and uncles and aunts
And neighbors and friends in Highland and Grant
and I said, “Listen here! Here’s a wonderful chance.
Get over here fast! Tell City Council what you think,
that you love living here,
and you want to stay.
And you hope they vote “No” on 4D so you may.”
They tell us they mean no harm; they truly do not.
But when the road gets bigger, bigger’s what you’ve got.
Bigger traffic, bigger noise
Bigger pollution, bigger streets
Bigger problems left for those of us here to meet.
Long after the rest of you speed through our streets.
Then someone said, “Oh, but the people in North Salem will prosper
from the increased business the extra traffic will foster
We will help those poor people with our bridge of six lanes
They’ll be thanking us later, as sure as it rains.”
And then I got mad.
I got terribly mad.
I have my rights, sir, and I’m telling you
Highlanders don’t need a quick connect to the west
to help “improve” us and be at our best
we are not a neighborhood in decline
Please don’t divide us with increased traffic on Pine.
And so madam mayor and councilors of the city
Think of Community, what it means, and take pity
Remember the word of the Lorax when he left:
UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
And better in this case
is a “vote No” on 4D
4D is not the right option
I hope you can see
Or any bridge that sacrifices whole neighborhoods
of people like me.
You’ve heard excellent testimony from people who care
Thanks for listening to me
Now I’ll go back to my chair. 🙂
And because you see I’m all out of time,
If you have any questions,
you must ask them in rhyme.
I did run out of time. When I looked up, I saw that the red light for my 3 minutes was already up and the mayor had not stopped me. So I eliminated the “thanks for listening” stanza, and read my hastily-added, “if you have any questions” line.
If you want me to feel truly embarrassed, I invite you to watch my testimony here: http://youtu.be/Am9SAb1GvdU