Country best governed from our shared humanity
Split politically though we are, the country is best governed from the middle — from our shared humanity. For if radical right faces radical left, the right will win, for there is more rage on the right. If this happens, democracy may end.
I have eight principled differences with the president and a difference of style. But I know Donald Trump is not a mask behind which there are demons: There is humanity to him as well — a humanity that can be morally appealed to as long as he governs. Which is to say what Michelle Obama says: “When they go low, we go high.” If we go high enough, we will unite the country. If we go high enough we will unite the whole world.
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Share Centre Region’s parks fairly
Overwhelmingly, when people think of parks, they think of open space and the quiet enjoyment of natural beauty. Asked what they want in parks, the answer is simple: They’d like to step outdoors near their homes, and enjoy a small piece of nature.
The Centre Region community turned out in force for CRPR’s recent public input meeting. What do residents want to see in their 21st century parks? Everything I saw at that meeting, reflected in personal discussions and dozens of comments written on poster boards, suggests that we want parks that serve everyone, especially central Pennsylvania flora and fauna.
Natural open space costs about 1/30 the cost per acre to create as a playing field, and about 1/200 the cost per acre to maintain. Assuming an average cost of $600,000 to build a two-acre sports field, this sum does not include construction and maintenance of service roads and hundreds of parking spaces. By contrast, a new two-acre wildflower/native grass meadow costs about $20,000 to establish and a few hundred dollars for annual mowing.
The momentum built at the Feb. 6th meeting should now translate, under CRPR’s plan, into fiscally responsible balancing of our community’s evident strong desire for ecologically sustaining open space for passive use by all ages, plus a limited number of additional flat fields for youth soccer and other organized sports. In the interest of preserving natural areas where possible, any true need for costly sports fields must be independently quantified using sound data and analysis.
Bring nature home to our parks
Rockstar entomology professor Doug Tallamy has terrible and great news. The terrible: We’re losing native species at an alarming rate, both worldwide and here at home. Populations not only of honeybees, but all pollinators, other insects and songbirds have declined by as much as 90-95 percent in Europe and America in the last 20 years. Amazingly to most of us, our lawns, fields and even many of our trees and woods support little native life. They may be non-native, overwhelmed by invasive species and diseases, or overgrazed by deer. Why does this matter? All our food depends on a healthy, diverse native ecosystem. Now Doug’s great news. We can reverse this by using exclusively — in our case Eastern US — natives. We can do this in our backyards and on apartment balconies. And especially, we can do this in every one of our region’s 50-plus parks. This is the perfect time, because Center Region Parks and Recreation is now creating its Comprehensive Master Plan. Native planting must be a first principle. Trees (oak, black cherry, gray dogwood) shrubs (native viburnum, azalea, blueberry), flowers and warm-season grasses, planted in the borough and townships, will support up to 100 times the insect life, and 10 times the bird life, as now. In just one growing season, we’d see and hear the difference. And we, our kids and grandkids will experience the fun and fulfillment of living with nature all around our homes.